Many people find ESL jobs around the world with an online TESOL certification. The truth is, it is possible to find teaching jobs with no qualifications at all. The question you really need to ask is, can I get a job that pays well and offers good working conditions? Although the answer is still yes, you need to make sure that the course you choose is of the highest quality you can find.
The unavoidable drawback of taking a TESOL course online is the obvious lack of any teaching practice. If your budget can stretch to a month-long in-class training course you will have many hours to practice the theory you have learned with real language learners in an authentic classroom environment. This type of course will open up a wider range of opportunities in many countries around the world. If you go with the budget friendly online course, your job options are likely to be a little more limited until you have got some classroom experience on your CV/resume.
Where are online certificates most acceptable?
The expectations of employers varies depending on where you choose to live and work. In much of Europe and the Middle East, schools tend to set the bar quite high, so job applicants with an online TESOL qualification might find themselves at the bottom of the pile. Also, any school that sees itself as prestigious, no matter where it is, is also likely to demand that their potential teachers have completed some form of in-class training or have experience in the classroom.
In contrast, across parts of Asia and Latin America employers are often less worried about the type of course you have taken or whether you have any previous experience. Generally speaking, the biggest markets for teachers in Asia such as China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have no specific preference when it comes to in-class or online TESOL certificates.
Will any online TESOL course do?
A TESOL course is much like everything else in life, you usually get what you pay for. Although online courses can come in many different forms, the more expensive ones will usually offer a higher standard of training than the really cheap options. On the surface, the courses might all look the same, but if you look a little closer you will find several differences. Cheaper courses often consist of simply reading through some text and then answering some multiple choice questions. While this will probably be very straightforward, it will also be quite dull and unchallenging, and you are unlikely to remember much of it by the time you start work in your own classroom.
What should I look for in an online TESOL course?
Your online course should actually teach you some skills and knowledge that you will need while teaching students of English. Some of the better online TESOL courses include video lessons where you can watch real teachers delivering lessons in a real classroom. Lesson planning is another highly important part of an ESL teachers job that is often overlooked by inferior courses. Stepping into your first class of teenagers or business executives without a thoroughly planned out lesson is something you really want to avoid. Constructive feedback from a professional online tutor is also a feature that you will find with many good online courses. An online tutor can provide a good insight into your strengths and weaknesses and help you to work on the areas that need improvement.
Is an in-class TESOL course a better option?
If your overseas adventure is just a short trip with a bit of teaching on the side, then an online TESOL course might well be sufficient for your needs. Likewise, if you already have classroom experience or your plan is to volunteer as a teacher, an online course should be adequate. An online course is also fine if you are heading to countries such as China or South Korea by way of a recruitment company that doesn?t require you to have any experience or classroom training. However, if any of these situations applies to you, you will still be much more prepared for what awaits you if your chosen online course offers good quality training that includes teaching videos, lesson planning strategies, and feedback from experienced tutors.
If your travel plans are for a longer term trip where you want to earn the best salaries on offer, you might be better off taking an in-class TESOL course. While this option might cost as much as $1,500 for four weeks of intensive training, it is a small price to pay when you consider that the best jobs in the Middle East, for example, can pay anything up to $4,000 per month. Jobs of this standard will not be open to you if you have only completed a 60-hour online course. Another big advantage of an in-class TESOL course is that by taking it in the country where you want to find a job you will have a distinct advantage in the job market. Training centers will have deep knowledge of the local schools and can often help to arrange interviews once the course is complete.