When you’re trying to decide on what TEFL course to take, one key factor to consider is does it have a TEFL accreditation. Before we get into why this is the case, you first need to understand what a TEFL accreditation is and why it is important. So, let’s start there.
What is TEFL accreditation?
TEFL accreditation is like a seal of approval from an external organization who come in and evaluate the TEFL course. They assess it based upon a set of standards that they want course providers to adhere to. This revolves around the quality of the course, the course syllabus and its trainers. This acts as a kind of course audit and is intended to offer a form of quality assurance to the consumer that they will be getting good quality training from the TEFL program.
TEFL course providers generally apply to be accredited by the TEFL accreditation organization. The accreditation organization then carry out an examination of the course providers course processes and procedures before deciding whether or not to award the TEFL accreditation. Some accrediting bodies may also conduct periodic checks on the course providers after this, although this isn’t always the case.
Why should you care about TEFL accreditation?
It doesn’t matter if you’re studying an accredited TEFL course in a classroom or an accredited TESOL certification online, the fact that it has a TEFL accreditation will be of benefit both to you and the course provider.
This is because one of the biggest issues with TEFL training is that it is a largely unregulated industry. Anyone can make a TEFL course and market it at any price they wish. Consequently, there are many low quality TEFL courses out there, with people often getting sucked in by false promises of great training at very low prices.
This isn’t to say that all cheap TEFL courses are bad, in fact there are many accredited, cheap TEFL courses online that come highly recommended. You just need to make sure you do you research and be particularly cautious of Groupon TEFL courses or courses offered on other such coupon sites.
The old saying you get what you pay for more often than not rings true in TEFL. However, if you are really strapped for cash and still want to do an accredited TEFL course, you can check out the cheapest TEFL courses currently on offer here.
Benefits of a TEFL accreditation
The good news is that if the TEFL course provider is accredited you can have some comfort that you will receive good quality training, which is in accordance with the standards of the TEFL accreditation organization.
You can therefore look at TEFL accreditation as a sort of insurance policy that protects you from doing a low-quality course. The last thing you want to do is invest 100s of hours into a TEFL course that isn’t accepted by the major employers or that doesn’t provide you with the right training to enable you to give your best to your students.
So, we’ve established that a TEFL accreditation can give you some assurances over the standard or training you’ll receive. What other benefits does it bring?
Finding a TEFL job
When it comes to finding a job, many employers will ask you to have completed a 120-hour accredited TEFL course with teaching practice. This means that if you do an accredited TEFL certification you’ll have more chances of landing that dream job teaching English abroad or teaching English online. It can also help you stand out amongst other candidates.
As a result, with an accredited TEFL certification you’re more likely to get a TEFL job and the course provider is more likely to get more trainees. I think that’s what’s called a win-win!
However, it is important to note that TEFL accreditation isn’t the be-all and end-all for employers even though it is a factor. They will also look at other criteria such as course length, teaching practice, previous experience and how you came across on your CV or at the interview.
Are there any problems with TEFL accreditations?
One significant bone of contention with TEFL accreditations is that there isn’t one official body that governs all TEFL accreditation organizations, TEFL course providers and courses in operation worldwide. In fact, there are many TEFL accreditation organizations which aren’t even necessarily regulated themselves. This means that:
- An accredited TEFL course is only as reputable as the accrediting body. Believe it or not anyone can create a TEFL accreditation organization and some course providers do this after creating their course. They can therefore accredit their own course with their own accreditation organization. As I’m sure you’ll appreciate, this is a conflict of interest and doesn’t guarantee training quality.
- TEFL accreditation organizations can be run like a business and charge a fee for accreditation. If a TEFL course provider is paying to be accredited how can you be sure the process is fair?
- A TEFL course might market itself as “internationally recognized”, but the TEFL accreditation doesn’t automatically guarantee that.
- If an accrediting body isn’t trustworthy you could end up throwing your money away on a poor-quality course.
So, what should you look for to help mitigate these potential problems?
What to look for with TEFL accreditation organizations
There are a few things to look out for to help make sure that the TEFL accreditation organization accrediting your TEFL course is reputable:
- How long have they operating for?
- Is the TEFL course provider listed on their website?
- Does their website look professional?
- Do they accredit other reputable TEFL course providers and TEFL courses?
- Do they have a set of standards that they publish, which course providers must meet in order to receive accreditation?
- Are they well connected to trusted institutions?
- Are regular audits of the TEFL course providers processes and training conducted and do they send moderators to visit the course providers?
It may seem like a lot to take in, but you need to be aware of the different TEFL accreditation organizations and their procedures. This will help you make sure that the course you choose is accredited by a reputable organization.
Who are some of the main TEFL accreditation organizations?
- ACCET (Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training)
- ACCREDITAT (Accreditation of TEFL/TESOL and Training)
- ACTDEC (Accreditation Council for TESOL Distance Education Courses)
- ALTE (Association of Language Testers in Europe)
- British Council
- Cambridge University
- IATQUO (International Accreditation of TESOL Qualifying Organisations)
- ODLQC (Open and Distance Learning Quality Council)
- Ofqual (The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation)
- OTTSA (Online TEFL and TESOL Standards Agency)
- TESL Canada
- Training Qualifications UK (TQUK)
- Trinity College London
- WTEFLAC (The World TEFL Accrediting Commission)
Of these organizations it is worth noting that two of the most widely recognized ones, Cambridge University and Trinity College London, only accredit the CELTA and Trinity CertTESOL courses respectively. These courses are also regulated by Ofqual in the UK and come in at a level 5 qualification on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF). This is equivalent to a foundation degree in the UK! As a result, these courses are very in depth and usually considerably more expensive than a standard TEFL course. However, you can do a level 5 TEFL course if you wish and TQUK is one such TEFL accreditation organization that accredits these.
In some cases, universities offer TEFL programs or accept TEFL certificates as part of credits towards an MA or M.Ed. In this instance the university provides validation to the course. These are often nationally accredited and the courses are o very high quality.
Finally, in certain countries you may also find that the Ministry of Education accredits the TEFL courses run in that country, and this can be a requirement for courses held there.
Not all TEFL accreditations are created equally
As you have just read above, not all TEFL accreditations are created the same. This means that even if you do a perfectly good TEFL course, which is accredited by a highly reputable TEFL accreditation organization, it might not be enough for certain employers or institutions. For example, a company may request that you have had a minimum of 6 hours of teaching practice with real students, and in some online TEFL courses this is just not possible.
So even if a TEFL course is accredited and comes with a great reputation it might not match your needs. This is why it is imperative to always assess your options carefully, which leads on nicely to what you should prioritize when choosing your TEFL course.
Should you prioritize a course with a TEFL accreditation over other factors?
The answer to this really boils down to what you want to get out of your TEFL course. If you’re deciding between two courses that are identical in every way, except that one has a reputable TEFL accreditation and the other doesn’t, then you should go for the one with the TEFL accreditation. It will help give you peace of mind that you will be purchasing a good TEFL course. However, this doesn’t take into the account the many other factors that you should consider when choosing your TEFL course that can and should also influence your choice. These include course location, course length, price, reviews and even the brand of the course provider.
At the end of the day, you need to choose the best TEFL course for your circumstances that matches your requirements, and one that will hopefully get you a good TEFL job at the end of it! So, whilst a TEFL accreditation should certainly be a factor in your decision, there are other equally important elements when it comes to picking out your TEFL course.
If you are ready to choose your course you can take a look at our TEFL course directory. Here you’ll find a huge range of courses in different countries and online and be able to see which ones are accredited!