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  • Picking a TESL Certification School

    In a week or two, I will begin my education as a teacher of English as a second language. I only have so much money to spend on tuition and am looking for the best bang for the buck for my education dollar.

    One one end, there are online courses where one can earn a a certification for TESOL for only $180. On the other end, there are the approved Oxford and Cambridge in-person courses that cost $3K to $5K.

    I'm going to pick something between these two extremes, and would very much appreciate any insight, feedback or advice in regards to the attractiveness of the various certifications that are out there when it comes to Indonesian schools.

    I have a full-time job, and so necessarily I need the majority of my course work to be online. There are a couple places here in Seattle that offer combo online and in-person teaching. They cost about $1100.

    So basically what I'm asking is that you confirm what I'm already thinking. Online-only certifications are valueless, but one does not need to go the full Oxford/Cambridge course to get a good job overseas, Indonesia included. Yes? No?

  • #2
    If you don't have a degree in English you definitely need a CELTA or similiar. As you said fully online courses are worthless. CELTA now allows you to do large parts online. Then the practical is done onsite I believe. Not 100% sure as they have only recently started to offer this.
    The challenge is to be yourself in a world that is trying to make you like everyone else.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by travellingchez View Post
      you definitely need a CELTA or similiar..

      There be the rub. What constitutes "similar"? A CELTA costs $3k, at least. I ain't got that!

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Joko MacKenna View Post
        There be the rub. What constitutes "similar"? A CELTA costs $3k, at least. I ain't got that!
        The two big "brand names" are Cambridge's CELTA and London Trinity College's certificate course; they are recognised and well-respected internationally. Joe Bloggs / John Doe Language School in London or New York could run a certification course that is as good as, if not better, than the above two but, unfortunately, nobody outside of these two cities is likely to have heard of them. Cambridge and Trinity have, therefore, got somewhat of a monopoly on the "respectable certification" front.

        I guess a course with a practical component (teaching actual students, not your peers) would be a lot better than nothing or an online course (worthless - anyone who'd employ you with one of those would employ you without it) but in the long run, and if you want to make a career out of teaching, you really need to get a CELTA or Trinity at some point. For now though, there are still language schools who employ teachers with no teaching qualifications (or degrees) but generally these aren't going to be the better positions. Another temporary fix may be to do some reading up on teaching methodology etc so at least in an interview you'd be able to compensate somewhat for lack of certificate by coming across as having some awareness and knowledge of the job.
        And the young people ask, what are they marching for? And I ask myself the same question.

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        • #5
          When I decided to teach overseas I had the same idea as the OP. Couldn't afford the CELTA / Trinity Cert route, read that the online cert was useless and worthless. So I was gonna do the "Weekend Intensive" course offered by Oxford Seminars when that circus rolled into a nearby town, but got impatient as I would have to wait two months before taking the course. (It is the "Middle Path" that the OP mentioned: in-class instruction and observed practicum, not CELTA pedigree, not CELTA price. although not that much under either in terms of the price). So I did the online cert and was teaching in a remote part of Northwestern China about the same time that I would have started the Oxford Seminar. I opted to take the quick route to get in the game and so far haven't found too many reasons to regret the decision.

          A bule teacher who is "legally" employed in Indonesia and making a livable wage without a degree in English or a PGCE, CELTA or Trinity Cert may be an outlier under the "new" laws and recently increased enforcement of same, but I am certainly a proof that such outliers exist.

          It is a walk in the park to get a teaching job in China or South Korea with a Bachelor's Degree and any kind of TEFl or TESOL, including the worthless "online-only" one. Indonesia is somewhat tougher as is discussed in other threads of this forum.

          Here's one option for getting in the game relatively quickly, without immediately giving up your "day job" and with a mostly in-class course instruction: Do the American Tesol Institute's "Special Thai Project". You would pay about 1000 USD plus your flight to Thailand for the course. After a three week course including observed practice teaching, they will place you in a school in Thailand (quite possibly somewhere "in the sticks") for one term (four to five months). They claim to offer free acommodation during the course as well as visa support for the job, salary "up to" 1200 USD monthly, medical insurance, etc. After you do your one term stint in Thailand, you are almost literally a stone's throw (cheap Air Asia flight) away from Indonesia, you have a TEFL/ TESOL with in class instruction and teaching practicum, and all you need is a job. Seems like a viable option and I almost did it myself but found a job here so came here directly instead. Now as a disclaimer, I have never taken any course with ATI and I am not endorsing them in any way. In fact their reputation and their accreditation are both somewhat dubious by what I've read online, but I think their certificate is probably about as good as anything that doesn't have "CELTA" or "Trinity College" on it, and the course itslef... well, I guess the reviews range from "good" to "biasa 'ja"... they also run a course at Surabaya I think, but it has no "special Project" to my knowledge. As I've said, I have no personal experience of their course, I'm just pointing it out as an option which seems better to me than doing an Oxford Seminars type course in one's hometown and then trying to land a job overseas from that town, with no teaching experience. Or just do the online course, grab a job in China or ROK for a few months, and go from there. Having a CELTA, Trinity Cert (or PGCE) is and should be preferable, and I would have one by now except that I don't have the "extra" money and / or the time. Busy teaching and all that jazz.... I don't mean to discount the relative importance of a "quality" certificate (and/ or actual quality training for teaching), but in my experience the most important thing to do if you want to get in the game is, just get in, by the most direct means possible. Then you can save money to upgrade your credentials when you can.

          PS: IALF at Denpasar offers the four week Trinity Cert course, which is what I'd like to do when I have the combo of the time and money. I thnk it's about 1800 US, not including acco during the course or food, living expenses etc.
          Last edited by Mister Bule; 30-11-12, 21:35.
          [FONT=Comic Sans MS]Warden: "What we got here ... is failure to communicate."

          The Dude: "Oh yeah? Well that's just, like, your opinion, man."[/FONT]

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          • #6
            A CELTA costs circa $1600 here (I know because I did mine in Jakarta) and is probably the most recognised internationally as well as the most respected of the teaching English as foreign language certifications. There are also some employers (TBI for instance) who will pay for your course up front and you can pay them back from your first 6months salary. It's in their interest because 1. they run the course 2. they get you as a teacher.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Bandong View Post
              A CELTA costs circa $1600 here (I know because I did mine in Jakarta) and is probably the most recognised internationally as well as the most respected of the teaching English as foreign language certifications. There are also some employers (TBI for instance) who will pay for your course up front and you can pay them back from your first 6months salary. It's in their interest because 1. they run the course 2. they get you as a teacher.
              I think TBI will only do that for people with English degrees; I doubt they'll go to so much trouble for someone who they can't legally employ.

              Also, I guess when the OP quoted $3000, he was factoring in all associated costs such as accommodation and money to support oneself during the month-long course as well as the fact that you're not earning anything during this period.

              I concur with Mister Bule though - despite all this talk of requirements, it's more than possible to land a teaching job in Indonesia with zero qualifications - rightly or wrongly, that's the way it is.
              And the young people ask, what are they marching for? And I ask myself the same question.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Tudor View Post
                I think TBI will only do that for people with English degrees; I doubt they'll go to so much trouble for someone who they can't legally employ.
                I've heard different and know they employ people with non English related degrees, however, they are put on business visas. Not ideal in the slightest but it gets you here studying (as far as i'm aware they're the only CELTA trainers in Indonesia) and gets you a job for 12months whilst you get some experience and move on. Certainly worth checking out.
                Last edited by Bandong; 01-12-12, 09:09.

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                • #9
                  Maybe they do Bandong, but the danger (for TBI) is that people get the CELTA and then leave, which they theoretically could do as they're only on business visas.

                  Nonetheless, you're right that it's worth checking out - it never hurts to ask!
                  And the young people ask, what are they marching for? And I ask myself the same question.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Tudor View Post
                    Maybe they do Bandong, but the danger (for TBI) is that people get the CELTA and then leave, which they theoretically could do as they're only on business visas.

                    Nonetheless, you're right that it's worth checking out - it never hurts to ask!
                    TBI do offer mid term (5jt) and end of term (10jt) bonuses designed, I assume, to keep their teachers for a year. Teachers used to sign 12 month contracts which was a bit of joke really particularly if the contract states the employer will provide all the necessary legal documentation. I'm not sure now though. Furthermore, you can't just up and leave because you need an exit permit signed off by the employer who would just withhold the final months salary, to cover the cost of the CELTA, if the teacher made the request.

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                    • #11
                      Furthermore, you can't just up and leave because you need an exit permit signed off by the employer
                      With a KITAS, yes you do, but with a business visa you can leave whenever you want. That's the point I was making - as they can't get proper work visas for non-English degree holders, they may deem it too risky to pay upfront for someone's CELTA when, theoretically, the teacher can up and leave whenever they want. The poster on here the other week who was offered the "sponsored" CELTA had an English degree; I'm not so sure they'd go to such lengths for someone who they can't get a work visa for. Then again, maybe they do, that's something prospective employees would need to find out for themselves.

                      Incidentally, I believe the bonuses are now incorporated into the monthly salaries (no idea why) for the people on business visas so they don't even have that carrot to dangle.
                      And the young people ask, what are they marching for? And I ask myself the same question.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mister Bule View Post
                        Here's one option for getting in the game relatively quickly, without immediately giving up your "day job" and with a mostly in-class course instruction: Do the American Tesol Institute's "Special Thai Project"..
                        This is a fascinating option. I've read their brochure and this seems like it would be just the thing... I'd like to see other parts of SE Asia too. One of the application requirements is that you be 21 to 42 years of age... I'll turn 43 six weeks after the course begins!

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Tudor View Post
                          With a KITAS, yes you do, but with a business visa you can leave whenever you want. That's the point I was making - as they can't get proper work visas for non-English degree holders, they may deem it too risky to pay upfront for someone's CELTA when, theoretically, the teacher can up and leave whenever they want. The poster on here the other week who was offered the "sponsored" CELTA had an English degree; I'm not so sure they'd go to such lengths for someone who they can't get a work visa for. Then again, maybe they do, that's something prospective employees would need to find out for themselves.

                          Incidentally, I believe the bonuses are now incorporated into the monthly salaries (no idea why) for the people on business visas so they don't even have that carrot to dangle.
                          Ahh ok didn't know that about business visas. Every day's a school day :-) .

                          Up until recently, my friend worked for TBI and the bonus was paid as a lump sum after 6 months whilst he was on a business visa. Maybe different companies operate in different ways but putting it into the monthly salary seems very odd as i'm sure employers do it (generally) to retain teachers.

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                          • #14
                            I think many of them are actually on 2-month contracts (with perhaps a "gentleman's agreement" that they stay a year) so the bonus is paid pro-rata bi-monthly - I know guys in Jakarta and Bandung with this arrangement. This is perhaps in case they're unable to complete the year (due to circumstances beyond anyone's control, if you know what I mean) they don't lose out financially. The teachers on the yearly contracts get their bonuses as normal, so, yes, in their cases they do act as an incentive to complete the contract. Who knows, it's all a bit of a rigmarole isn't it?

                            Sorry OP, gone off topic a bit there!
                            And the young people ask, what are they marching for? And I ask myself the same question.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Joko MacKenna View Post
                              This is a fascinating option. I've read their brochure and this seems like it would be just the thing... I'd like to see other parts of SE Asia too. One of the application requirements is that you be 21 to 42 years of age... I'll turn 43 six weeks after the course begins!
                              Joko, I think there's numerous posts on this organisation on Dave's ESL Cafe messageboard. From what I remember the comments weren't too complimentary, but it might give you a bit more of an idea of what it entails. Plus, as Mister B say, it could get your foot in the door.
                              And the young people ask, what are they marching for? And I ask myself the same question.

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