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HomeSpecial FeaturesSpecial SupplementIs an online-only cert enough for online teaching?

Is an online-only cert enough for online teaching?

With online teaching representing an increasing number of available TEFL vacancies, there is an increasing number of online. The vast majority, however, are an add-on to a normal four-week certificate course, rather than a fully-fledged and accredited initial training course.

The latest UK entry is from Trinity College London and represents the first time this assessment body has offered it. Teach English Online (TEO) is an online self-study which can lead to a Level 4 qualification, CertOT, which will appear on England’s national qualification framework run by OFQUAL.

The 30-hour, 10-unit course is designed to help teachers develop their online teaching skills. On completion, teachers can also opt to enter for the CertOT, which involves using the knowledge gained from the course to complete a series of tasks which will be assessed by Trinity examiners. Completing the tasks is expected to take a further 20 hours.

Other well-known training specialists, including International House, have introduced courses designed to equip already qualified teachers to teach online and in recent years Cambridge Assessment has offered free courses on online teaching. However, Trinity may well be the first to offer a nationally recognised qualification in online English teaching, although we haven’t checked the full OFQUAL register so we can’t be sure if other assessment bodies have got there first.

However, so far no UK assessment body seems to be validating a teaching online course for novice teachers such as the accredited one offered by Bridge in the US.

It’s not clear whether national governments, such as China, will accept such qualifications for visa purposes and since China, by far the largest market for online language teaching in recent years, has recently ruled that only teachers who are resident in China can teach Chinese nationals online, this could well be key for many teachers.

Those who want to stay home and teach to students overseas will certainly find these courses useful, particularly in the EU, the second-biggest market, where teaching qualifications command a premium. Hourly rates in the UK, however, appear to be plummeting, with one British Council accredited school in the UK paying just £10 an hour for a 40-hour teaching week in a struggle to compete with online teaching operations run out of countries like Russia and Malta, where wages for teachers are considerably lower.

Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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