Published 16th July 2021
Earning money. Travelling abroad. Making a difference.
There are many reasons why people are turning to TEFL as the next (or first) step in their careers.
If you’re interested in teaching English as a Foreign Language abroad or online, the first step is to do a TEFL course. A TEFL course will provide you with all the tools and knowledge you need to be able to effectively teach a class of English language learners. The TEFL course you choose should be at least 120 hours, but you might be wondering: how can 120 hours be long enough to train me to be a teacher? Can 120 hours really be long enough to teach me everything I need to know about teaching English as a Foreign Language?
In a nutshell, the answer is yes. But we understand you might be wondering how on earth that’s possible, so let’s look at what the course entails in detail, to put your mind at ease.
Read more: 5 Ways to Prepare for a TEFL Course
The nitty-gritty of English
This is probably what you imagine what you learn in your TEFL course. On your TEFL course, you will look at grammar, vocabulary, functional language and pronunciation in detail. Things like prepositions, tenses, idiomatic language, sound-spelling correspondences – all the little things that make up a language. While this might seem like a mammoth task, you probably already have a solid grasp of these systems and just need an overview to brush up on your knowledge.
But knowing the language is one thing and teaching it is another. Your TEFL course will demonstrate to you how to teach these different aspects of English to your learners in an accessible, effective way.
The skills of English
Then there are the four skills involved in language. Reading and listening are known as receptive skills because you receive the language through them. Writing and speaking, by contrast, are productive skills because you produce the language through them.
On your TEFL course, you will look more closely at what is involved in utilising these skills to understand and communicate in English. A word of warning: it’s not as straightforward as you think! As with the grammar and vocabulary, you will also learn the best ways to teach these skills to your learners so that they can use them to the best of their abilities.
There are many different teaching methods teachers employ in their EFL lessons: Task-based learning, Dogme, Total Physical Response – just to name a few. On your TEFL course, you will be given an overview of some of the more popular ones (and the ones you should probably avoid), as well as their development over the years. Not all teaching methods suit all circumstances, and it is a skill a teacher must develop to make the best decision with regards to the teaching method used in their lessons.
Once you have completed the course you should feel comfortable enough to be able to pick and choose a methodology to suit the particular needs of your students.
Once you have an idea of the different techniques we use to teach English as a Foreign Language, the next step is to put it all together in a logical and cohesive lesson plan. There are a number of different methods to plan a lesson and, while there is no right or wrong way to do it, you are likely to be introduced to the PPP method of lesson planning, as it is the most straightforward. And, of course, you’ll learn strategies for dealing with lessons which don’t go according to your plan!
Read more: PPP in the EFL Classroom
Whether your class has 5 students or 50, there are elements of classroom management that are essential to execute a good EFL lesson. Organising groups, catering to different levels and learner styles, and dealing with discipline issues are just a few ways classroom management will affect your classes. Your TEFL course will give you all the tips and tricks you will need to make sure your classroom is an optimal learning and teaching environment.
For the most part, your TEFL job is likely to provide you with all the teaching resources you need to teach your lessons effectively: from coursebooks to photocopiable resources to flashcards. However, you might still need to adapt your resources to suit your lessons and your learners. Your TEFL course will introduce you to a range of resources available to you, as well as show you how best to utilise them in your lessons.
Read more: How to Make Your EFL Coursebook Work for You
Finding a TEFL job
Of course, learning how to teach English as a Foreign Language is only half the battle. Once you have completed your TEFL course you will need to find yourself a job. Your TEFL course will help you craft the best CV for TEFL, and also explain where and how to apply for a TEFL job. Plus, it will give you ideas for how to ace your job interviews.
Some TEFL courses offer additional add-ons to their general TEFL course. These courses focus on a specific aspect of TEFL. They are aimed at teachers who favour a particular speciality in TEFL and foresee themselves teaching those lessons in future. The TEFL Academy, for example, offers three top-up courses: Teaching Business English, Teaching Online and 1:1, and Teaching Young Learners. These courses, while optional, provide you with extra training and look really good on your CV.
As you can see, there is a lot involved in a TEFL course, as there should be. After all, it is preparing you to teach a language that is not as simple as you might think.
But wait! Before you sign up for the first (or cheapest) TEFL course you can find, do your due diligence so you can make the smart choice for you. Make sure your TEFL course provider can answer these questions adequately before you hand over your hard-earned cash:
- What is included in the course?
- What support will I receive on the course?
- Do you have a good reputation with former students?
- Is the course accredited? By who?
- Are your trainers TEFL teachers?
So there is a lot to consider. But if you choose a good, reputable course provider and you apply yourself for the duration of the TEFL course, in no time you will be qualified and prepared to teach English as a Foreign Language in any situation you might find yourself in.