We look at what TEFL accreditation is and why it’s important to consider when choosing a TEFL course.
When starting out in TEFL and deciding which certification to pursue, one thing to consider is whether the course provider is accredited.
In this blog, we will discuss what TEFL accreditation is and why it is important.
WHAT EXACTLY IS TEFL ACCREDITATION?
So, first and foremost, what is TEFL accreditation and what does it entail?
Quality assurance is provided by TEFL accreditation. An outside organization develops a set of standards that it believes providers should follow in order to deliver a quality training programme. Providers apply to be accredited by this body, which then conducts an evaluation.
What happens during this assessment depends on the standards that have been established, but it usually consists of someone from the accrediting body visiting the course provider, observing the course and trainers (some accrediting bodies impose fairly strict requirements on the course syllabus, while others allow more leeway), talking to employees, looking at processes and procedures, and so on. They decide whether their standards have been met based on this.
If so, the TEFL course provider is accredited by that organization.
The procedure should not end there. Accrediting bodies should evaluate and moderate the provider on a regular basis to ensure that standards have not slipped. Ideally, the accrediting body should be actively involved in every course offered by the provider, such as assessing some of the coursework completed by trainees.
WHY IS TEFL CERTIFICATION SO IMPORTANT?
The most serious issue with the TEFL industry is a lack of regulation. As a result, there are hundreds of courses to choose from, many of which are of poor quality. Some are even set up to take advantage of inexperienced potential trainees, promising high-quality training at rock-bottom prices.
As a result, you can see how having reputable, high-quality accreditation behind a course can benefit both you and the training center.
Here Are Some Of The Benefits Of Taking An Accredited TEFL Course:
- It can ensure that you are receiving high-quality training that meets the accrediting body’s standards.
- Accreditation may increase the likelihood that your TEFL certification will be recognised and trusted when looking for work. (In addition, government-regulated accreditation should ensure that your certification is recognised and trusted around the world – more on this later.) Most employers will only consider applicants whose TEFL certification meets certain minimum requirements. Many employers, for example, require at least 100 hours of course time and at least 6 hours of observed teaching practice. Accreditation from an organization that sets these standards is one way for providers to provide this assurance to their trainees.
- Accreditation can be viewed as a form of protection. It is protection for yourself, to ensure that you are not exploited by a shady TEFL course provider, and thus that you are not wasting your hard-earned money on a low-quality, untrustworthy, or unrecognized course. It protects future employers, who need to know that they are hiring teachers who have received quality training. It also protects your students, who have the right to expect a qualified English language trainer.
WHY MIGHT TEFL CERTIFICATION BE UNIMPORTANT?
Unfortunately, the same reasons that accreditation is important are also reasons why it may not be. This may appear counter-intuitive, but here’s what we mean:
- An accredited TEFL course ensures that you are receiving high-quality training only if the TEFL accrediting body is reputable and can withstand scrutiny. Anyone can create a TEFL course, and anyone can also create a TEFL accrediting body. In the United Kingdom, anyone with £12 and three pieces of identification can form a limited company and call it a TEFL accreditation body. Some course providers do exactly this after creating their course and then quickly “accredit” their own course. Needless to say, this does not ensure high-quality training.
- If the accrediting body cannot withstand scrutiny, it may not provide the above-mentioned protection. You could still be wasting money on a low-quality course.
- Because most accrediting bodies, like the TEFL course providers they work with, are businesses, accreditation requires payment of a fee. Because a business transaction is involved, ensuring high quality may not be at the top of the accrediting body’s priority list.
As a result, simply seeing the words “Accredited by XYZ” on a course provider’s website is insufficient. It does not ensure quality. You must investigate the accrediting body.
WHAT QUALITIES SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN TEFL CERTIFICATION?
So, what should you look for when researching a specific TEFL accreditation? Here are some things to keep an eye out for:
- Is it a government-mandated certification? A course accredited by Ofqual in the United Kingdom or AQF in Australia, or awarded by a body regulated by one of these organizations, should be internationally recognised and trusted.
If the course is not government-regulated but is accredited by a private body:
- Is the TEFL course provider listed as one of the providers they accredit on their website?
- How long have they been in business, and have they accredited other seemingly reputable TEFL courses?
- Is their website and setup professional, or do they appear to have been thrown together in five minutes?
- Do they list the requirements, the accreditation process, and the standards that organizations must meet? Do they actually send a moderator to evaluate the course and the trainers, collect feedback from trainees, and participate in their evaluation? If so, how frequently?
IS TEFL CERTIFICATION VALUABLE TO EMPLOYERS?
The majority of TEFL course providers promote their courses as “internationally recognised.” However, accreditation does not guarantee that your certification will be recognised internationally. It can certainly help, but when deciding whether or not to hire you, most reputable employers will consider more than just your course provider’s accreditation.
They will most likely look at the course duration and whether or not it included some observed teaching practice with real ESL students. (A widely accepted requirement is at least 100 hours of duration and 6 hours of teaching practice.) If those criteria are met as a result of having completed an accredited course, that is fantastic; however, for many employers, the criteria themselves, rather than the fact that they came from an accredited course, may be the most important consideration.
They’ll also look beyond that. Every employer has their own set of preferences. They will consider your experience, other aspects of your CV, how you present yourself during the interview, and so on.
SHOULD I PUT ACCREDITATION FIRST WHEN SELECTING A TEFL COURSE?
If you are deciding between different courses, then, all else being equal, you should definitely prioritize those that are accredited by reputable bodies that can withstand scrutiny.
However, keep in mind that there may be other factors that are just as important in your decision, which we outline in these questions to ask when choosing a TEFL course. The course duration (as mentioned above), course cost, and location, for example, may all play a role. But that doesn’t mean you should go with a shady, unaccredited course provider just because they offer a course on the beach!
WHAT DOES NOT QUALIFY AS TEFL CERTIFICATION?
Membership in various TEFL organizations, such as IATEFL or TESOL.org, is mentioned on many TEFL course provider websites. There is nothing wrong with either of these, but they are not the same as accreditation. They simply indicate that they are a part of that organization.
OTHER FACTORS TO CONSIDER
We already mentioned the most widely accepted and recognised criteria by employers worldwide, namely a course with at least 100 hours of training and 6 hours or more of observed teaching practice, teaching real ESL students rather than your peers.
These criteria are widely accepted internationally because they were “laid down” by the field’s original leaders, the Cambridge CELTA and Trinity Cert TESOL. As a result, some other accrediting bodies include these minimums in their standards, and many employers require them of job applicants.
However, this is not true for all reputable accrediting bodies. For example, if you take a course accredited by ODLQC, which we mentioned earlier, these minimums may not be included in their standards because they only accredited online courses. A teaching practice is not possible with an online course by definition.
If you take one of these courses, it will still be accredited by a reputable organization; however, it will not meet the standards demanded by many employers. That is not to say it is a bad course. It simply means that your job options will be more limited. This brings us back to the other factors to consider when selecting a course. Perhaps a shorter, online course is the best option for where you want to teach and your budget.