Friday, October 12, 2007

To TEFL or Not to TEFL? (Part II)

Now getting on to the financial aspect of a TEFL course. When I did my TEFL in Spain in 2002, the total cost for the course and accommodation was about $1,700. That price has gone up to about $2,000 now (though you can generally save money by looking for your own accommodation – it’s just a bit of a pain, and you may find yourself out of the loop with your classmates).

I’ve only met a couple of teachers who didn’t do a TEFL course. In general, they seem to have been paid a couple euros less per hour than those with the TEFL certificate. But after a year or two of teaching, the TEFL certificate becomes irrelevant for many employers. I’m sure some of the larger, international places (like British Council) are pickier, but just talking about your average private academy in Madrid (and there seem to be hundreds), their requirements are pretty flexible.

So, let’s look at the finances of it:

Let’s assume a nine-month working year (October – June) and just say 4 weeks/month except only 3 weeks in December, January, and either March or April (for Semana Santa). We’ll give the teacher a 25 hour/week schedule. So that’s 33 weeks x 25 hours = 825 hours.

OK, so assuming the new teacher does not get a TEFL certificate and is paid 2 euros less per hour, that means in one full year of working he/she will earn 1650 euros less than a new TEFL-carrying teacher. At current rates, that’s a little more than $2,300. So by not doing the TEFL course, they may miss out on a few hundred dollars in earnings during their first year. After they have a year of teaching under their belt, their salary should go up.

But, you also need to consider that while doing a TEFL course, it is unlikely you’ll be working. So in addition to paying out about $2,000 for the course and accommodation (talking Spain here – prices differ in other countries), you are losing out on a month of work. And you will need to eat, and you will probably want to go out and travel and buy things, etc. etc.

So, financially speaking, I’m not sure it makes that much of a difference in the long run. If you’re confident in your abilities to teach or communicate with people, and if you’re willing to work for a little bit less, it may not be worth your money or time to do a TEFL course.

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