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TEFL Certificate FAQs

Listed below are the most frequently asked questions regarding our TESOL course. Simply click on a question in the list below to be taken directly to the answer.

Questions TESOL

Basically they all mean the same. They are terms used to describe the teaching of the English Language to students who are not native speakers of English. The main difference is the country where the teaching takes place. TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Second or Other Languages) and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) are standard terms for English language teaching in non-English speaking countries.

TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) and TEAL (Teaching English as an Additional Language) are normally related to English teaching among immigrant and refugee communities in English-speaking countries.

TEFL and TESL are more frequently used in Europe as acronyms, while TESOL and TEAL are more commonly used in North America.

The range of TEFL courses on offer can be bewildering. Bear in mind that the Trinity Cert TESOL and the Cambridge CELTA are recognised by the British Council and by schools worldwide as initial qualifications. Organisations offering similar courses to these but without external assessment and validation may vary in quality and the qualification they offer will be less widely recognised.

Online courses or short “taster” courses can provide a helpful introduction to TEFL, but they cannot compare to a course with hands on assessed teaching experience with real students and will not result in a recognised certificate, which employers expect.

Before deciding on a course, the questions to ask yourself are:

  • How is the quality of the course assessed and validated?
    Many courses are validated by the very people who run the course. This does not lead to objective quality control and the maintenance of high standards. Consequently, most employers will have less confidence in these courses.
  • How many hours does the course consist of?
    Many potential employers will want to know how many hours your course work was and how many hours of observed teaching practice you had. Recognised courses are normally between 120 and 150 hours with a minimum of 6 hours observed teaching practice.
  • Is the course internationally recognized?                            One of the most important factors to consider when choosing English training courses is whether they lead to an internationally recognized qualification or not. Without one, you might miss out on opportunities to teach English in the country of your choice. This is particularly so in the highly popular teaching locations, where competition is much tougher and having a certificate a potential employer knows can make all the difference. If you are considering taking a qualification validated by a body of which you have not heard, you should seek advice from, for example, the British Council. The Trinity Cert TESOL and Cambridge CELTA are recognised by the British Council and by employers worldwide. Trinity College London externally assesses every course and all successful graduates receive a certificate issued by them.

Yes, it is possible some countries, like China for example, where demand for teachers is very high, to get teaching jobs without TESOL certification, though this is becoming less common as employers increasingly require a recognized TESOL certificate.

The Trinity Cert. TESOL

The Trinity Cert. TESOL is one of the most widely recognized and highly regarded initial TESOL qualifications. Any potential employer, if they have any knowledge at all of English as a foreign language, will know the Trinity Cert. TESOL.

In addition, the courses are validated, and syllabus and assessment criteria are fixed, by Trinity College London. This assures quality control in a number of areas. All centres are subject to approval by Trinity College, and have to maintain standards in order to retain this approval.

If a centre is failing to meet the required standards, approval to run courses will be withdrawn by Trinity College. Every Trinity Cert. TESOL course is moderated by an external assessor.

Each Trinity Cert. TESOL trainer has to be approved by Trinity College London (which includes meeting their requirements regarding teaching experience and qualifications) and has to undergo a lengthy induction process.

All the above contribute to the excellent reputation that the Trinity Cert. TESOL enjoys.

Over 600 courses are run worldwide each year, either full time or part time.

Currently over 7000 candidates worldwide gain the Certificate each year.

Yes, it is officially recognised by the British Council as an initial qualification for English language teaching internationally.

Our pass rate is currently 96%. Of these around 10% achieve an A grade with B and C grades equally distributed. There is a high pass rate because applicants are screened and their progress is monitored closely during the course.

As a result of our careful selection procedures, only around 4% of trainees fail the course.

No. The Trinity Cert. TESOL is a practical teaching course, and the experience you acquire on the course teaching non-English speaking students (with its emphasis on continuous assessment of classroom practice), together with the interaction with trainers and with your fellow students, are essential elements and so not suitable for distance learning.

The Applicant

Although most course participants are native speakers of English, there are sometimes non-native speakers who are fluent in English. A typical course will have several people in their early twenties, some who are recent graduates and want to travel overseas in order to get work experience.

Other older trainees may want a career change or be approaching, at, or past retirement age and may want to start another career or earn money while they travel the world.

Most trainees have come especially to do the course in their chosen location, while a few are already based there. In addition, although the Cert.TESOL is an initial training course, i.e. for those who have no previous experience of teaching English, there may be trainees on the course who have taught English before and who wish to gain an ELT qualification. However, seminar input and guidance for teaching practice will assume no prior teaching experience.

The Czech Republic is also becoming an increasingly popular place in which to do courses with North Americans, Antipodeans and other native speakers who are not citizens of the European Union. This is due to the availability and relative ease of work and the closeness of the Czech Republic to western Europe for visits.

No, you don’t have to be a graduate but it is preferred. Whilst the course is essentially practical, it is, however, recommended that applicants should have formal qualifications which would allow entry into higher education in order to cope with the academic side of the course.

In some cases, work experience may be accepted in place of qualifications. Your application will ultimately be judged on whether we think you are capable and motivated enough to meet the demands of the course.

Yes, there are many resources we can recommend you use before the course starts, also there is a pre-course task to complete once you have been accepted onto the course. This will give you a good idea of what you may want to explore further before the course starts. Just contact the centre you interviewed with and we will be very happy to advise you. During the course we have language analysis input sessions to help you.

There is no upper age limit, but all applicants have to be at least 18 years old. While the majority of trainees who take the course are in their 20’s and 30’s, individuals of all ages teach English.

Some employers may have a preference for younger teachers, whilst others tend to prefer more ‘mature’ teachers who can bring the benefit of business or professional experience to their lessons.

Yes, you need not have English as your first language provided that your awareness and competence in written and spoken English enables you to follow the course without hindrance.

Your ability to speak and write English accurately and effectively enough to be a teacher of English will be assessed in your application form and interview.

Please note that many employers only employ, or have a strong preference for, native speakers.

No. The TESOL programme uses the universally accepted Communicative Approach in teacher training, where English is the only language used in the classroom for all levels of foreign language students taught.

No. The TESOL course is designed as a pre-service course for people with no previous teaching experience.

When you are accepted onto the TESOL course you are given a recommended reading list with your acceptance letter. You will be required to read one book.

If the Trinity Cert. TESOL is designed for those with no previous experience, why are there interviews?

One important reason is for us to assess applicants’ language awareness and potential

Language awareness includes, among other things, the ability to identify and describe: meaning and differences in meaning; levels of formality; and the basic structure of a sentence.

The questions do not require previous teaching experience or advanced study of the English language, and we do not assume knowledge of linguistic terminology – although we would expect candidates to be familiar with basic terms such as ‘noun’, ‘adjective’ and ‘verb’.

An additional reason is for you to get the opportunity to talk to a teacher trainer and ask any questions not already raised, and to allow you to consider more carefully whether the Trinity Cert. TESOL is the right course for you.

Perhaps the main aim is to make sure that we don’t offer a place to – and accept money from – someone who we feel does not have a good chance of passing the course.

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Do I have to have an interview in person to get on the course?

No. Interviews are by skype or telephone, unless, of course, you are in or near one of our centres, in which case a face to face interview will be arranged. Interviews typically last 20-25 minutes and the applicant makes the call.

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What about visas / insurance?

Visas for Prague: For EU citizens, visas of at least 1 month are automatically granted upon arrival. If you are a citizen of a country that is not a member of the EU, please check with the Czech Embassy or Consulate to see if you need a visa.

Visas for Barcelona: EU citizens are not required to have a visa. Non-EU citizens can stay up to 3 months as tourists.

In both Prague and Barcelona we can provide advice and information for those wishing to secure work and residence permits after course completion. EU citizens seeking work in Spain will not require a working visa.

Health insurance: We recommend that you arrange your own health and travel insurance. British subjects benefit from a reciprocal arrangement between the Czech and British health service systems for free treatment of basic emergency needs. In Spain likewise. Full details of the above are sent to you after enrollment in an “Information for Course Participants” booklet.

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What do I need to bring to do the course?

For your teaching practice you will sometimes need to create materials, so you will need to buy office supplies such as card, scissors and glue. These are easily and cheaply available.

It is useful to bring with you some “authentic material” from your place of origin to be used with learners. For example, tourist brochures, newspapers, magazines, video with TV programmes/adverts, city maps, family photos.

Don’t weigh yourself down with excess baggage, but a few things like this can be useful and interesting to use in the classroom.

You will not need to bring any textbooks with you, as the course library contains all you need for essay assignments and lesson plans. To help you during the course you will also have access to computers and the internet for study purposes.

For course participants in Prague, if you are thinking of staying in the Czech Republic after the course, bring your full original birth certificate as it is necessary for your residence permit.

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How much is the cost of living in Prague/Barcelona?

Prague is a relatively inexpensive city in which to live. Below are a few examples of prices in Czech crowns, dollars and pounds sterling:

a large loaf of brown bread: 20 CZK / 65c / 41p
a litre of milk: 15 CZK / 48c / 31p
a litre of mineral water: 15 – 25 CZK / 48c-79c / 31p – 51p
a 1/2 litre bottle of beer (in a supermarket): 12 CZK / 38c / 25p
a meal in a restaurant: 80 – 100 CZK / $2.54-$3.18 / £1.64 – £2.05
a beer in a pub: 20 – 30 CZK / 63c-95c / 41p – 62p
a one month Prague city travel pass: 420 CZK / $13.35 / £8.60

Average salaries for Czechs in Prague are 17,500-Kc per month before tax (13,400-Kc after tax).

An average salary for an English teacher in Prague is 25,000-Kc per month before tax (19,500-Kc after tax). This is, in fact, what a Czech university professor earns.

Teachers, as you can see, earn about 50% more than the average Czech. This is partly offset by the fact that many Czechs live in rent-controlled housing paying maybe 1,000 to 1,500-Kc per month, whereas foreigners generally start paying rent at 6,000-Kc per month.

However, it is very easy for teachers to find private lessons which can pay from 300 to 500-Kc cash per hour if they wish to earn additional income.

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In Barcelona and Madrid, the cost of living is roughly 75% of the UK or U.S, in Cadiz this is about 10% to 20% less.

Some typical prices, in euros:

  • One month rent in a shared flat, including bills: 300 – 420 euros
  • Lunch out ordering “menu del día”: 10-15 euros
  • 10-journey travel ticket: 9.80 euros
  • Beer in bar: 2.50 euros
  • Sandwich: 3.50 euros
  • Cigarettes: 4.30 euros
  • Baguette: 0.50 euros

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Can you provide accommodation for candidates during the course?

Yes, accommodation can be arranged in advance for candidates. In Prague, the majority of accommodation is either in flats which the school rents on a long term basis, or, in the case of large courses, some trainees might be housed in pensions or hostels sharing with other course participants.

In Barcelona, you will have a room in a shared flat, either with other course participants or with an English teacher or Spanish person. In order to keep costs down, the accommodation will rarely be luxurious, but will be warm, clean and comfortable. Accommodation will be convenient for public transport and within 35 minutes travelling time from the centre.

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Will you help in adapting to the new environment?

Yes. There is a welcome dinner on the evening before the course begins, a great opportunity to get to know people and get some informal orientation about the city.

On the first day of the course you will receive an info pack with maps and guidance on where to eat, drink, shop, etc.

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Are the course fees refundable?

Please refer to our “Terms and Conditions of Enrolment” within our “Payment” page.

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What does the Pre-Course Task involve?

Most native speakers of English, although they may use the language effectively, are not necessarily aware of the nuts and bolts of how it actually works.

The task is designed to give you some initial orientation. Its function is to raise your awareness of issues and terminology associated with the study of English grammar, vocabulary and phonology.

There are 10 modules:

  • Phonology
  • Grammar
  • Vocabulary
  • Learners
  • Lesson Planning
  • Teachers
  • Classroom Management
  • Teaching Skills
  • ELT Methodologies
  • Reflection on the Pre-Course Task

The task is completed through our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) or Moodle, so you will need internet access in order to complete it. Your work will be checked by your Course Director as you work through each task, but you will not be graded.

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How much work does the course involve?

The course is extremely intensive. Expect to be at the school for about 8 hours a day and to spend a couple more, on average, working at home. It is strongly advised that candidates have no other professional or personal commitments during the course as these could seriously compromise your result.

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Who are the practice students?

The students are generally Czech, Spanish or international adults. The students are fully aware that the lessons are taught by trainee teachers. Class sizes vary, with an average of 10-12 students. Class sizes should not normally exceed 16.

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Who are the tutors?

Your course director will be supported by a team of 3-5 tutors. They will be responsible for leading input sessions and observing and supporting you through teaching practice.

Tutors are all highly qualified and with experience in teaching and teacher training around the world. They combine professional expertise with a positive approach and enthusiasm, key qualities in helping their trainees to succeed.

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Can you describe a typical day? How is the course organised?

Typically, mornings are devoted to learning about teaching – how to manage groups, how to analyse language for teaching purposes, different approaches to pronunciation and so on.

The afternoon is devoted to putting it all into practice. Trainees are divided into small groups and these teaching practice groups work with their trainer to advance the learning of practice students.

Trainees teach 2 different groups for 2 weeks each, guided each day by the trainer who is supervising them. The trainers endeavour to create a real-life teaching situation by having trainees work with contemporary published materials, keep attendance records and so on.

After teaching there is group or individual feedback, the opportunity to comment on what has been more or less successful and why.

As well as learning from the experience of teaching and watching their peers, trainees also observe 8 live lessons taught by their trainers or other experienced teachers.

Sample timetable:

The Teaching Input sessions take place in three sessions: 12.00-13.00, 13.00-14.00 and from 15.00-16.00. Lunch is from 14.00 to 15.00. From 16.15 – 18.30 there is teaching practice and feedback every day.

Lesson Preparation takes place before the morning sessions start. Below is a typical timetable for week 2 of the course.

Week Two

12.00-16.00 Input sessions

Teaching Listening
Assignment Guidance: Learner Profile and Materials Project.
Grammar 2

Creating your own Materials.
Phonology 2
Teaching Using Video

Phonology 3
Grammar 3
Teaching Speaking

Job Slot – Working in EFL
Error Analysis
Error Correction

Assignment workshop: Learner Profile and Materials Project
Review and Preparation for new level
Individual Counselling Tutorials

Teaching Practice and feedback

Start and end times, both of the day and of individual sessions, may vary from course to course. However, the total hours spent in seminars and TP remains the same. There are no classes on Saturdays and Sundays.

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What are the input sessions like?

We believe in learning through involvement, and trainees are expected to participate in many different ways during the sessions. Where necessary, information will be supplied, but more commonly you will experience a workshop approach, where your tutor acts as a “facilitator/animator” rather than as a lecturer.

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What written work is involved?

During the course a number of assignments are given. These include a record of your experience learning the unknown language, a profile of one of the teaching practice students, and a diagnosis of their language difficulties. Some homework is given, but your evenings will primarily be taken up with lesson planning.

All these sessions and assignments are interwoven throughout the course and are geared to provide a balanced and integrated course.

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How will I be assessed?

Assessment on teaching practice is continuous and is based on both actual performance and our assessment of your future potential. Trinity College award a certificate to all successful candidates on completion of the course.

All grades are moderated externally by a moderator appointed by Trinity College. Oxford Tefl awards A, B, C pass grades and a D fail grade.

Much of the success of the Cert. TESOL is due to the high level of rapport, co-operation and friendship established between participants and tutors on the course.

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Assuming I pass, what will I actually receive ?

Trainees can collect, phone or e-mail for their grades on the Monday after course finishes. Later you will receive two certificates. The first is your Oxford Tefl Certificate. This includes details of your performance and achievement. The second is from Trinity College London. They will be sent to you at the address you give us (or you can choose to collect them from the school).

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What are the chances of finding a job after completing the course?

Excellent. Successful graduates go on to obtain teaching posts in a wide range of countries immediately or soon after completing their qualification.

Our careers advisors will provide support during and after the course, whether you want to work in the same city or elsewhere in the world.  They will advise you on how to find work, where and when, on living and working in different locations and on writing your CV/resume.

Our graduates typically find work in a variety of locations around the world, Eastern and Western Europe, South America and Asia being the most popular.

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Does Oxford TEFL provide job placement assistance?

Yes – prior to graduation we conduct job workshops on a group and individual basis to help with all aspects of job seeking, from CV/résumé construction and interview techniques to arranging job interviews and assistance with finding a teaching job.

We have excellent contacts with the many language schools in Prague and Barcelona and contact them regarding graduates who wish to find work in the city. Trainees are also welcome to consult us for advice after the course has finished.

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What about a future in TEFL?

TEFL, the field of teaching English to speakers of other languages, is a growth industry. There are an estimated one billion learners throughout the world. There are many opportunities for suitably qualified people to travel taking advantage of their ability to teach English.

After a few years experience, usually in more than one context, teachers may be interested in going further in their ELT development – undertaking a Diploma or Masters level ELT course can often enhance career possibilities.

Apart from teaching, opportunities in ELT can be as diverse as its participants: writing materials, becoming involved in course design, teacher training and so on.

For an idea of current opportunities, try the Guardian every Tuesday and specialist ELT publications such as The EFL Gazette as well as the many websites which co-ordinate job offers, such as Dave’s ESL Café and TEFL.com.

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