SIT Course FAQs

SIT Course FAQs

Graduate Institute for these Q and As:

  • What is SIT Graduate Institute?
  • Why should I take the SIT TESOL certificate course?
  • Who teaches the course?
  • Is the course the same at all sites?
  • What kind of people take this course?
  • What are the entrance requirements?
  • What kind of job will I be able to get with this certificate?
  • Can I get graduate credit for the course?
  • After I finish the certificate course, if, at a later date, I decide to complete SIT’s MA in TESOL program, is there any special financial aid available for certificate alumni?
  • Does everyone who attends the course get a certificate?
  • Will SIT’s TESOL certificate enable me to teach ESOL in US public schools?

SIT Course at AUA in Bangkok, Thailand FAQs

How does the SIT TESOL Certificate compare to CELTA?

The courses are similar in many ways. We both have practical workshops that allow participants to see the relationship between theory and practice. Both have practice teaching with real ESL students and both are run by trainers with extensive experience. In addition, both institutions have been involved in teacher training for many years and have a solid reputation around the world. The main difference is that the SIT curriculum is clearly based on experiential learning and reflective practice. On SIT courses, you learn how to look at teaching and learning by reflecting on your own experiences. Trainers will support and guide you, also adding their own ideas, but the emphasis is placed on discovery through hands-on activities. Our curriculum was designed by professors in the MA program at SIT and has developed through close collaboration among trainers. As such, SIT courses, wherever you take them, are quite similar in their approach and content. CELTA courses, on the other hand, can vary much more depending on the beliefs and approaches of the trainers. Some may be very reflective while others may be more prescriptive. I believe that a reflective approach really serves new and experienced teachers well and helps them develop an awareness of how to look at teaching in terms of learning. This, in turn, allows teachers to develop inner criteria about what can help learning, so they have the ability to create and adapt learning-centered lessons in the future.

In terms of actual course content, the SIT course is unique in having a full module devoted to the impact of culture on the classroom. I have found this focus on culture to be very valuable as ESL teachers are constantly encountering cultural differences among students and their own cultures. While most CELTA courses do not have this explicit focus on culture, they may offer specialized workshops based on the expertise of the trainer. For example, you might get a session on technology or business English which could be very valuable. I began my career with an SIT TESOL Certificate. Later, and later got my MA from SIT. Also, I am trained and have run courses for Cambridge (albeit not the CELTA, rather a variation for non-native English speakers called the CELT-P and CELT-S). While I value my experiences with Cambridge courses, I prefer to train on SIT courses for the reasons I have explained. Overall, I do not think you can go wrong with either choice and would encourage you to think about which course seems to be the best fit for you.

Beth Neher, who was formerly the training director for the SIT TESOL Certificate and a former CELTA/DELTA trainer, has written a summary of similarities and differences on the following website:

What about other, cheaper courses?

There are many, many different certificates that are offered either face to face or online. They range a great deal in length and quality, and since there is no governing body stating what a valid certificate is, it can be quite confusing. The generally accepted standard for a quality certificate course includes:
– 120 hours (minimum) of instruction
– 6 hours of practice teaching with real ESL students
– Workshops and feedback done by trainers with at least 5-years experience as teachers and a more advanced degree such as an MA in TESOL.
– Connected to a larger institution that has assessors who come out to do quality control on the course.

Most of the certificates out there do not meet the above standards and as such will be of questionable value (Ex. 20 or 60-hour courses). While it is possible to get a job in many places with no certificate at all or a certificate that does not meet the above criteria, I would strongly recommend that you do find a quality course. Not only will you be able to get a job at a better school (better hours, conditions, curriculum, etc.), you will also have the confidence and skills necessary to deliver quality lessons to paying students.

How many trainees will there be on the course?

SIT/World Learning regulations, and international best practice standards, set a ratio of 6 trainees to 1 trainer. The maximum number is 12 trainees, in which case there would be 2 trainers.

Can I work during the course? Is the course as intensive as people say?

We always tell people during the phone interview that the course is very, very intensive and probably unlike other educational experiences you’ve had. Invariably, at the end of a course someone will say, “Wow, that was a lot!” Of course, we won’t say, “I told you so.” That said, plenty of people do complete the course successfully. I look back on my experience as a participant very fondly. The key for me was not having to attend to any of my regular life responsibilities (like work, socializing, etc.). In short, I would say that yes, the course is super intensive, but if you come with the mindset for it, you can do it. I’d also suggest not planning on doing anything else during that time, so no work, and very little sight-seeing. All the more reason to come early, recover from the jet-lag, and take in some of the sights before the course begins!

What visa should I get to take the course?

All you need to attend the course is a normal tourist visa. There are two options. First, the free visa available on arrival (i.e. you don’t need to do anything at an embassy before traveling) for the citizens of many countries (like the US) entitles you to stay for 30 days. And Thai immigration is strict about this! Each day that you stay over 30 days, there is a fine of 500 baht per day. So the problem with the 30-day visa is that it’s a tight squeeze for the 4-week course, but it can be done. My suggestion is option two: apply for a 60-day tourist visa at a Thai embassy or consulate before you leave home. The fee for this varies from country to country so please check with your local Thai embassy or consulate. When I was in the US, I wasn’t near one, so I used a service and did it all via mail (i.e. I sent them my passport, and paperwork, and they sent it back to me). It took a little extra time, and cost a bit more, but I was happy to have the 60-days when I first got here.

Also, this type of visa can be extended within Thailand for a further 30 days for another fee (currently 1,900 baht). If you want to stay on to work in Thailand, the school employing you will need to provide you with the necessary documentation to apply for a non-immigrant B visa. If you are making the application within 21 days of the expiry date on a 60-day tourist visa, you will not have to leave the country to do this, but in all other situations you will have to make a journey to a Thai embassy or consulate in a neighboring country to apply. This is what I had to do for my current job, so I had a nice, short trip to Vientiane, Laos.

Please note that to get the non-immigrant B visa you will need to have your university degree, your transcripts, your SIT TESOL certificate, and various other paperwork that your employer will help you with.

Finally, whichever visa option you choose, 30-day or 60-day, make sure that your passport has at least six months before it expires, and more than one or two blank pages for the additional stamps/visas it will acquire on your travels.



How much will I need for living costs in Bangkok during the course?

Of course, how much you spend depends very much on your lifestyle. For example, if you only eat Thai food on the street, you could expect to spend 200-300 baht on food in a day. However, if you eat Western food, or in Thai restaurants geared towards tourists, you could expect to spend 3 or 4 times that (which is still pretty cheap). As for me, I eat lunch in the food court in the basement of our building, and pay 70—80 baht for shrimp fried rice, or pad Thai. Sometimes for breakfast I’ll buy a latte (40 baht), pastry/bread (30-40 baht), and cup of fresh cut fruit (30 baht) from a kiosk on the ground floor. Alternatively, you could also go to the Starbucks on the ground floor and spend 2 or 3 times that.

Public transport in Bangkok is relatively cheap. The highest fare you might need to pay on the BTS Skytrain or MRT is 52 baht. I have the “Rabbit” card (100 baht fee), which is convenient because you can either add money to it and pay for each ride or get a monthly pass. I get the monthly pass with 25 rides for 725 baht. The system here charges based on how far you travel, so shorter trips are less expensive. Alternatively, you can buy one-way tickets for each ride (save the 100 baht fee), but sometimes there are lines to get these tickets, so the Rabbit card is less hassle.

Taxis are fairly cheap. For example, my friend and I took a 15-minute cab ride to Siam (a main shopping area) from my apartment, and the cost would have been basically the same if both of us had taken the train (75 baht). However, the main issue is traffic. During busy times (which is often), it’s much faster to walk and/or take the train. Our trip to Siam was on a Sunday morning, when traffic is light. Many people do walk in Bangkok. However, some find it challenging. Sidewalks can be narrow, or at times non-existent. Cars and motor-scooters do not respect traffic laws or crosswalks in the same way that they do in the US. I’ve kind of gotten used to it, so I don’t mind walking.

The public bus system can be slow and difficult to negotiate but a fare even from one side of the city to the other will not exceed 20 baht. At my old job, I would take a 10-minute bus ride home for 8 baht.

Should I bring my laptop?

There is a lot of writing to do on the course, including lesson plans and written reflections. In addition, there are articles to read, which are available as PDFs on the course website. Therefore, it is a good idea to bring one. The school has free Wifi, so Internet access is not an issue. If needed, there are computers available at the school for those who do not wish to bring a laptop.

Typical Day
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How is practice teaching (PT) organized?

PT is a two-hour block and takes place every day, except for the first two days of course. If there are 6 participants on the course, you can expect to teach twice a week, more or less. When you are not teaching, you will observe your peers teach, and participate in the PT feedback after the lessons. Your initial interactions with the PT students will be short activities that are led by the trainer. Later, you will give 50-minute lessons on your own.

There is a considerable amount of lesson planning guidance from the trainers in the early stages of the course. As the course progresses however, the formal support decreases, since you are expected to be able to plan independently by the end of the course. Trainers will still make themselves available to answer questions and give advice, even at the later stages.

The students you teach are fully aware that they are being taught by teachers-in-training. Most of the students will be Thai but we also have some others from the Asian region. The minimum age of the students is 16 and most are in their twenties. Class sizes will generally be around 12, and will not exceed 15.

What is PT feedback?

PT feedback is conducted immediately after the PT lessons. This is an integral part of the experiential learning cycle that is a hallmark of SIT/World Learning. Generally, the teacher who taught the lesson will speak first. Classmates will speak next, and the trainer will speak last.

In contrast to some other common approaches to feedback, we do not try to identify what we think the teacher did well, or did poorly, rather we focus on student learning and student participation. For instance, how did those instructions help and/or hinder students’ participation? How did that diagram on the board help and/or hinder students’ learning? In short, we do not advocate for one “right” way to teach, but rather explore evidence of student behavior, which leads to each participant forming their own personal theories of teaching practice. That said, I am more than willing to tell you when I think something works well and doesn’t work well. However, our goal is to help you develop your own ideas.

Are there grades? What are the course requirements?

Our course is pass/fail. The course competencies are divided into three main areas: planning, teaching, and reflecting. In order to pass you must meet the following five requirements:

  • attend all course sessions (in the event of an illness or emergency, there is an opportunity to make up no more than two full days)
  • participate actively and respectfully in all aspects of the course
  • successfully complete all assignments
  • plan and teach all scheduled lessons
  • demonstrate oral and written mastery of the English language

Assuming I pass, what will I actually receive?

On the last day of the course, you will receive the official SIT TESOL certificate. In addition, you will receive a letter that summarizes what was covered on the course, as well as a personalized description of your strengths, which can be used as a reference letter for a job application.

What sort of help do you provide for trainees looking for work?

The course includes a job panel session on how to find work after the course and how you can go on to develop your career. I have taught in a number of countries and settings and can provide valuable advice on what to look out for and what to be aware of. In addition, our job panel includes fellow teachers and/or recruiters who can offer suggestions, advice, and possible opportunities for employment.

What are my chances of finding a job after completing the SIT TESOL Certificate?

Excellent! In Thailand and most other areas of Asia, trained English teachers are needed. The fact that you will have an internationally recognized TESOL certificate will ensure that you will have many jobs to choose from.

Is there a dress code at AUA?

AUA Chamchuri is a busy, working language school. You will see students and teachers coming and going throughout the day. There is a Thai language program with students from Western and other Asian countries. Shorts, flip-flops, and tee-shirts are common. The majority of students are young adults who come to study English, and they wear their school uniforms, or the clothes they wear at work: business casual to business formal.

Casual attire is acceptable during workshop sessions. However, when you will be teaching, you must wear more formal attire. Men will need a collared shirt, long trousers and dress shoes. A necktie is not necessary, but I would bring one along because some of the jobs you might find here do require one. However, teachers at AUA generally do not wear ties. Women need to wear shirt tops that cover their shoulders, knee-length skirts or trousers. Sandals for women are acceptable.

This “formal” dress code is similar to what you will encounter once you begin teaching at most schools in the region.

Finally, it is usually quite hot and humid in Thailand, so I tend to wear shorts, tee-shirt, and sandals on my way to work, then I change when I get here. However, please be aware that the classrooms here tend to be chilly. Unfortunately, we do not have control over the AC. Many of us bring sweaters and jackets to keep warm inside during the day.

What documents do I need for finding employment after the course?

It’s a good idea to bring your college degree and transcript. I would suggest taking photos of these, just so you have backups somewhere, like Dropbox. While you’re at it, it’s also a good idea to have a photo of your passport, and not just on your phone, because well, you know, if you lose your bag with your passport and your phone, it’s a real pain.

You will also need your original TESOL certificate, which you will receive from us upon successful completion of the course.

Any questions unanswered?
Email us at [email protected]