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Lost in Place
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  • Added on: May 2nd, 2011
I am planning to go overseas for at least a year in the near future and would like to teach english/volunteer while I am gone. I am considering getting a certification in teaching english, but am starting to get a bit confused as to which one to take.

While I've read up on what each course has to offer, I wanted to ask people that have certificates, does it really make a difference? Have you found it really helpful in terms of teaching, or was it just a means to get a job? Or did you go overseas and find that you didn't really need one? Also, do schools prefer one over the other? (I know that the TEFL is shorter, so I was kind of thinking, will that do, or do I need a longer course like the CELTA or TESOL?)

Any advice about getting an english teaching qualification would be much appreciated. Thank you!


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Lost in Place
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Location: Erbil, Iraq

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  • Added on: May 3rd, 2011
ESL is becoming increasingly competitive. Graduates in the west who can't find jobs are opting to go overseas to teach until things get better. People now have Master's in TEFL and years of experience. Gone are the days of backpacking around and picking up work here and there.

There are still jobs out there that will hire you on nothing more than being white and a native English speaker (mostly in China). But increasingly, schools are requiring some sort of certification in addition to a degree. Without question, the most recognized is CELTA. The British Council or IH won't even interview you if you don't have one. Does that mean the CELTA is better? No. It's just more recognized.

As for whether they help, there are differing opinions. I have from time to time been a teacher trainer, director of studies or department head. I grew tired of having people with the best intentions being totally lost. The vast majority of schools out there have no professional development. You're on your own. It's like being thrown into the deep end hoping you can swim. I definitely suggest a CELTA, if nothing more than it will secure you a better paying job at a more reputable school.
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Holds PhD in Packing
Posts: 267
Joined: September 26th, 2007
Location: San Cristobal Mexico currently

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  • Added on: May 3rd, 2011
Gone are the days of backpacking around and picking up work here and there.

Don't tell this to any of my MANY friends who are doing just that...
Traveling through Mexico and Central America starting in January '09. Hit me up if you want to meet!


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World Citizen
Posts: 1174
Joined: January 12th, 2008
Location: Traveling for a while away from Playa San Diego SV

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  • Added on: May 3rd, 2011
Leaving this afternoon with my TEFL on a round about trip to Cambodia to find a teaching position.

Shall report in a month or so how it goes. :)
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"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain


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Thorn Tree Refugee
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Joined: August 16th, 2009

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  • Added on: May 7th, 2011
sorry double post.
Last edited by hanee on May 7th, 2011, edited 1 time in total.


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Thorn Tree Refugee
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  • Added on: May 7th, 2011
I honestly think that it all depends on what country you're going to be teaching in. You can't really go wrong with any of those certificates as long as they're from reputable programs. For example, South Korea, China, and Japan often don't even know what a CELTA is until they look up what it is. They're more into the TESOL and TEFL certificates. I personally have taught in China and South Korea with a CELTA, but I don't think it was a big thing for the employers, I don't think they even looked it up. South-east asian countries is where the CELTA is more recognized. I took the CELTA course after ALOT of research, when I say alot I mean I researched for a few months because I didn't know which course I wanted to take. I chose CELTA because it was supposedly the most recognized certificate, but once that was done I realized not alot of people in Asia know what the CELTA is. I have seen more job advertisments these days with a requirement of CELTA or the equivalent in China, but back in 2008 no one in China knew what it was. I had to explain it to alot of people.

Anyways, at the end of the day they're all the same certificate, all enables you to become a better English teacher. It all comes down to whats right for you I guess. Read alot of testimonials? The CELTA course for me was really rough. It was hard! but it was really, if I think about it now, kind of fun haha and I've learned alot from the course. I have no regrets because I learned so much from it. but I wish it was more recognized here in Asia. So what im trying to say here is that, you don't need a certificate to teach in Asia because lets face it, in Asia as long as you're caucasian you can find a job anywhere, but when you first start out teaching you're not going to know what to do AT ALL. Teaching is not an easy job, I barely held down a English teaching job before getting a certificate because it was difficult to teach with no teaching experience whatsoever. After the course however it got easier because i was taught to handle situations better and knew what would engage the students.

ANYWAYS thats just my 2 cents and my personal experience in ASIA. I hear alot of the European countries prefer CELTA.
Last edited by hanee on May 7th, 2011, edited 1 time in total.


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Knows What a Schengen Visa Is
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Joined: May 30th, 2005

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  • Added on: June 1st, 2011
hanee wrote:
South Korea, China, and Japan often don't even know what a CELTA is until they look up what it is.

I think that is quite true and hanee mentions three of the world's four largest EFL Jobs markets: China, Korea and Japan.

Generally, employers are happy that you have made the effort to learn how to teach. So many people apply for teaching jobs with no indication that they 1. have any idea how to teach or 2. are interested in being able to teach well. So - employers tend to smile favorably on those applicants who took the initiative to learn a few skills and show they have an interest in delivering what their future students will have paid for.

In China, Korea and Japan - online certifications are fine - and for those who pooh pooh online training - even the venerable CELTA is now offering online training.

So - the basic idea is to not get too hung up on name brand. Take what you can afford and learn a bit and you will do fine. TEFL training is not rocket science - it is relatively simple method applied in a systematic way. Important information to know, but how it is packaged and marketed is not as important as the basic idea that you need to learn how to do it - before you practice it on your students.
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