Should a TEFL course include a practicum?

Should a TEFL course include a practicum or teaching practice? You may have come across claims that employers won’t accept a TEFL qualification without one, but is this true? To get straight to the point, no, this is false.  

In this post we’re going to take a look at exactly what a practicum is, the types of courses that offer them, and the reasons behind some of the misinformation.

What is a teaching practicum?

A practicum involves assessed teaching practice with actual English language learners.

During a practicum you’ll put into practice what you’ve been learning throughout your course and create and deliver your own lessons in front of real students. You’ll observe other teachers in action and be observed yourself, gain feedback on your teaching and you’ll be assessed on your performance by a course tutor.

Students in class with their hands up

What courses include a practicum?

Intensive classroom-based courses will usually include a practicum. These courses are typically held over four weeks and can cost between £1,200 – £1,500 ($1,650 – $2,000), making them considerably more expensive than an online TEFL course. The CELTA is the most well-known globally and includes six hours of observed teaching practice.

Online courses typically won’t offer a practicum. It’s important to be aware that some online courses advertising a practicum don’t give you the opportunity to teach real English language learners, and so what they call a practicum may not be considered as such by employers. Some online course providers (like ourselves) offer teaching practices and virtual classroom courses, where you’re given the opportunity to deliver lessons in front of your peers and an experienced tutor.

Fact or fiction: employers don’t accept TEFL qualifications without a practicum

Complete fiction. How do we know this? We’ve trained over 140,000 EFL teachers since 2008 who’ve gone on to use their TEFL Org qualification to teach English all over the world. A practicum is not included in our courses and the teachers we train have no problem securing work. Were it true that a practicum was essential to get a TEFL job we’d undoubtedly have a lot of bad reviews, but 92% of our students would recommend us according to reviews.io.

So, why will you see this claimed on some websites? It’s always important to check your sources. Many of the websites pushing the idea that a practicum is imperative are, in fact, TEFL course providers that offer one. What they’re really doing is pushing their own product.

There is also a lot of outdated information about TEFL circulating on the internet. Once upon a time, the quality of online TEFL courses was generally extremely poor and lacking in any suitable accreditation. This was recognised by employers, so they would specify the need for a practicum. Times have very much changed, though, with online courses now able to offer an excellent standard of training. Online courses from accredited and established TEFL course providers are widely accepted around the world.

Why TEFL Org courses don’t include a practicum

We don’t include a practicum for two reasons. Firstly, it simply isn’t necessary in order to secure a job. We pay close attention to the industry and what TEFL employers look for, and we know that the majority of jobs do not ask for a practicum. What most employers do look for is at least 120 hours of TEFL training taken through an accredited course provider.

Secondly, a proper practicum is expensive to conduct. One of our goals as a company is to make getting TEFL qualified as affordable and accessible as possible, while still maintaining our high standards. The difference between our 120-hour Premier Online course and a course that includes a practicum can easily be over £1,000.

A teacher helping a young student

Will it be hard to find a TEFL job without a practicum?

No, taking a TEFL course without a practicum is not going to make it difficult to find a job. As we’ve explained, most employers don’t require one and are happy to recruit teachers with an online TEFL qualification.

When looking for a job it’s essential you research visa requirements. Some countries require teachers to have a degree and/or nationality from specific countries, so you need to ensure you’re eligible for a visa first. As long as you meet the requirements and have a TEFL qualification from an accredited course provider you’ll find plenty of jobs to apply for, no practicum necessary!

Should I take a TEFL course with a practicum?

Whether a course with a practicum is right for you or not will depend on your circumstances. Courses that include a practicum are significantly more expensive than your typical online TEFL course, so if you’re spending more than £1,200/$1,650 you want to be sure it’s right for you.

If you’re looking for as much classroom training as possible then a course like the CELTA is a great option. But, as this article has explained, a practicum is not necessary for securing a TEFL job, so don’t be fooled by claims that say otherwise. If the cost is prohibitive, or if taking a month off to complete an intensive course is impractical, then an online TEFL course is going to be a better option for you. As long as it’s completed with an accredited and internationally recognised course provider you won’t have any issues finding work with an online qualification.

Not sure what course is right for you? Check out our post all about how to choose the right TEFL course. And you can speak to a TEFL adviser on livechat, through email at advice@tefl.org, or by calling 01349 800 600.

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