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ELT Concourse: what training course should I take?

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Be careful, be very careful

You do not want to spend money on a course that won't get you a job.

This page is available as a PDF document.

There are probably hundreds of courses out there.  Some last only a weekend, some are part time and spread over months and there's everything in between.  Some of these course providers make overblown, extravagant claims about being accredited and recognised.  Confused?  You needn't be.
Fundamentally, there are two widely recognised qualifications to consider.  Courses for both cover the same sort of ground and lead to proper certificates you can actually use to get work.
This site contains a basic ELT training course but that will not get you a certificate (or a job, probably) although it will prepare you for a classroom if you are a novice.

The Cambridge CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Validated by the University of Cambridge, this one of the two benchmark qualifications for people starting out in English Language Teaching.  Click here to go Cambridge's website to learn more.
The Trinity CertTESOL (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) This is an equally reliable and professionally validated qualification for people starting out in English Language Teaching.  Click here to go Trinity College's website to learn more.

This isn't the end of the story, of course.  Both these qualifications are described as 'initial'.  If you are serious about English Language Teaching, you will have to upgrade your knowledge, practice and qualifications at some time.  The usual route is to go on to taking the Cambridge Delta or the Trinity DipTESOL or taking an MA TESOL.


Frequently asked questions

If your question isn't answered here, feel free to use the contact page to ask it.

Q: I have seen a course advertised which costs half as much, takes less time and is 'recognised'.  Why shouldn't I go for that?
A: Ask who recognises the course.  In many countries, schools are inspected and accredited by external bodies and they won't recognise a lot of qualifications (especially ones which don't include supervised and assessed teaching practice).  A course provider may claim that the qualification you will get is 'internationally recognised' but that's marketing-speak for having a friend in New York who has vaguely heard of it.
Course like these are interested in your money, not your professional development.
You may be able to get a job somewhere with a certificate like this but what happens if you want to move on to a better, and better-paid, job somewhere else?


Q: I have seen a course advertised which is entirely online, is cheap and says it is 'recognised'.  Why shouldn't I go for that?
A: There are no fully online courses which can properly prepare you to teach.  None.  You need a practical qualification that an employer can trust.  Good employers do not recognise mickey-mouse online courses.


Q: People say 'if you can speak English, you can teach English' so why do I need a qualification at all?
A: Ask yourself a question.  If you wanted to learn a language would you rather learn from someone who knows something about language and methodology or would you be happy learning from anyone on the street?  Yes, that's the response of most learners and is why schools exist for language teaching.


Q: Why are these courses so expensive?
A: Good tutors, who are experienced and properly qualified in the profession, do not come cheap.  Setting up and running good courses requires considerable investment in people, resources and systems.  Additionally, the accrediting bodies for the qualifications require payment for their work inspecting and advising their centres.  It all costs money, unfortunately, and you get, more or less, what you pay for.


Q: Do I have to be in Britain or an English-speaking country to take a course?
A: No.  Courses are run all over the world and some have an element of on-line learning.  If you take a course near where you live, you'll avoid the costs of travel and accommodation but it may be less fun.


Q: Which is better – full-time, part-time or with some on-line work?
A: There's no 'better' way to take a course.  What you choose will depend on your circumstances, your finance and your preferences for learning modes.  All courses leading to properly recognised qualifications will result in the same certificate.


Q: Can I fail a course?
A: Yes, and you almost certainly won't get your money back.  But if you work hard and have the basic personality and language skills, you'll pass.


Q: How do I choose a centre?
A: You need to consider a few things:

  • Try to make sure you visit the centre in person before you pay anything
  • Ask lots of questions:
    • who are the tutors?
    • what qualifications do the tutors have?
    • how many tutors work on each course?
    • where does the centre get its guinea-pig students from?
    • what resources does the centre have?
    • how many people are in a typical training group?
    • and anything else you can think of ...
  • Try to talk to someone who has taken the course recently

Q: I only want to teach for a couple of years.  Do I really need to spend so much money on a course?
A: Even if this is true, remember that a proper certificate will get you work with good employers in interesting places rather than in back-street schools that don't care about you or the students much.  It gives you choice.  Also consider how many months' salary for a teacher that the course costs – probably just a few weeks, in fact.


Q: I'm not young.  Can I still take a course?
A: Why ever not?  If you are flexible and willing to learn, go for it.


Q: Is there help and support on ELT Concourse?
A: Lots:

A basic training course This won't get you a certificate but will prepare you well before you take a proper course.  It covers both background knowledge and methodology.
Language analysis This is a short language analysis course for people with no previous experience in analysing language and structure.
TKT Course TKT stands for Teaching Knowledge Test.  This is a Cambridge University qualification which covers language and methodology.  There is no assessed teaching.
CELTA This section of the site is specifically designed for people taking or preparing to take a Cambridge English CELTA course.  It covers the whole syllabus.
Initial plus training Here you will find lots of guides to grammar, vocabulary, methodology and background theory.  It's designed for people with little or no experience who seriously want to learn about language and teaching.
In-service training The guides in this section cover things in a bit more detail and are sometimes rather technical.  Go here if you already have quite a lot of knowledge and experience.
A-Z Training index Browse the links on this page to follow guides to areas that interest you.  If you don't understand the title of the link, it may not be a good place to go now.


Q: Is it hard work?
A: You bet.