• TEFL, CELTA and TESOL in Thailand

    by  • 09/09/2013 • Events

    Want to teach English as a second/foreign language in Thailand or throughout the world? Well, Thailand has you covered. There are many options, but some confusion about how to choose the best TEFL, CELTA, or TESOL course.

    TEFL, CELTA and TESOL in Thailand

    The Differences between TEFL, CELTA and TESOL

    What the acronyms mean:

    • TEFLTeaching English as a Foreign Language
    • CELTACertificate to English Language Teaching to Adults, subsequently re-acronymed as Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
    • TESOLTeaching English to speakers of other languages as well as TESOL International Association and Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

    Also

    • ESL – English as a second language
    • EFL – English as a foreign language
    • TESL – Teaching English as a second language
    • ESOL – English for Speakers of Other Languages

    These all refer to English as a second, other, or foreign language, and the CELTA itself is specifically for teaching English to adults (as a second, other, or foreign language).

    TEFL is a more generic term since both CELTA and TESOL also have organizational implications, though a TEFL, CELTA, or TESOL certificate all intend to indicate a level of training accomplished by the recipient for the teaching of English as a foreign/other/second language.

    The terms TEFL and CELTA are not trademarked, but the word TESOL is trademarked and (along with a drawing) as an association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.

    All of these terms, especially TEFL, CELTA and TESOL, are interchangeable in common use, though in Thailand, the term TEFL is much more commonly used and understood. There is no practical difference between these, for the English teacher in Thailand and most of the rest of the world. The only difference has to do with the particulars of the given certificate. For example, a 60-hour TEFL certificate is not equivalent to a full 120-hour TEFL certificate.

    Cambridge CELTA and TESOL Institute, as well as various universities are used as brand names used to recruit customers. However, these brand names have no effect on acquiring a job teaching English. In addition, those brand names have little or no effect on the actual quality of the actual TEFL/CELTA/TESOL training. It all comes down to the teacher and the course and the school, rather than any institutional affiliation.

    Unfortunately, in a brand-riddled world, these brand names are taken as proxies of quality, which they are not. And so, the question arises, how does one choose a particular TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate provider? In Thailand, one has to find a good school and a good teacher.

    Choosing a TEFL Course in Thailand

    There are TEFL courses offered in many places throughout Thailand. The main centers of TEFL training are Bangkok and Chiang Mai, though there are several courses offered in Phuket, and courses can be found on Samui as well as places like Khon Kaen.

    TEFL Training Course Location

    The location of the TEFL course may have some bearing on the location one wants to get a job teaching English. For example, if one wants to teach in Chiang Mai, then attending a course in Chiang Mai makes sense. That is, it makes sense if in fact the TEFL course teachers can help find TEFL positions after the course is over. And that is key.

    For this reason, taking a TEFL in Phuket or Samui makes little sense, since there are few jobs there with a small local population, and an overabundance of TEFL certificate holders and students. Bangkok is where there is a large local population, and therefore more work to be found. However, Chiang Mai is also an attractive place to find work, that has several options for a TEFL certificate.

    That said, a TEFL certificate should be useful wherever one may want to work, throughout Thailand and the region, as well as much of the rest of the world.

    Choosing a TEFL Course in Chiang Mai

    Chiang Mai has an abundance of TEFL training schools, and at first glance it is difficult to know which school to choose for TEFL training. Some schools are established and operate professionally but others have only been operating for only a few months. Some are run legally conforming to Thailand’s laws and regulations but a few do not. Some have professional training and administration staff but others do not. There are many considerations but here are a few criteria to consider.

    School Licensing in Thailand

    In Thailand, as in nearly every other country in the world, it is legal requirement that public training courses that are conducted on a regular basis must be supervised by their country’s Ministry of Education. There are obvious reasons for this such as maintaining safety and quality standards. A lack of a school license to conduct training courses implies that that school’s foreign trainers are working illegally as they cannot obtain work permits as a TEFL training course instructor for their school.

    In addition, participants of these unregistered and/or unlicensed courses are likely to find their health and accident insurance is null and void if they fall ill or have an accident while on the premises of an unlicensed school. Finally, and most importantly, the graduation TEFL certificate may cease to be recognized by Ministries of Education in Thailand and across the world.

    If a school is licensed by the Ministry of Education, there is no reason why that school cannot include evidence of this on their website. Accreditation pages should include this information. If a school does not provide unambiguous evidence on their website that they are licensed to operate a TEFL training courses, any potential participant should request evidence before financially committing themselves to a course that is possibly operating illegally. The risk to the participant is that in the future the particular certifying school may be deemed insufficient qualification for teacher training.

    Legal Registered Businesses Operating in Thailand

    Obviously any legitimate TEFL, CELTA or TESOL certificate would have to come from a school or teacher training company that is both registered and licensed to do business in Thailand. In Thailand this means that the company needs to be a Thai Registered Company, with a name and a tax ID. Evidence for this will be the business incorporation papers and/or the tax certificate. Unfortunately there are organizations or individuals who are operating in Thailand who are neither registered with the Ministry of Education, nor are they legal businesses in Thailand. They pay no tax and have no legal status in Thailand.

    TEFL, CELTA and TESOL Certification

    Organizations should have some kind of certification to ensure quality. CELTA and TESOL are organizations which are meant to provide a minimum level assurance that the organization has some level of quality control. Schools are now starting to acquire ISO 9001 certification which provides a process management quality assurance.

    Some schools are not above claiming some kind of bogus certification, including self-certification with internal boards or certification through invented third-party (puppet) organizations. While there should be internal processes for quality assurance, these are not real certifications as there is no external entity involved. In addition, membership in professional organizations such as IATEFL, while certainly praiseworthy, is in no way an actual certification or endorsement. These are dues-collecting professional organizations, not certifying bodies.

    TEFL School Trainers

    A TEFL school should present their trainers to potential trainees. Biographies showing qualifications, backgrounds and relevant experience indicate the school has a permanent staff. Descriptions that are too general and not specific such as all our teachers are qualified and experienced without actually showing who is qualified and experienced is a poor indicator. This information will also indicate the probable trainer/trainee ratio per course.

    Length of Time in Business

    It is also important to know that the prospective TEFL school is established and has been running TEFL training courses for a significant period of time. This will help provide assurance that it will not disappear during the period between making a deposit payment and finishing training. Unfortunately, this happens.

    Class Size

    Average class size is also of importance. The prospective trainee will want the course to be small enough so that they receive sufficient individual support from trainers, but also large enough in order to have a selection of training buddies for the period of the training course. Schools can misrepresent this information. Again, there’s no reason why websites cannot show, or link to, graduation photos from their previous courses.

    TEFL Training Courses in Chiang Mai

    Below are the courses offered in Chiang Mai. What do they tell us about each course? Courses are listed in alphabetical order.

    • Note: This information is up-to-date as of September, 2013.

    CMU TEFL

    • Website: http://www.cmutefl.com/
    • Location: The Language Institute on the campus of Chiang Mai University.
    • Year established: The current program started around 2011. There was an earlier program but this ended abruptly with some trainees losing part, or all, of their course deposits. Google to find more information.
    • Evidence that the course belongs to a registered company: We can assume the administration of the program is processed through the Language Institute.
    • Evidence of accreditation: From their website:

    > The 120-hour CMUTEFL at the Language Institute Chiang Mai University has been approved by the Board of Language Institute Chiang Mai University. Its syllabus has been reviewed and will be monitored by the Chairman of the Language Institute Chiang Mai University along with six committee members comprising of various academicians, deans and directors at both Chiang Mai University and Chulalongkorn University.

    • Description of training staff: Detailed with photographs.
    • Evidence of average class sizes: None. However, from their Facebook Page it seems class size ranges between 4 and 12 students.

    ECC CELTA

    • Website: http://www.eccthai.com/training.asp
    • Location: Approximately 200m east of the main Chiang Mai University entrance along Huay Kaew Road.
    • Year the course was established: The program in Chiang Mai started around 2005
    • Evidence that the course belongs to a registered company: Not stated on their website. However, the parent school was established in 1983.
    • Evidence of accreditation: CELTA courses are accredited and moderated by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations. This is a semi-autonomous business arm (similar to Cambridge University Press) of Cambridge University. Its primary business is setting examinations. It is not part of any faculty within the university.
    • Description of training staff: Descriptions and photos.
    • Evidence of average class sizes: None. However, CELTA courses try to maintain a trainer/trainee ration of 1:6.

    Entrust TEFL

    • Website: http://entrusttefl.com
    • Location: ECO Resort, Bumruangrad Road and Panthip Plaza, Changklan Road
    • Year the course was established: 2004.
    • Evidence that the course belongs to a registered company: Not stated on their website.
    • Evidence of accreditation: None.
    • Description of training staff: 1 trainer is listed for 4 training locations and an online training course. There is brief detail and a photo.
    • Evidence of average class sizes: From their Facebook Page it seems up to 25.  Many of their trainees are South Africans recruited through the OVC travel agency.

    Green TEFL

    • Website: http://www.greentefl.com/
    • Location: Behind Lanna Hospital north of the city bypass.
    • Year the course was established: 2013
    • Evidence that the course belongs to a registered company: Not stated on their website.
    • Evidence of accreditation: From their website:

    The Green TEFL Course is licensed and accredited by the Thai Ministry of Education as Pitchapat School aka NAVA

    • Description of training staff: A general description is given without names, details or photos.
    • Evidence of average class sizes: None. However, according to their Facebook Page they have trained 3 people between February 2013 and September 2013.

    IH CELTA

    • Website: http://www.ihbangkok.com
    • Location: Vdara Resort just off the Hang Dong road. This course is not held at a school location, but at a resort south of the airport several kilometers outside of Chiang Mai.
    • Year the course was established: 1999
    • Evidence that the course belongs to a registered company: Not stated on their website.
    • Evidence of accreditation: CELTA courses are accredited and moderated by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations. This is a semi-autonomous business arm (similar to Cambridge University Press) of Cambridge University. Its primary business is setting examinations. It is not part of any faculty within the university.
    • Description of training staff: Details and photos.
    • Evidence of average class sizes: Not stated on their website. However, CELTA courses try to maintain a trainer/trainee ratio of 1:6.

    Paradise TEFL

    • Website: http://www.paradisetefl.com/
    • Location: An apartment room in the A9 Guest House which is located behind Lanna Hospital
    • Year the course was established: 2003
    • Evidence that the course belongs to a registered company: None
    • Evidence of accreditation: They claim accreditation from tefltesolcertification.com According to research on Google, Paradise TEFL is the only course they accredit. In addition, the paradisetefl.com and tefltesolcertification.com websites share the same IP Address.
    • Description of training staff: None
    • Evidence of average class sizes: None, though some pictures show 1-3 students per course.

    SEE TEFL

    • Website: http://seetefl.com/
    • Location: On the corner of Kaewnawarat Road and Soi 2
    • Year the course was established: 2006
    • Evidence that the course belongs to a registered company: Their company name is listed on their website.
    • Evidence of accreditation: A scanned document of their permission to run TEFL courses from the Thai Ministry of Education is linked to their Accreditation page. Their management system has achieved ISO 9001:2008 compliance.
    • Description of training staff: Details with photos.
    • Evidence of average class sizes: From their Facebook Page it seems 10–16 trainees per course.

    Text & Talk

    • Website: http://www.teflteachthai.com/TrainingSites_ChiangMai.html
    • Location: Thaiwang Road
    • Year the course was established: 1991
    • Evidence that the course belongs to a registered company: None
    • Evidence of accreditation: Claims to be the only TEFL course accredited by the Ministry of Education. There is no evidence to support this claim on their website (and it is not accurate as SEE TEFL is accredited).
    • Description of training staff: None.
    • Evidence of average class sizes: None.

    UniTEFL

    • Website: http://www.unitefl.com/
    • Location: Rooms on the ground floor of P&S Apartment Building along Huay Kaew Road.
    • Year the course was established: Around 2010. Note that some of the UniTEFL staff came from the former CMU TEFL. However, there is a claim that the course came from the original CMU TEFL program. There is no evidence of a licensing arrangement between CMU TEFL and UniTEFL for this course information.
    • Evidence that the course belongs to a registered company: Not stated on their website.
    • Evidence of accreditation: Claims accreditation from TEFL International. TEFL International is a TEFL course provider that franchises its program and name.
    • Description of training staff: Details, with photos.
    • Evidence of average class sizes: From their Gallery Page it seems 4–12 trainees per course.