Getting Certified At Home (In The US Or UK)

Someone recently contacted me to ask if it was possible to get certified online at home in the US and then go, certificate in hand, to Europe to find work.

In theory it is possible to get certified at home, and of course completely online courses can be done from anywhere you have an internet connection. See one teacher’s take on his online course here, and see what another teacher had to say about getting certified at home in the UK.

It’s important to realize though that an online certificate will usually not make the cut for employers requesting a TEFL certificate. Generally if they specify that, or if it is a requirement in the country to get work permit, it needs to be an internationally recognized course/certificate, which generally includes at least 100 hours of classroom instruction and 6 of real teaching practice.

As I mentioned here, doing a course at home is an advantage because you are in the comfort of your own environment; you know where to find things and don’t waste time searching for your perfect style of notebook to write in (hey, it makes a difference!). Maybe more significantly, you haven’t had to make the investment of going all the way to another country – what if it turns out you don’t like it?

However, if you plan on working abroad, you’re going to turn up somewhere at some point – and I’d think it’s better with the cushion of a one-month intensive course: better to decide at the end of your course that you want to go somewhere else than at the end of the first month of a job.

I personally think the disadvantages outweigh the advantages of training at home, especially if home is the US.

While many course providers do not include job placement, they can often offer an quite a bit of informal advice, as can other trainees, not all of whom will be new teachers. You may find individuals who know a lot about working in other regions if you train at home, but it is simply logical that you are more likely to find people who know the scene if you are in at least the region where you want to work.

I have also come across so many misconceptions among those who have not worked abroad that I would be very wary of getting well-intentioned buy incorrect advice. You may feel like it doesn’t matter if it’s advice you receive before you take a job, but the pricetag on most TEFL courses is not small. Obviously if you are in the city or country where you want to work, you also have a leg up on visiting schools there before it is crunch time to find a job.

It’s also my impression that there are, relatively speaking, more courses in the US and UK that are not internationally recognized and, in the US at least, fewer that are. Providers know that people want to take the course and work at the same time, so offer weekend seminars or other ways of meeting this need. These courses may well be useful, and the reality is that there are employers that do not require certificates, but don’t be fooled into thinking you can get any job anywhere with these.

To sum up, it’s certainly possible to get certified at home, but think carefully about the disadvantages, and use the same caution as you would overseas.