How to Complete the TEFL Practicum for Your Online TEFL Course

How to Complete the TEFL Practicum for Your Online TEFL Course

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Like all International TEFL Academy TEFL classes, the 170-Hour Online TEFL Class incorporates "practicum." The term “practicum” refers to 20 hours of practice teaching, observation, and/or tutoring that you must complete in an ESL or EFL classroom setting to earn your accredited TEFL certification.

NOTE: One important fact to recognize is that most schools looking to hire English teachers will not recognize TEFL/TESOL certification courses that do not incorporate a TEFL practicum. 

These TEFL practicum hours allow each student to gain firsthand experience practice teaching with real ESL students, whether it is in an actual classroom setting, or by tutoring a non-native speaker privately. Students typically complete their TEFL practice teaching and observation in their home community, online, or wherever they are living when they are taking our 170-hour online TEFL/TESOL certification course. NOTE: while you may complete a portion of your practicum observing a live ESL class led by a professional instructor, you must engage in at least 6 hours of live practice teaching or tutoring with actual ESL students.

As a TEFL student, you will arrange your TEFL practicum on your own, but International TEFL Academy will provide assistance and guidance.  Basically, you must spend 20 hours in a live ESL learning environment observing an ESL class, and/or practice teaching and tutoring ESL students in some capacity.

What is the Practicum?

Practicum Requirements

Finding a Practicum Location

Previous Teaching Experience

Submitting Your Practicum


Teaching English Online TEFL Practicum

What is the Practicum?

1. What is the practicum?
The practicum is a required component of the TEFL certification, where you put into practice the theory learned in the 11-week course. It can include 20 hours of teaching, tutoring, and observation. See the Practicum Overview in Moodle for requirement details and additional information.                                      

2. When is the practicum due?
The deadline is 90 days from the last day of the 11-week TEFL course.

3. Can I request an extension on my practicum hours?
Yes - use this form to request an extension up to 365 days after the end of your 11- week course. If you need additional time after 365 days, contact Student Affairs.

4. How do I know if my practicum extension request has been approved?
Look for the confirmation on the screen after submitting the request. A confirmation email will also be sent to you.

5. When should I start my practicum?
Once your TEFL course begins, you may work on your practicum hours whenever you feel ready. Most students wait until the end of the course, but it’s a good idea to at least start securing your location/student(s) before then.

6. How long will it take to complete my hours?
On average it takes students about 2 - 3 months to complete their practicum requirement, with the majority of them starting to complete their hours after the course.

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Practicum Requirements

1. Do I have to tutor, teach, AND observe for the practicum?
You can mix and match between tutoring, teaching, and observing as long as you tutor or teach for at least 6 hours. Observation isn’t mandatory, but if you do choose to observe, you can apply a maximum of 14 observation hours.

2. Do I need to include observation in my practicum hours?
No - you may complete all 20 hours by teaching and/or tutoring. 

3. Can I complete all 20 hours through observation?
No - a maximum of 14 hours of observation can be applied to the practicum.

4. Can I tutor a personal contact or family member?
Yes - as long as their first language isn’t English, and the subject you’re working on is English.

5. Does ITA need to approve my practicum opportunity beforehand?
No - as long as your opportunity meets the practicum requirements, you are free to proceed. ITA will not approve your practicum experience beforehand.

6. How many ESL students do I need to work with?
There is no minimum or maximum number of students you need to work with to meet the practicum requirement. You can work one-on-one, or in a large classroom. The choice is yours!

7. Can I complete my practicum in a foreign language, math, science, etc. class
No - the subject being taught must be English to meet the practicum requirement.

8. What if only some of the students in the classroom are non-native English speakers?
To meet the practicum requirement, you will need to work exclusively with non-native English speakers.

9. Will training, orientation, or lesson-planning hours count toward the practicum?
No - only the hours spent actively teaching, tutoring, and observing will count when English is the subject matter, and the students are non-native English speakers.

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TEFL Course Practice Teaching

Finding a Practicum Location

1. Does ITA assign a practicum location for me?
No - It is up to you to find a practicum location using ITA’s resources or by using your personal/professional networks.

2. How do I find a practicum location?
There are so many ways to find a practicum opportunity:

  • Check out the how to find a practicum location section on the Practicum page in Moodle.

  • You can use your personal or professional networks to find private tutoring opportunities.

  • You can find online or local opportunities through our Preferred Online, USA and International Practicum.

  • Using search engines to find ESL teaching opportunities is also acceptable. Try searching “ESL classes near me” or advertise yourself as a freelance ESL tutor on sites like Craigslist or Facebook.

3. How do I get started with one of ITA’s Preferred Practicum Locations?
The application process will vary by location. Some organizations will require:

  • An application

  • Volunteer training

  • A clean background check

  • A formal job application process for paid tutoring positions.

4. Can I complete my practicum online?
Yes - you can find online opportunities through our Preferred Online Practicum Locations.

5. Can I watch recorded lessons as part of my practicum hours?
No - In order for it to count, the class must be live and cannot be a recording of a live class. 

6. Do I have to do my practicum hours at an ITA-approved location?
No - you can complete your practicum anywhere as long as it follows the requirements. 

7. Do I need to get my location approved before getting started?
No - you can complete your practicum anywhere as long as it follows the requirements.

8. How can I make sure my practicum opportunity meets the requirements?
If you’ll be working live and exclusively with non-native English speakers, and the subject being taught is English, it qualifies.

9. Can I be paid for my practicum hours?
Yes - paid or volunteer experience will count towards your practicum as long as it meets all the requirements.

10. Do I have to do all of my hours at the same location?
No - you can work with more than one organization or student by observing, teaching or tutoring to fulfill the 20-hour requirement.

11. My practicum location is asking for a letter from ITA. What can I do?
Feel free to forward the Practicum Requirement Letter, and reach out to your Student Affairs Advisor if a customized letter is required.

12. How long will it take to hear back from a practicum location, once I’ve reached out to them about completing my hours?
This will vary from location to location. It can take from a couple of days to a few weeks to hear back from them.

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Previous Teaching Experience

1. I currently teach; can my classroom hours apply toward my practicum?
Yes - if you are teaching exclusively to non-native English speakers, and the subject being taught is English.

2. Can I apply my previous teaching experience to the practicum?
If your previous teaching experience meets the requirements and took place within six months of the start of your TEFL course, you may apply up to 10 of those hours toward the practicum. You’ll address these hours in the Write-Up, and provide contact information for verification during submission.

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TEFL Certification Practice Teaching

Submitting Your Practicum

1. I finished my 20 hours. Now what?
Now it’s time to submit your experience to ITA for review. Submit a 550-word write-up in the Write-Up Forum in Moodle, AND complete the Practicum Completion Form.

For complete details on both of these steps, refer to the Submitting Your Practicum section in Moodle.

2. How do I prove the hours I completed online?
Once you are ready to submit your practicum, you will fill out the Practicum Completion Form with contact information, along with the Write-Up.

3. How will ITA verify my practicum hours?
During the review, ITA may reach out to you or the contact(s) listed in your submission to confirm or clarify any information, including the hours completed. 

4. Will ITA contact the organizations or students I worked with to complete my practicum?
We may contact them on an as-needed basis. 

5. I submitted my practicum. When do I get my TEFL certificate?

  • If you've submitted your practicum at least 2 weeks after the end of your TEFL course, you can expect your certificate in your inbox within 7 - 10 business.

  • If you've submitted your practicum before the end of your TEFL course, add 2 weeks from the last day of the course, plus 7-10 business days.

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Posted In: Job Search Guidance, TEFL Certification, TEFL Certification Online

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