In the same way that we would expect our surgeon, dentist or airline pilot to have undertaken some training, our students of English might also expect their teachers to be trained and competent.
What does it mean that our English teacher is competent? Possibly there are two major components to the answer:
1. The teacher has adequate subject knowledge.
2. The teacher has some classroom delivery skills.
So how can taking a TEFL certification provide this knowledge?
First you need to find a course that offers these components.
While many native English speakers have learned the rules of English grammar sub-consciously as part of their language development, this does not give them the necessary subject knowledge required to teach English. So both native English speakers (NES) and non-native English speakers (NNES) should have some background knowledge of the English grammar system and associated theory.
There are generally five levels of student that you will be required to teach, these being;
Level 1: Starter (or beginner)
Level 2: Elementary
Level 3: Pre-Intermediate
Level 4: Intermediate
Level 5: Upper-Intermediate
For each of these levels there are some general features of the English language that are typically covered in any ESL language teacher training course. It would be useful to give an idea of a typical area of study at each level. For further information on the types of material covered at each of the various levels we would suggest looking at a typical ESL teaching book series such as New Cutting Edge.
Level 1: Starter (or beginner). Parts of speech: verbs, nouns, adverbs, conjunctions etc.
Level 2: Elementary. Present simple and present continuous tenses, structure and usages.
Level 3: Pre-Intermediate. Present, past and future tenses, structure and usage.
Level 4: Intermediate. Types of conditional statement, structure and usage.
Level 5: Upper-Intermediate. Direct and reported speech, transitive and intransitive sentences.
If you are unfamiliar with any of the concepts covered above you would certainly benefit from the training given by a TEFL certification. Even if you think you know what all the above are, would you be able to explain them to a class of non English speakers?
The second major component mentioned at the start, that of Classroom skills.
It is one thing to have the knowledge required to teach a subject, but as everyone knows from their own schooling experience, a teacher also needs to possess a range of skills in order to effectively deliver that knowledge to a class of learners.
A TEFL certification course will cover such aspects required to give you a better practical understanding of classroom dynamics, including areas such as;
1. Pedagogy and Andragogy: the methods and practice of teaching children and adults.
2. Classroom management: physical layout, classroom dynamics, teacher and student rapport.
3. Student and teacher talking time and how to manage it.
4. Classroom discipline.
There are two very important aspects to the answer to this question of whether a TEFL certification will help you teach English.
The first relates to your self confidence in knowing something about the subject matter and having some basic classroom skills to deliver that knowledge.
The second, which is just as important as the first, is for the benefit of your students. You owe it to those who are looking to you to teach them something about the subject, to have made the effort to provide them with the best experience you can deliver.