Be TEFL Certified
If you read B.E Launch or My Story, you would know I am leaving in January to teach English abroad. In this post, I will explain my entire TEFL certification process starting from the very beginning. FYI it will be biased as I can only speak of the company that I use for my certificate. If you are interested in becoming TEFL certified and have questions after reading this post, please message me. If at the end of this post you are interested in the International TEFL Academy, please also let me know. I would be glad to answer any specific questions or help you with the course.
TEFL certificates at a glance
TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Langauge
Cost: $19 (Groupon, not recommended)-$1,800 (private accredited company)
Duration: 1 day- three months
Instruction: Online or In-person
Now that is a pretty broad spectrum. So what's the difference between spending $19 on Groupon and upwards of $1,800? How much did I pay? Don't worry it wasn't $1,800, but you can for some programs. The short answer is, you get what you pay for. Yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition. While I cannot attest for the content or quality of a $19 Groupon course, I do know the international standard is 120 hours of instruction. Moreover, it's unlikely that the cheap Groupon will meet that standard, which will limit you for what jobs you can apply.
None the less, it's also possible to teach English without a TEFL certificate if you're a native speaker and have a university degree through government programs. For example Japans JET program and Spains Auxiliar de Conversación. I decided not to do either of these programs for various reasons. If you are a teacher in the U.S and looking to change your path, it shouldn't be hard to find work teaching abroad. I have also chatted with someone who did a cheap certificate and was able to find work in Korea. However, I found my experience with International TEFL Academy's online course (insert link) very beneficial and worth every penny. Especially with only studying International Relations versus liberal arts/English.
International TEFL Academy at a glance
Cost: Online Course $1,395 (or less during promotions/sales)
Duration: ~3 months (150 hours of online instruction, 20 hours of student teaching, and optional 30 hours of Business English classes)
Ranked: 2018 People's Choice Winner on GoAbroad.com for Best International Education Organization
Lifetime career advice and guidance
Fantastic social media groups to connect with alumni
I first heard about International TEFL Academy, while interning at the Study Abroad office at CSU Chico. I called their information number and had a great 30-minute conversation with a guy named Michael, who explained the course and how it worked. International TEFL Academy offers courses online or in-person. Their in-person courses are either in Chicago or around the world like Europe, Latin America, and Asia and are one month long. So they are accelerated. For a college student on the verge of graduating, $1,395 was not feasible, so I told Michael to keep me on the email list and to keep sending emails until I was ready to commit.
So how did I end up paying for my certificate and all the other expenses associated with my upcoming move to Spain/abroad full time?
While only making slightly above minimum wage at a hotel, I was able to put $200 per paycheck away into a savings account. Little by little, I saved up to pay for my TEFL certification and other expenses associated with moving abroad. So for everyone that thinks it's impossible and too expensive to do this, that's not the case. My parents also haven't paid a dime either, other than allowing me to live at home. I will be posting an entire breakdown of the cost of this whole process soon.
I learned so much working at Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara, but at the end of the day, I realized I was not following my original dream or passion. This realization was drastically affecting my work performance and overall life. However, I was also hesitant to hit the button. I wasn't sure if I was ready. Not knowing if it was the right time. For numerous reasons, I would say but this or that. Nevertheless, If you want to travel, cut "but" from your vocabulary. Then replace it with yes. Like many big life decisions, there is not a perfect time to do it, so in the words of Nike, "just do it." So almost a year and a half after that initial call, I hit the button and signed up for the online course. One of my biggest regrets is waiting as long as I did and not being upfront with people close to me.
Back to International TEFL Academy’s certification process...
Each week I had to complete a chapter of reading, a quiz, and two to three assignments that related to the text. Chapters covered topics such as lesson planning and assessment, methods and approaches, cultural sensitivity. The quizzes are easy if you take notes. Assignments ranged from basic write-ups to creating lesson plans or activities with the chapter's lesson in mind. There are ten chapters and a final project consisting of three consecutive lessons called the "Thematic Unit." Funny enough, I used my background from the hotel and created three lessons about hospitality English. My teacher was also as well great. She was available to answer any questions I had regarding assignments over email or during online office hours.
Also, you have the option of signing up for two more chapters covering Business English and Young Learners. I highly recommend signing up for these classes as they do not have an additional cost. Additionally, International TEFL Academy requires 20 hours of student teaching, tutoring, and observation. They also give you an extra 60 days after you finish the main course to complete these hours. I had a fantastic time doing my student teaching at Fremont Adult School and believe it was the best part of the course. In fact, the first day of student teaching I used or saw multiple teaching techniques that International TEFL Academy teaches.
With working full time at the hotel, it took me about three months to complete the course and the 20 hours of student teaching. It was a bit exhausting some days, but excellent preparation for the future. I was working full time at the hotel, sometimes starting at 6 am and running around like an over-caffeinated chicken with its head cut off. Sit in awful Bay Area traffic. A 15 minute morning commute in the express lane, turns into a 45-55 minutes commute home. Nap time. Then I would head to the Fremont Adult School for 2.5 hours for my teaching hours. But, at last, I completed the course. I was one step closer to Spain.
Be curious. Be courageous. Be chivalrous.