If you want to teach English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) either at home and abroad, choose between independent (and often online) certificate programs and those offered by accredited postsecondary schools. Certificate training periods can be as short as 40 hours or take as long as to a year to complete. Choose a certificate course in content and length appropriate for where and whom you want to teach.
If you decide to take an online TESOL, TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) course, choose one that is accredited by the Open and Distance Learning Quality Council. This U.K.-based organization assures the delivery of quality online education for students in the United States as well as the United Kingdom. Independent TESOL certification courses are not accredited for quality content by any one industry accrediting body. Check with other TESOL students on teacher forums, such as the one at ESL Teachers Board (see Resources) about which online companies are reputable and which will help you find a job teaching English.
Any TESOL certification course you take, whether it is online, at a weekend conference or at a college, should be at least 60 hours long. But courses lasting 100 hours, especially if it is an online course, are preferred, according to the TESOL education association. Fewer than 60 hours of training will not provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to successfully teach an English course and some employers will not hire you without at least this many hours of training.
The content of the course should include a practical component in addition to sound theoretical (teaching strategies, classroom management, second language acquisition, English grammar, for example) information. The practical component should allow you to observe teachers live (or through video if you learn online). If you take the course in person, it should include opportunities to practice teaching and to receive feedback. If you take a certificate course at a community college, for example, you can volunteer in an adult education ESL class under the supervision of an ESL teacher.
Where and Who
If you want to teach outside of the United States, an independent company providing at least 60 hours of training is one way to get the skills you need. If you want to teach in the United States, a TESOL/TESL certificate that is covers two semesters from a college or university is a better choice. (Training is not measured in hours at the postsecondary level). Educational requirements for ESL teachers in the U.S. are more stringent than they are overseas. If you have your teaching license and want an endorsement (approval by your state to teach ESL in public schools), ensure that the program you choose is recognized and approved by your state.
One online company offering a TEFL certification is i-to-i. It offers courses based on the number of training hours you want to complete. Dozens of other online TEFL/TESL certification companies also provide quality online education, such as TEFL International. The TESOL organization offers a130-hour online certification program. (See Resources). Front Range Community College in Colorado is an example of a college-based TESL certification program. It offers a certification program for those who want to teach English to children (in the U.S. or abroad) and one for those who want to teach English to adults and/or overseas. These programs are 15 credit hours in length.