Get TESOL / TEFL Certification to Teach English in Taiwan
Information about TEFL / TESOL programs and certification
What do TESOL and TEFL mean?
TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) don't really have any super-specific meaning, they are simply the most commonly-used acronyms to describe the practice of teaching English to non-English speakers. So, TEFL or TESOL certification is simply a way of saying that you are qualified to teach English.
Before heading for Taiwan to teach English, doing a certification program can be highly beneficial both in terms of the ease with which you can find a position and the ability you will have to teach the material. TEFL certification can flesh out your understanding of complex English grammar, give you important lessons on teaching methods and language acquisition theory and give you some bonus points on your resume. There is no question about it - finding English teaching jobs in Taiwan will be much easier if you have a TESOL or TEFL certificate.
What are these certification programs like?
Most TESOL / TEFL certification courses are short - just four to five weeks when taken full-time. The most common and standard English teaching certification is the CELTA, Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults. The CELTA is internationally recognized and organized by Cambridge University. CELTA certification is available around the world, and each certification center undergoes an evaluation by Cambridge, meaning that each one is more or less accredited.
CELTA Teacher Training Courses
CELTA training is intense, with 120 hours of instruction in the four- or five-week period and complex linguistic and theoretical material covered throughout, and vast amounts of lesson planning practice required. Some certification centers offer part-time courses as well, so you can look into those if you don't have a ton of free time. Many CELTA graduates say that the certification process was the most difficult month of their educational lives, but that the amount of practical knowledge gained is highly beneficial in the end. If you plan to take the course, make sure you have the time and energy that will be needed to dedicate to day after day of classes, homework, lesson planning and so on.
For those looking to get certified from home, there are unfortunately no distance-learning CELTA programs. A quick Google search for "TEFL certification" reveals about a thousand different "get certified online" pages, but these should definitely be avoided unless you have no other option. The CELTA is far and away the most highly regarded certification, and online courses tend to be looked down upon as they require no actual teaching practice or evaluation.
In addition to the CELTA, there is the CertTESOL program, offered by Trinity College London rather than Cambridge University. It is equally intensive and almost as well-recognized as the CELTA, so either option should be fine.
Check out my eBook Teach English in Taiwan: The Official Survival Guide for more information about teaching English and living in Taiwan.
How will certification help me?
After the intensive certification program, you will know more about English than you ever thought possible. You will have been exposed to a wide range of teaching methodology and theory, and have a good amount of experience with lesson planning. Also, you will have the resource of your classmates, with whom you can keep in touch and kick ideas around in the future.
Additionally, you will set yourself apart from the stereotype that many English teachers in Taiwan are not dedicated to teaching ESL and have simply come to Formosa to exploit the English job market and good pay. The TEFL / TESOL certification shows that you are serious about teaching and that, at the least, you understand the material better than the average foreigner off the street. With a CELTA or other accredited certification, you will also qualify for more ESL jobs in Taiwan, such as those in private high schools or junior high schools.
Can I do TESOL / TEFL certification in Taiwan?
There are certification courses in Taiwan, but the scheduling is sporadic. I recommend that, if you are going to do CELTA, you do it in your home country. Because the classes are so intense, scheduling and your ability to focus will be vital. If you've got some extra cash to live in Taiwan while doing the certification, and the scheduling matches up, you could try your hand at it regardless.
Find TESOL / TEFL jobs in Taiwan
By far the best resource on the net to find ESL work in Taiwan is the massive directory of English schools that's included in my eBook. I have listed more than 500 ESL schools where you can find TESOL / TEFL work. The directory lists schools all over Taiwan in places like Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung, Tainan, Hualien, Taoyuan, Keelung, Hsinchu, and many more cities. Find more about the eBook here.
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