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TEFL program certifies students to teach English abroad

UNG's Teaching English as a Foreign Language certification program provides four online courses of 120 hours of instruction and 10 hours of classroom time to allow them to teach English abroad to students whose first language isn’t English.

University of North Georgia (UNG) alumna Gabrielle Autry wanted to travel the world and experience a foreign country's culture.

"To truly learn about a place and its people, one has to live there," she said.

Teaching English abroad would allow Autry that opportunity. She enrolled in UNG's Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification program. In less than six months, Autry finished the four online courses that featured 120 hours of instruction and 10 hours of classroom time.

"I did not study education and did not know where I would even start with managing a classroom as a teacher," she said. "TEFL filled this gap in my knowledge."

The TEFL courses teach students about "cultural issues related to living in a foreign country and how that affects classroom instruction, a good overview of issues related to language acquisition and how that can aid teachers in the second language classroom," said Dr. James Badger, director of the Center for Language Education (CLE).

Classroom observations and practice teaching in the CLE and through UNG's partner schools also makes UNG's certificate program unique. A unit of UNG's College of Education, the CLE offers the TEFL certificate, Badger said.

Autry said her favorite part was writing mock lesson plans and teaching a lesson.

"It showed me how to apply the skills that we learned in class and turn them into reality," she said. "It also allowed me to get over some of my anxiety about teaching in front of a class of students who aren't fluent in English."

The TEFL certification is open to all national and international students who are at least 18 years old. The online classes allow full-time students or employees to take the course.

"Many of the international participants in the TEFL Certificate at UNG are educators teaching English who want to learn more about teaching," Badger said.

The summer 2019 registration deadline is June 21. A limited number of full scholarships are available to cover the program's $1,300 cost.

Once participants graduate, they can apply to teach English abroad to students whose first language isn't English in Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Some examples are Brazil, China, Colombia, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Most international employers require English teachers to have a college or university degree, and a TEFL Certificate demonstrates knowledge and qualifications to plan and deliver effective English lessons, Badger said. They are not required to speak the first language of a country to be employed as an English teacher.

"And many of our students are finding jobs overseas," he said.

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