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How long does it take to be an ESL teacher?

The timeline for becoming an ESL teacher will vary for each individual person. However, the journey always starts with a TESOL certification course that provides all the knowledge needed to plan and deliver high-quality lessons in whatever type of classroom you end up working in. Which type of TESOL course you choose to complete will have a big say in how long it will take you to become an ESL teacher.

Which type of TESOL course is the quickest to complete?

TESOL courses are usually classified by the average number of hours they take to complete, with some being as little as 50 hours or less. These short-format courses offer the chance to get a qualification very quickly, however, they might not be the best approach if you want to have a wide choice of well paid jobs to choose from. Generally speaking, employers of ESL teachers expect to see that their job applicants have a TESOL course of at least 100 hours, with anything less being primarily aimed at teaching assistants or volunteers. At ITTT we offer a very popular 120-hour TESOL certification course that is completed 100% online, with no set timetable or study schedule. Trainees who have plenty of spare time and are highly motivated can theoretically complete this course in as little as two weeks. However, the average completion time is typically between six and eight weeks.

How long does an in-class TESOL course take?

While the timeline for completing an online TESOL course is largely down to the individual trainee, an in-class TESOL course runs on a fixed schedule of around four weeks of full-time study. With this type of course the study can be quite intensive, but the benefit is that you know you will be ready to start applying for jobs as soon as the course is finished. Many trainees who choose this route also choose a training center that is located in or close to the area where they wish to live and work. All our centers have close working relationships with schools in the local vicinity, which means that many trainees are able to secure their first teaching role soon after becoming qualified.

Will I be ready to teach after the course?

Although your TESOL course will provide all the information you need to get your teaching career started, you shouldn’t expect to know everything right from the start. The road to becoming an experienced ESL teacher who can easily navigate any issues that come up in the classroom will be much longer than a single training course. In order to reach that level of professionalism you might want to consider taking additional training courses to build on what you learned in your initial TESOL course. Popular options for additional training include courses that focus on specialized areas of language teaching such as young learners, business English, and teaching online. Another option is an advanced-level course, such as our online Diploma in TESOL.

By adding one or more additional courses to your portfolio you will gradually grow your understanding of the complex world of English language teaching. On top of these additional courses, the main thing you can do to further develop your teaching abilities is to actually teach. When it comes to a teacher’s ability to produce effective lessons that will really push their students towards their study goals, there is no real substitute for experience. Your skills and knowledge will grow with every lesson you teach and within a few weeks or months you should start to feel like the professional ESL teacher that you set out to be.

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