Tuesday, January 27, 2009

TEFL Certification

TEFL certificate courses vary enormously. Some are taught online, some last just a weekend, and some have no teaching practice.

Online courses are fine at a higher level; for example I tutor on an MA course in Teaching English, and distance learning works well for this because the participants are already experienced practitioners. At entry level, though, it's essential that a course should be face-to-face in order to develop the practical skills of teaching. After all, you wouldn't take tennis lessons online, would you?

Weekend courses are simply not long enough to give you the necessary skills. 20 hours isn't enough to learn the essentials, and as a TEFL course is a developmental process, it needs to be spread over a reasonable period of time, usually four weeks. Teaching practice is the most important component of a TEFL course. Internationally recognised standards require that a TEFL certificate course should include a minimum of six hours of teaching practice. This means lesson planning with the support and guidance of an experienced trainer, teaching a class of learners while the trainer observes, and a feedback discussion after the lesson.

For the practice to be useful, it's important that the class should be composed of genuine learners of English. On some courses, especially the shorter ones, trainees just teach each other. Most TEFL courses are designed to train you to teach adults (that's what the A in CELTA stands for) and provide teaching practice only with adults. Clearly this isn't the most effective preparation if you intend to teach children.

Obviously we have a commercial interest in encouraging prospective teachers to take their TEFL certificate course with us in Corinth, and give preference for job placements accordingly. Commercial considerations aside, taking the course here is the most effective preparation for teaching in Greece because of the methods and materials used, and because your teaching pratice will be with Greek students - children, teenagers and adults.

One of the first TEFL courses we ran with City College Manchester in the late nineties. 

When we started running TEFL courses in Corinth, we partnered with City College Manchester, offering a Preliminary Certificate course. As we were operating as a campus of the College, the Certificate was a UK state qualification. We ran these courses for a few years, until we affiliated with Via Lingua to start offering a full-scale Certificate course with teaching practice.

The first Via Lingua course we ran, July 2004

We ran Via Lingua courses for four years before switching to TEFL International for administrative reasons.

One of the induction courses we ran for i-to-i graduates, September 2007

We also partnered with i-to-i for a couple of years. Graduates of the i-to-i course would come to Corinth for an induction course to give them practical training in how English is taught in Greece. We found that this was insufficient to make up for the lack of a practical component in the i-to-i course, and so we no longer accept applications from prospective teachers whose certificate course doesn't include teaching practice.


Graduates of our first TEFL International course, October 2008

The TEFL International courses that we now run every month are essentially similar to the Via Lingua courses we were running previously. The main difference is in the recognition - TEFL International is the largest TEFL training organisation in the world.

For anyone planning to teach English in Greece, we would strongly recommend taking their TEFL certificate course with TEFL International in Corinth.

We accept applications from holders of other TEFL certificates, as long as they meet three essential criteria:

  • At least 120 hours face-to-face tuition
  • At least six hours observed teaching practice
  • External moderation
Apart from TEFL International, that includes CELTA and Trinity.

We do not accept applications where the TEFL course is online, shorter than four weeks, or doesn't include teaching practice.

Greek Language Requirements

In 2007, proposals were circulated by the Greek Ministry of Education which would require Teachers of English to have Certification in Greek language.

This is the first in a series of articles setting out the situation:

(Click on the images to enlarge.)

Here is the latest update on the situation:

So the situation hasn't been resolved yet, but in the meantime everyone just ignores it.