Google “TEFL course” and you are rewarded with about 2,620,000 results in 0.09 seconds. Slightly overwhelming, to say the least. While there is no magic recipe for TEFL course selection success, there are some general guidelines to make your decision easier. Consider:
Type of course
You can learn something useful from nearly any course, but as a TEFL course is a significant investment of time and money, it makes sense to aim for the best. Teaching practice — where you, the trainee, teach real live students — is extremely important. Six to eight hours out of a 100 to 120 hour course seems to be the minimum requirement for international standards. Many schools are happy for any TEFL qualification at all, but one that meets international standards and is recogized by one or more accrediting agencies will give you more flexibility with where you go when you finish and in the coming years if you decide to continue teaching. You may also be able to choose between an intensive (done over one month) and a part-time course (done a few days a week for a couple months).
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If you know where you’d like to work, try to do a course in that country, or in that city if possible. Not only will you get a better feel for the place, but you may also be able to get a head start on job hunting. Schools which run TEFL courses sometimes hire trainees as well.
Investigate the school or company offering your TEFL course as you would with any other significant investment of time and money. Look online, compare it to other courses, ask to speak to past trainees, and just generally use your common sense. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Some schools guarantee employment to trainees who successfully pass the course. Be advised that it is generally quite possible to find a job on your own with a good certificate and a little initiative…so while there’s nothing wrong with guaranteeing employment, it is probably not worth paying extra for.
Well-known TEFL courses include the CELTA (read about it here and find schools that offer it here) and the Trinity Certificate (here and here). There are many other TEFL courses which are also internationally recognized and accredited, such as those offered by TEFL International on BootsnAll.