Beware of cheap TEFL courses

3 reasons why a legitimate TEFL course cannot cost under €1,000

Google “TEFL certification Barcelona” and you’ll see an array of  TEFL classes ranging in price from €200 to over €1,800.

How can there be such a difference in price if all these courses offer the same thing, you think to yourself?

Well, at the end of the day, do they all really offer the same thing? 

Firstly, let’s think about the job you’re preparing for.

You maybe moving halfway across the world to work as a professional English teacher.

You are likely to be responsible for teaching around 20-30 hours per week. You’ll need to plan effective lessons so that your students progress in the language. You could be managing a classroom full of 20 students, and teaching things like grammar, vocabulary, as well as developing their comprehension skills. You’ll be in charge of tailoring class activities to your students’ needs, designing tests, and giving your students constructive feedback on their stregths and weaknesses. These are the basic skills you’ll have to master to excel in your new job abroad, and keep your students happy and thier motivation to continue high.

Now, what about getting a job?

Getting a job in Barcelona can be challenging. Are you confident that €200-€500 TEFL certification will make you a professional English teacher and then also include the personalized guidance, resources, and assistance you’ll need to get a job teaching English in Barcelona or anywhere in the world?

Bottom line, you get what you pay for.

Whether it’s a mobile phone, a pair of shoes, or a TEFL class, you get what you pay for. Like everything else in the world, if something seems too good to be true, especially when it comes to price, it probably is.

It’s that simple.

Here are 3 Questions to Ask Yourself When Evaluating the Cost of a TEFL Class:

  1. Who is Teaching the Class?

Is it a recent graduate? Is it someone who has taught English in China for a year? Or is it a professional, university-level instructor?

Just because someone is TEFL-certified and has taught English abroad does NOT mean they are qualified to teach you how to become a professional EFL teacher. Just because you graduated from Law School does not mean you can now teach Law classes at Harvard. They are not the same.

A university-level, professional TEFL training class should be taught by a highly qualified instructor with the equivalent of a Master’s degree in TEFL/TESOL, or a related field. You should expect to receive weekly feedback from your professor on your assignments, so you’re constantly learning and developing into a better teacher. Your instructor should also have a wealth of experience teaching English as a foreign language.

Be very, very skeptical of any TEFL courses taught by a “tutor” whose qualifications have not been clearly spelled out.

Key takeaway: You need to pay a university-level instructor like a university-level instructor. This hourly wage is significantly more than someone who taught abroad for a year in China with a TEFL certificate. A common reason why some TEFL courses are so cheap is because they aren’t taught by qualified professional instructors.

Tip! When you enquire about a TEFL class at a particular TEFL school or company, ask them straight up who teaches their classes and if they have a link they can send you that details their qualifications.

  1. Is the TEFL Course Accredited & Does It Meet International Standards?

If you are hoping to be able to secure a decent job at reputable schools as a professional teacher, don’t bother taking a TEFL class unless you’re gaining an internationally recognised and accredited TEFL certification that is accepted by employers around the world.

Like university-level instructors, the best accreditation costs money. The process of getting your TEFL class accredited is not exciting or glamorous and, be warned, a lot of industry jargon is about to appear. But stay with it, as this information is particularly important.

The initial TEFL class accreditation stage can take 6-12 months. From there, TEFL schools can expect to host staff from the accrediting organization while they observe live classes, review the curriculum and assessments, and the accreditors conduct interviews with TEFL class professors and students. Still with me?

From there, TEFL schools expect ongoing spot audits of student projects, lesson plans, and more. Time is money, as they say, and this process takes both a lot of time and a lot of money.

Then there’s the actual cost of each certification being approved, authenticated, and individually numbered by the accreditor. Any reputable TEFL school would be paying about €30-€50 per certificate. To cut corners (and costs) companies will buy an accreditation with a one-time €1,000 fee, for example, and then that school issues certificates without any real oversight (not good).

At the very least, when looking at the TEFL providers in Barcelona, make sure your class is accredited and has 100-hours of academic coursework and a minimum of 6 hours of practicum (live practice teaching with real EFL students). This is impossible to do in short courses, so avoid those cheaper courses you see being held in hotels over the weekend.

Key takeaway: Check the finer points of the TEFL course – do you get 6 hours of teaching practicum, with real students followed by feedback from an experienced professor who gives you points to work on in your next lessons, and develop as a teacher!

  1. What Support & Guidance Are Included to Help Me Find a Job?

What does that €200, €500, etc. TEFL class really include?

To sum up, at this point you’ve been taught by a university-level instructor, and you’ve also received an internationally accredited and recognised TEFL qualificcation all for a cost equivalent to an average road bike.

What should happen after your TEFL class? Are you sent links to a few job boards and told, «good luck!? Or are you working with a trained professional who is helping you create a customized plan for your job search so that you know where to start?

You need to know if you’re receiving any sort of post-course job search guidance. You need to know how much (if any) human interaction or personalized support is included in your tuition. Will you have access to networking opportunities or a way to connect with fellow alumni?

In short — are you paying for a piece of paper that you don’t know how to use, or are you paying for a professional teaching certification and personalized support & guidance that will lead you to a fantastic teaching job overseas?

You want to work with trained, professional TEFL advisors that have been and done what you want to do, lived overseas before, and truly live and breathe international travel. You want an advisor who is trained on the finer details of international teaching markets and can advise you on countries you’re qualified for, requirements for the position, salaries you can expect, and everything in between.

You should plan on being able to engage with your TEFL class professor for support during your course. Once you’re ready to begin your job search for your desired teaching position, you’ll need to work with an expert job search advisor to map out your unique job search.

This time and personalized guidance costs money. The world is constantly changing, visa procedures can change overnight, hot job markets and premiere schools ebb and flow, if you want to be in the know and be confident in every step of your planning, then you want to work with professionally trained staff.

Key Takeaway: If you’re paying €500 for merely a TEFL certificate that includes little to no personalized, expert post-course guidance then think twice. You’re seriously going to give up your current job and apartment, pack up all of your belongings, and get on a plane halfway across the world to start a brand new career without any professional guidance or advising?

Save yourself countless hours of frustration and Googling, and work with a professional whose full-time career it is to help you make this move abroad.

Bringing pet to barcelona

Bringing a pet to Spain

So you gather up the courage to teach English as a foreign language in Spain. You confidently inform your parents, family, and friends. They have questions, but you have answers. Your mind is made up. You have mustered up the money for the deposit to secure your position in the course. But after you click the mouse to transfer the money to ITA, your four-legged, furry, love of your life, truly-man’s-best-friend, looks at you with those eyes (you know the ones) which seem to have a voice of their own … a voice that says, “What about me?”. Then I had the task of bringing my pet to Spain to accompany me on my new adventure!

Yes, what about your furry best friend? Your four-legged child? How can you possibly leave the country, for perhaps some undefined amount of time, without your Fido? I, too, was faced with these questions as I decided to take action on a long-time dream of living abroad and becoming multi-lingual. Fido, in this case, was my Peanut who I rescued from a pet shelter over 2 years ago. No one in my family or circle of friends was able to take care of him and placing him back into a shelter crushed my heart at the very thought. Honestly, I could not bear to move away without him.

So what did I do, you ask? Well, I found a way to bring Peanut with me. Now let me tell you upfront, what I am about to describe is a very complicated, detailed, time-sensitive, and expensive process. BUT, it is achievable. You can, most definitely, bring your pet with you overseas from the United States. When there’s a will, there’s a way!

The following are a list of considerations – not all inclusive, admittedly, but pretty close 😊

  • Veterinarian/United Stated Department of Agriculture(USDA) Paperwork: You need to prepare to have your pet’s Veterinarian complete a thorough check-up of your pet and sign paperwork. The USDA will have to review the Vet’s paperwork and notarize the paperwork. This paperwork is very time sensitive. If you are seriously thinking about bringing your pet, you should speak to your vet immediately! Do not wait! Your pet will need to be up-to-date on shots and must be micro-chipped with an identification number. Requirements vary for each country and will vary again depending if you decide to travel with your pet or send your pet overseas alone. Take a look at this website for more specific information regarding the process regulations and time-sensitive paperwork needed:
  • Pet-friendly Airlines: You will need to research the airlines that allow Trans-Atlantic travel of pets. Depending on the breed, size, and weight of your pet, you may be able to take your pet with you in-cabin under the seat. Make sure to research the specific size and requirements of pet carriers. This is very important! *Note: some airlines will not accept flying pets in-cabin on flights with layovers. Therefore, if you want to travel with your pet, you may have to pay more money for a direct flight to your destination overseas.
  • Emotional Support: Will you register your pet as an Emotional Support pet? With most airlines, Emotional Support dogs fly in-cabin with you under the seat for FREE or for a greatly discounted rate. There are reputable and legal websites that streamline the process of registering your pet as an Emotional Support animal. You will need to take a short quiz and pay a fee (normally under $50) for a licensed professional to complete the process and mail the certificate to you. No need to even leave your house for this!

As I had already purchased my airline ticket to Barcelona, which included one layover, the airline (Norwegian Airlines) did not allow me to take Peanut in-cabin with me. Norwegian Airlines also did not allow pets in-cargo. Therefore, I had to book Peanut a separate flight with United Airlines for him to fly in-cargo from Atlanta, Georgia to Barcelona.

  • Cost: The cost of the flight will vary depending on the airline you choose and the size/weight of your pet. Be sure to check all requirements outlined by the airline as there are VERY specific restrictions and instructions that must be adhered to. If not, the airlines could prohibit your pet from flying. In-cargo pet travel is safe, believe it or not, and there are attendants available to check on your pet. Again, be sure to inquire with the specific airline you choose about how your pet will be taken care of before, during, and after the flight.    
  • Spanish Customs: In the end, Peanut arrived in Barcelona safe and sound a day after I arrived. However, picking Peanut up from Spanish Customs was just as complicated as bringing him overseas. It took four hours to complete the process because everything in Spain moves slow! But, if you have all the paperwork mentioned above in order, it can be done without any hiccups.
  • Pet Shipping Services: Are you getting a headache after reading all of this? Well no need to fear! There are companies that will make the process extremely easy and take care of everything from appointments with vets and the USDA to picking the pet up from your house in the US to getting the pet through Spanish customs and dropped off safely at your residence in Spain. The catch here is the price. Expect to pay close to $1,000, if not more. Expensive but it may be totally worth the stress-free experience.

Spain is a great country for pets especially dogs. There are many restaurants and shops that welcome dogs inside and plenty of parks where dogs are welcome. Dogs truly live the “good life” here in Barcelona. The hard work of planning and preparing your dog for the long travel overseas is all worth it when you and your dog can both enjoy the beautiful city of Barcelona … together!