Once you have made the decision that teaching English abroad is the right path for you to take, the next step is to complete a TEFL certification course that will give you the qualification and knowledge you need to find a good job and be confident and successful in the classroom. However, when it comes to choosing a TEFL course there are many different options available and each has a different time frame from sign-up to completion.
When should I sign-up for an in-class TEFL course?
No matter where you choose to take your in-class TEFL certification course you will need to commit to four weeks of full time intensive training. This type of course provides a perfect start to your teaching career as long as you have sufficient funds and are able to fit around the fixed schedule. Although it is possible to sign-up for an in-class course a matter of days before it is due to start, we strongly recommend that you enrol on your chosen course at least three to six months before the start date.
There are a few reasons why signing up to the course as early as possible is recommended. As class sizes are often limited to a certain number of trainees, they can be filled way in advance of the start date. This is particularly true in the months running up to the main hiring seasons in Europe and Latin America. If your plan is to take a TEFL course in Spain or Italy during August or September to coincide with the hiring season, you will probably need to reserve your place on the course in the first few months of the year.
Another reason for enrolling on a course early is to give yourself plenty of time to plan your trip. If your course is located in a foreign country you will need to make travel arrangements and organize accommodation. You might also need to work out notice in your job, make arrangements concerning your existing place of residence, and arrange storage for your possessions etc. It also makes sense from a financial standpoint as you can spread the cost of the course over a longer period and flights are generally cheaper the earlier you buy them.
How important are hiring seasons when deciding on a TEFL course date?
Hiring seasons are certainly something you need to consider when choosing a date for your TEFL course. Many schools in Europe and Latin America tend to recruit teachers twice a year to fit the school calendar, while many in Asia have no particular schedule. If your chosen destination is in a popular country such as Argentina, Spain, or Italy where recruitment is typically done in person, you should try to book your TEFL course for the month immediately prior to one of the main hiring seasons. For example, September is the biggest month for recruitment across many Western European countries, so signing up for an in-class course in your chosen country during August makes perfect sense.
In contrast, if your destination is in Asia or the Middle East where most recruitment is done from within your own country, you should plan to have your course (whether a domestic in-class, foreign in-class, or online) completed at least three to six months prior to your intended start date. This will allow plenty of time for job interviews, organising contracts, arranging visas, and making travel arrangements.
When should I sign up for an online TEFL course?
Although an in-class course provides the best possible start to your teaching career as the training is intensive and delivered by professional trainers in person, it is not possible for every trainee. The obvious alternative is a good quality online TEFL course that covers all the same theoretical subjects as an in-class course. There are a range of online courses available that have different time frames; however, most employers around the world will expect you to have completed a course of at least 120 hours duration. Depending on your workload and other commitments, you should set a study plan that allows you to complete the course in plenty of time before your planned departure. For example, a typical study plan for a 120-hour TEFL course might be 12 weeks of studying 10 hours per week.