Is A TEFL Certificate “Enough”?
….to get a job? Very often to most of the time, yes. A certificate that has a well-known name or is internationally recognized will bring more opportunities, but in some places even an online certificate will do. Once you have experience, common sense says the importance of the issuer of the certificate becomes less important. Investigate what’s required for the countries you are interested in; most require a BA to work legally.
….to prepare you to stand in front of a class and lead it? Generally, yes, and if you choose a good course – one which includes teaching practice – you’ll already have done this by the time you finish. Plus you’ll be able to point out my natural use of future perfect in that last sentence.
…to make you a good teacher? Not really, or not in isolation. Becoming a good teacher takes practice and experience and a whole host of other qualities that a four-week intensive course can’t possibly cover. What can it do? It can give you the confidence and the foundation to get out there and gain that experience and insight.
Does this mean a tefl course is not worth taking? Of course not. You have to start somewhere, and in a field where experience is so essential in improving , a qualification that helps you get into that asap is a good thing.
Are other programs better? Is it unfair to your students to start teaching before you are “perfect”?
There are pros and cons to every type of program and it would be silly for me to try and speak on them all. But whatever program you choose, there will come a point where you just have to start teaching and this point will almost always be before you are fully trained. Plenty of people would argue that the sooner you start teaching real students in a real class, the sooner you can begin to learn from this and improve. With a normal conscience and decent work ethic, few people are truly atrocious enough to inflict life-long scars on adult learners – you won’t be their first EFL teacher nor their last (unless you’re really bad and they give up learning English forever because of you).
Don’t worry, I’m just kidding.
My point is, a four-week course is just that. It’s far better than nothing and I’d say far better than even an online certificate. It’s not a magic solution but for what it is, it’s a good investment. If you have more questions, check out How To Choose A TEFL Course or post a comment here.