A TESOL certification is the main certification required by ESL employers worldwide and the minimum level that most now expect is a 120-hour certificate. There are two main routes to obtaining such certification: in-class and online TESOL courses.
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As the name implies these courses are undertaken at some location in the world where English is being taught as a second language. Typically these courses require attendance of about four weeks. Due to the accommodation requirement of these courses they tend to be the more expensive of the two options. They do normally however include a teaching practice component that is a huge benefit when preparing to teach in the real world.
These courses do not require attendance at any particular location and can be done at any pace from within your own home or whilst traveling, providing you have an internet connection. This very convenient layout means these courses tend to be considerably cheaper than the in-class option. They do not normally however include a teaching practice component.
The general entry requirements for either the in-class or online versions of the 120-hour TESOL certificate are the same. These courses are open to anyone over the age of 18 years, who has a good working use and knowledge of the English language. This means these courses are available to native and non-native English speakers alike.
TESOL courses vary greatly depending upon the organization providing the training. You should be aware that in order to receive the initial training necessary to be able to effectively teach in a classroom, your course should include the minimum following aspects.
There are a number of important teaching skills that should be covered by any initial training course. These include;
- Teaching methodologies: What teaching strategies and techniques have been successful over time to teach different groups, such as adults and young children?
- Lesson planning and material preparation: Once a teaching method has been identified teachers should be able to plan a lesson, including all the required materials needed to teach that lesson.
- Classroom management: The skills of classroom organization and control are very important if an atmosphere conducive to learning it to be established and maintained.
- Evaluation and testing: Any course taught will require some form of evaluation and testing of the students. What are the best ways to carry this out?
In addition to teaching skills, it is essential that teachers of English possess enough subject knowledge to adequately teach the students (language awareness). Being a native speaker of English is not a qualification for teaching the rules of the language and any training course should place a high value on this instruction.
Typical areas covered in any language awareness teaching course will include the parts of speech, the English language tense system and a whole range of grammatical items such as modals, reported and direct speech and other similar functions.
It is important to understand that mainstream TESOL teaching usually covers five student levels: Starter, Elementary, Pre-Intermediate, Intermediate and Upper-Intermediate. As a teacher you will be expected to teach any and all these levels and should therefore be familiar with all the typical syllabus items given at each of these levels.
It is also widely accepted that a 120-hour TESOL course is an entry level qualification to the ESL teaching world and that your knowledge and skill will be further developed by actual teaching in real classrooms.