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What is TEFL? And why do you need it to teach English in China?

There’s a huge demand for English teachers in China, with thousands of new jobs posted every year, so with such a demand, I’m sure many of you are wondering why you need to get a TEFL certification to be able to teach English in China. Surely just being a native English-speaker would be enough? Here’s why it isn’t:

Why you need TEFL certification …. to ‘TEFL’

Yes, being a native English-speaker is cited as a prerequisite in most TEFL jobs ads. They want candidates who are 100% fluent in spoken English. TEFL is predicated on spoken, conversational English that will serve a practical purpose for students throughout their lives, so conversational fluency is imperative.

But there is more to teaching English than simply pitching up to class and practicing saying things in English. As with most things, there is a method – a method that’s been developed over time and is proven to be the most effective for achieving the desired outcome.

As an acronym, ‘TEFL’ stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language (and is so often referred to in that context – as in “she is going to TEFL in China”), but in fact TEFL, as it is offered as a learned skill and qualification, refers to the teaching method. It is this skill (and therefore the TEFL certification) that is so in demand in China and other fast-growing Asian countries.

TEFL: Effective Teaching of English – for Effective Learning of English

TEFL certification is sought all over the world, by many institutions and programmes, both public and private, and but by far the highest demand for TEFL teachers comes from the hundreds (if not thousands) of private language schools all over China.  China is a huge country and an economic powerhouse that values English as the language of commerce. Culturally, the Chinese also value high standards, hard work, achievement and dedication, and this has created the perfect situation for a massive demand for extra-curricular tutoring.

In most areas, it’s considered not enough to simply learn English in school – the way most Westerners learn French for example. (By the end of our school years we end up with a few grammar rules burnt into our memories through parrot-fashion repetition and written tests, but when we finally go on that holiday to France, we can’t speak a word of it, let alone understand anything anyone is saying.)

Private language schools that offer intensive tutoring in conversational English are therefore widely utilised to ensure that children really do learn to speak English and get the ongoing tutoring and practice they need to retain what they learn – the aim being that the students will be able to converse effectively in English through their lives. Learning English is taken seriously, and that is why you need TEFL certification to teach English in China – despite the apparently insatiable demand for foreign native English-speaking teachers.

Of course, it’s not only private language schools that use TEFL teachers – many schools incorporate English lessons taught by foreign TEFL teachers, as do government and volunteer programmes. Universities, businesses, associations and Corporates also look for TEFL teachers to teach adults, and opportunities for private tutoring abound for all ages.

The TEFL Method

There are in fact many methodologies used in TEFL, with many approaches and even more techniques, some because they are preferred, and many targeted toward students’ ages and existing level of English. There is no one set way of teaching, but all methodologies and techniques are what you could call ‘branches on the same tree’. They are all based on a core methodology of teaching English through an appropriate conversational level, using examples and situations that are age-appropriate and have contextual meaning to the learner rather than the teacher.

This core methodology is structured through a lesson ‘model’ called PPP: Presentation, Practice and Production. You will learn more about PPP, how TEFL works and why it works, as you do your TEFL course.

‘TEFL’ in China…with a 120 or 150-hour TEFL Certification

So, are you thinking of heading over to China to ‘TEFL’, or perhaps you are interested in TEFL opportunities in other countries in Asia or around the world? Take a look at our 120 and 150-hour TEFL courses in particular, as both are widely accepted and will open doors to the adventure of a lifetime while living and working in countries like China – countries that are looking for your enthusiasm and TEFL teaching skills. Contact TEFL Graduate or email us at enquires@telfgraduate.com for more info and special deals on the courses that will get you where you want to go.

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