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Online Courses: What Is Your Opinion?
Online ESL, TESOL Courses
I have used a lot of computer based training (CBT) to learn languages, usually these are DVD or CD. The best for langauges remain Rosetta Stone and a new one, Fluenz, which uses a similar approach.
Having just completed an online TESOL course from Linguedge, one of many online courses to learn how to teach English to non-native speakers. Most of the online courses in this genre cost about the same, from $200-500 for a 100 to 150 hr course. To get one's teaching certificate, the 100 hr course at minimum, must be selected. The 150 hr course cannot be related to college level units, say, as 3-4 unit classes. It is not clear how a course determines whether it is 100 hr or 200 hr. Regardless, a 150 hr course took about 30 days to complete. Accessing it for a 1-2 hrs daily. The amount of time spent on a specific unit or chapter varied considerably, some were quite short, taking me only 20 min to complete, others, more than hour.
Online courses are usually less expensive and they allow complete freedom when you access them. There is a deadline, but it is six months away, plenty of time to finish. The overall quality was good, not having a background in teaching, all the topics teachers have were covered. Chapters on phonetics were a bit over kill for practical use in the classroom and seemed more suited for linguists at college level. Most ESL teachers instruct at much lower levels and most with very little English knowledge. The exams were open book, as one could save each chapter, passing was 70%. Some of the questions were fill in, most were objective types, as in T/F, multiple choice. Some of the exams were actually difficult and took a good hour to complete. Failing simply means you retake it. But, until you pass you cannot go onward.
My overall opinion with online courses is that, for ESL teachers, the missing element is that internship or "hand's on" element when the student is teaching a real class for even one hour and observed. Granted, some ESL courses have this but they are not really online. One can master or learn the craft of teaching online, but until they actually do it, it is hard to feel confident. That said, even if you do the internship, the value of it only goes so far and one is no more a teacher than a student who only took the course online.
Like many have said, online courses are great for a certain type of personality and most only scratch the surface in their depth, depending on the course itself. There are law schools online that cost thousands, and like ESL, they prep the student well. But, they cannot provide mock trial experience, which is critical for an attorney. IT related online courses are great, they do a good job to prep one to take various exams.