In order to teach English in China and all around the world officially, you require a TEFL certificate. The ways and means for getting a TEFL certificate are broad and getting certified can cost anything from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands. The choice can be made easier by separating into two distinct options, online and offline. OfflineTEFL certification is usually more structured, lengthy and costly whereas online TEFL certification is usually quicker and less formal with less structured training and a much lower cost.
Offline certification usually comprises of you going to attend a number of lectures or seminars at a nearby school/ college or venue. Additionally offline courses often give you a chance to personally teach a demo class thus providing you with a chance to try out teaching English as a foreign language before starting your professional TEFL. career. This is good as it gives you a feel for the job that you are intending to do and provided beginner teachers with real first-hand experience, something online courses can’t provide.
Online courses are quicker, cheaper alternatives to a formal school training program. You can study all the required course material via your PC, then when you feel confident, take a one-time timed examination and assuming you pass the test, receive your certificate through the post just a few days later. Online certification is quick. However, in addition to its speed, online courses have another advantage. As an automated online program has considerably fewer overheads and running/staffing costs compared to running actual in school seminars, housed in a heated venue with multiple staff requiring pay. Therefore, online courses are considerably more affordable with costs starting from just a couple of hundred U.S dollars. If affordability is the over-riding factor for you when choosing the right TEFL course then online wins hands down.
The problem with online certification is that they are automated and the assessment is based on one or a small number of examinations, therefore they are not as strict and probably don’t carry as much prestige as certification from a training program such as oxford seminars. That being said, I would chose the online option every time. Before I came to China I used www.teflonline.com. I chose their basic 40hour TEFL certificate for around $200 at the time and got stuck in. At the time I had already found a good job in China but then as an afterthought realised that I needed a TEFL qualification to qualify. The course comprised of a number of informative P.D.F files containing the course content. I found them informative and they covered the theory well enough for me to feel I understood. After a week or so of daily studying I then sat the 8 hour exam that needed to be emailed back within 24 hours of receiving it. The exam was challenging but not too difficult. A couple of days later I heard news that I had passed and the following week I received my paper certificate posted to me from the U.S.A. Within a couple of days I scanned my certificate, secured my job and booked a plane to China. My Chinese school was delighted with the quick attainment of a certificate they found to be of high quality. Luckily, my online certification couldn’t have gone better!
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