There’s a number of options out there for TEFL qualifications and a lot depends on how much time you have and how much you are prepared to spend, which may depend on how long you see yourself doing ESL for.
The most comprehensive option is a CELTA. This is month long course which is very comprehensive and contains a lot of actual practice teaching adults in person. It’s expensive because of this but it is excellent preparation. The only downside to the course is that it focuses on adults not young learners, so be aware of that if you only want to teach kids. However, it’s by far the most useful and representative of what teaching is actually like. If you’re planning on making TEFL your career then this is course to choose as it’s very widely respected and opens up a lot of avenues later on. When I’m recruiting teachers for York I always enjoy listening to the experiences of CELTA graduates because of the knowledge and reflection they take from the experience.
Some people choose an online course. These come in various lengths but most are around 120 hours long. This is a good bet but they’re not without their downsides. Things to look out for here: does the course have any focus on young learners? Business English? Lesson planning? Although you get no practical experience from these courses, knowing the theory is a good start. However, be aware that knowing the theory doesn’t give you an idea of what teaching is like, so if you’re unsure of whether you want to pursue teaching you might want to try the following.
The shortest option is weekend course. These are cheaper and give you some practice of teaching to your fellow trainees. It’s very much a taster of what ESL is about rather than any actual solid preparation but they do serve a purpose although soon it may not be enough to get you a working visa in China. What next? The most important consideration is working out what you want from your ESL experience and what further training your school will offer. Here at York English we provide extensive ongoing professional development and training. This is pretty intensive and similar to the CELTA course but with a total focus on working with young learners. It’s proved very popular over the years at helping people transition to a new job.