Dear Gregor Dunn,
"Accreditation" means that a recognised professional body has given
you a seal of approvement, stating that your school maintains certain
standards and has met specific requirements. There is a problem,
however, with the accreditation of international TEFL schools.
Accreditation is important because of:
- Your students' job prospects once they graduate (in other words:
marketing the school to prospective students);
- In some countries it has impact on the chances of foreign students
to get a student's visa to study at your school, etc.
There is no central accreditation body used by all schools and in many
cases, this is an open field. The only body remotely close to such
definition is the British Council (as already mentioned by
Moreover, a school located in China cannot usually seek accreditation
offered, for example, to schools located in the US.
However, there are two widely accepted certification systems for
Teachers of English as a Second/Foreign Language:
- Cambridge System (CELTA, DELTA).
- Trinity College system
A third programme, an American one, is offered by SIT (School for
While these are not "accreditations" per se, there are perhaps more
improtant. As these two are the most well known certificates
worldwide, and as a student/customer, I would have looked, first of
all, for a school that offers these certificates.
In addition, and in relevance to the loaction of the school, I'd say
that a school in China should be, first and foremost, accredited by
the Chinese authorities. The American accreditation authorities won't
(and cannot) inspect your school: American accreditation is for
schools in the US.
Check your status with the Chinese authorities here:
Chinese Ministry of Education
Except for that, there are several other systems of accreditation, as
mentioned by answerfinder-ga. You can read a bit of critique on these
other accreditation programmes here:
TESL Accrediting Bodies - No! / Free ESL Blogs
To become a Cambridge Exam Centre:
Applying to become a centre - Overview
"Institutions applying to run courses need to have been operating as a
language centre for at least two years and must have local
To become a SIT training programme:
Become an SIT Trainer: Information for Prospective Trainers
College of Teachers Accreditation
American (US) Accreditation Organisations
<http://www.language-programs.net/usa/accreditation.htm> - they are
working only with US schools, but might be able to help you.
I have also checked what is the accreditation of other TEFL schools in
China, claiming to be "accredited":
is accredited by:
The TEFL Board
The International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language
Truth to be told, I don't see that the IATEFL grants accreditation,
and the TEFL Board accreditation is not widely recognised.
claism accreditation from ACCET - but ACCET <http://www.accet.org/>
states that it grants accreditation only to schools in the US, not to
the Chinese branch. It is approved as a Cambridge centre, though.
<http://www.englishfirst.com/> is accredited by Trinity.
American TESOL Institue
claims accreditation from the American Association For International
English Proficiency. <http://www.aaiep.us/> This organisation, too, is
not widely recognised.
I hope this answers your question. Please contact me if you need any
clarification on this answer before you rate it. My search terms:
aaiep, IATQuO, "tesol * is accredited" , "our tesol center is
accredited" , trinity tesol accreditation, trinity tefl, "accredited
by the chinese" tesol, "accredited by the chinese" tesl, "accredited
by the chinese" tefl, "accredited language school" china, Association
of British Language Schools, School for International Training, SIT,
BRITISH ASSOCIATION OF TESOL QUALIFYING INSTITUTIONS, Accreditation
Council for TESOL Distance Education Courses, +china accreditation
"language schools" , china accreditation "language schools" , trinity
accreditation, celta accreditation, "accreditation" tefl school, celta