You have three choices when it comes to getting TEFL certified. You can take an in class course somewhere near where you currently reside. You could take an online course from anywhere you happen to be, or you could get certified abroad, in the country you’d actually like to teach in. Looking back it seems like a no brainer to me, and if I could do it all over again I most certainly would have chosen to get TEFL certified in the country I first taught instead of in a classroom in Denver, Colorado. Here’s why:
1) YOU GET TO BE WHERE YOU WANT TO BE SOONER
You’re getting TEFL certified to become an ESL teacher right? You’re doing that so that you can get paid AND travel right? So why not get abroad sooner and take your course in the country you’ve been dreaming about for years? Why waste any more time in the place you’ve been itching to leave. Why not start the adventure now rather than waiting any longer to start and complete a TEFL course before you go. Really, why?
2) THE CHANCES OF GETTING A TEACHING POSITION WHILE YOU ARE IN COUNTRY ARE HUGE
Compared to getting certified in your home country and hoping to be placed somewhere, anywhere, when you’re in country you will very likely get a position in the city you are in and often immediately. Why would a school want to wait to hire somebody they’ve never met with a certification that didn’t come from their institute when they could so much more easily hire those that just passed their course in their city? It’s a no brainer.
I took my course in class in Denver, Colorado. As the end of my course neared, I looked into placement. I took whatever they had. It happened to be Santiago de Chile. I got lucky. You may not be so lucky. If I had it to do over again, I would simply go where I wanted to go, get certified and hedge my bets getting placed at the institute in which I just got certified.
3) YOU MEET PEOPLE DOING EXACTLY WHAT YOU’RE DOING IN THE COUNTRY YOU WANT TO BE DOING IT
People come from all over the world to take TEFL courses in country. And just like you they are brand new in a foreign country, probably alone, maybe don’t know the language and are looking for friends. Just like you are. It’s so easy to make friends when you factor all of this in. Sure, you can make friends in an in class course, or maybe even online, but chances are those friends aren’t heading off in the same direction as you when the course finishes. And then you have to do it all over again when you finally do get abroad. Get a jumpstart on those lifelong friendships by starting off getting TEFL certified abroad!
4) STAYING WITH A HOST FAMILY GIVES YOU AN EDGE ON THE LANGUAGE AND THE CULTURE
Generally, when you go ahead and get certified in country, you stay with a host family your school sets up for you while you are taking your course. This gives you the opportunity to get to know the culture while your host family shows you around their town, makes delicious new food for you and helps you out with the basics of the language. Often, even after you’ve started teaching and moved out on your own, your host family remains an important part of your life abroad providing the support you need to tackle any of the cultural nuances you might encounter.
See our host family options in Guatemala and Costa Rica!
5) YOU LEARN TO TEACH ESL WITH THE STUDENTS YOU WILL ACTUALLY BE TEACHING ESL TO
When you learn in country in class, your mock classes are full of students who are actually from the country and actually want to learn English. You get a taste of the specific language problems you might encounter with this specific first language.
It is also another great way to meet locals before you’ve even started teaching. Locals are invaluable for showing you where to live, eat, drink, dance and all sorts of little secrets you’d never know about on your own. Plus locals become your friends and the sooner you make them the better off you are.
6) YOU CAN GET A JUMPSTART ON THE LANGUAGE
Often, the school you get certified in can also provide you with language classes. When I taught in Santiago de Chile, I was able to do canje classes, where once I was teaching my own ESL classes, I could exchange one of my classes for a class of Spanish. This is how I began learning Chilean Spanish. Learning the language as quickly as possible is invaluable.
You have a few choices when making your decision on where and how to get TEFL certified. It’s a pretty big decision. It’s the start of your new adventure abroad. Simply choosing to get certified is a huge step forward. Congratulations. These are just the few of the reasons I’d encourage you to consider getting certified in the country to wish to be.
Words by Kari Redmond.