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A Brief Guide
To TEFL/TESL Courses in North America.

MA PROGRAMS

    Many US/Canadian universities offer MA programs which provide a sound theoretical foundation in TESL/TEFL. Courses involve lectures, seminars and ESL class observation. Some also include supervised practice teaching with foreign students.

    Advantages:

    • Courses provide a foundation in TESL/TEFL theory
    • Some courses also provide supervised practice teaching
    • MA degrees are widely accepted by US employers
    • MA TESL degrees are usually required for non-classroom jobs (e.g., those involving program or materials design)

    Disadvantages:

    • Courses are comparatively long and expensive
    • Programs usually focus on TESL to immigrants in USA/Canada, rather than on TEFL to students overseas
    • Many courses provide little or no supervised hands-on training with foreign students
    • Many MA TESL degrees are not recognized as appropriate classroom teaching qualifications, particularly overseas.

    Some graduates of MA TESL programs later follow CELTA courses, because the practical training provided by a CELTA complements the theoretical focus of most MA programs.

N. AMERICAN UNIVERSITY CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS

    Many US/Canadian universities offer TESL certificate courses, usually part-time over several months. The focus is normally on teaching immigrants in N. America, rather than on teaching overseas. Courses involve lectures, seminars and ESL class observation. There is often little or no supervised practice teaching with actual foreign students.

    Advantages:

    • Courses provide a good theoretical introduction to TESL
    • You may receive credit if you later enter a MA TESL program

    Disadvantages:

    • Programs usually focus on the TESL to immigrants in the USA/Canada, rather than on TEFL to foreign students overseas
    • There is often little or no hands-on training with foreign students
    • The certification is recognized by few TEFL employers

"IN HOUSE" CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS

    Several language school groups offer courses to train teachers for their schools. Courses usually last 1-2 weeks, and they provide practical training in the specific method used in the group's schools.

    Advantages:

    • Courses are short and often inexpensive
    • Training may lead to jobs in one of the chain's schools

    Disadvantages:

    • Programs teach one (often out-dated and restrictive) method
    • Courses are too short to permit really effective training
    • Training is not recognized by other TEFL/TESL employers
    • You will not receive credit if you later enter a MA TESL program

SMALL, INDEPENDENT CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS

    In the past few years, several small institutes have started offering their own certificate programs, which usually combine lectures/workshops with some practice teaching. The standard of training provided by these centers varies enormously.

    Advantages:

    • Courses usually cost less than more recognized programs
    • Programs include some practical hands-on training
    • Courses are usually easy to enter, and easy to complete
    • Some overseas employers accept the certificates

    Disadvantages:

    • Programs may be taught by unqualified staff with little experience
    • Training is often in outdated and restrictive methods
    • Practice may involve teaching peers rather than actual foreign students
    • Programs may close, leaving graduates with worthless certificates
    • Most employers do not recognize the certificates
    • To obtain an overseas job, you will often have to travel to the foreign country (at your expense) to give a demonstration lesson
    • You will usually not receive credit for a later MA TESL program


    "The most popular course for first-time teachers is the RSA/Cambridge CELTA." (Nuala O'Sullivan, "Teaching English: South-East Asia")

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