Setting up a TEFL certificate course

Summary: Personal experiences in setting up a TEFL Certificate course

Just through being in the right place at the right time, I have been involved in the setting up of new TEFL courses in two different schools in two different countries- once as a new teacher trainer and ADoS of the school it was run in, and the second time as the senior teacher trainer and teacher trainer trainer, and even as the trainer of the senior teacher trainer who took over from me when I left. As such, I hope I can offer some insight into some of the ways you can go about setting up a TEFL certificate course in your school without too much pain and hassle- something that I couldn't find anything else on the internet about.


Setting up your first TEFL certificate course


Although it is perfectly possible to set up a Cambridge CELTA course or Trinity course from scratch, in both of my schools we decided it was easier to go with one of the lesser known courses. This was not so much due to lower standards (you are after all ultimately responsible for the standards of the course you give, and the trainees will soon make you regret it if you are not up to the job), but because they dealt with the most time consuming part of the course- getting the trainees onto the course. As we did not have to deal with any advertising, designing application forms etc. etc, this left us free to concentrate on the already challenging processes of getting ready to train them once they arrived, arranging accommodation for them, and finding students they could experiment on in their practice classes. In both cases, the organisation we used also helped us find experienced teacher trainers from other schools who helped us out on the first couple of courses.


If your school is thinking of the starting the same way, it is fairly easy to find organisations that offer TEFL certificates and recruit the trainees centrally on the internet- if they offer lots of locations on their website they are almost certainly looking for more and will reply to an email enquiry about becoming a TEFL course centre in record time!


Getting ready to apply


Whichever course provider you decide to use, there are steps you can take in the months and years before to make sure you are ready to start teacher training and to show that you can start teacher training. To be the kind of school that is ready and raring to go on the teacher training front, you will need to:

1)      Recruit teachers who can become teacher trainers

2)      Turn your teachers into teacher trainers

3)      Make sure you have the space and resources

4)      Get yourselves checked out


1)      Recruit teachers who can become teacher trainers

Even if your school is fairly small and unknown (as mine were), being able to tell teachers there is a good chance they can get involved in teacher training is a great way of getting experienced, qualified and keen teachers into your school. If the process of setting up the course is not sufficiently advanced that you can actually advertise for a teacher trainer or you'd prefer to ease new teachers into the training roles slowly, the best thing to do is to advertise for Diploma and MA qualified teachers. Demanding qualifications like these not only attracts the right kinds of people, but also gives trainees confidence in the course.


2)      Turn your teachers into teacher trainers

If you want to use the teachers you already have (and giving long serving teachers no chance to get involved can cause some friction with any teacher trainers you have brought in), you will need to make sure they have or are at least taking the higher TEFL qualifications mentioned above. Other things you can do in your school to get them ready for teacher training are observations and peer observations (with many different types of observation and feedback tasks), teacher workshops, and videoing their classes. If you can persuade them to get involved in giving outside workshops, writing advice for teachers in TEFL magazines and websites etc, becoming examiners for IELTS, FCE etc, those things are both good practice and a way of raising the profile and status of your school.


3)      Make sure you have the space and resources

This is perhaps the most difficult point to deal with, as extra classroom and bookshelf space are not going to be joining your school due to vague promises that they can get involved in teacher training- there is no substitute for hard cash! One way of getting round this is holding the first course during your least busy time of the year, but it might be difficult to get students for the trainees to practice on if it's the summer holiday. Another method is having the teacher training at a different place to the school, but then trainees can't benefit from mixing with the "real" teachers, and you will have to double up on things like teachers' books and stationary.


4)      Get yourselves checked out

Some schools can find it a shock moving from doing things your own way to being inspected and judged by an outside organisation that does things differently. Ways of getting used to this include joining any local organisations that certify schools (or starting such an organisation with other schools if there isn't one), and becoming a test centre. Encouraging your managers to take an EFL Management or other management qualification can also have a similar effect.


Moving on up


Both of the courses I was a teacher trainer on later decided to "trade up" to a more well known TEFL course a year or two after starting up. The disadvantages of this are that you will suddenly have to find all the trainees yourself, possibly in competition with 30 or more schools offering the same certificate in places all over the world and advertising in the same places as you. The advantages are that the trainees will find their qualifications more widely accepted and the fact that it is well known will mean they come to the course with much more confidence in it than might otherwise be the case. It can also make it easier to recruit teacher trainers, and there is the possibility of offering other teaching qualifications offered by the same examination board.

Copyright © 2008

Written by Alex Case for

Enjoyed this article?

Please help us spread the word: