TESOL in Singapore – Part 1

Introduction

I’ve talked to many Singaporeans regarding TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) or teaching ESL (English as a Second Language). People have asked me what the state of the TESOL industry is like in Singapore and especially where is a good place to get a TESOL certificate. So I thought I’d do a series of posts that would hopefully answer some frequently asked questions. Because this is an industry I’m quite passionate about, I’m interested to connect with other Singaporeans (or otherwise) involved in or looking into this industry/career in Singapore – so please feel free to email me at idealist at stillhaventfound.org to further our conversation. I’m especially keen to link up with Christians considering this industry for missions or for reaching out to migrants (students or workers) in Singapore.

Some terms

TESOL stands for “Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages”. It is the general term used when talking about teaching English to people whose first language is not English. Other similar terms include TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) and TEFL (…Foreign Language) and ELT (English Language Teaching). For the numerous acronyms used in this industry, see this Wikipedia entry. Some people say TOEFL when they actually mean TESOL. TOEFL is the “Test Of English as a Foreign Language”. This is a test, not a career field or industry as TESOL is.

Past blog posts on TESOL

I’ve actually written 7 previous blog posts touching on the TESOL scene in Singapore. Below are three worth reading if you’re interested in this area:

1) When education becomes a business: Here I bitch and rant (one of the few times I do so on this blog) about an up and coming private school I taught in that’s extremely money-minded and has an awful ESL department.

2) The TESOL scene in Singapore: About the low standards in the TESOL industry in Singapore.

3) Reaching International Students in Singapore: A bit about the private education sector in Singapore and also about Christians reaching international students here.

My experience in the TESOL industry

I had my first teaching experience in Bogotá, Colombia in South America in 2003 through an AIESEC work exchange. It wasn’t quite a good one because as a native English speaker they thought I knew how to teach ESL when I actually didn’t! Speaking English fluently doesn’t mean you can teach it well! But they were so desperate (few tourists or foreigners go to this country, once the kidnapping/murder capital of the world) that they made me do things related to English teaching I could never do as a mere English speaker.

I considered taking the University of Cambridge CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) before going to Colombia, but didn’t eventually. However, in 2007, I finally took my CELTA in Perth, Australia. There, I taught ESL voluntarily in a church, getting to know many Japanese, Koreans and Taiwanese on Working-Holiday Visas. I returned to Singapore and taught in four private schools till 2009. I won’t mention names but two were small language schools and the two others were bigger (that offered both English and external degrees) and quite reputable schools – one of which I mentioned above and the other of which was the total opposite with great teachers, bosses and a great English department. I’ve also given tuition to many foreign students and adults and since May last year I’ve been teaching a free English class at YMCA weekly (2009) and bimonthly (2010) – this class is open to international students from any school.

I’m no longer teaching ESL full-time now in a school (though I’m still volunteering at YMCA twice a month) even though I still have a lot of interest in this industry. I’m almost halfway through a distance Masters of Education (TESOL) from an Australian University, though I’m not sure if I want to finish it off (I don’t have time and I don’t find a theoretical-based masters helps me to be a better ESL teacher). I’m still very involved in the international students scene in Singapore and while I don’t foresee myself going back to teaching full-time, I will still do voluntary or paid teaching and I may start an ESL school in Singapore or teach overseas as a tent-making missionary in future.

While I don’t have a whole lot of experience above (I don’t have 5 or 10 years of ESL teaching experience), I think I’ve been interested enough to find out information and get familiar with this industry to provide some perspective. When I get into something, I tend to go all out. And I did so for the TESOL industry for about 2 years. I probably have one of the largest TESOL book libraries of a teacher in Singapore!

Introduction to international students and the private education industry in Singapore

It’s only been in the past 5-10 years that you’ve gotten many foreigners (both students and workers) coming to Singapore. In 2002, Singapore initiated its Global Schoolhouse project, which aims to attract 150,000 international students to Singapore by 2015. We’re probably at around the 100,000 mark or slightly under. About 65% of international students study in private schools, while 35% study in public ones (like the public universities, polytechnics and mainstream schools like primary schools, secondary schools and junior colleges). The private education industry for foreigners is thus only going to get bigger as more students are being attracted to Singapore by our government.

It’s important to understand the private education sector here not only because most international students study in this sector but also because most ESL teaching is done in this sector. Private education for foreigners in Singapore isn’t something that’s very established – that’s why you’ve had a lot of controversies happening in the private education sector the last few years. This is because the government hasn’t understood how to control the industry well enough simply because this whole private education industry hasn’t been hugely active for very long. Only in the past few years have things been really picking up and so now you have the newly formed Council for Private Education (only established late last year) and other regulatory systems established by it to better regulate the private education industry.

An introduction to the TESOL industry in Singapore

With regards to the TESOL industry here, as I mentioned in a previous post on the TESOL scene in Singapore, a country like Australia has a national ELT (English Language Teaching) accreditation scheme to maintain TESOL standards in Australia. Singapore is not yet up to that level because the TESOL industry here isn’t as developed yet. Currently, as far as I know (I may be wrong, but I don’t think so), the four criteria I mentioned in the above post regarding TESOL academic management, teachers, teacher professional development and program delivery are not dealt with sufficiently or at all under the new Edutrust Certification Scheme or the Enhanced Registration Framework (ERF) – see the Council for Private Education website for more information about these. That’s because these standards are meant to be general and not specific to any field of teaching. But I think it’s only a matter of time before the government or at least a group of private schools involved in ESL teaching start an organization or accreditation scheme that will ensure the TESOL industry maintains good standards.

Overall, the TESOL standard is still very low in Singapore. This means at least two things. Firstly, it’s easier to be an ESL teacher in Singapore than in English-speaking countries with more developed TESOL industries like Australia, the UK, America and Canada. Which also means that many ESL teachers in Singapore probably wouldn’t be qualified to teach in those countries. Secondly, low standards also mean that students suffer because of less qualified teachers with less experienced bosses, little or no professional development for teachers and huge classes. These two things are important to consider when considering moving into the TESOL industry – I’ll touch on more of this in subsequent posts.

So this is the reality. This is not to say that the government totally sucks for not ensuring better standards. Yes, Singaporeans are proud of the fact that our education system is one of the best in the world and we should expect our TESOL industry to be one of the best in the world too. But to be fair, we are new in this industry. We’ve not been traditionally strong in this area and for good reason – as a nation we don’t exactly speak good English and Singapore is not one of the names on people’s minds when they think of a country to study English in. The fact that we’re behind in this field is thus understandable.

I think that in our desire to quickly establish ourselves as an education hub in the region, the government didn’t want to be too rigid with their private education regulations simply because it’ll limit the growth of private schools. There was a trade-off then. But now, they realize that continual growth of the private education industry requires stricter standards because too many schools have been closing down in recent years and this has been giving us a bad reputation. There’s now more regulation in the private education industry and eventually there will be more regulation of the TESOL industry. I think the TESOL industry is a hugely important part of the private education industry because most foreign students who study in private schools would need to take probably an average of 6 months of ESL lessons before starting their actual diploma/degree program.

In the next post in this series, I’ll share my thoughts on the various TESOL certifications available in Singapore – and which ones I’ll recommend for which purposes.

Join the Conversation

59 Comments

  1. My brother has no classroom teaching background or experience, and nothing close to a degree in language arts. His degree is in Divinity Studies from an unaccredited college. He worked as a missionary in China for about five years and is under the impression that he can take a quick online course and get a $5000 per month teaching job in China.
    He is NOT bilingual and far from fluent in Chinese, having picked up only a few phrases when he was there, with no formal training in the language. How likely is he to be able to get such a job without speaking Chinese and with his only ESL training being an online TESOL class? Thanks for any info you can provide.

  2. Hi Bill,

    I’m assuming your brother is from an English-speaking country and he’s white (which happens to play quite a bit of a role in this industry in some places – including most/all Asian countries)?

    Firstly, I don’t think he’ll need to speak Chinese. I myself don’t speak it well and hardly ever use it in class. If he teaches in China, he’ll most likely be teaching to a higher level class where you won’t need or want to use any Chinese. So this isn’t that great a problem.

    Secondly, I don’t know the Chinese market but I would think it’ll be hard to get $5,000 (US$ I assume) with his qualifications. With a Masters level Education or TESOL qualification and years of experience, I think that may be possible. He may be able to get by (being white and a native English speaker) teaching in China with just a online certificate and an unaccredited degree, but I don’t think he would be able to earn a lot.

    My recommendation is to get a good TESOL certificate (not online and the standard is one with at least 120 hours of teaching time and 6 hours of assessed teaching – will mention more in the following post in this series) and that will enable him to be a better teacher. Even as my desire is to reach out using ESL teaching, I also want to be the best teacher I can be because I want to truly bless my students and help them in their English too.

    Hope this helps and if your brother is keen to explore ESL teaching in Singapore, let me know! Cheers!

  3. Hi there,

    I am interested in taking a Tesol program in singapore. Most places in Singapore offer a diploma in tesol.

    However, I am concerned with the standard requirements like minimum 120 hours with at least 6 to 8 hours of teaching and things like that. And I still have not decided which school to go for.

    Another best option is the Celta programme from British Council. I am looking forward to this. But they seem to have strict requirements, waiting list of at least 6 months and other requirements. This makes it hard for me to make a decision as it seem like a long wait and they stated they recruit as they deem fit and may not even invite applicants to the course even if they submitted the forms.

    So I am just wondering, would you have any suggestions as to which school in Singapore might be good for taking a Tesol programme? I ask because you seem like someone who has better knowledge on this topic than those I heard from forums.

    Hope you can either email me or just give me a reply here. Thank you! =)

  4. Hi,
    I’m so glad to find your blog. I’ve been doing some research for TESOL courses here in SG. I have a friend who finished her course at British Council but she says it is difficult to get in. So I would really appreciate your recommendation as to where I can get my diploma in TESOL.

    I’m a foreigner & a homemaker with 2 kids who are in primary school. I need to be home to care for my kids that is why I plan to teach English in the mornings only while they are in school. Based on your knowledge about the trends here, would it be possible for a dependent pass holder like me to work as an English teacher? Can you also recommend what academies I can apply to?

    Looking forward to your response.

    Thanks so much!

        1. Hi and thanks for your feedback on price.

          Unfortunately we have little wiggle room in the pricing because with CELTA, we can only recruit Cambridge approved CELTA trainers. And finding CELTA trainers in Singapore is like finding hens’ teeth!

          In addition, we need a minimum of 2 trainers for each course and odds are we have to fly and accomodate these 2 trainers. Qualified CELTA trainers don’t come cheap with a salary range between $7k to $10k per month.

          We do offer our CELTA candidates (those who have been accepted on a future course) a free 6 week CELTA preparatory course (we have had no fails or withdrawals and want to keep it that way) AND our graduates with additional supervised Teaching Practice (at no extra cost) until they feel confident to hit the classrooms and, to help them find work.

          Although we cannot reduce our price too much, we have decided to add benefits to help our gradutes get higher grades, be more confident teachers and to find work.

  5. British Education Centre have a good course leading to the UK London Teacher Training College Diploma in TESOL. They have moved from Middle Road to Club Street.

  6. Hi SHF, stumbled upon your blog, sent you an email, not sure if you received it, cant seem to find a previous post i placed in your blog concerning possbility of meeting up to chat about Tesol, missions, free english lessons to migrant workers and other interests. Email me if you have or havent received my email, God Bless!

    1. Hi Isaac, we need students who would like to learn English for (almost free). We are a teacher training centre and we need to maintain the standards set byb Cambridge for our teacher trainees.

      Our teacher trainees, are required to conduct Teaching Practice as part of their assessment. In fact, it forms as the biggest part of their assessment. We need people who would like to learn English for our teacher trainees to train on. It’s a win win situation.

      Our Learn Good English Programme (supported by Pearson Longman) needs students to come and learn English for free. They will need to pay for the books and materials ($50) but that allows them a minimum 40hrs of English lessons. Generally most of our students get 60hrs. That’s quite a good deal.

      We are always on the lookout for Elementary and Intermediate ESL students. Come and visit us. we are located at Boat Quay/Raffles Place MRT.

      1. Hi Heartpower TESOL
        Are you looking for student to learn English? (almost free)

        1. Hi.

          Yes. All the time. The courses coincide with our CELTA courses. Students pay $200 and if they attend 80% then they’ll get back $170. Usually such courses are around 30 to 40 hrs. That’s about $1/hr. Only CEA (us) and the BC have such comprehensive Teaching Practice courses. It’s a requirement by University of Cambridge as part of being a CELTA centre.

  7. Hi,
    Enjoyed reading your blog. Wondering if you could recommend any good school which offer diploma in TESOL in Singapore? not overpriced and perhaps I could complete within 2-3 months? u may reply to my email, tks & appreciate

    1. Hi Bluepolar, may i suggest that you give Canadian Education College. Got a good price at the moment. Just a idea for you. :)

  8. Oh heavens NO! Dont do the Diploma in TESOL from LTTC! Gosh. I throughly checked them out. THey are a Diploma Mill through and through. Everybody passes nobidy fails. ANYBODY can do it. I have heard of Koreans who are at INtermediate level be accepted into the so called Diploma in TESOL. They get a Diploma in TESOL. That means they have the license to teach English. Yet they cant speak it. You’re better off doing the CELTA from Cambridge. If its not too late., either at Heartpower (call Zak) OR the British Council (Call Peter Hamilton). Both nice guys who will tell it to you straight. Dont do what’s cheap. You get what you pay for. I was flabbergasted when I found out there were something 14 schools, individuals and companies offering the Diploma. THey gave licenses to individuals to teach the Diploma. Can you imagine Cambridge giving licenses to individuals to teach conduct CELTA courses???
    Be wary. LIke the blogger says… there are many TESOl courses out there in Singapore. Its somewhat unregulated and buyer beware.

    Just a note. LTTC work with St Clements University. An institution noted for being a Degree Mill. AND I even asked my dear friend in London to check them out. They work from an office and don’t even conduct TESOL courses onsite! A College that does not conduct courses onsite. Enough for my rant!

    1. I agree. I had the option of doing my CELTA overseas so I did it back home in Sydney. I was amazed at how many very suspicious looking and feeling TESOL schools there were here in Singapore. Not heard of Heartpower (I did my CELTA 3 years ago) but if they are a CELTA centre then guess they’re OK. But I’d rather not advertise for any particular school. BUt I can vouch for the various LTTC schools offering the Diploma. One of the schools is run by an individual and apparently he had just completed the Diploma himself about 3 months back. I politely walked away :)

      I now teach at a University Prep Programme and I’d say do the CELTA if you can. As a more senior teacher at our campus I am often invited to attend interview sessions a panel member for aspiring ESL teachers. I must say man of those with the Diploma simply cant teach. THey know jack loads about Grammar, which is great but they have no idea about how to deliver it. THey were better off just buying a book of grammar and learning it themselves, rather than paying $3k for the pleasure of it! And NONE of them could teach Vocabulary and Pronunciation. None. They often used synonyms or just explained the dictionary meaning and moved on. No contect, no syllable stress granmar point no eliciting.

      And none of them knew about grading language. So our poor Elementary students were being taught at an Upper Intermediate Level, if not Advanced.

      I think Singapore needs to clean up its act with their TESOL industry full stop. Bring in a NEAS equivalent then the English teaching level will dramatically increase.

  9. I am confused! I want to be able to teach children as well, so it looked like CELTA is not suitable for me.
    I hope to get enroll for diploma in TESOL soon, which one will you recommend? Thanks.

    1. Hi Grace,

      Many CELTA graduates end up teaching kids anyways. That is why Cambridge developed the CELTYL. Also as to whether CELTA is only for adults, MOE teachers are doing the CELTA and they are not teaching adults.

      We hope we can help. I have read some of the entries above and the only thing I can say is that with CELTA, you are assured of quality, standards and recognition from the University of Cambridge. Please do call Adeline on 65362193 and she can help.

      Regards,

      Zak
      Director
      Heartpower TESOL

  10. Hi,

    I saw an ad and called a place at Peninsula Plaza offering a Masters in TESOL or Applied Linguistics. It was from a Clements University or something. But I was also told that I would get a tutor who is also a Diploma in TESOL trainer (from LTTC) . He said he had a list of registered DiplomaTESOL trainers. When I checked the University, it looked shady. From some island in the PAcific! The man sounded evasive as if he was hawking stolen watches. And when I checked out the resumes of some Diploma in TESOL trainers at schools in Singapore who offer the Diploma, some of them dont have degrees, much teaching experience or any OTHER qualifications that would assure me I was getting my moneys worth. Amazing stuff. No wonder people get ripped off here in Singapore. The laws here are pretty relaxedlenient.

  11. I have read this blog and the articles and I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Your insght is absolutely revealing and to the point. I taught at a rather big “Institute” in the west side and I was so disappointed with the business first (although they were a non profit organisation!) then education next.

    When I taught there I had something like 35 students in my English class. Learning a language is not the same as learning computing. Even my CELTA training was of little use because we had to rush through the book and then assess. Hoe could I facilitate?

    Many of colleagues were not TESOL qualified and yes some had the Diploma in TESOL from LTTC. And no. they could not teach if their lofe depended on it. I know this because I would take every opportunity to share ideas to help make learning and teaching fun. But all I got was ,”well I just followed the book.” How sad is that?

    Anyways Good to luck to you and I hope you write the next article soon. I also hope you don’t pull any punches either. I still believe the CELTA is the best training any aspiring teacher could/should get. Doesn’t matter with whom you do it with. Good luck with it all. I did my CELTA abroad in Europe. Never heard of the LTTC in my travels there. Cambridge University, British Council and International House were what I heard about. Cant go wrong with any of them.

  12. Dear SHF,

    I am currently working in a bank and absolutely tired of it. I would like to do some mission work outside Singapore and am wondering if I need to do a TESOL course. Will the CELTA be an overkill?

    I do intend to find some paid work to carry things over from time to time. Your thoughts would be appreciated. I have not decided where I want to work. Shortlisted to Thailand and Cambodia.

    1. Hi there Civil,

      Have you decided what you were going to do yet? I am also planning on studying TESOL so I can teach in Cambodia. But I don’t know which course I should do!

  13. hi,

    chanced upon this blog and yes indeed, missions and teaching english just tug at my heartstrings.

    im v keen to do TESOL. but saw some entries that advise against LTTC diploma in TESOL.
    im confused. just need some advice on TESOL or CELTA. cuz i would like to work with youths/teenagers, as well as pple from needy communities, adult or youths.

    Cant find your second post on your ‘thoughts on the various TESOL certifications available in Singapore – and which ones I’ll recommend for which purposes.’
    wish it’s up so i can get advice. the differing info from the different schools are making me see stars. really cant tell which one would meet my needs and which are the ones to avoid.

    hope to hear from u soon….

    1. Hi Vessel in progress,

      I hopet his email finds you well. I am planning on doing a course but can’t decide between TESOL or CELTA as well. I would also like to work with youths and teens. Have you found out what courses you would like to do yet? :)

      Kind regards, Lynn

  14. Hi and it’s sometime since my last post on StillHaventFound, in August last year. Since then, the new Singapore Government CPE authority has caught up with a lot of the bad practice that was going on in Singapore private education.

    I’m not convinced that bad practices have totally disappeared. During the year, we have had to tighten up on procedures for ‘sit-in’ visitors whom we welcome but in some cases have clearly come for other purposes, to pick up and run with commercially useful information (and sometimes even teaching materials…!!!).

    It continues to disappoint that Singapore private schools have a limited concept of anything but the bottom line. Education is about giving and this is not a difficult thing to do. Our support of ‘Child’s Dream’ for provision of materials to schools in Laos follows free English (yes, the first in private Singapore teacher training establishments) for foreign speakers of English who kindly volunteer their time to provide audiences for teaching practice by our TESOL trainees. We are delighted to have foreign domestic workers among many other groups of people attend). Before that, our fee reduction in our 2009 Community Programme helped retrenched Singaporeans during the recession.

    There is an LTTC Diploma/CELTA argument rumbling on in the forum. These and other TESOL TEFL qualifications have to contain pretty much the same course content; their job is identical, to prepare teachers. It’s down a lot to the deliverer, who should have suitable resources and quality mechanisms in place. The CPE has made sure all current Diploma providers in Singapore comply with this. As a deliverer of the London Teacher Training College Diploma in TESOL programme since 2008, we are happy with the freedom this programme allows us in balancing the knowledge and skills for English language teaching. This includes constant attention to the grammar, the ability to plan individual lessons, and knowledge of the phonetics/phonology of English. It also allows us to bring in other important issues in teaching English. These include quality in classrooms and schools, procedures that an English teacher will meet in schools, students and their needs and preoccupations and our roles and behaviour as professional teachers. The assessment process is rigorous and we are pleased with our pass rate which comes from preparing candidates thoroughly, not through some ‘Sure Pass’ processing . Our experience is one of respect by employers for our graduates with the LTTC Diploma in TESOL. Singapore MOE government schools, international schools, a wide range of commercial and language schools and community programme providers have shown their confidence in the qualification.

    Our TESOL trainees, 23 nationalities and growing, continue to take interesting and wide-ranging teaching positions, with Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar being popular desinations, as well as Singapore. On the issue of spoken English, we and English schools can’t expect native speaker quality English from every ESOL teacher worldwide. There simply aren’t enough native speaker teachers to go around anyway. Korean English will influence the speaking of a Korean ESOL teacher, Vietnamese English of a Vietnamese ESOL teacher, etc. Their students receive other models of spoken English in a well-structured English course and will in any case choose their own pronunciation for spoken production.

    Online or classroom-based courses? There are arguments against distance learning, yet many would-be teachers have limited access to classroom courses. CELTA, with many other TESOL TEFL course developers, recognises this and allows the online learning mode. Classroom learning is better if possible, giving the interactions essential to produce a confident teacher. We believe our 102-hour course for the LTTC Diploma in TESOL plus the private study time the students commit to for teaching practice preparation and for reading and assessment preparation are right for the job. The 120 hours vs. 100 hours course length argument is another one that continues and I suggest Google ‘100 hours TESOL TEFL’, followed by ‘120 hours TESOL TEFL’….

    Well, that might do for another year, unless any more peculiar posts come up. I don’t want to get into frequent tit-for-tat auguments on any of these issues – we have better things to do, training teachers.

    Regards
    Dr. Alan Richardson
    British Education Centre
    Singapore

  15. Heartpower started offering TESOL back in 2007 by renting out classrooms every 3 months at MDIS. Back when we started we aspired to be the very best and worked hard to be a CELTA training centre. We now have 8 classrooms, 3 trainers and 5 teachers, have the CELTA license, have the license with International House (IH) and we are very proud of this achievement. Both the University of Cambridge and IH are considered to be theworld’s biggest and most reputable English Teacher Training Institutes. We continue to work hard to maintain these licenses and to increase our standing with corporations, government agencies and the general public.

    A few years ago we did seriously evaluate the LTTC Diploma in TESOL. Should we offer it ourselves? We concluded it was not suitable and here are the reasons why.

    1.The number of centres or people offered a license was very high. At that time there were about 12. Existing providers are not protected to ensure some market share. We felt it was somewhat cut throat and a price war would ensue.
    2.The training hrs and modes of assessment varied significantly between the providers and that presented some marketing problems. We envisaged the more savvy and well researched prospective students would ask us why is School A offering it in 90 hrs, School B at 120hrs and School C at 60?
    3.At that time, trainees were not assessed on Teaching Practice. It was exam only. We were concerned about whether our graduates would be prepared for teaching and meeting industry needs.
    4.Courses were not moderated externally by LTTC. Every CELTA intake needs to be independently assessed by a qualified assessor. This ensured standardisation and quality.
    5.There were no credits to higher degree programmes. CELTA enjoys widespread credits to many Universities’ (though only a few points) Masters programmes.

    If and when LTTC implements measures to ensure standardisation and to restrict the number of centres offering the qualifications, then we will revisit their qualifications as an option. I am abit concerned with the comments about working with bogus Unis and not offering direct courses themselves. I can only hope LTTC have addressed these allegations.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Dr Richardson that the Centre makes the difference and I hope he continues down this path with his personal and human approach to education. In many ways, we share these same values as we also offer free English lessons for our Teaching Practice sessions.

    As for us, we believe the debate between CELTA and Diploma in TESOL is pointless. BOTH are considered “entry level courses”.

    1. I was in Singapore teaching English back in 2003. Before that I taught in the UK, Sri Lanka, Spain, Poland, turkey and the US. I’d like to think I know the industry well. Never heard of LTTC. NEVER. I am surprised that now there is another CELTA centre here so that’s great. BC was always expensive. Going back to Singas this year so would like to drop by and say hi.

  16. Hi! I’d like to know what will I be facing as a TESOL student in Singapore and I’m not even Singaporean? Thanks!

  17. Hi Still haven’t found,

    I hope this message finds you well.
    I am a Singaporean myself and have been living in Australia for about 8 years now. I came across your blog and am extremely excited because it was exactly what I was looking for. I am very interested in doing missions work and hope to one day teach english overseas. Ijust need to find the right people and also the right course in studying ENglish! (for teaching) I am thinking of studying a TESOL course but can’t yet decide which one. I have a degree in library and minored in journalism. I also have a graduate diploma in education. Also, as a Singaporean, I am not sure how easy it is to get jobs as a ESL teacher. What is your advice? I feel a bit lost.

    Thanks so much for your time. Have a great day:)

  18. By the way, I am also based in Perth! It’s getting a bit boring and I am getting a bit restless:(

  19. Your honest advice is appreciated. I know my grammar isn’t very good and I need work on the pronunciations at times.

  20. Please comment on the online TESOL Dip course offered by LTTC. Is online as good as the ones offered by Singapore’s private education centres? The LTTC online offers 2 certification upon graduation.

    I am also very excited to have found STILLHAVENTFOUND. After I graduate with TESOL or CELTA……..please keep me in your loop for christians wanting to considering this industry for missions.

  21. hi

    not sure if y ou are still active in this website..

    will appreciate if you can recommend on where exactly to get a creditable tefl certificate in singapore.

    thanks

  22. Hi,

    I am very interested in getting a TESOL diploma but I can’t decide which school or training center in Singapore is credible. I am currently teaching in Batam for a year now. I am also a Christian with a heart for missionary work specially teaching kids. I already inquired British Educ Center but they won’t allow me to get their 1 month intensive program in different timetable. My holidays here in Batam Indonesia are different from Singaporean schools. This August we have a holiday on the 11th until the 26th. Then on December for the Christmas break for 2 weeks and on the Chinese New Year roughly 2 weeks.

    I hope someone in this blog can read this. I will appreciate the help.

    Thank you.

  23. I have been to that centre and I must say I was underwhelmed with what I saw and experienced. Felt like I was being led to do a course, although I was very clear I was merely researching. My friend did a Diploma course there but was not told the course was an in-house certification. Furthermore, the content of the in-house course was very similar to the LTTC course another friend did. We all thought it was too much of a coincidence. I’m still looking for a reputable school. Checked out BC and Heartpower but can’t decide between the 2. Or is there a
    n alternative?

    1. Hi. Thanks. Previously I was just thinking of Tesol, tesol tesol… But thanks to this blogband my colleagues, I realise that CELTA IS the best course in terms of content and recognition. And that, after all is what is needed to get a job. The other courses claim rather weakly that theirs is recognised. But against Cambridge? Not possible.

      You can’t possibly consider doing a tesol course without hearing or knowing about CELTA. Do your research! I did mine thoroughly and I was lucky. My colleagues at MOE told me about it. I need CELTA for promotion. I heard CELTA is tough, esp for working people. But its that reputation that makes it respectable.

  24. I just checked out their website at LTTC. They are marketing a Masters in TESOL. But basic details like which Uni and what mode and how much and how long… Are intentionally ommitted. Very suspicious. It simply says “contact us”. Has anybody done it? Which Uni is it from?

  25. I enquired about the masters programme a few years ago! It’s from some uni in Nauru. I gave it a skip. You should too. I ended up doing CELTA. Now doing DELTA. It’s tough! But the world knows it’s tough.

  26. Hi. Are you still active on this blog? Would you recommend doing the Diploma in TESOL from London school? I saw some place called Impart Learning and Chang Chung. They seem dodgy but maybe I’m being unfair.

    1. Hi Anna,

      Yes, I still am active on this blog. I’m not sure which place you’re talking about but most probably it won’t be a good one. But it really depends what your purpose of getting a TESOL is and where you want to teach. My recommendation is to get a CELTA – the one I got and the most recognized TESOL certificate in the world. Of course I’m biased and there are some others of that standard. But to be honest, most (not all) in Singapore are not worth spending on.

      The CELTA is expensive and it’s more challenging, but if you want to be in this for the long term, it would be worth it.

      1. Hi. Sorry I never got to read the blog for quite a while. YES! I did the CELTA here in Singapore and the course was great. And I do see more schools asking for a CELTA. Now I am job hunting, got few interviews and mock lessons through the place I did the course with, so just waiting for news. Thanks for the recommendation.

      2. Hi stillhaventfound & other readers,

        I read with interest about your comments on the TESOL industry in Singapore, and would like to share about my experiences and also ask for advice.

        I am a Singaporean, and I have a Diploma in TESOL offered by LTTC as well as a CELTA. I thought that I would be able to find a job soon after getting the CELTA, but sadly enough, that was not the case. For 6 months, I tried applying to many different places: private schools, language schools, tuition centres (including those in HDB estates) etc. Few bothered to call me for an interview, and out of those few, none wanted to hire me. As employers don’t give reasons, I had no idea why I wasn’t considered or hired. My best guess when I saw job postings was the lack of experience. Almost all the available positions require experience in teaching. This puts me in a catch 22 situation. How do I get the experience in the first place when all the available jobs are only for those with experience? Does that mean that newbies will never find jobs in the TESOL industry in Singapore?

        Which leads me to my conclusion:
        Any TESOL qualification (including CELTA) is totally useless in Singapore if you don’t have experience.
        Any reader may feel free to correct me if you think that I am wrong, give your reasons and advice on how to get into an entry level job in Singapore.

        And if all you want to do is to point a finger at my negativity, please understand the amount of frustration one would feel resulting from 6 months of fruitless job search, having invested thousands of dollars into qualifications that don’t seem to help and not really being able to pinpoint any reason for this lack of results.

        Thank you. Your input is highly appreciated.

        1. That’s a pity.a real pity. Fact is though, celta does not assure you of a job. Nothing does, right? There are many reasons why people dont get jobs. Supply and demand, overseas student market being down, the applicant themselves. Did you call up the person in charge? Did you request to do a demo lesson to show off your ability? What more did you do to increase your profile amongst the many who applied? Have you considered going to a career coach at wda and get their help? I feel for you and I hope you have found a job teaching. But sometimes we need to do much much more to survive. It is, after all… survival of the fittest. D.

        2. You might want to try teaching at http://www.italki.com You earn your keep. I’m looking to teach as a side hustle, on top of my full-time job.

          Alternatively, you could try teaching in other countries that are non-English speaking like Japan. S.Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam etc. I think they have a lot of potential, esp. the emerging markets like Cambodia & Vietnam. Who knows, you might open a English-learning centre as time goes by, and be your own boss there :)

          Hope this helps!

    1. The cost for a Masters is usually high. This course is about $20kSGD. For those who definitely know what they want to do then yes, do a Masters. This is 1 or 2 years of your life PLUS all that money. You are not guaranteed of a job either.

      For many of those choose the ESL teaching path, its a career change option and let’s face it, you have to be absolutely sure of what you are doing. Not many people are ever that sure. They want to test the waters. So doing a CELTA is the best option as it is the minimum qualification employers look for as an ESL teacher (not Masters), it’s short (4 weeks/120+ hrs) and its cheaper to get your foot in the door.

      Generally I find that people do their Masters AFTER doing the CELTA and working for about 2 years. Only a small majority do the Masters straight away.

  27. Hi, I am a Singaporean and am doing my part time degree now. I have intentions of doing my CELTA course, but have decided to do it in Thailand instead of Singapore.

    (1) Since the course is accredited by Cambridge and the appraisals are standardised.
    (2) The cost of doing it in Thailand is about USD1600 (Early Bird – USD 1440) http://www.eccthai.com ; while the cost of doing it in Singapore is SGD5100 http://www.tesol.edu.sg/Cambridge-CELTA

    if you factor in the travel cost and the rental cost, I think you will definitely be paying lesser in Thailand with the same accredited cert then in Singapore.

    1. Bernard makes a good point but having done CELTA, i know this….candidates need to be in the right frame of mind and if you are in a foreign land, expect considerable levels of adjustment in your life. The CELTA is an intensive course and candidates need to be focused.

      It’s common for candidates to experience emotions that are magnified considerably, during the course. So if candidates are not settled in during non teaching hours (after class) the likelihood of failure increases and therefore stress levels. One way to avoid this is to go there about 1 or 2 weeks earlier and be prepared to spend time to find the right place. Is there traffic noise at nights? What surprises are in store?

      So its not just the cost of training one needs to consider. It’s about passing the course and doing well and not wasting your time.

  28. Why can’t I find Heartpower/CA International College as a licensed school on the website of the Singapore Government regulator of private and international schools, the Council for Private Education (www.cpe.gov.sg)? They have advertised for many months now as being a school, a CELTA provider, inside the electronics marketplace Sim Lim Square, Singapore. Shouldn’t they have held a license? The University of Cambridge requires full license accreditation status locally for any of its partner schools in the CELTA programme.

    1. Dear Schoolwatch Singapore,

      The University of Cambridge DOES NOT require full license accreditation locally. They are fully aware of our status within Singapore. Your comment is made with an appearance of certainty but it is absolutely false. We sense a subtle act of corporate undermining in your comment.

      We have been a CELTA provider since June 2010, breaking the British Council’s monopoly and have proudly played a part for countless people to find a new career teaching English. We have maintained since 2010 which means we have met the high standards set by the University of Cambridge for the CELTA programme. The same standards ALL CELTA centres have to meet.

      For the record, only schools that offer Full Time or Diploma and above courses are required to be registered with the Council for Private Education. We do not offer either such courses.

  29. Hello. We would just like to make it public that our CELTA course has been funded by WDA since July 2014. This means we have had many graduates from our CELTA course who have received funding from WDA. Many received the full 95% subsidy. The subsidy is only available through CA International College and not the British Council.

  30. Hi I am intending to take up an internationally qualified course to teach English, phonics to pre-schoolers. What course should I take?
    I am from Singapore and intend to work in enrichment centers in Singapore. Any school to recommend?

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