The ABC of ELT

Why should I do a qualification course?

If you’ve decided to start teaching then I’m sure you will have come across a whole host of courses out there designed for potential teachers. We’ll look at the differences between the courses soon but before that you need to decide is it actually worth doing one of these courses. After all, you don’t want to spend a thousand pounds or so only to find out that you never needed one in the first place!

In General, these courses are definitely worth doing and I certainly encourage you to do one. I say this is not for any financial gain for myself (I don’t offer one of these courses) but for the value that you get from these courses as listed in the 7 points bellow.

1. More likely to get work

Although there are jobs that don’t require you to have any form of training before you start, in general schools want to see that you have SOME experience and by doing a pre-qualification course you can demonstrate this. For many schools, having a four week course qualification is the bare minimum and many schools will ask for more than just one of these courses. If you add the increased possibility of getting private students (outside of a school) where you can advertise and sell yourself as a “qualified English teacher” then a course really does lead to more work.

2. They help you avoid scams

Some “schools” which don’t ask for any qualifications are actually scams hoping to lure under-qualified and unknowing English speakers into making mistakes. Having a qualification means you don’t have to look at these “schools” and so can avoid these traps. Scams vary massively from simply not being the job as advertised to using people to launder money. All are worth avoiding.

3. Helps to avoid bad schools

The rest of the schools that don’t want qualifications (and aren’t scams) are probably pretty shoddy to be honest. If they are willing to take someone with no experience but simply speaks the language for a long term job then they are just looking at the finances. They may ask you to work unreasonable hours, teach extremely large classes, just be a model of English (repeat after the teacher), pay poorly, have few to no resources and probably look for quick turnover of staff. If you are looking at travelling and only having a job for a short period of time, then a job like this might be no bad thing. However, with a qualification you have the option of this job and the one down the road that is nicer.

4. Your CV Looks better if you stop teaching

If you are only teaching for a year or two then having a qualification on your CV looks better. It suggests that you learnt some skills which could be useful in a completely different job. It also separates you from the other traveller who went round the world and lived off mummy and daddy’s money and shows that not only did you work but you worked in a proper working environment and not one of the lower quality schools we mentioned above.

5. Gives you confidence and experiences.

Going into a classroom for the first time is nerve racking no matter how much experience you have. However, if you have learnt some techniques and methodology for teaching then you’ll at least know what you’re doing and how to do it. Training courses really help build people with confidence and skills to prepare and teach lesson. They are the perfect environment to get things wrong and not have to worry about giving a refund to the students or being fired!

6. Allows you to check if teaching is right for you.

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. Teaching English isn’t for everyone. Some people really just can’t deal with the time, preparation or being in the classroom. Doing a course let’s you make sure that you can and that you enjoy it! If you can do this before you set off travelling or to a new country then all the better! You don’t want to turn up for your first week of work and by the end realise you hate teaching and want to go home.

7. You’ll get paid more

Paying for the course is a big lump of money at the start, but it doesn’t take too long to recoup it. If you are looking at teaching in the long term then the more qualified you are, the more you can get paid and an extra X pounds a week is always nice. If you are looking at travelling then the extra money can help between jobs or pay for your travel.


Over all I think it’s a fairly easy choice to do a course straight away. I did have a friend, Mike, who managed to find a great job in Korea (that wasn’t a scam) and paid him very well. After two years he decided he wanted to continue as a teacher and so ended up paying for a course anyway!

So it is possible to get a good job without a qualification course but the benefits by far outweigh the risks.


About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

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