Online or Face-to-Face TEFL/TESOL course?

TEFL/TESOL course: Online or Face-to-Face?

A question I get all the time is: “ Which is better to do, the online course or the face-to-face TEFL/TESOL course?”

After reading this, you can decide for yourself which is best for you? Online or face-to-face TEFL/TESOL Course.

This question makes me think back many years ago, when I was small and Christmas trees were tall. I wanted to ride a horse as I’ve seen them do in all the good Western movies of those years. I went to the library and read up all I could about how to ride a horse. Google search did not exist yet.

After months of studying the theory I was confident that I knew enough to ride a horse when the opportunity should arise. Of course I still watched the Cowboys ride their horses in the movies too. Things started to come together all of a sudden. My mom got a call from my uncle. He asked if I would like to come work on our family’s farm during the school holidays. Our schools normally closed for a 6 weeks summer holiday early in December. Of course I said yes to the opportunity to get out of the city.

After getting used to waking up at dark and start the daily farm chores before eating breakfast when the sun is up, I gradually fell in with the daily routine of a fruit farm.

My big opportunity came when the neighbour visited the farm one day. He rode in on his horse and I just stared at this big monster of a horse. My confidence I built up sort of drained to my foot soles. My uncle asked if I wanted to ride the horse. I was in two minds as the theory and the reality suddenly met. But I had to keep my pose and not show my mixed emotions of fear and anxiety.

How theory without practice can go wrong.

Firstly what more can go wrong after I got on and off on the other side in one smooth move. Not how the Cowboys did it in the movies. When I eventually sat in the saddle, they gave the horse a pat on its backside. Now let me tell you, this is where the theory from the library books really had to come into play. The ground looked far from the top, but I recalled that by pulling the reigns to the left would make it turn left. Therefore the same would be true for the right turn.

No problem, but the horse started picking up speed. The books said that you have to pull the reigns down for the horse to stop. I was out of sight of my uncle and his neighbour by now and fast approaching the tarred road. There were traffic on that road and I needed to stop before I got there. I pulled the reigns down and towards me. Nothing happened for what seemed like an eternity while the tarred road came closer. Then the horse pulled up his hand brake and put down all fours so suddenly that I lurched forward.

Hanging forward, arms around the horse’s neck, I was out of breath and felt this indescribable pain in my groin, only men will know about. The thing standing up in front of the saddle caused the pain. Cowboys normally hung their ropes on this thing. My head started spinning with questions and remorse. What did I think when I was studying the books and got all the theory, why was I so stupid to believe I can ride a horse.

To make a long story short, I whispered in the ears of the horse and told him what I thought about his actions. Luckily I managed to turn him around and walk back to where my uncle and neighbour were waiting. Needless to say, the experience put me off horses for life. I like them, but only to watch them, not ride them.

What did I learn from this experience and how is it related to online or face-to-face TEFL/TESOL courses?

Firstly, theory is just what the word says, theory. Secondly, reality and theory are two vastly different things. Thirdly, if you don’t combine the two and only rely on theory, it might put you off the real situation forever.

Online TEFL/TESOL courses.

I have seen the reality of people with online certificates that do not have the experience on how to present a class. They could not even do basic classroom management. They have no cultural experience or know-how of the students that is sitting in front of them. While it is true that they do learn how to do it through their online study materials it is still theory. That is when pain and remorse sets in. Then they blame the students and the schooling system etc. Some of them pack up and go home after a month or two. Most leave teaching as angry persons and won’t teach again.

Please do your research on online courses, even if they say they are accredited. Most schools do not hire teachers with an online TEFL/TESOL certificate because of the above reasons.

Face-to-face TEFL/TESOL courses

However if they started of the right way by doing a face-to-face TEFL/TESOL course right from the beginning and preferably in the country they are going to teach in, things would have been very different. They would learn the theory and if it is with a reputable company, also get observation time to see how other teachers go about their lessons. Very important is that trainee teachers should do at least 6 hours of teaching themselves. Because it is in a controlled environment, trainers can guide the teacher and give advice where and when needed. I have seen how the trainee teachers start the course with absolutely no confidence to where they finish the course full of confidence and energy.

In conclusion, think long and deep when you decide between online or face-to-face TEFL/TESOL courses.  Don’t try to save money by doing an online course, it is just theory. You need the combination of practical experience and theory that a 120-hour face-to-face course will give you.

Nico Millen

TEFL International Cambodia

Look out for the next post on the Pro’s and Con’s of Online or Face-to-Face TEFL/TESOL courses.