A. TEFL – Getting Started

1. TEFL/TESOL/ESL? What’s the difference?

Although there are slight differences in meaning, the terms ‘TEFL’, ‘TESOL’ and ‘ESL’ are basically the same thing: abbreviations and acronyms used to describe English Language Teaching. TEFL refers to ‘Teaching English as a Foreign Language’, and TESOL refers to ‘Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages’, while ESL refers to ‘English as a Second Language’.

2. Do I really need a qualification to teach English?

Everyone has heard stories about people landing teaching jobs simply because they could speak English. However, these are often dead-end jobs with unscrupulous employers and horrendous conditions. Similarly, online courses with no teaching practice and leading to unaccredited certificates might seem like bargains but very often they simply don’t prepare you for the rigours of a real teaching job. The best way to be able to pick and choose the teaching job you take is to have a reputable, internationally-recognised qualification. For the vast majority of employers worldwide that means either the Trinity CertTESOL or Cambridge English CELTA.

3. How do I choose from the different qualifications on offer?

Think about …

Recognition (Trinity’s CertTESOL and Cambridge’s CELTA are by far the most widely-recognised)

Teaching Practice Component: (You can’t learn to ride a bike online, and the same goes for learning how to teach)

Price (Cheaper rarely means better)

Location (accessibility, both for you and to the potential jobs market, is important)

Reputation (What do others have to say about the course provider?)

Course Duration (What suits you – a 4-week intensive or 13-week extensive course?)

Resources (Does the course provider offer access to wifi, computers and research material?)

Post-Course Support (Does the course provider offer long-term back-up?)

4. What’s special about Spainwise’s Trinity CertTESOL Teacher Training Course?

Recognition: Spainwise’s Trinity-accredited CertTESOL is one of the most widely-recognised qualifications in the world.

Teaching Practice Component: Trainees on our intensive courses teach on almost every day of the course, starting on day 2!

Price: Spainwise offers special discounts for early bookings or teachers at schools which are members of FECEI.

Location: Because of its central location, Cordoba is one of the most accessible cities in Spain, with 3 international airports within easy reach and high-speed train connections to most major cities, including Seville, Malaga, Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona.

Reputation: Hundreds of top employers in Spain have been trusting Spainwise for their recruitment needs for over a decade.

Course Duration: Choose from our 4-week full-time courses and our nine-month part-time courses.

Resources: The Spainwise Teacher Training Centre offers access to wifi, computers, photocopying facilities and an extensive EFL library.

Post-Course Support: Our graduates enjoy VIP access to the national TEFL Jobs Fairs which Spainwise has been organising for more than 10 years, and receive regular newsletters with details of teaching opportunities throughout Spain.

5. What does “Trinity-accredited” mean?

The Spainwise TEFL Certificate course — the Cert TESOL — is accredited by Trinity College London, which means that …

  • It is an INTERNATIONAL qualification, recognised and respected around the world.
  • The course content and Spainwise’s training methods have been evaluated and approved by Trinity College London.
  • Spainwise’s teacher trainers meet the rigorous qualification standards demanded by Trinity College London.
  • The Spainwise premises have been inspected and meet Trinity’s requirements.
  • Spainwise’s Trinity Cert TESOL programme is moderated by independent representatives of Trinity College London.
  • Spainwise’s Trinity Cert TESOL is accepted as an initial TEFL qualification for teachers by organisations worldwide, including FECEI (the National Federation of Private Language Schools in Spain) and the British Council.

The Trinity CertTESOL is accredited on the British National Qualifications Framework at Level 5.

6. Can I take the course online?

A lot of the course involves on-site training and teaching practice, and this can’t be done online. However, the pre-course assignment, an important part of the syllabus, is done online in advance of the on-site course.

B. Applying for the Trinity Cert TESOL Course

What is not necessary if I want to be able to apply for Spainwise’s Trinity CertTESOL Teacher Training Course?

It is not necessary to have a university/college degree.

It is not necessary to be a native speaker of English.

It is not necessary to be able to speak a foreign language.

It is not necessary to have any previous teaching experience.

What is necessary if I want to be able to apply for Spainwise’s Trinity CertTESOL Teacher Training Course?

It is necessary to be at least 18 years old. There is no maximum age, however.

It is necessary to be motivated to learn and teach.

It is necessary to be able to cope with the demands of the course.

It is necessary to have a high level of English (at least C1 level).

It is necessary to have good interpersonal and organizational skills.

It is necessary to have the academic skills to handle the course.

It is necessary to be willing to work as a member of your training group.

It is necessary to be willing to respond in a positive way to constructive feedback.

It is necessary to be physically healthy and up to the demands of travelling to our training centre, completing the intensive course of training and living near our training centre for the duration of the course.

3. When’s the next course?

4. Why do all applicants for Trinity CertTESOL Teacher Training Courses need to do an interview in advance?

The pre-course interview is an opportunity for Spainwise to ensure that you meet the minimum requirements for the course, that you have the aptitude to become a successful teacher and that you are likely to complete the course successfully. All Trinity CertTESOL course providers have to make sure that each trainee meets these requirements. You can find out more about the pre-course interview here.

5. How and when can I do the pre-course interview?

If you live in Spain or if you attend Spain’s National TEFL Jobs Fairs in Cordoba and Bilbao in May, you can do the interview in person. Otherwise, the interview can be done by Skype. As part of the interview, you will be asked to complete a written task (approximately 300 words) on a subject chosen by the course director.

You will be informed within 24-48 hours if you have been successful, in which case we will offer you a course place.  If you have not been successful, we will be happy to explain why not (for example, if your level of English is below the standard required).

6. How can I prepare for the pre-course interview?

Relax; be natural and honest. Perhaps you’d like to consider how you would answer these typical pre-course interview questions:

  1. Why would you like to do the Spainwise Trinity CertTESOL Course?
  2. What qualities do you have which would make you a good teacher?
  3. Do you have any previous experience of teaching (including informal experiences with family, friends or colleagues)? If so, what were your conclusions?
  4. Have you had any experience of learning a second language?
  5. If you have, how did it go?
  6. What do you think might be difficult about English for those who learn it as a second language?
  7. What are the qualities of a good (language) teacher?
  8. What skills does a (language) teacher need?
  9. What are your strengths when speaking and writing in English?
  10. What are your weaknesses when speaking and writing in English?
  11. What do you think are the advantages of being an English language teacher?
  12. What might be the disadvantages?
  13. Are you a good time manager?
  14. How do you feel about deadlines?
  15. How do you cope under pressure?

Don’t forget that the interview is a great opportunity for you to ask questions too!

C. Advance Preparation for the Trinity Cert TESOL Course

1. Do I need a visa to do the course?

EU citizens don’t need a visa. Non-EU nationals can stay in Spain for up to three months as tourists.

2. Do I need health or travel insurance?

Personal health and travel insurance is recommended, although EU citizens can receive free treatment for basic emergencies.

3. How can I make travel arrangements?

The easiest way to get to Cordoba from outside of Spain is to fly to Malaga, Seville or Madrid. Seville is 45 minutes from Cordoba by train, Malaga is 55 minutes away and Madrid is less than two hours away. You can also enquire about our ‘airport transfers service‘.

4. How can I arrange accommodation?

Spainwise can arrange accommodation in Cordoba as follows:

Single room in shared flat: €400 for 4 weeks

Single room with en-suite private bathroom in shared flat: €500 for 4 weeks

Contact our course manager.

5. Are the course fees refundable?

6. What does the pre-course assignment involve?

Once you’ve been accepted on a Spainwise Trinity CertTESOL Course and you have booked your place, you will be sent a pre-course assignment, which can be done online. This assignment is not a test and will not be marked but will be referred to during the course.

The objective of this assignment is to make you (more) aware of the terminology and broader issues related to English Language Teaching and the study of English grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.

There are 20 components to the assignment:

  1. The History of English & Methodologies
  2. The Common European Framework for Languages
  3. Grammar (Level A1)
  4. Grammar (Level A2)
  5. Grammar (Level B1)
  6. Grammar (Level B2)
  7. Grammar (Level C1)
  8. Grammar (Level C2)
  9. Lexis (Metalanguage)
  10. Lexis (Functional Language)
  11. Lexis (Word Formation)
  12. Lexis (Spelling)
  13. Lexis (False Friends)
  14. Lexis (Words & Pronunciation)
  15. Phonology (Sounds)
  16. Phonology (Stress)
  17. Classroom Management
  18. Characteristics of a Good Teacher
  19. Trinity Exams for Students of English
  20. Cambridge Exams for Students of English

7. What are the main course components of the Spainwise CertTESOL Course?

There are FIVE main components:

  1. Teaching Skills

The Spainwise Cert TESOL course is a practical, ‘hands-on’ course. Trainees are divided into working groups at the start of the course and each group is assigned a practice class of students and a teaching practice tutor. After each teaching practice session, trainees have feedback sessions with their tutors. We conduct continuous assessment of teaching practice, based on your classroom teaching, your reflections on your own teaching and your observations of experienced teachers.

  1. Language Awareness and Skills

Although non-native English teachers are usually more comfortable with learning and teaching the grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation needed in the classroom, native English speakers are often concerned about these challenges. The language awareness input sessions are designed to overcome any concerns you might have and help you to become more knowledgeable and confident when dealing with these issues.

  1. Learner Profile

As part of the course you will conduct a case study of one of your students. You will analyse their background and the challenges facing them, give them a one-to-one lesson, and make recommendations for the student’s future studies.

  1. Materials Assignment

Another component of the course involves you creating your own original material to use with your students in the classroom and evaluating it afterwards. You will also present this material in the assessment interview conducted by an external course moderator at the end of the course.

  1. Learning an Unknown Language

Whether you have experience learning a second language or not, trainees find this part of the course (where you participate as a learner in four hours of lessons at beginner level in a foreign language you have never studied before) really interesting. Finding out what it’s like to be a student on the receiving end of language teaching can open your eyes to what you can improve about your own teaching.

8. How much work will I have to do on the course?

Most trainees find the 4-week intensive course very demanding as they need to attend the Spainwise Teacher Training Centre for 8 hours a day for four weeks in a row. Most days, it would be necessary to do a couple of more hours of work at home too. You are strongly recommended to make sure you have no other commitments during the period of an intensive course.

D. On the Trinity Cert TESOL Course

1. What happens on arrival?

We want you to settle in and get to know your fellow trainees as quickly as possible so we will have a welcome drink on the evening before the course begins. We will also give you a welcome pack (with maps and information about shops and other local facilities) on the first day of the course.

2. What’s a typical day like?

Our 4-week, intensive, full-time courses are not for the faint-hearted! 8-hour days, 5 days a week for 4 weeks in a row can be intense, partly due to the huge variety of activities our teacher trainees engage in every day: input sessions (methodology, grammar, lexis, phonology, class management and techniques, etc.), lesson-planning, teaching practice, report-writing, completion of assignments, foreign language classes, case studies, … and lots more!

Our part-time courses (from October to June) have the same content but teacher trainees only attend one morning a week, and the work is spread out over 9 months.

3. Who are the tutors?

Meet our team!

4. Who are the students in the practice classes?

The students in our trainees’ practice lessons are real learners of English, and, as such, provide an authentic classroom experience for trainee teachers. Although several components of our Trinity Cert TESOL Course deal with teaching teenagers, children and younger learners, the students in trainees’ practice classes are adults, Spanish speakers and resident in Cordoba.

5. Can you describe the input sessions?

Trainee teachers attend 69 input sessions related to Teaching Skills, Language Awareness (Grammar, Lexis and Phonology), preparation of the Learner Profile and the Materials Assignment (to be presented to Trinity College London‘s external moderator). More details about the input sessions here.

6. What written work must I complete?

You will have to do 7 written assignments during the course:

  • Language Awareness Exam: You complete a written test of your knowledge of the grammar, vocabulary and phonology covered in the input sessions. You can complete this test in your own time before the end of the course.
  • Materials Assignment: You create original material to use with your students in the classroom and evaluate it afterwards.
  • Guided Observation Journal: You keep a record of your thoughts and reflections on the four classes given by an experienced teacher which you have observed.
  • Teaching Practice Portfolio: You keep a record of your teaching practice sessions, evaluating and reflecting on the experiences.
  • Learner Profile: You conduct a case study of one of your students, analysing the challenges that face them.
  • Unknown Language Portfolio: You keep a record of your experience of learning a new language and your reflections on these experiences.
  • Final Summary (sometimes called ‘Reflections on Teaching Practice’): Towards the end of your course you will be required to write a Final Summary. This is a short assignment in which you will be expected to reflect on your development as a teacher, on what you have learnt, on your strong points and your weak points, and on areas in need of improvement.

7. How will I be assessed?

Teacher trainees are assessed on all components of the course:

UNIT 1 (Teaching Practice): Written and oral feedback + formal grading for each lesson taught

UNIT 1 (Teaching Practice Portfolio): Continuous and end-of-course appraisal + formal final grade

UNIT 1 (Guided Observation Journal): Written and oral feedback for each journal entry (#4) + formal final grade

UNIT 2 (Language Awareness & Skills): Written Language Awareness Test + formal final grade

UNIT 3 (Learner Profile): Continuous and end-of-course appraisal + formal final grade

UNIT 4 (Materials Assignment Portfolio & Interview): Assessed Externally (Trinity College London Moderator) + formal final grade

UNIT 5 (Unknown Language Journal): Continuous and end-of-course appraisal + formal final grade

8. What happens at the end of the course?

On completion of the course, trainee teachers are given their Provisional Internal Result:

Strong pass: 3-4 strong passes (as long as one of the strong passes is in Unit 1)
Pass: 5 passes / 2-3 passes + 1-2 strong passes
Below Standard: 1 or more units referred
Fail: 1 or more units failed

On receipt of Trinity College London’s external moderator’s report, trainee teachers are given their Final Result (integrating Pass or Refer for Unit 4):

Strong pass: 3-5 strong passes, as long as one of the strong passes is in Unit 1
Pass: 5 passes / 3-4 passes + 1-2 strong passes
Below Standard: 1 or more units referred
Fail: 1 or more units failed

E. Finding the Right Teaching Opportunity for YOU

1. What teaching opportunities will be open to me after the course?

As the Trinity TESOL Certificate equips trainees with the skills and knowledge needed to take up posts as EFL teachers, and this certificate is an internationally-recognised TEFL qualification, our graduates often have their choice of EFL jobs.

2. Does Spainwise provide help finding teaching positions?

With over a decade of experience helping teachers find the right job and the right location for them, the Spainwise Careers Service is unrivalled in our sector. Not only does the Spainwise team provide future teachers with the skills and knowledge they need to teach English as a second language, but our graduates have privileged access to information about teaching opportunities offered by hundreds of private language schools throughout Spain, as well as VIP passes to the National TEFL Jobs Fairs, organised by Spainwise in Cordoba and Bilbao every year.

3. Does Spainwise provide post-course training?

Spainwise can provide you with access to a wide range of add-on courses, ranging from Spanish language courses to modules about specific aspects of English language teaching.

4. How can Spainwise help me further advance my TEFL career?

By signing up to hear from Spainwise, you can receive up-to-date information about TEFL Jobs Fairs, job offers, teacher-training options, and any other information Spainwise considers might be helpful with your TEFL career.