When choosing a TEFL program, the pros and cons can be tough to weigh when you consider on-site programs vs. online TEFL training programs.
Contrary to what many think about the differences between purely on- line TEFL courses and on-site TEFL courses is that actually when it comes right down to the nuts and bolts of teaching theory, classroom management and all the other stuff involved in the actual degree itself chapter by chapter, concept by concept and teaching theory by teaching theory...
With on-site you get actual hands on time. Great. It's a
good start but what is the real market value of an on-line TEFL program with a practicum? One, you are demonstrating
your knowledge of the course material often in front of tutors and not students.
In reality, what is a hands on / practicum? It's a couple days of real work, in the trenches doing the real thing. Simply put, it's less than a week of actually doing the do, walking the walk and living the life of a real ESL teacher.
At this point in the article we are NOT qualifying this statement. We are quantifying it. In seconds, minutes and hours on the clock, it equals a handful of classes. Perhaps a couple of handfuls that you'll need both hands and maybe your toes to count the hours on.
So this is the quantification of what you are paying for in an on-site TEFL program with a TP (teaching practice) module. Please note we are not talking about a full-blown CELTA and NOT a pure on-line short course with zero TP.
At this point it comes down to your personality type. If you are confident in your personal presentation
skills and have mastered to some extent the guts of the course then
getting up in front of your students "cold" shouldn't be a problem.
This type is like a fish in water. Public speaking is a joy, they walk into a room and own it. For this type, if you want to simply get an entry level job go the cheapest route you can get to get your foot in the door. This means minimum hour courses no TP or teaching practice included. Just enough so that recruiters or school owners don't shred your resume and be done with it. Note however that a TEFL program with TP carries more weight in Japan but is not necessary in other Asian countries like Cambodia for example.
If, on the other hand you are not that confident and want the exposure that the practicum offers, it is a wise choice to spend the extra money for an on-site ESL training program. Again it just comes down to what you are made of as a teacher.
This type of ESL teacher is the type that is not sure if teaching overseas is a real option for them. They want to try and "give it a go" but need more accurate and real information to find out if it is something that they can actually see themselves doing beyond a gap year or a semester gig.
In terms of cash, the difference is considerable because an on-site degree involves trains and planes to get to the actual teaching location where you'll get your training. It speeds up the learning curve slightly, which helps you hit the ground running faster.
If you are really
strapped for cash to the point where on-site is not a realistic option, as we recommend on our TEFL FAQ page,
you can get your feet wet for free by volunteering at your local
community college teaching ESL. Looks nice on the resume and you will
learn a bucket load in a low pressure situation. After all how much can
they expect from their volunteer ESL teacher?
Another option is to scan
the university notice boards and look for language exchanges. Again this
gives you real ESL teaching experience for the price of a cup of joe
and a little badly, badly needed fill for your resume. Tips on writing a resume for teaching here.
So in a nutshell the downside of purely on-line TEFL certification is the lack of hands on time or actual student contact and a diminished chance to actually practice some of the stuff you learned.
ESL Certification Online: Upsides to On-line TEFL Programs
But there are of course two sides to every coin and the following one simply can't be overlooked.
The time you spend in your home country studying the course materials
come at a cost. That cost is social networking. Or an opportunity cost
if you will.
In short, the pros ad up quickly and just try putting a price tag on that one. This is where on-site TEFL courses shine.
So in a nutshell the downside of purely on-line is the small amount of hands on time that doesn't help so much with those ESL teachers who are on the fence in terms of whether or not to embark on a career teaching ESL in Japan or in some other country.
Whether or not you go for an on-site TEFL program the raw and undeniable reality is that within a couple of week of actual teaching, even if you didn't order the hands on practicum or went purely on-line, you will have "caught up" so to speak to some degree to those who did in terms of actual teaching hours logged. Period.
And lastly no matter how good the on-site program is, nothing can prepare you for what will happen in the actual classroom because the scope of variables are too wide for any TEFL program to encompass. One might say the most sagely advice would be to expect the unexpected and roll with the punches.
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