Is spending money on TESL or CELTA really worth it?
My short answer
My long explanation
If you don’t have any formal teaching experience, then getting some sort of certification is a crucial. You may be able to get a job without a TESL or CELTA accreditation, but walking into a classroom without any experience with the theory or practice of education can be dangerous—for you as well as for your students. Do you know how to plan a lesson? What about giving an exam? How do you evaluate students? What’s a past participle?
I would even argue that it’s unethical to teach without any kind of background; students deserve a prepared teacher. Unfortunately, the English language industry often makes it easy to skip this step, and there are countless schools out there that will hire just about anybody who is willing to teach. That is not okay. People go abroad for a lot of reasons: adventure, experience, cultural exchange. There’s no “good” or “bad” reason to go abroad. But often teaching abroad is seen as an “easy” and fun way to get some international experience. Teaching is fun and I’m a huge proponent of going abroad, but I’m just not a fan of turning an important and difficult profession into a quick way to make some cash and go backpacking.
Obviously, certification isn’t going to make you a good teacher. Time and experience and hard work will do that. But certification will make you a more prepared and responsible participant in the global English language industry.