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TEFL Courses – Online or In Class?

These days, there are many choices on TEFL courses. You can take them abroad or in your home country. You can now also choose to take them online or to take them in a class with other students.

Which is better?

TEFL online

Online TEFL courses tend to be much cheaper. This is simply because the course is very easily delivered via the internet, without the overhead costs of a bricks-and-mortar school. But, it is difficult or impossible to include observed teaching practice into this form of training.

TEFL inclass

In Class TEFL courses, abroad or at home, are more expensive than online courses. For these courses, you have access to other students and a variety of teachers and instructors. Most courses will include a block of observed teaching practice hours.

So how to decide?

I am in the position of being a TEFL course instructor to both mediums. I’ have about 4 years experience teaching the in class TEFL course in Mexico City and almost 3 years as one of the instructors for the online version of the same course.

In many ways, they are incomparable.

The intensity of the two-week course here in Mexico City is, well, intense. In two weeks, we cover so much ground that there’s barely time to catch your breath. Both the student teachers and I feel drained afterwards. It’s a tonne of information to absorb and apply in such a short span.

The online course is interesting in that it can be done over an extended period. There’s more time to research references online and as the instructor, I get the opportunity to take my time in offering theoretical feedback.

But, it’s the actual teaching practice that makes all the difference. Often, TEFL course participants show a strength in theory and a weakness in practice. The reverse is also often true. Making the leap from class discussions and theory to application in the practice class with real Mexican EFL students is the most important step of the program, and shapes the future for the person looking to go out and actually teach later. Experience is truly the greater teacher in such a program.

The online medium is catching up…slowly. Using technology such as rapid distribution of video over the net, Podcasts, and teleconferencing, there is a bright future ahead not only for online TEFL course, but for all education in general.

I’ve recently added some of my own personal reference material to the TEFL online program I instruct and it’s made a large difference. I’m also experimenting with bringing a ‘live discussion’ aspect to the course, whereby certain Internet forums that feature TEFL debates and discussions can be linked into the course material ‘on the fly’.

How should you decide?

In most cases, a TEFL course is the first time a person is exposed to the methodology and the experience of being in the classroom. In these cases, I’ll most often advise an In Class TEFL course.

Others may have classroom or tutoring experience. An online TEFL course may serve these people well.

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