"Like most people, I tried to do research and gather as much information I can when paying for something I don't know much of, especially online. This was the case with TEFL International. I wanted to pursue an English career in Japan and what better way than to take my TEFL certification in Tokyo. I narrowed my search to TEFL International, mostly because their website was the most organized and well-presented. But could I trust them?
The definitive answer is YES.
My personal experience with TEFL International can be summed up as one of the most worthwhile investment I've made, with my time, effort and money. It's easy to assume that getting my certification was a formality, but I was most pleasantly surprised that the instructors, the material, the course... are all legit - they want you to learn, they want you to get the most out of the course, they want you to grow in your experience as an English instructor in Japan.
Larry and "Coach" Dave have DECADES of combined teaching experience and were such a valuable resource both inside and outside the classroom. The other instructors and staff all were very supportive and everyone created a relaxed-yet-focused, supportive learning environment.
YES, you will be expected to put in work and effort. Afterall, it is an intensive month-long program, but all the work will be valuable, especially once you start looking for teaching positions in Japan. While they can't guarantee you will land a job, I personally was able to obtain a couple of teaching offers, due largely to how the TEFL course had preprared me as an English instructor to Japanese of all ages - from young children to middle schoolers and high schoolers, to adults and retirees.
Lastly, Larry and his wife Yuko (and the people of TEFL International) are genuinely good people. Not only do they care about each student young and old, but you can easily see they are an asset and blessing to their town with how they interact with their community. Things such as sponsoring a child in-need to holding sidewalk sales, whose proceeds go to mothers in-need, go well beyond the context of a school, but speak volumes as to the character of those in charge of TEFL International."
Cornelio Natividad II, America
2019 Sept Course Graduate
"To anyone wanting to broaden their horizons by teaching English abroad and looking to enhance their abilities to teach in TESOL environments, or those looking to supplement their existing teaching experience with a TESOL certification, or even those hoping to start building their experience as a teacher to begin working in the field of education, I can wholeheartedly recommend the course at TEFL International Tokyo. I had a great experience here and think that is largely due to the knowledgeable, engaging, and supportive instructors who taught the course, which is to say, I truly believe that the experience you gain by doing this course at TEFL International Tokyo is experience that cannot be obtained anywhere else.
The curriculum does a great job of preparing you to teach English. Topics covered include history of foreign language instruction techniques, principles of language teaching, teacher language, phonology, and English grammar. I found the grammar sections to be taught in a way that was remarkably engaging and relatively painless, so don't let the fact that grammar is one of the subjects covered in the course intimidate you, the instructors do a great job not only of presenting the content but stressing the points that will help you be better able to teach your future students about these topics.
You will also begin working with students in your first week of the course, which I believe is one of the benefits of taking the course in person. You will be able to put the skills you learn during class to use immediately in a practical setting, which serves as good reinforcement for the material and also lets you evaluate your own performance as a teacher.
I think this course is great for anybody who would like to teach English anywhere in the world, not just Japan; though the course is taught in Tokyo and the material is often introduced from the standpoint of how best to work with Japanese learners of English, the course covers topics in such a way that you will be able to apply the teaching principles covered in a broad range of contexts, countries and cultures around the world. With that said, Dave, Larry, and the other instructors on the course have decades of experience between them teaching in English in Japan, so if you are interested in teaching in Japan yourself after taking the course, you will have a world-class team of teaching professionals ready to offer you advice and guidance about how to break into this vibrant industry and help you in taking the next steps to find employment in Japan.
Lastly, if you have the opportunity, staying at the TEFL Residence for the duration of the course is a great experience, as you'll not only get to know your classmates and instructors better and have a very quick walk to get to class, but you'll also get to experience urban living in a fantastic neighborhood of Tokyo. You'll have access to nearby amenities like grocery stores, restaurants, and a jaw-dropping athletic center, and the huge Mizumoto park is also nearby, which is a real treat for a morning run (or just an afternoon stroll).
All in all, I highly recommend this course for those looking to obtain a TESOL certification, and especially those looking to get a taste of Japanese culture in the process!"
Brad Hendershott, America
2019 Sept Course Graduate
""Coach" Dave and Larry are fantastic instructors who go above and beyond in helping you when you need it. The month-long class went by fast, but I also felt like I learned several months' worth of how to be an effective English teacher. The instruction content included educational theory, grammar, and the phonetic alphabet; and our April class also gained invaluable hands-on teaching experience in a conversation school, a women's university, and a preschool. The experience was indeed intense, but fun as well in a great neigborhood! Highly recommended!"
Connery Cepeda, America
2017 Apr Course Graduate
"The reason why I wanted to get this certificate is so I could travel around the world teaching, specially in Asia, and doing it in Tokyo was the best decision I have ever taken. I just finished the course and I already got several opportunities to teach in South East Asia! So if you like teaching and want to travel, this is a great way of doing it! You will learn a lot during the course, but the best part is that you actually get to put it into practice with kids, several one on one teaching sessions, and an english class at a college in Shinjuku. I really learned a lot from Larry and David, I have already caught myself a couple of times in a conversation using the terminology I learned in the course.
The school is lovely as well as the whole crew. The neighborhood is gorgeous and it has an amazing park just a couple of blocks down. There are several convenience stores, delicious and very affordable ramen right around the corner, and the most incredible bakery to satisfy your sweet tooth! I stayed at Larry's house which is 5 minutes away walking. It is extremely comfortable and Yuko, Sean and Larry will make you feel at home.
Prepare yourself for a lot of learning, good laughs and amazing memories :)!"
Natasha Puente, Mexico
2017 Jan Course Graduate
"A great instructor is hard to come by, so I felt like I struck gold with Dave and Larry. I've never felt so nurtured in a classroom. They were very kind and helpful in sharing their expertise with the class, after all they have both lived and taught in Japan for the past 30 years.
If you have any hesitance or reluctance in coming to Tokyo or if you've never been here, fear not! Dave and Larry are at your beck and call with answering any questions you might have about life in Tokyo. I was very nervous about taking the leap and leaving home, so I emailed Larry several times leading up to the program. He was very helpful in preparing me for this trip and my time in Tokyo.
Of course while they provide a comfort zone for your life in Tokyo, what they are really doing is helping you prepare as much as possible for success through this rigorous program. There is quite a bit of work, but the classes and assignments are very well thought out and meaningful. I felt so well prepared for the following interviews and felt comfortable speaking with the different schools and companies, understanding the jargon and responding like a TESOL professional.
I also was able to take with me the 60+ combined years of experience teaching English in Japan that Larry and Dave shared during class. They have some great stories that bring insight and life to what you should expect in a future classroom.
During my time there, I decided to do some volunteer work at a language cafe in exchange for room and board in Shinjuku to save money (via workaway.com). I had class all day and worked 15 hours a week at night and I managed to be successful at both, so don't be daunted by the workload. It is very doable. My sleep suffered, but this was due to my inability to say no to the city and invites from new friends to go sight-seeing. Some of the friends I made were older students I taught as part of the course!
-Do not procrastinate on work and at the very least skim the day's notes after class. At the end of the program when it's time to take your test, it will feel like a year has passed with all the information you've covered.
-Team up with your fellow classmates in studying and working together on assignments. It's so much more fun. I also learned a lot from my peers, as some of them had previous teaching or tutoring experience.
-Get there early (and caffeinated if that's your thing)! Some of the material can be dry, but very necessary. Don't waste time, because there is a lot of material to cover and it is all very helpful. You are only hurting yourself by missing any information.
-Have fun (though it is impossible not to with teachers like Dave and Larry)!
-Come in with an open mind. Don't let Tokyo scare you. Don't let strangers scare you. I can't believe the friends I've made during my short stay so far. Japanese people have been very helpful in me getting around when I was lost or wasn't sure about something.
-Study some Japanese. (You really don't need any, so don't worry.) I came with some hiragana memorized and the general greetings. I wish I had studied a lot more. I got by with the help of English signs, strangers, my hand gestures, friends and Dave and Larry, but it would have been nice to be a little more independent.
Just some last bits about the people. I felt at home with these instructors. It isn't a large company so you get that family-run business feel and get as much one-on-one time as you need. They are very accessible and make themselves available if you need anything."
Emma Zarate, America
2016 Sept Course Graduate
"Thank you so much Dave and Larry (as well as everyone part of the TEFL Tokyo family!) for all of the experiences I have had over the last month doing the TEFL International TESOL course. I have now sadly left Japan, but it's thanks to you and everyone at Hi5 English school that my time with you was an absolute pleasure.
The course itself is an interesting analysis of both the english language and how english should be taught to foreign speakers, and includes aspects such as the history of teaching methods, the psychology behind a student's progress in the classroom, the international phonetic alphabet and the intriguingly universal human language of supra-segmentals (which is just a fancy word for tone of voice, for example how you can laugh at the right part of a joke in any language just from the sound of the punchline). In this way, the broad range of the course means that it isn't just interesting to linguists and educators, but that people from all fields could also add their own interpretations.
The actual teaching I did for the course was also really enjoyable, my Japanese students were almost without exception engaged and -in the case of the little kids- adorable! I even received presents from a few to thank me for my time spent with them, which was particularly sweet.
As for the team running the course I could not have been luckier. Despite the fact I was the only student doing the course for the month of March I had plenty of great company and good times! I was even invited to go to the school's annual ski trip to Nagano which was a particular highlight, and the school usually has extra-curricular events, such as the big Easter egg hunt planned for April. TEFL Tokyo is also about a 5 minute walk from beautiful Mizomoto park, a breath of fresh air in what can sometimes be a stifling concrete Tokyo, and I was lucky enough to eat my lunch under blooming cherry blossoms there as often as I wanted to.
So all in all a great place and amazing people, which I would highly recommend! In fact I've begun bugging my older sister to come and do the course once she's finished her degree (so you may need to prepare for another member of the Rais family!).
Thank you again to Yuko, Vincent, Raymond, Olivia, Sean, Derek and especially Dave and Larry for such a lovely experience.
If I were to do the TESOL course again, I would do it at TEFL Tokyo (2nd conditional!)."
Lamya Rais, Lebanon
2016 Mar Course Graduate