What I’m Looking for In a TEFL Course

PRICE

(I’m yelling because I’m often broke and the prices are quite scary with their quadruple digits and fancy Euro symbols)

I thought it’d be nice if someone would pay me to come and get certified – but as it seems that’s not an option, I guess finding an affordable course should rank somewhere on my course criteria. The prices seems to vary a lot, depending on a lot of factors – online or onsite, which program, is it TEFL or TESOL or CELTA or one of the others? With everything I’ve learned so far, I’ve landed on getting a TEFL cert, on-site and in Prague. I’ve picked TEFL over the others because of affordability, flexibility, and general usefulness. The CELTA’s price tag isn’t quite worth it to me, as the edge it gives seems to be mainly in Western Europe, where I couldn’t afford to live anyhow.

After my first forays into the “Course Price” pages on various courses, I’m looking for a course in the $1000-$1500USD range. Because that’s about how much I got on my tax return, and all the rest of my spare change is going into a lockbox with the words “CASH CZECHS HERE” scribbled on the lid in permanent marker.

Online or On-site

I’ve decided to do an on-site course rather than online, because I really want those hours of classroom experience – not just teaching (though that will be super helpful), but also because I always learn better in a school environment rather than sitting at home in my apartment, trying to resist the ever-present temptation to procrastinate lurking around every corner of the internet. Not to mention, I want the opportunity to network. Meeting the other TEFL students will give me (hopefully) a small network of sympathetic ears as I start my new life. I’m also looking to take a course where the staff can connect me with local schools and other educator-employer types in the area.

So what’s next? Seems there are more TEFL programs in Prague than there are barbecue pits in Austin, and that’s saying something. I’ll sort through them (as best I can) in another post, but there are a few things I want to look at when considering my options.

Job Assistance

***SUPER IMPORTANT***

If the course I choose can’t help me find a job, this whole adventure will be over very, very quickly. And I don’t relish the idea of heading back home newly certified with no money, no job, and no place to live except back on my parent’s admittedly very comfy couch.

I want a course that will put me in touch with schools and other employers looking to hire in the Czech Republic, and hopefully in other nations as well. Because I also want a course that will allow me to come back after a year or two, and as an alumni be granted access to the same job market information. I’m basically looking for an alumni-job-assistance network. Any course that doesn’t explicitly offer this is going in the “Nope!” pile.

Accreditation

Who gave them the authority to certify people? Is it a reputable organization? This is a big one when weeding out the scams, or so I’ve read. Whichever course I land on I intend to research their accrediting institution and make sure they’re legitimate.

Course Material/Schedule

This will be hard for me to judge, because I don’t know anything about teaching how to teach. About teaching anything. But I don’t want to leave it out, because I think it’s important – I just don’t really know what’s good and what’s bad. I’m mostly just going to keep my eye out for anything stands out as different or suspicious – if every course except one mentions 6 hours of supervised teaching practice, maybe I should scrap that course. If one course advertises 120 hours yet the posted syllabus only shows 100, I should investigate. Etc. I’m just trying to be wary and keep my eyes open on this one.

Accommodation

Maybe not super important in the long term, but certainly for the duration of the course I will need a place to stay. Having this sorted before I arrive will give me a chance to find a more permanent residence while still having a roof over my head. I’ll be comparing the price of whatever accommodation option is cheapest in my comparison later. Sharing a room with another TEFL student sounds fine to me – just another networking opportunity! …Also, just a quick reminder to self: find out if said accommodation has wi-fi.

Alumni Responses

Once I’ve narrowed down the known fact-type items, I’m going to see if I can’t get a hold of some former graduates from the different programs, see how they felt about it. Graduate testimonials and reviews are all well and good, but a real live email in my inbox would go a long way in assuring me they meant any praise they said, and it wasn’t written under duress to appease a needy staff administrator on the day of graduation. If no one writes back, I’ll try to find reviews on at least several different sources to compare.

The Small Stuff

Just little things that would be nice to have. A quick lesson in Czech, a tour of Prague, a hosted dinner for students on arrival or graduation – that sort of thing. Not a deal breaker, but could be a tie-breaker if needed!

***

Am I missing anything? I’m not going to list sources for this one, ’cause I wrote this all off the top of my head, but if you’re a person with more knowledge than me, please share – comments, links, anything is always appreciated!

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