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When it comes to a TEFL certificate does it matter if it was a face-to-face or an online course?


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I intend to teach English in China. I am not a native speaker and have no teaching experience but I hold an MA degree and I thought of completing a TEFL course to sharpen my profile. According to some sources an online one is not so effective and will not give you a real knowledge/experience. (this is obvious).  But even having been searching for a job only for a week a position at a public school has already been offered to me.

My opinion is that after some teaching experience (5 or 12 months) the teaching experience itself will overwrite the importance of the TEFL certificate i.e. an online course should be fair enough. What do you think?  Are schools strict about what sort of TEFL it is? Which of the below 2 options would be better?



Completing an online 40 hours one just to be able to demonstrate I have something in my hand in the beginning and completing a face-to-face one later. 



Completing an online 120 hours one in the hope that it serves its purpose.


Thank you in advance! :)

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Firstly, great news you've already been offered a job.


Unfortunately, the fact you are not a native speaker will make it hard for you to find good work in China.


You definitely can find a job but it is likely to be in a school that would normally find it hard to attract foreigners. Perhaps in a city that is more to the west or center of China, rather than in the East.


Apart from government guidelines, the parents of school students will almost certainly demand a native speaker. Schools in China, especially private language schools, pay great attention to the opinion of parents.


As for picking either course 1) or 2) above,  I would say both of them are pretty much the same. In that they are both online courses with no teaching practice. They will both just serve as a 'piece of paper' to tick a box.


If you are looking at English teaching as a career, I would look at something like a CELTA

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  • 2 months later...

I have never once heard of a teacher in China facing any kind of difficulty because the certificate was online and not a classroom experience. They want the certificate to satisfy a legal requirement, that requirement says nothing about online classes. Second I would say that the native-ness of your speech may or may not be a problem. In Beijing you may find that they are very strict. Outside of the big cities on the East coast, however, I would recommend that you not worry about this even a little, for two reasons. First, there is nothing you can do about it. Second, It's not likely to be a problem unless you are really set on getting the best jobs in the first-tier cities. I work at an excellent school in a nice city in central China and my colleague is from Serbia. His English is good and he has little difficulty teaching it. For this reason he had not the slightest difficulty getting the job. In smaller cities it's your appearance and your experience that matter most. If you have five years teaching experience that is likely to count for something. If you have an east-asian face, they might reject you. If you are European and white, you will likely be able to get a similar job and salary as a native speaker. If you are south-asian, you can expect to get paid about half what your whiter counterparts are making. These are just some impressions I've gleaned from a couple years experience and talking with friends so take it with a grain of salt.


TLDR; Don't worry, take the online certification and have fun teaching in China. Non-native teachers often have a little more difficulty finding jobs, but you should still be able to find something that suits your needs within a short time.

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