tefl online pro review, submitted by Sarah K.
Review of the Tefl Online Pro online/onsite Hybrid (140 hours) certification course.
At first, I was extremely hesitant about taking this course. The general consensus on the forums was that to teach English in Europe, you needed to take a four-week residential TEFL course. Online certificates were not accepted by employers. I searched out a few onsite TEFL schools in Prague, and they all confirmed what I had read online. But the cost of onsite tuition seemed counter-intuitive to me. I only planned to teach abroad for one school year, and almost all of the schools in Prague wanted course fees beyond my budget, and beyond what I thought was reasonable. There were also the accommodation costs, with one school quoting me $850 for the month.
It was here on this website that I first realized that you could take a combined online/onsite course, and as Tefl Online Pro appeared to be one of the more reputable programs, I went ahead, paid my $ 549-course fee, and crossed my fingers that I had just made the right decision.
Things didn’t get off to a good start. My laptop died on me just as I was beginning the course, and although the course is responsive on a tablet or mobile, I didn’t have a tablet, and working on my mobile wasn’t a great study experience. It might work for you, but I use my mobile mainly for quick internet searches. I asked their office if I could delay the start of my course, and they replied yep, no problem. A month later, I shelled out my borrowed savings on a MacBook Air and started the course.
I would say that 95% of the course was useful for a newbie like myself, who had never taken an online course before, and who was getting prepared for my English teaching abroad trip. The other 5% (mainly the Phonetics Module) left me feeling frustrated and confused.
One major positive for me was having free, full-time access to an online tutor. Paul was exceptional in his replies. He has the patience of a saint 🙂 Sometimes I needed clarification on some grammar tense usage, and other times I needed to know if this or that idea was appropriate for this or that learner level. Paul’s responses always came timely, and towards the end of the first section of the course, I saw him more as an online friend than simply my online tutor. Without tutor support, the course would have taken me a lot longer to complete, and I would have felt isolated.
When you complete all the modules and their additional units (Business English, and teaching children modules) you receive a final grade, and then their office helps you arrange your 20 hours of teaching practice. I chose to teach mine at a local business, but I think you can teach them anywhere. You just need to find students, and you need to complete a lesson plan form after each class is taught. At first, this was a royal pain in the butt, but I began to see the reasoning behind it because not only was the feedback helpful, but it also pushed me to organize my classes better and make the next class better than the one before.
I was pissed though that I paid $549 when the next week they had a $100 discount on the same course.
I had read nightmare stories of certificates taking months to be finally delivered, but mine from Tefl Online Pro was delivered within two weeks. I also received a PDF copy of the certificate, and an awesome letter of recommendation – making me sound like a teaching genius 🙂
Their office also really helped a lot with Prague-related information. They wrote about what visa to apply for, what salary to expect, which schools to avoid, and how to find accommodation for around the same price the locals pay. Above all though, they worked with me on my resume, so that it was specific for applying for a teaching job in Prague.
What did make me nervous and second-guess their advice was when they told me I would need to apply for jobs when I arrived in Prague, because schools there don’t recruit from abroad. Hell, if I arrived and this was all BS then at least I could enjoy a holiday and reapply when I returned home. But this is the case, and once I landed at Vaclav Havel International Airport (Prague) I booked two weeks at the hostel their office recommended I stay at, while I interviewed at schools they recommended I should approach.
Took me ONE week to receive FIVE job offers. And I mean FIVE EXCELLENT job offers. By the following Monday, I had signed two school contracts, and the following week after that, I was riding the trams to reach my new students.
It’s been two months now and I’ve no real complaints. Tefl Online Pro also helped me out with local accommodation websites, so I didn’t find it that stressful really finding a permanent pad.
So, yeah. Instead of paying $2,000 – $3,000 for an onsite course in Prague, I paid $549. And I got the same result.
My only moan is that because they are an online school, it does take longer to make new friends and to begin with your new friends will be your new students. If I had taken an onsite course, there would have been a group of other teacher students as instant friends.
Besides the massive course cost saving, the other major positive of taking a combined course is that it gives you more time to look for work and sort out your accommodation. When you arrive in Prague, they give you a three-month Tourist Visa, and within this time, you absolutely need to change it over to a work visa. Had I taken my TEFL in Prague onsite, I would have lost 30 days of my 90 days allocated visa time, and even though I’m sure it’s possible to get everything done within two months, I really feel that three whole months is going to make everything a whole lot less stressful, and a whole lot less in that living abroad fight or flight headspace.
Contact me if you have any questions, or if you’d like to meet for coffee! I’d be happy to share any useful Prague teaching tips with you. Oh, and I’m receiving a ridiculous number of new private student offers, so if you need more students… email me 🙂
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