How Hard is a TEFL Course and is it Worth It? | Catherine’s Experience

Have you thought about signing up for a TEFL course in the past but didn’t, because you weren’t sure what to expect? In this blog, I’ll be sharing lots of information in order to answer 2 big questions: ‘How Hard is a TEFL Course?’ and ‘Is it Worth It?”, plus my experience about what the TEFL courses include. It can be quite daunting when you don’t know what to expect so, hopefully, this will give help you to see the real benefits and give you a better understanding and the confidence to get started on your TEFL journey.

What modules do the TEFL courses include?

i-to-i host a wide range of TEFL courses, ranging from the Level 3 120-hour TEFL Certificate up to the full Level 5 420-hour Advanced TEFL Diploma – you can check out i-to-i’s website for more detailed information, including which modules each course covers and the price plans.

Depending on which course you choose to start, it can impact what modules you’ll cover. I completed the Level 5 200-hour course back in 2019 (basically the 180-hour with an online practice element), and this covered a wide range of topics – an excellent starting point for someone who had no prior experience in teaching and no degree!

Each course will cover different material, but the longer the course, the more material that you will cover and learn. I can highly recommend the 420-hour Advanced TEFL Diploma if you are just starting out (which wasn’t around when I did my TEFL course), as this covers EVERYTHING you will need to know to get started on your TEFL journey and will help you to access the higher wages.

It covers topics such as lesson planning and time management, teaching children vs teaching adults, teaching online vs in-person classes, Business English, teaching other subjects in English and teaching students how to prepare for IELTS exams (which I’m studying separately as the 200-hour TEFL course didn’t cover it). It also covers how to manage teaching mixed classes – where students have mixed abilities/ English Language levels, mixed age groups in one class, and students from different countries with different goals. All of these variables can be very common in the TEFL classroom, so it’s an important skill to have, to ensure all the students are receiving the best learning experience.

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How do I manage my time & stay motivated?

Starting a new course on any subject can be overwhelming, especially if you see there are a lot of hours to complete, however, the end goal is definitely worth the time and effort. A year into my TEFL journey I had already surpassed 1000 hours of teaching, thanks to having an accredited qualification, and it’s worth mentioning that I had zero hours experience beforehand. Keep that end goal in mind!

The best way to manage your time when completing a course is to first check how many hours the course is, and how long you have to complete it. Some people will do the course in fewer hours, and some will take more – just do what is best for you.

The time it takes to complete can also be affected by whether you are doing the course full-time or part-time, in between work and study. From my experience, I completed the course whilst in full-time work. I set aside a couple of hours every evening, and then a good chunk of my weekend time to complete the course.

It’s important not to overdo it either – this is something you want to enjoy doing as it has the potential to start you on your new career path, so enjoy the learning process as you go, and take a time out when needed. This will help to keep you motivated!

When it comes to spending time on the assessment (more on this later), it’s important to set aside a block of time to complete it. Studying a few hours each day is fine throughout the units, but with the assessment, I would advise you to spend a morning/ afternoon/ day working on it so you can keep focused and concentrate, as you only have 3 attempts to submit it.

Do I have to do any assignments or assessments? Are they difficult?

The number of assignments and assessments, and the type/difficulty, can vary depending on the course you choose.

Say every course has 10 units, for example, at the end of each unit there is a unit test. This is just a summary test to check your level of understanding before moving onto the next unit. Then beyond this, some courses will have assignments and an end of course assessment, some will just have the assessment at the end.

When I completed the 200hr Level 5 course, end of unit tests, 3 assignments (which were all lesson plans), plus an end of course assessment. I am currently completing the i-to-i IELTS course and, as this is a smaller course, it just has the end of unit tests and one end of course assessment – no assignments.

If you’ve read through the material and made sure you understand it before you attempt the assessments, you shouldn’t have any issues passing them or finding them difficult. Make sure you ask questions if you’re struggling. I always found that the i-to-i team were happy to help and asking for assistance meant I was able to work through the course more quickly.

All the assessments are marked by qualified i-to-i tutors, who will advise if you have passed or need to make changes. They usually get back to you within a week of submission. For the assessments, you have 3 attempts to pass. This is why I would advise you to spend a block of time working on them, to make sure you give them your full attention.

Most of the assessments are marked against set criteria and your submission has to meet each one of these to be successful. If you need to make any changes to your assessments, the i-to-i tutor team will come back to you with really helpful feedback to advise which section needs amendments. Only the section which doesn’t meet the criteria will need amending, so you don’t have to worry about all the other sections that passed!

Teaching English online teacher in a lesson

Accessing the course online

If you haven’t completed a course online before, or are used to studying in the classroom, the online portal is really easy to use and navigate. You will be given access information once you have signed up for the course. From there, you can see what course you are completing, where you are up to, and when your deadline is. Each unit is broken down into sub-units, so it’s easy to follow and all the information is set out in a clear and concise way making it a great way to learn.

Lots of external links and downloads are provided with all the courses too, giving you a wealth of information within your chosen course and helping you on your TEFL journey. I would also advise saving a lot of the resources for when you start teaching, they are really useful and help with lesson planning and activities!

Support and help during the course

As I’ve already mentioned, the i-to-i Academic team are always on hand to help with the completion of your course and can be contacted via email if you have any questions or queries. They also tend to get back to you really quickly, so you won’t have to wait long for an answer!

Along with the tutors’ feedback after submitting assessments and assignments, there’s also the i-to-i graduate Facebook group – an amazing online community of TEFL teachers who help each other, share ideas, and support students completing the different courses, along with support for the newly qualified TEFL teachers too.

Alongside the materials provided as part of the course, i-to-i TEFL provides a free TEFL study guide that has lots of helpful information to support your teaching journey. There’s also the option to purchase the Essential TEFL book (I got the handy online version) which comes with lots of lesson plans, activities and grammar help to get you started.

So, is taking a TEFL Course Worth It? 

I would say it’s a massive YES from me! After completely changing my career and switching to a life of TEFL, I can honestly say I am so grateful that I chose to sign up for a TEFL course. Getting your TEFL certificate is definitely worth it, as you’ll reap the rewards of all the hard work you put in to passing it once you qualify.

Some of the big benefits of being a certified TEFL teacher include:

  • Having a qualification that’s valid for life!
  • Flexible working hours – you can fit teaching around your home life and choose the hours that suit you.
  • Earning good money – you can earn up to £25/hour as a regular TEFL teacher and up to £40/hour as an experienced IELTS coach!
  • Meeting people from around the world and learning about different cultures, while having a positive impact on your students.
  • Being part of a worldwide teaching community – you can share experiences and teaching ideas; everyone is really friendly and helpful.
  • Lots of opportunities to work abroad or online – you even combine the two by becoming a digital nomad and travelling while you teach online!
  • Being able to teach a variety of topics and students – SO many people want to learn English, so you’ll be able to teach all different levels and subjects. You’ll also get lots of freedom, so you can plan interesting and exciting lessons.

About Catherine

For more information on all the courses provided, browse the i-to-i TEFL courses or download their TEFL brochure.

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