TEFL Hong Kong: Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of people take the course?
A wide range of people. Some are recent graduates in their early twenties, whilst others are in their thirties, forties or fifties who want a career change, have been made redundant or are moving overseas. In Hong Kong, a large proportion of candidates are spouses of expatriate workers, who find they have the freedom and resources to pursue English Language Teaching as a new vocation. Some people are already mainstream teachers who are working within ESOL departments in the state sector.

How is the standard of quality training maintained?
Each course is internally assessed and this assessment is verified by a Trinity moderator. Trainees are interviewed as part of the moderation process and their suggestions are incorporated into future timetables. The courses are conducted by a specialist team of Trinity-approved trainers. Facilities include rooms specially designated for TESOL and a well-stocked resource library. Trainees have access to computers, photocopiers, OHPs, and audio-video equipment.

Why are some trainees unsuccessful?
We are pleased to say that the majority of the trainees pass. Occasionally there are people who do not, either because they do not successfully complete the assigned tasks or are unable to demonstrate the principles of communicative language teaching. It is only fair to outline the principal reasons why a very small number of people do not pass.

- Insufficient time to commit to the course: Some people have not appreciated the time commitment needed and have not been able to devote the necessary time to the course.
- Inability to handle pressure: You will have to be resilient under pressure and stress and be able to work to deadlines. Your learning style has to be such that you can take in information rapidly and then organise your time effectively in order to assimilate it. For some people, returning to the role of a student is a difficult adjustment.
- Unfocussed goals: This is a course to train you as a TESOL teacher. You will need to be interested in language and teaching.
- Poor health: Nobody can predict problems with physical health; we are all susceptible to flu bugs, for example, but we can be more certain about our emotional and mental health. It is important to emphasize that the TESOL Certificate course is not going to be an escape or distraction from known problems. Instead it may be an additional burden.

Are jobs readily available?
In Hong Kong:Good TESOL teachers are in constant demand in Hong Kong. English teaching posts are available at private language schools, international schools, local Chinese schools, universities and institutions such as the English Schools Foundation and the British Council. Some excellent jobs are advertised in the Thursday and Saturday editions of the 'South China Morning Post', the HK Magazine, and jobsdb.com.

The demand for teachers rises in the summer holidays as many institutions offer intensive courses for children in Hong Kong. These summer courses are often very well paid. But part-time and full-time positions can also be found at other times of the year, especially around September and February when the school terms begin. It is important for those seeking work to maintain availability for relief and supply work. Successful part-time contracts often lead to a permanent full-time post. With the introduction of many grant schemes for the Chinese schools in Hong Kong, additional posts for Native TESOL teachers within the schools are certain to arise.

There are often part-time vacancies at English for Asia, tutoring classes to primary and secondary level students. Many successful candidates will be offered the chance to begin their teaching career almost immediately after the course.

Overseas: There is a terrific demand for native English teachers throughout Southern and Eastern Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South America. Keep an eye on international educational supplements such as 'The Times Educational Supplement' or the British 'Overseas Job Gazette' and Tuesday edition of 'The Guardian', as well as websites such as tefl.com.

At the end of the course EFA will offer guidance in applying for jobs both overseas and within Hong Kong. EFA has a network of contacts and are regularly informed of vacancies.

What is the difference TESOL and CELTA?
There are only two international certificates recognised by the British Council and by employers worldwide: the Trinity Certificate in TESOL and the Cambridge Certificates in English Language Teaching (CELTA and CELTYL).

The Trinity CertTESOL is equivalent to the Cambridge CELTA. Both train you to do the same job. In addition to the minimum requirements as outlined in the Trinity syllabus, the course offered by English for Asia also features:

- Sessions on one-to-one teaching as well as teaching whole classes
- Sessions on teaching young learners
- Pre-course study material

What is the difference between TESOL, TEFL and TESL?
TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, TEFL Teaching English as a Foreign Language and TESL Teaching English as a Second Language. TEFL is mostly used in the UK and has traditionally been applied to the teaching of English to people for whom English is a foreign language and who will use English largely for short-term study, work or leisure purposes. TESL has traditionally been applied to the teaching of English to people for whom English is a second language in their home country, or people who are settling in an English speaking country. TESOL is an umbrella term that now usually incorporates the other two acronyms.

Can I do the certificate by distance learning?
No. Trinity stipulates that the course must contain at least 130 hours of contact learning. Online courses do not allow trainees to practice teaching real classes under guidance, and cannot meet the requirements of good EFL institutions.

However, you are required to complete the distance learning 'Starter Pack' component before the beginning of the CertTESOL course.

Do I need to have taught before to be able to do the course?
The course is designed for those with little or, more usually, no experience of teaching English, but is also useful for qualified, in-service teachers who wish to teach English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Can I do the course if English isn't my first language?
English does not have to be your first language but you must be able to demonstrate a high level of English language skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing, whether it is a first, second or foreign language for you.

Is the CertTESOL a recognised course?
Yes, it is recognised as a qualification for English language teaching in the UK and internationally. It meets the specifications set by the Qualifications Curriculum Authority (QCA), the statutory body authorised to approve qualifications in this field in England, and the British Association of TESOL Qualifying Institutions in establishing a national framework of specifications. It is also accepted as an initial qualification by the British Council in the English language teaching organisations accredited by the Council in the UK and in their own teaching operations outside the UK. Many other state and independent sector teaching organisations also accept the qualification.

Where can I buy ELT books?
ELT books can be bought from the following retailers:

- The English Language Bookshop
- KELTIC bookshop
- The Bournemouth English Book Centre
- The English Book Centre
- Waterstone's
- W & G Foyle
- Borders
- Amazon

Will I be qualified to teach children as well as adults?
For teaching in private schools, the CertTESOL should be sufficient. However, should you wish to teach in state schools you may need to have a PGCE qualification. You should check with government representatives in the country where you are planning to teach. In Hong Kong, the Education and Manpower Bureau accept a degree plus a Trinity CertTESOL for Primary Native English Teachers (PNETs).

Will you provide accommodation for foreign students?
We do not provide accommodation. There is normally a landlord, whom we can put you into contact with, after you have been accepted. As for the accommodation cost, well it various depending upon the location and other preferences. To get more information, please visit this website: http://www.squarefoot.com.hk/
Also, most landlords now take 2 months deposit and one months rent up front.

What are the Visa requirements?
Recently Hong Kong Immigration has tightened up on procedures. It is not possible to take the course on a tourist visa. Only those with a study, dependent, permanent or working holiday visa can. Applications for such visas must be made at least 6 weeks before a course commences, and the applicant must get the visa before they can start a course. Also, for HK Immigrations, the peak season for the applications start from April to September every year. So if you need to apply for one, you MUST submit your task/application as earlier as possible, to allow us to have sufficient time to process your application.

What do I do if I have questions that have not been answered so far?
Contact us and we will do our best to give you a quick and straight forward response to your question.