Do I need the CELTA to teach?

299918_4963619882303_820107179_nHere are some uses for £1000:

  • A month-long epic adventure backpacking through Mexico
  • Half of a Peugot 407
  • 2 iPhones
  • 3 Michael Kor’s watches (one for me right?)

Here is one other use of £1000 for the graduate who wants to teach English abroad:

  • A CELTA qualification

Just paying for the CELTA is no guarantee of you being able to pass the course. So not only are you handing over 1000 g’s for a course you may not even pass, but there’s also no guarantee of a job at the end. Many may question whether they should demolish their savings with the CELTA or go “cheap as chips” with the weekend TEFL courses. The answer?

It’s up to you.

I know of people who’ve succeeded in landing jobs with weekend courses and done pretty well out of it, it all depends on how you use your skills, whether you’re based in the country you’re hoping to teach in, the time of year…there are so many variables. The one constant though, is that there will always be a need for native English speakers to teach. The qualifications you’ll need are really dependent on the length of time you want to teach, your current financial situation, your previous work experience and where you want to teach.

I’ll be writing another post on where in the world you can teach and what you’ll need but I’ll be mentioning stuff in brief here.

The CELTA is fantastic as a starting point for teaching; it equips you with the skills and knowledge to teach English, but that’s just what it is. A starting point. The CELTA is a crash course on English grammar, TEFL teaching techniques, language acquisition techniques and teaching practice all rolled into one. It is internationally respected and accepted and provides you with a reference from your course tutors afterward to prospective employers. In the last few days of the course, the TEFL jobmarket will be superficially covered and some help may be given with finding jobs. Though this is more likely to happen at the “upmarket” CELTA schools, like International House, who charge over £1500 (three iPhones) for the course. Even at the end of the course, the CELTA powers-that-be remind you that although you have passed, you will still need extensive training and support upon employment.

If you only have a degree and the CELTA (and about £25,000 worth of student debt!) with no other teaching or TEFL experience, than it might be prudent to pursue jobs in your local area, gaining TEFL experience before casting your net abroad. TEFL summer schools and other teaching roles might be helpful to future employers, as well as experience with children. Getting extra experience is recommended if you’re planning to teach in Western Europe, as the “sexier” countries (Spain, Italy, France) can be harder to find work if you’re planning to move to the capitals. Rural areas will always yield more results and you may have a better chance of securing work in countries like Poland, the Czech Republic and Georgia without experience (and without the CELTA).

So whilst the CELTA won’t guarantee you a job, it definitely gives you more bargaining power and better options.

The only problem with weekend TEFL courses is their theoretical nature. Many will be computer-based and won’t involve any physical teaching to students, whereas the CELTA aims to be a practical course with a minimum of six hours teaching and 120 input hours. It all depends as to whether you can afford the time to take a one month break and the fees, but its not always necessary. If you’re Caucasian (sad but true) and have a degree, then a TEFL weekend course will set you up better in countries like south east Asia over western Europe. Countries such as South Korea, China, Japan and Thailand have so many opportunities for new teachers with no experience and are great locations for first-timers.

Or you could do neither and apply for one of the British Council Language schemes or the JET scheme.

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