A large number of TEFL/TESOL distance providers exist. Some are perhaps good providers; some courses seem to be very reasonably priced and may even sound impressive. Remember however, you usually get what you pay for. Try to
compare course fees whether four-week face-to-face courses, free-standing distance only programmes or hybrids (distance-training followed by a residential element including teaching practice). Distance only programmes will usually cost less than full-time face-to-face tuition or hybrids, but it’s worth remembering that a really first class professional, interactive distance programme is expensive to produce and administer effectively. The various forms of study, whether at introductory or diploma level, which are not under the continuous, immediate supervision of tutors with their students in lecture rooms nevertheless benefit from the careful planning, guidance and tuition of a really sound professional institution.
When selecting a distance-training programme invest wisely. It’s best to avoid the provider who cannot be visited, is only available via an answering machine, e-mail or an accommodation address. Above all, and most importantly, choose a course formally validated by a recognised independent external examining body or one accredited by ACTDEC based on a published ELT syllabus that can be compared on a like-for-like basis with others.
Really first class providers take pride in their provision and prove it with accreditation.
Important Bench Marks
A major problem with many TEFL/TESOL distance providers is one of course and qualification level. Far too often a so called diploma course will only equate to the certificate level of a reputable course provider. The ACTDEC framework provides a sound bench mark for level appropriacy. If in doubt ask the course provider you are thinking of buying from for a syllabus, check the syllabus content and the number of study hours involved or seek unbiased professional advice. Price is often a clue to quality. Something that seems to be too good to be true very often is.
If possible check any claims made by the provider before you enrol. Since these providers are not accredited by any recognised professional body some resort to the publication of long lists of supposedly ‘satisfied clients’. There is however no substitute for the regular professional scrutiny of an external accreditation body or recognised independent examining board. Clever wording, an impressive looking list of academic staff, but only an accommodation address should sound a warning bell! Remember though that effective quality control does not come cheaply and, at the end of the day, one usually gets what one pays for.
Take Appropriate Precautions
ACTDEC receives a number of complaints about non-accredited providers, usually after the event, when they have purchased the course, completed it and received their certificate or diploma. Only then do they discover it is simply not recognised and of little value. The usual cry is — What can I do? Sadly the answer is nothing since by then it’s too late.
View some Frequently Asked Questions.
Distance-learning in the field of TEFL/TESOL can be something of a minefield. Invest your money wisely and choose a course that is properly validated or accredited. The following are recognised TESOL/TEFL validating bodies.
ACTDEC – The Accreditation Council for TESOL Distance Education Courses
The College of Teachers
Trinity College London
United Kingdom Colleges of Higher Education and Universities