Should I Get TEFL Certified

You've definitely heard of TEFL certification, which stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This is true whether you're just starting out in the field or have been teaching English for years.

To teach English as a foreign language in China, you need to get a TEFL certificate from a recognized institution (notarized, authenticated by your local Secretary of State, or the equivalent office if not in the US, and then legalized by the Chinese embassy). This must be done before you enter China, and it is subject to the same delicious bureaucratic strictures as any other paperwork needed for a visa. This requires a significant investment of time and perseverance, as well as a hefty sum of money, likely at least USD150.

However, if you are already in China and/or are in a rush, a TEFL certification obtained through an official Chinese TEFL institution does not need any further verification and is thus the ideal alternative.

Should You Get This TEFL or That One?

The two most common TEFL credentials are a 60-hour certificate and a 120-hour certificate. A TEFL certificate earned after 60 hours of study was formerly considered credible in China. But with the current state of visa and permission rules, the 60-hour TEFL is virtually useless. From what I can tell, the 120-hour TEFL course is required by any institution or municipality that needs a TEFL certification.

Shorter TEFL programs, such as weekend programs lasting just 20 hours, are also available. The standards for a work visa in China are not met by these courses, despite the fact that they are less costly and may provide an excellent basis in teaching English as a foreign language.

Price and Time Commitment

There are a variety of TEFL certificates available, from those that are entirely online to those that combine online study with on-site instruction. Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification programs that are worth their salt will include real-world teaching experience and instructor feedback.

The typical cost of a 120-hour hybrid course in China is around RMB3,000 (roughly USD430). When compared to programs in the United States or other countries, where tuition alone may cost USD1,000 or more (not adding the cost of travel or lodging if no such course is available in your area), this is a significant savings. Courses in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) are regularly offered in China's main cities.

The online self-study component may be finished as quickly as four weeks (I did mine in about that amount of time because I had plenty of vacation time) or as slowly as you need it to be done (I did mine in about four weeks because I had plenty of vacation time). Remember that "120 hours" just represents the median time commitment required to successfully finish the course. There is no hard and fast rule that says you must spend precisely 120 hours in class or studying.

Commonly, a TEFL program in China combines self-study materials with a week of classroom instruction. A final exam is given on the last day of the classroom portion of the curriculum. The certification paperwork should come about two weeks following the exam.

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