Cert or DipTESOL – which is for me?

With so many courses available, it can be difficult to know which will best suit your needs. Now you've decided to take a Trinity-accredited course, it's time to see whether the Certificate or Diploma in TESOL is what you're after.
A teacher during the Trinity CertTESOL course

I got an online TEFL course a few years ago and I’ve been teaching ever since. Can I go straight to the Diploma?

Trinity requires candidates for the Diploma to have been teaching for a minimum of three years full-time and so it is possible to take the Diploma if you have enough experience. However, a lot will depend on how comfortable you are with the terminology and methodology in ELT today. Depending on the intensity and scope of your online TEFL course, you may have been introduced to things like skimming and scanning, activating schemata or hot and cold error correction, as well as having a good understanding of adverbial clauses and inseparable phrasal verbs. Whilst you’ll read up on a lot of these topics during the Diploma course, you may find that taking a CertTESOL first gives you a firmer base.

I’ve got a PGCE and have been teaching foreign languages in mainstream education. What do you suggest?

Already being familiar with the classsroom environment will set you in good stead for taking a qualification in teaching English. There’s also a lot of crossover when teaching foreign languages and you may find that a lot of activities which you’ve been doing with your students can easily be adapted to the ELT classroom. Furthermore, as mentioned above, the Diploma is available for teachers with a minimum of three years’ teaching experience and so you may meet that criterion easily.

One aspect which you might find challenging though, moving into the ELT classroom, is the phonetic alphabet. Trinity places a great deal of emphasis on using this as a resource in your lessons and also there is a separate phonology interview as part of your assessment for the Diploma. It’s something to bear in mind if you’re looking to take the Diploma straightaway – make sure you get lots of extra practice of the phonemic chart and transcription.

I’ve done the CertTESOL and I’ve been teaching for a few years but, to be honest, I’m not looking at going into ELT management or training. Do I need to do the Diploma?

Many schools will request teachers to have a DIploma or equivalent qualification for going into DoS positions and it’s also a requirement for working as a tutor or the Trinity CertTESOL course. Furthermore, many EAP course providers at UK universities also expect their teachers to hold a higher-level qualification.

However, if you’re not looking to move into any of these circles, there’s certainly no obligation to take the Diploma and many people don’t want to put themselves through the financial and mental stress of taking the course. One thing’s for sure though, taking the Diploma will make you a better teacher as it makes you much more aware of the decisions you make in your planning, forces you to use phonology as a classroom resource and develops your knowledge of the language.

If you are thinking of taking the Trinity Diploma in TESOL, we run the face-to.face component every August in Cádiz. You can find out more details about the course, along with prices and start dates for the online phase here. You can also read on our blog about how Jack and JG found the course, having been teachers for five years.

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