If you have decided to get qualified to teach English overseas, you will probably be looking at a range of different training centers and making the all-important choice: where should you attend the course?
If you are planning to enroll in a Trinity CertTESOL or Cambridge CELTA course, you have opted for the gold standard of language teacher education courses, but is there a difference between courses held in the UK, USA, Europe or Asia?
This article will outline some key considerations that you should take into account when choosing the location of your training course.
Standardization across accredited qualifications
It is important to mention that as both the Trinity CertTESOL and Cambridge CELTA qualifications are accredited by Ofqual at level 5 on their list of regulated qualifications. No matter where in the world you study for these certificates, the level of qualification is exactly the same.
Each course trainee is externally assessed by the validating organization, confirming that they have gained the required level of development through the course, as demonstrated through final assessments.
These measures ensure that the qualification is standardized across the world, though naturally, there will be some variation in the ways in which courses at specific centers are delivered.
Regional differences in CertTESOL and CELTA courses
The syllabus of each of these qualifications, sets out in detail, the skills and knowledge which the course trainees must be given during the course in order to earn the coveted certificate at the end of their training.
However, the specific ways in which course trainers deliver these skills are somewhat open to interpretation.
Both Trinity College and Cambridge ESOL have stringent methods for selecting and approving course trainers based on their qualifications and experiences. Hence the level of training that you receive on any course will be to a very high standard.
However, different courses may emphasize specific aspects of TESOL in their courses, perhaps reflecting the nature of teaching in the region where they operate, or to better prepare trainees for the course as it is designed in that center.
During teaching practice lessons, for example, course trainees work with real learners to demonstrate the methodologies and teaching techniques they learn on the course, so the profile of the students they teach will somewhat affect the content of the practical sessions.
Training staff, however, will ensure that trainees receive a broad experience of the TESOL profession to be able to apply their skills to a high level no matter where they teach in the future.
Price differences and living costs
Perhaps the most significant factor which changes depending on where a training course is attended, is the cost.
Since assessors must travel to the training centers in-person to perform face-to-face assessments on both the Trinity and Cambridge courses, the attendant costs may vary according to region.
In addition to this, cost factors into course prices due to the different business-related costs (premises, staff wages, other overheads) which training centers have to absorb in delivering the course. Hence the price of a course leading to the same qualification can vary from under £1000 in the UK to over £2000 in some regions of Asia.
Of course, to attend the course, you will also have to find accommodation and be able to live for the four weeks of the course (or twelve weeks on a part-time course). So you should consider the cost of living in the region where you are thinking of traveling to stud – only if you wish to travel to the host country to take your CELTA or CertTESOL.
A month in Hong Kong, for example, is significantly more expensive than a month in China, when all living costs are taken into account.
Training organizations with a large number of overseas trainees often offer assistance with accommodation. So it is always worth asking if they have a partner or other resource for this potentially expensive aspect of traveling to train.
Find out about the local education industry
If you want to travel, train and work in a specific region of the world, make sure you know what your options will be after you have completed the training course.
Ask around on online forums, find people who have worked there, and look at the requirements and restrictions involved in getting student and work visas, lengths of stay and attendant costs.
Local salary indicators will give you an idea of the kind of return you will get after spending on the course itself, and you will be more informed about your situation when you leave for your new life in another country.
Try before you buy
Whichever course you choose – closer to home or in the country you want to teach in, make sure that you have contact with the training provider before you pay any money and confirm your enrollment.
Ask to speak to a course director, trainer or even a past trainee, to get an idea of what the course is like and how things are managed in that center.
Prepare a list of questions (perhaps from the ideas above) and get as much information as you can before you commit to a lengthy period overseas.
Most training centres will be open to questions and may have a dedicated information-sharing network whom you can contact with questions before you formally apply.
Conclusion: All in all, a high-stakes training course like a CertTESOL or CELTA is a significant commitment in terms of time, money and workload, so it is best to get your ducks in a row before making your final decision about where to study.
At the end of the process, though, you will have a high standard of qualification for life, to travel anywhere in the world and teach to a very high standard.