Will hybrid TEFL courses make traditional four-week and online courses obsolete?

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 distance-learning is relatively new, right?

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 175 years old in 2015.

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:

  1. self-study
  2. 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 thinks they can so we started offering one in 2007. A few other companies have similar offerings.

Hybrid TEFL courses can certainly replace online TEFL courses as the latter are the equivalent of learning from a book with the answers in a section at the back. Quote from a discussion about physical (four-week) versus online only TEFL courses.

Well, with a physical one you actually get experience. With an online one you don’t, and there are many different providers so they won’t all be the same quality. And no, the original price doesn’t mean it will be good – it just means some gullible people have more money than sense. It doesn’t even mean they sell any at that price; how often do they have these amazing sales?

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 be acceptable.

The BC requirement regarding 100 contact hours becomes blurry for hybrid TEFL courses when the school meets their accreditation and teaching practice requirements. EBC’s accrediting examination board, the College of Teachers, means that we meet these requirements and so do the others mentioned here.

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. They will still look down on online only courses. Teaching is a practical and academic skill so who can blame them for not wanting to hire people with zero practical experience.

Conclusion

Hybrid TEFL courses are the way of the future and we believe that they will become more acceptable as long as the award is from a legitimate examination board or university.

The problem will be the same as exists with today’s four-week courses, cost. People love cheap TEFL courses, they are useless, but they are cheap, have pretty web sites with lots of travel brochure pictures and make vacuous statements designed to lure in the innocents.

Accredited courses, unfortunately, cannot be cheap. As a rough guide 200 USD of your accredited course fee is paid to the examination board or university.

Hybrid TEFL courses offering a truly internationally recognised and accepted certificate from an examination board will be cheaper than equivalent four-week courses but do not expect huge savings.

We estimate that a hybrid TEFL course that awards an authentic accredited TEFL certificate will be 20% to 30% cheaper than its four-week equivalent.

“I am grateful for the start I got on this path by following the EBC online course, which proved to be invaluable in my further training.” Fiona Barber, UK

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