TEFL certification - is it really necessary?

General job offers and work related issues in Chile.
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Lunkey
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TEFL certification - is it really necessary?

Post by Lunkey » Wed Jul 16, 2008 10:34 pm

is any certification really required for getting a job teaching english in Santiago?

I am getting various information and misinformation regarding the process.... get a CELTA, get any general TEFL certification, don't get anything, do Berlitz, don't do Berlitz....

It is becoming increasingly difficult discovering what is the best process for moving to Santiago and wanting to get a job teaching english, and in the end I obviously want to be as best prepared as possible to put me in the best situation possible.

any advice would be greatly appreciated!! :D

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jgb78uk
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Re: TEFL certification - is it really necessary?

Post by jgb78uk » Thu Jul 17, 2008 3:34 pm

I have been teaching English in Santiago for about 8 months so far.
I have a TEFL which I got by post in the UK before I came to Chile (really not worth the paper it's written on).
I worked for the first 5 months at the biggest and most expensive English Language institute (it begins with a 'T' and they are now doing television adverts) and although being a somewhat valuable experience in apprenticeship terms it was otherwise horrible. Exceptionally low pay (typically $200.000 pesos for 120 hours in a month), cold, hard, expressionless bosses who couldn't give a toss about you, constant coercion to work more hours and literally zero grammar or teacher training throughout.

And this, supposedly, is the most 'prestigious' institute in Santiago and in Chile.
They employ you, rape you and forget about you. They are making shed loads of money by charging extortionate fees to students who, strangely, don't seem to care and partly by exploiting gringos straight off the plane who have nowhere else to go.

I saw it as an apprenticeship and nothing else. I gained teaching experience and then decided to strike out on my own - printing some business cards, putting out flyers in apartment block foyers and a putting adverts online. I now turn down classes because I don't have time or don't really need any more hours an I'm earning a decent wage in a quarter of the time at the hell institute.

As for the TEFL, none of my students ask for it but it is nice to have nd put on a flyer or business card. And bear in mind you don't really start to learn the grammar until you start teaching it.

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jgb78uk
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Re: TEFL certification - is it really necessary?

Post by jgb78uk » Thu Jul 17, 2008 3:38 pm

And no, the institute didn't really care if I had a TEFL or not.
All they cared about was my ability to speak English, wear smart clothes and turn up on time.

If you have enough money to get you by, it may be worth doing it for a few months like I did - to learn some of the ropes and gain experience... and then go it alone.

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tonyakaserg
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Re: TEFL certification - is it really necessary?

Post by tonyakaserg » Thu Jul 17, 2008 6:17 pm

After teaching English voluntarily I can not see how Chilean teachers who are properly qualified are any better than someone who speaks English natively and has a basic understanding of Pedagogy ... not to take anything away from the Chilean teachers but all the ones I met, only about half of them could speak English.. I still dont dare charge for my English teaching mainly because I feel I'd be charging for something of lower quality that i my self would be prepared to pay for.. until I feel 'adequate' enough, I wont charge..

So my suggestion.. equip yourself as best possible.. learn the ropes as jgb78uk suggested and do your own thing.. form what I have gathered you can charge from 2000 - 5000 pesos per hourly session.. teach up to 4 at once and charge each one individually.. less stress too.. Chilean classroom sizes can be quite big.. and most Chilean teenagers have a very "i dont need English" type of attitude so many teaching hours are spent just motivating them.. on and Classroom management is something that will also take ur time up in any 45minute lesson.. that's if your lucky enough to get 45minute lessons as most i encountered were 1.5 hours.. most student are bored at about the first 20 minutes...anyway.. as I have said b4 I love teaching .. so its not for everyone..

PRECIOSA_FLOR
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Re: TEFL certification - is it really necessary?

Post by PRECIOSA_FLOR » Thu Jul 17, 2008 6:46 pm

Is it really necessary to have a TEFL certification to work at an English Institute?
That's a big fat NO. As long as you are a native speaker they are willing to take advantage of you in any way shape or form. Just like jgb78uk said...

Is it really necessary to have a TEFL certification to work at a colegio?
That really all depends on how good you are at bullshitting. So if you have good skills then no.

Is it really necessary to have a TEFL certification to work at a University?
Apparently yes. Plus you need to have at least a bachelor's degree.

I worked at a Chilean English Institute in Temuco. I learned a good life lesson, which was don't work at an English Institute in Chile. Seriously these guys above are right on key when they say do something on your own. 200k a month for 120 hours is bullshit. I worked for around the same amount of hours and got almost 400k, which was fair. If you want to start somewhere then maybe an institute is a good start to see how some Chileans really do a great job at taking advantage of gringos. Plus you can learn from other gringos there and from yourself.

Luckily I sniffed the English Institute out before I even started. I knew somehow they would want to screw me over in the end because I had already heard many horror stories about the woman who runs the institute. I ended up quitting and that didn't go over very well. She told me I was poorly educated and a horrible person when I quit. I just laughed. She kept saying come back next week and I will pay you...until my Chilean friend had had enough. He marched into the Institute and basically raised hell. Needless to say I got my money. I am very close with Chileans here in Temuco...lawyers, accountants, agriculturists...so many of them know the laws and know how to screw back with horrible English Institute owners as well as other Chileans who are sin verguenza. I was able to get a lot of good advice from them.

Main point is do your own English teaching thing. If not just be careful.

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Lunkey
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Re: TEFL certification - is it really necessary?

Post by Lunkey » Thu Jul 17, 2008 7:11 pm

thanks for all the responses! certainly has helped me decide that it is definitely not worth spending $4K on a CELTA.... I still would feel more comfortable with some sort of training though.... I think.

anyone familiar with TEFL academy? http://www.tefl-academy.com

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jgb78uk
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Re: TEFL certification - is it really necessary?

Post by jgb78uk » Thu Jul 17, 2008 7:13 pm

form what I have gathered you can charge from 2000 - 5000 pesos per hourly session..
In Santiago, double those figures. And more if you feel they'll pay it, I know I do!

Most of the teachers seem to charge around $7 or 8,000 per hour for private classes... but I try to go for a minimum of $10,000 an hour because I reason that I'm travelling to their offices/houses and spending money on transport, there is also time lost in actually travelling to and from their houses/offices when I could be teaching somewhere else. Nowadays I don't take anything that means I'm travelling during the rush hour. I also sell them the Native accent thing and they seem to go for it more often than not.

Like I said, get some experience, draft a few fancy flyers in photoshop or just something that looks professional and catches the eye and get out there... there's a lot of call for it.

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tonyakaserg
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Re: TEFL certification - is it really necessary?

Post by tonyakaserg » Thu Jul 17, 2008 10:54 pm

jgb78uk wrote: I also sell them the Native accent thing and they seem to go for it more often than not.
please explain..?.. do you mean your sales pitch is that they will speak better English..compared to the American English they are taught?.. :P .. I know I am proud to speak a closer version to the Queen's own English.. 8) (and no this does not mean I want to get into which country speaks English better...... so BACK off.. dont wanna take this to the lobby!) :P :mrgreen: :P

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jgb78uk
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Re: TEFL certification - is it really necessary?

Post by jgb78uk » Fri Jul 18, 2008 8:35 am

No, no, of course not! :D
I mean that when they phone up to have chat about prices, classes, etc., I talk about how t's better to have a native speaker (without being disparaging to Chileans) and by that I mean someone from the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the U.K.... or, better still, someone from Germany - they speak better than all of us!

It's funny but when I was at the T-Hell institute by far and above the best teachers were the Chileans - they were actually teachers. They were very comfortable in class, knew the grammar in-depth, they were professional and likeable.
As for us foreigners it was quite the opposite.

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cali_chile48
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Re: TEFL certification - is it really necessary?

Post by cali_chile48 » Wed Nov 12, 2008 4:38 pm

I just got back from a job interview in Santiago. I have a teaching certificate from the US, and I am a native speaker. The fact that I also had a TEFL certificate helped, but probably was not necessary for me to get hired. The TEFL training gave me a stronger background in grammar and the methodologies for teaching a language, so for me it was worth it because I feel more confident to do a better job.... which is important since I care about things like that.

I was hired on the spot. I have a one year contract that guarantees me 160,000 pesos per month as a base and only requires about 8 hours per week. During the slow months (nov - march), that might be all the work I get, which is fine for me since I don't want to work full time anymore. During the busy months (april - oct), I'll be able to fill up my schedule more and double or triple my pay and still not work more than 20 hours per week. The Institute is also taking care of the visa application process for me....I hate that bureaucratic stuff.

After a year of experience with this new gig, maybe I'll be ready to do more free-lance work, but for now I am happy to start slow, follow a scripted program and take my time learning the ropes. I'll be living very simply and frugally, rent free (thanks veronica!) with my assets in USD as a back up. I'll be spending my time studying Spanish, learning home repairs and construction with Chilean materials, scouting out land near the sea, and enjoying nice dinners and lots of wine with my sweetheart. All in all, a huge improvement over my life in Los Angeles.

Damo
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Re: TEFL certification - is it really necessary?

Post by Damo » Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:46 am

Would you take flying lessons before trying to fly a plane?

I seem to remember writing to you about this a few months ago, so I don't want to repeat everything...

Yes, you should do a CELTA. For one thing, you can find out if you actually enjoy teaching BEFORE going to Chile. You might also even discover that you have absolutely no talent for teaching and no grasp of the English language whatsoever - that would save you and your students a lot of graft. Let's imagine you go there without a teaching qualification - What makes you think your students don't deserve a teacher who knows how to teach? Did it not occur to you that your students are paying out of their pockets to learn English from a competent teacher? If you don't know what you are doing, what exactly would make you any different to all the other companies in the TEFL business who charge their students hefty fees for sub-standard teaching? Exploitation of off-the-plane-gringos is just one part of the equation, another factor is people not giving a damn about their students and wilfully making themselves a party to dishonest business

Please don't take this the wrong way - you might have a natural aptitude for teaching, but don't be so darned arrogant to believe that there is nothing to the job and that there is nothing for you to learn. If you take yourself and your students seriously you can make very good money teaching English... perhaps not in Chile, but then I take it you won't want to stay there forever anyway. So do yourself a favour, get a CELTA and put yourself on track for something better ...

Oh and BTW, the CELTA course is quite a blast.

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Lunkey
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Re: TEFL certification - is it really necessary?

Post by Lunkey » Sun Jan 18, 2009 1:20 am

Damo I'm not sure if you're referring to me or not as I started the thread, but you've never messaged me about this. You've got some apparent hostility about the overall subject though :lol: anyway from everything else I've read you're dead wrong regarding the celta cert for someone wanting to teach in chile, so I'll take your opinion with a grain of salt.

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