Will hybrid TEFL courses make traditional four-week and online courses obsolete?
The future of hybrid TEFL courses
This is a discussion paper about hybrid TEFL courses and their potential impact on traditional four week courses and online courses.
We welcome comments and feedback.
First, what are hybrid TEFL courses (AKA, a “Blended” or “Mixed Mode” course)?
A hybrid course is a combination of self-study and classroom training. There is a very good definition here.
In days long ago, hybrid courses were known as “Distance-Learning” courses. A student was sent a package of books to read and occasionally had to attend a lecture, seminar or workshop.
My first encounter with this was the UK’s Open University (OU), a distance learning university that started life in Milton Keynes in England.
Studying with the OU raised societal issues regarding quality and credibility. When I told people that I was studying for a second degree with the OU, the usual comment was, “it is not a proper university.”
The reason was that it was a self-study programme with occasional tutor contact. Because of this, the opinion was that the education was inferior. I have to say that the assignments and exams were not inferior. They were more difficult than my full-time undergraduate study days.
So, is distance-learning relatively new?
No, it is not. Sir Isaac Pitman started the first distance-learning course in 1840. The course taught shorthand. The University of London started the first distance-learning degrees in 1858. This means that distance learning will be 179 years old in 2019!
The underlying concept of distance, hybrid, blended, mixed mode (or whatever else you want to call it) learning is the same. There are always two foundation components:
- classroom sessions with a teacher
These two components are essential for TEFL courses because you can learn the theory online and do the practical side in the classroom. Quality language schools with good pay and conditions will not hire people unless they attended a course that had teaching practice. You can only practice teaching in a classroom, hence the primordial importance of component 2 in hybrid TEFL courses.
So can hybrid TEFL courses replace online and four-week courses?
EBC doesn’t think so.
Hybrid TEFL courses can certainly replace the purely online TEFL courses as the latter are the equivalent of learning from a book with the answers in a section at the back. Online courses are still a good option for those who do not have the possibility of doing a face-to-face course at a qualified school or wish to supplement their classroom training with distance learning classes, before their 4-week course.
When we compare a hybrid course with our 4-week TEFL courses in any of our destinations, the difference is noticeable. While some students may have enough discipline to study on their own, nothing replaces the close relationship established with their teacher during a physical course. This allows them, in addition to clarifying questions in real time and sharing what they have learned with other students, to spend more time in an environment closer to the one they will be working as teachers in the future.
Hybrid TEFL courses
EBC started its hybrid TEFL course in 2007. About 18 months later UCLES launched theirs. Since then a few more have started as well.
The challenge is to get language schools to accept the quality of hybrid course training. Hybrid TEFL courses include theory and practice so they ought to be acceptable.
The British Council requirement regarding 100 contact hours becomes blurry for hybrid TEFL courses when the school meets their accreditation and teaching practice requirements.
Once the stigma of being inferior is washed away by credible and reputable courses, English schools should be more receptive of hybrid TEFL course certificates.
There will always be a difference between the Trinity CertTESOL Certificate 4-week course and the Hybrid or purely Online course. Teaching is a practical and academic skill so who can blame schools for having a strict and vocal preference for our Trinity CertTESOL graduates versus people with zero practical experience?
Hybrid TEFL courses are part of the future in teaching and we believe that they will become more acceptable if the award is from a legitimate school like EBC.
The problem will be the same as it exists with today’s four-week courses – cost.
People love cheap TEFL courses but sadly soon after they have finished the cheap course and they start looking for a teaching job, they find out that these cheap courses are useless. They are cheap, they have pretty websites with lots of travel brochure pictures and make vacuous statements designed to lure in the innocents.
Accredited courses like our Trinity CertTESOL course, unfortunately, cannot be cheap. As a rough guide 311 USD (274 Euros) of your accredited course fee is paid to the examination board or university.
Hybrid TEFL courses offering a truly internationally recognised and accepted certificate like the one EBC offers will be cheaper than the equivalent four-week courses but not a lot. Do not expect huge savings.
We estimate that a hybrid TEFL course that awards an authentic accredited TEFL certificate will be 20% to 25% cheaper than its four-week equivalent.
EBC offers all 3 course options – The 4-week on-site Trinity CertTESOL, hybrid and online courses – so our students can have the flexibility to choose what suits them best with the guarantee of quality and success that few schools offer. It doesn’t matter what your budget, time or travel availability may be. We will always be able to offer you quality TEFL training that brings your dream of becoming an English teacher ever closer.