English is the language of the global business world, which means demand for English teachers is high while requirements to teach remain relatively low, especially so abroad and even more so online.
In recent years, scores of online certification companies have sprouted up to train soon-to-be English teachers, offering credentials in what’s called Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). For our purposes, they’re interchangeable.
“This is a very, very rapidly growing industry,” said Jessie Smith, a former English teacher in South Korea and Vietnam who now works at the International TEFL Academy. “The demand can’t really be put into words.”
Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) online is a welcomed side gig for many. Teachers get to set their own schedules, connect with students around the world and rake in between $15 and $25 an hour teaching premade lessons.
Not bad for a part-time, entry-level position.
But before you sign up — and pay — to obtain TEFL certification online, here’s what you need to know.
What to Consider Before Getting a TEFL Certification Online
You might be ready to start shopping for TEFL providers, but do this first: Determine your goals as an ESL teacher.
“You owe it to your students to be a good teacher, to be a trained teacher,” Smith said. “You need to be prepared professionally, mentally.”
Why Do You Want to Teach ESL?
Do a quick pulse check. Ask yourself what you plan to accomplish as an ESL teacher. Do you want a career change? A lucrative side gig? To travel and work in other countries?
Your answer will determine what type of TEFL certification you’re going to need.
For career changes, proper education is always a good idea. Colleges and universities are big providers of TEFL certifications, and some degrees even include them. If you don’t have a degree in TEFL, the University of Cambridge and Trinity College provide the most comprehensive certifications — referred to as the CELTA and the Trinity, respectively. These programs are only offered in-person.
(Full disclosure: I earned a CELTA before teaching English abroad. It was the most intense program I’ve ever experienced.)
But if you’re eyeing a temporary side gig, you may not want to shell out the money for an expensive, in-person certification to teach ESL online. Almost all accredited TEFL certifications will require an in-person component, usually a 20-hour teaching practicum at a local language center or school. However, as members of ESL advice forums will tell you, most online employers don’t check or require accredited certifications with in-person practicums (for now).
Lastly, one of the most effective ways to earn money while traveling is by teaching English abroad. Requirements vary by country, though it’s good to have a bachelor’s degree plus an accredited TEFL certificate with a teaching practicum. Latin American and Southeast Asian countries have laxer rules and may not require a degree or a TEFL certification.
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What Does it Take to Become TEFL-Certified?
The majority of programs simply require that applicants are 18 years old or older and have a high school diploma. Native English fluency isn’t required, as TEFL certifications are popular credentials for foreign English teachers as well. But a high level of English fluency is required to participate in top-tier programs (C1 or IELTS Band 7, for the ESL nerds).
Programs may vary slightly, but quality programs should include at least 120 hours of coursework with 20 hours dedicated to hands-on teaching to foreign-language-speaking students. These lessons should be observed by a qualified ESL professor.
CELTA and Trinity programs are graded on a pass/fail basis while some online hybrid programs may include quizzes and a passing score of 60%.
How Much Do TEFL Certifications Cost?
Depending on what program you choose and what your goals are as a teacher, costs will range widely.
A fully online TEFL certification can run for $9 on Groupon, but you should know that it’s unaccredited. Online ESL teachers tend to purchase Groupon programs simply for a certification code that they add to their job applications, which can boost hourly pay toward the $25 mark. But if you plan to teach in person or long-term, skip the bargain bin programs.
Plan to teach English in person? Get a TEFL certification with an in-person practicum to boost your confidence and gain real-world teaching experience.
The “brand name” TEFL certifications, aka the CELTA and Trinity, run between $2,000 and $3,000. These programs are internationally recognized and are more suited for career ESL teachers.
Most accredited TEFL programs are usually half that price: around $1,100.
“A true, university-level TEFL class could not possibly run under $1,000,” Smith said.
How Do You Know If a TEFL Certification Online is Legit?
Online TEFL providers are everywhere. They’re quick. They’re cheap. And most of the time, they’re unaccredited. Some companies aren’t transparent in their accreditation, which means they probably aren’t legit.
In some program listings, you’ll see the words “self-accredited,” Smith said. “Which — needless to say — means just about nothing.”
Price is another factor. The cheaper the price, the higher the chance the program is unaccredited. That doesn’t mean, however, that expensive programs are automatically legit. Shady providers can just as easily charge more money to give an air of quality.
If the program costs hundreds or thousands of dollars, confirm that it’s run by an experienced professor and that the company holds a recognized accreditation.
The most popular accrediting bodies for TEFL programs are:
Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET)
Chartered College of Teaching (formerly College of Teachers)
Training Qualifications U.K. (TQUK)
The World TEFL Accrediting Commission
Popular accredited TEFL providers include:
Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE)
International TEFL Academy
International Open Academy
University-run TEFL programs, including the CELTA and Trinity
You owe it to your students to be a good teacher, to be a trained teacher. You need to be prepared professionally.
The list is by no means exhaustive. If you stumble upon a program that you’re unsure of, search the website for an accreditation seal or license number. Still unsure? Contact the accrediting body directly to confirm that the provider is legit. If you’re only shelling out $9, you may decide it’s not worth your time. But if you come across an expensive TEFL program that isn’t mentioned above, be sure to check for accreditation.
Most accrediting bodies require TEFL providers to include a practicum to receive accreditation. One notable exception is International Open Academy’s TEFL program, which is fully online. The Penny Hoarder confirmed with [...]
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Have you thought about becoming an Airbnb host in D.C.?
In a city that’s so expensive, home sharing can be a great way to supplement your income. Thousands of Airbnb hosts list places in the District, according to data from the home sharing platform.
“Part of what makes Airbnb so successful for me is the city,” says Snyta Keeling, a 43-year-old Airbnb Superhost. “D.C. is great for home sharing because there’s something going on at every time of year.”
Between the cherry blossoms in the spring, the Fourth of July in the summer and the elections in the fall — which draw businesspeople, students, lobbyists, sports fans and activists — there’s certainly a demand for space.
How to Create the Best Airbnb Listing in D.C.
The first step to becoming an Airbnb host is to list your place. The process itself is simple, but you’ll want to exercise tact, so your space stands out from others.
We’ll walk you through the process, plus share some pro tips from Keeling, a federal government employee and attorney who hosts guests in her three-bedroom townhome in Southeast D.C. She quickly rose to Superhost status when she started hosting back in 2015.
Answer Some Quick Questions About Your Space/Amenities
In this first part of setting up your listing, you’ll answer some basic questions about your space, which could be anything from an apartment, an extra bedroom or house to a campsite, yurt or RV, depending on your local laws.
Basic questions in this section include the number of guests your space can accommodate and the included amenities.
If you don’t have an entire place, list your spare room. That’s what Keeling, a D.C. Superhost, does. At first she was worried guests would be uninterested, but she’s found they love the hospitality.
Set the Scene With Photos
Keeling compared Airbnb listings to dating profiles — and she’s so right. If you come across someone who’s posted a bathroom selfie with the flash on, you’ll probably move along — even if they do rescue puppies and own a private jet.
The same idea goes for Airbnb; photos are everything.
The platform offers some basic photo tips, which include utilizing natural light, avoiding flash and shooting in landscape mode from the corners of rooms, so you add perspective.
In addition to internal photos, Keeling emphasizes the importance of external photos as well. “It’s important to do external photos, so you guide a person through how they’ll approach the home and what the surrounding community looks like,” she says. “If you live close to a metro stop, you’ll want to have a picture of that, for example.”
Think about what makes your space and your location appealing, and illustrate those elements through photos. In addition to metro stops, you might also include photos of the nearby neighborhood, any tourist attractions (ahem, the National Mall), or even a photo of the closest grocery or convenience store.
Write a Description
Once you hook people with your photos, continue to lead them through your listing with the description.
Here, you’ll be able to highlight what makes your space unique. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at other Airbnb listings in your area to see what other hosts highlight.
Keeling has a few tips you can follow when crafting your description:
Manage expectations. “You know the idea of putting your best foot forward?” Keeling asks. “No! What you do is put the blemishes out there, so your guests will have set expectations.”
Turn negatives into positives. Keeling’s townhome is located in a residential area on the easternmost point of D.C. That means it’s not central; you have to take a metro to get to the closest grocery store, which could be a downside for some guests. However, in her listing, she emphasizes the perks of free parking, which is difficult to come by in D.C. It’s also a quiet retreat after you’ve spent the day in crowds.
Add an element of surprise to your space that you don’t mention in your listing. For example, Keeling has a high-end Tuft and Needle mattress with nice pillows. Because she doesn’t mention it in the listing, guests are surprised and are more likely to rave
After you host several guests, you’ll get to know your audience, so you can lean into that. For example, Keeling quickly realized she’s not attracting club-goers and partiers; she gets guests who are looking to get away from the bustle of the city and value their sleep.
Name Your Listing
This might seem like a small task, but naming your listing is just as important as nailing your photos. Airbnb urges hosts to create a title that highlights what’s unique about the space.
For Keeling, one of the most appealing aspects of her listing is the free parking — a rarity in D.C. Her space is also green; it’s decked out with solar panels, rain barrels, vegetable gardens and composts. This is a unique draw, so she emphasizes it in her listing title. It also attracts like-minded guests, which is important when you’re sharing your space.
Set House Rules
Airbnb has a set list of rules you can opt into if you’d like them included in your listing. A few of these include: suitable for pets, smoking allowed, and events or parties allowed. You also have the option to write in additional rules.
“Don’t go crazy with the rules, but come up with some core rules that are important for you,” Keeling says.
Keeling, for example, maintains a shoeless house. That’s partially cultural, but it also just makes the space easier to clean. She also emphasizes no smoking of any kind, and no eating in the bedrooms.
Set up Your Calendar
Taking time to set up your calendar is important, because if you cancel on your guests, Airbnb will charge you a penalty fee.
A few questions you’ll answer include:
How often do you want to have guests?
How much notice do you need before a guest arrives?
When can guests check in?
How far in advance can guests book?
How long can guests stay?
When starting out, Keeling suggests limiting guests’ length of stay to a couple of nights. That way you can get guests in and out and start racking up reviews, which will build your ratings.
Keeling allows for at least one day between bookings, so she can have time to reset the spaces, and she doesn’t let guests book more than three months in advance, in case something comes up.
You’ll be able to adjust these settings as you go, so you can find out what works best for you.
Price Your Space
Airbnb has a Smart Pricing tool, which you can opt into to automatically adjust the price of your listing according to demand. For example, when the demand during the Cherry Blossom Festival or Fourth of July spikes, Airbnb will likely increase the price of your listing automatically.
You can set price minimums and maximums, so your listing won’t dip below a certain amount or spike to something unrealistic. Although Airbnb will suggest these amounts when you’re signing up, Keeling urges new hosts to do their own research.
Here are a few tips to help you determine these numbers:
Consider your expenses, i.e. utilities, cleaning and any maintenance requirements.
Be realistic. “People tend to have an inflated view of their place,” Keeling notes.
Search other Airbnb listings in your area and price just below those.
When you’re starting out, you’ll want to price your place lower, so you can get guests in, accumulate reviews and work your way to that Superhost status, which will help increase bookings in the long run.
Note Your Local Laws
You’re almost done setting up your listing! Now Airbnb will remind you to familiarize yourself with your local laws.
In December 2018, the D.C. Council passed a set of regulations that would limit some kinds of short term rentals. Check with the District if you have questions about current laws or when (and if) the pending regulations will come into force.
In addition to hosting laws, you’ll al [...]
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