About teaching, training, and certification:
- Why should I get a Certificate to teach English, isn’t being a native speaker enough?
- What are employers looking for in a TESL Certificate qualification?
- Do I need to speak a foreign language to teach ESL?
- What is the difference between TESL, TEFL, TESOL, and CELTA?
- I’m shopping around. How do I know if a course is legitimate?
About the 150-hour TESL Certificate course at the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute:
- What is the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute?
- Can I take an online TESL Certificate course at TFLI?
- Is the TESL Certificate from TFLI accepted in other countries?
- Why should I choose TESL@TFLI?
- Can I use the TESL Certificate to teach other languages besides English?
- What financial assistance is available for TESL@TFLI? (discounts, scholarships, payment plans, etc.)
- What is the TESL@TFLI refund policy?
- Does a TESL Certificate substitute for the state teaching license or the ESL endorsement for public schools?
- Is TESL@TFLI accredited?
- How long is the course? Where are classes held? How much coursework is there outside of class? Who enrolls in this course? What happens during the field teaching component?
- Is it possible to find a job as an ESL instructor? How much does it pay? What do graduates do after completing the course? Will TFLI place me in a job afterwards?
- Where can I find a place to stay while taking the TESL@TFLI course?
- What if my plans are delayed after being certified? Or what if I decide that teaching ESL is not for me? Are there benefits that carry over to other fields?
Why should I get a Certificate to teach English, isn’t being a native speaker enough?
Because the training you receive in the 150-hour TESL Certificate course at TFLI will help you become the absolute best teacher you can be and qualify for the better teaching jobs. It is true that even with no training and certification you can still present yourself as a native English speaker, and perhaps get someone to pay you teach them. What will you do then? Even experienced teachers benefit from the modern methodology and practical training they receive in the TESL@TFLI course. Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language involves teaching across a language barrier. The vast majority of traditional language teaching methods are simply not effective. There is a better way, and we will show you how.
What are employers looking for in a TESL Certificate qualification?
While this depends on the specific position and employer, there are some common standards that employers around the world look for in a TESL/TEFL/CELTA teaching certificate program. The TESOL International Association recommends that a good TESL Certificate program should provide:
- Minimum of 6 hours of supervised ESL practice teaching (a practicum with real ESL students, not peer practice)
- Minimum of 100 hours of coursework
- Focus on practical training
- Balance of theory and practice regarding pedagogy and methodology
- Preference for in-person programs over distance or online programs
We find that many employers are now requiring 120 hours of total coursework, including the ESL practice teaching component. For an unaffiliated 3rd party answer to this question, see the TESOL International Association’s excellent guidelines for deciding which program to choose and tips for evaluating certificate programs. Please note that the 150-hour TESL Certificate from TFLI far exceeds TESOL recommendations.
Certificate courses vary in content and quality regardless of the acronym on the certificate. Actual ESL/EFL practice teaching supported by effective in-class training is the most important factor in determining the value of a teacher training course. The skill and experience of the trainers, as well as the specific techniques and methodology demonstrated in the course are also important factors. Former students can speak to the effectiveness of the training that they received and their success in finding employment with their certificate. It is wise to investigate the specific structure of any certificate course, check references from current and past students, and compare these with the requirements of employers in the area where you would like to teach.
Do I need to speak a foreign language to teach ESL?
No. Knowing a foreign language can help you understand your students’ errors and frustrations and be helpful to you in teaching, but it isn’t necessary. Most ESL classes in the United States are filled with students with a variety of first languages, so it is unlikely that any teacher will be able to speak all the languages represented in the classroom. Many EFL schools in other countries include an “English Only” classroom rule for their English classes. TFLI@TESL will prepare you to use our method and effective techniques to handle classrooms with confidence whether or not you speak the students’ language(s).
What is the difference between TESL, TEFL, TESOL, and CELTA?
TESL is Teaching English as a Second Language. TEFL is Teaching English as a Foreign Language. As far as training, teaching techniques, and employer preference, TESL and TEFL are synonyms. The distinction is made between teaching English learners in an English-speaking country (ESL in the United States, for example) and teaching English learners in a non-English speaking country (EFL in Japan, for example), but this distinction is not consistent. Some British teachers use EFL and TEFL as comprehensive terms whereas many American teachers use ESL and TESL as comprehensive terms, regardless of the location of the learners.
Certificate courses labeled as TESL or TEFL may be offered by an educational institution, such as the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute or a university, or by a business entity. The CELTA is a certificate course affiliated with the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) and franchised to local providers. The acronym CELTA comes from “Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults”. Job postings with “CELTA” or “CELTA or equivalent” training requirements include those few programs which meet or exceed the CELTA norm of 100 hours of in-class teacher-training and 6 hours of ESL classroom practice teaching. TESL@TFLI far exceeds CELTA training requirements.
TESOL usually refers to Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. TESOL International is the name of a professional association of ESL teachers, researchers, and advocates. TESL@TFLI instructors are members of the TESOL International association. TESOL does not endorse any certificate program, but they do provide some excellent guidelines for deciding which program to choose and tips for evaluating Certificate programs. Please note that TESL@TFLI far exceeds TESOL recommendations.
I’m shopping around. How do I know if a course is legitimate?
This encompasses several questions: Will the course really train me to teach? Will I be satisfied that the training was a worthy investment? Will potential employers consider my training to be on par with their expectations? When you are investigating TESL courses, keep those questions in mind.
The TESOL International Association offers this warning: “Disreputable teacher education programs sometimes misuse the name or logo of another institution, or use a name or logo very similar to that of other well-respected organizations (including TESOL), to imply that they are affiliated with or accredited by that organization.” (source) This warning is especially appropriate for programs that include names such as Cambridge, Oxford, or any college or university name when the program is not actually affiliated with that school.
From the employer’s perspective, the value of a certificate is only in the training that it represents. This is true whether you are hoping to tutor individuals privately or teach for a school, university, or other organization. The person making the hiring decision may consider the often-true axiom “you get what you pay for”. They will likely investigate the school represented on the Certificate, and look into the quality of your training. Consider a few questions the employer will ask:
- Did you teach actual ESL students as a portion of your training?
- How many documented hours of ESL teaching did you do?
- What do your lesson plans look like?
- What were the language levels of the students that you taught?
- What was the most helpful feedback that you received from your TESL trainer about your teaching?
- How many documented hours of ESL classes did you observe?
- What was the most helpful thing you learned from observing other teachers in your course?
- How many total hours of training did you participate in?
- How much face-to-face interaction did you have with your trainers?
- How does your training qualify you to teach at my school/company/home?
- Will you be able to efficiently and effectively teach me/my students/my clients?
Most employers are looking for teachers with a certificate representing at least 100 hours of in-person training and a practice teaching component involving a minimum of 6 hours of supervised teaching with real ESL students. They want to have confidence that you know what you are doing and have already gained experience by teaching real students under the direction of an experienced teacher trainer.
Looking at a TESL Certificate from the employer’s point of view, it is easy to see that weekend seminars and online programs that do not contain an authentic (teaching real ESL students, not just peer-to-peer) practicum component are unacceptable. Courses taught by online video with limited student-teacher interaction are inadequate. These kinds of courses don’t effectively train you to teach across a language barrier and manage the challenges of the language classroom. They don’t meet employer’s expectations.
If any course would be unacceptable to an employer, it should be unacceptable to you. Even if you are pursuing TESL simply for self-improvement as a life-long learner, shouldn’t you choose a quality course that is a worthy investment?
Discover why you should choose TESL@TFLI for your TESL Certificate course. Graduates of TESL@TFLI receive a thorough and effective training in Teaching English as a Second Language, and find career opportunities worldwide.
About the 150-hour TESL Certificate course at the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute:
What is the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute?
The Tennessee Foreign Language Institute (TFLI) is an agency of the State of Tennessee established in 1986 for the purpose of “doing research into the most effective methods of foreign language instruction and disseminating that information, and improving the language skills and teaching methods of foreign language instructors at all levels”, among other language-related purposes. Here is more information about TFLI’s Mission.
Can I take an online TESL Certificate course at TFLI?
Online learning is an excellent option for many subjects, but we do not believe that it is the best format for preparing teachers for the second language classroom. We agree with TESOL International that “a good TEFL certificate program should focus on practical training, making distance education less favorable in the eyes of employers”. (source) The practical training that student teachers receive in our 150-hour TESL Certificate with ESL practice teaching cannot be replicated in an online format. In every TESL session you will experience and practice the same methods, techniques, and activities that you will use in your own classes. Find out more about TESL@TFLI methodology here.
Is the TESL Certificate from TFLI accepted in other countries?
Yes! TESL@TFLI Certificate holders find teaching positions locally and around the world. The 150-hour TESL Certificate from TFLI is recognized by the prestigious British Council, the United Kingdom’s international organization for cultural relations and education opportunities, as meeting the highest standards in teacher training. As our graduates can attest, certification from TESL@TFLI opens career opportunities worldwide.
Why should I choose TESL@TFLI?
Because our training and methodology are world-class and our results speak for themselves. Take a look at this section of the website.
Can I use the TESL Certificate to teach other languages besides English?
Absolutely! While the TESL course is geared towards teaching English, the teaching methodology that we have developed, including specific techniques and activities, can be used to teach any language. Many bilingual TESL@TFLI graduates have gone on to use the skills they learned in the course to teach Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and other languages.
What financial assistance is available for TESL@TFLI?
We encourage you to take advantage of any tuition discounts, payment plans, or TESL scholarships that would help you achieve your TESL certification. For the latest information about these TESL financial aid opportunities, please see the “TESL@TFLI Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid” page.
What is the TESL@TFLI refund policy?
Please see the “TESL@TFLI Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid” page for our refund policy. You can find the refund policy near the bottom of the page.
Does a certificate from TESL@TFLI substitute for the state teaching license or ESL endorsement for public schools?
Is TESL@TFLI accredited?
There is no internationally recognized accreditation agency for non-degree granting programs in TESL, so no program outside of a degree-granting college or university is accredited by an internationally recognized authority. TESL@TFLI is recognized by the prestigious British Council, the United Kingdom’s international organization for cultural relations and education opportunities, as meeting the highest standards in teacher training. As our graduates can attest, certification from TESL@TFLI opens career opportunities worldwide.
How long is the course? Where are classes held? How much coursework is there outside of class? Who enrolls in this course? What happens during the field teaching component?
We offer both part-time and full-time courses. For details about these, please look here.
Is it possible to find a job as an ESL instructor? How much does it pay? What do graduates do after completing the course? Will TFLI place me in a job afterwards?
Absolutely! All those answers may be found here.
Where can I find a place to stay while taking the TESL@TFLI course?
TFLI doesn’t offer or arrange accommodations, but we have compiled recommendations for students from out of town.
What if my plans are delayed after being certified? Or what if I decide that teaching ESL is not for me? Are there benefits that transfer to other fields?
There are certainly benefits to the TESL@TFLI training that directly apply to other jobs and situations. While the program is intended for individuals desiring to teach ESL or another foreign language, the skills learned are easily transferable. The training teaches you how to communicate across a language barrier, how to convey even very complex information in a simple and concise manner, and how to verify that others truly grasp the meaning and import of what you are conveying. These skills apply to any situation which requires you to communicate with others. Administrators, managers, public speakers, teachers, executives, even salespeople can learn valuable skills in the TESL@TFLI course.
As a professional development tool, TESL@TFLI training can certainly translate to many professions. There will always be opportunities to teach ESL locally and abroad. The opportunities are there for those willing to take them. However, sometimes plans change, goals are delayed, and life just happens. The TESL program will equip you with the key tools for any profession where clear communication leads to success.