Dreaming about a new life abroad and ready to get TEFL certified? Or perhaps you’re just wondering what a TEFL certification even is. Either way, you’re in the right place! Read on to learn all about TEFL certifications and see how getting TEFL certified can open the door to English teaching jobs online, at home and abroad.
So, you’re interested in learning more about TEFL certifications and wondering which one is right for you? Hopefully by the end of this guide you’ll have a much better idea. Let’s get started!
What is TEFL?
TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. In other words, it is teaching English to non-native English speakers. You may also see this referred to as TESOL, which stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, or TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language). However, these three acronyms should not be confused!
TEFL vs TESOL vs TESL
TEFL refers to teaching English in a country where English is not the native language.
TESOL is a broader term that covers teaching English in both native English speaking countries and non-native English speaking countries.
TESL is the teaching of English to non-native speakers in native English speaking countries. Think the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Ireland. You can learn more about TEFL vs TESOL vs TESL here.
When it comes to TEFL courses you’ll often see the three terms of TEFL, TESL and TESOL used interchangeably. This is because certain TEFL course providers offer a TEFL certification course that awards you your choice of TEFL or TESOL certificate upon completion, even though the course contains identical content under both certification courses.
By definition the course content should be different for each qualification, but this isn’t always the case. It is important to be aware of this so that you don’t get caught out. Dual award TESOL/TEFL programs can be fine, especially if they offer additional, unique modules. However, some of them can also represent options more at the budget end of the scale around the $60 – $100 mark. It’s really up to you to decide what represents value for you.
We’d advise that if you go for a TESOL course, you should choose one that offers some additional, unique modules when compared to a TEFL course. These should ideally help you learn how to teach English as a second language in addition to teaching English as a foreign language. That way, you’ll be getting something different with a TESOL certification.
Nevertheless, in many cases it won’t matter if you have a TEFL certification or TESOL certification when first looking for TEFL jobs online. So, it can just be a case of what TEFL certificate you prefer when starting out there.
However, if you are interested in teaching English abroad you should always do your research. Different countries can have different rules and regulations for getting work. For example, language schools in certain countries can have very specific qualification requirements for their advertised teaching job. This could relate to the type of TEFL certification you hold or include specific modules covered within the TEFL course. For this reason, you should choose your TEFL certification program carefully if you want to keep your options open.
After all, different TEFL certification programs can cover different content and offer alternative types of TEFL training. With that in mind, and now you know what TEFL is, let’s get into TEFL certifications in more detail.
What is TEFL certification?
A TEFL certification is a globally recognized qualification that certifies you to teach English to non-native English speakers around the world. It is usually required by English language schools hiring for teaching English abroad and teaching English online.
In short, you’ll need a TEFL certification if you want to get into English language teaching and have a chance of securing good TEFL jobs. It really is your ticket to the world!
The good news is that by doing a TEFL certification course, you learn how to teach the four key English language skills. These are reading, writing, speaking and listening. This is all done whilst brushing up on your understanding of grammar and learning how to plan lessons and manage classrooms.
So, if you want to become a professional English teacher, and teach English as a foreign language effectively, completing a TEFL certification is a good idea. It will also help you stand out in job applications, get better teaching jobs from more reputable schools and enable you to earn a higher salary. That doesn’t sound bad to me!
Once you have completed your TEFL certification you will obtain your TEFL certificate. You may also hear this referred to as a certificate in TEFL.
What is a certificate in TEFL?
A certificate in TEFL is what is awarded to you upon successful completion of a TEFL certification course. It is an internationally recognized certification, and signifies that you are qualified to teach English as a foreign language. It can also be called a TEFL certificate or TEFL certification.
You’ll usually be required to show evidence of your TEFL certificate to language schools, language institutes and online English teaching companies during the hiring process. It demonstrates that you’ve received TEFL training, successfully passed the TEFL course and are qualified to conduct TEFL classes.
The importance of a certificate in TEFL therefore lies in the fact that it shows that you’re ready for EFL teaching (English as a foreign language teaching).
By holding a TEFL certificate, employers know that you have a received a degree of professional level training. After all, private language schools and online teaching companies have paying students to consider. They don’t want to hire English teachers who are ill-prepared.
Generally, reputable language schools will only consider TEFL certified English teachers. It is therefore in your interest to get TEFL certified. Once you do you’ll be ready to teach English abroad and online.
How does TEFL certification work?
TEFL certification works by preparing you to teach English abroad and/or online to non-native English speakers. Through a TEFL certification program, or TEFL course, you will learn how to teach the four key English language skills. These are reading, writing, speaking and listening. You will also cover grammar, lesson planning and classroom management. After you pass the course you will be awarded a TEFL certificate. Once you reach this stage, you’ll be ready to get out there and start teaching some lucky non-native speakers.
TEFL certification programs are offered by a number of different TEFL course providers. It is their responsibility to provide professional level training that meets certain industry standards. With this in mind, you should ideally be looking for a TEFL course that:
- Is at least 100 hours in length, ideally 120 hours when including teaching practice.
- Is delivered by an accredited TEFL course provider.
- Offers support from a qualified TEFL instructor.
- Contains some element of teaching practice (6 – 20 hours).
It is worth noting that teaching practice is desirable rather than essential, and not all TEFL programs will offer it. This is especially true of some online TEFL courses. However, this doesn’t mean that you should rule out online TEFL courses. They can be just as effective as in person TEFL courses. In fact, there are an increasing amount of online TEFL certification programs that now come with some form of teaching practice included. This applies to a number of the best online TEFL courses.
Furthermore, not all language schools will request prior English teaching experience. This means that they’ll be willing for you to practice teaching on the job.
Why should you do a TEFL certification?
- You need it to teach English abroad and online.
- You’ll learn the skills required for teaching English and managing TEFL classes.
- TEFL certified English teachers are more in demand for jobs teaching English abroad.
- You’ll earn a higher salary as an English teacher around the world.
- It’s a great way to start a new career or embark on an exciting adventure!
- There are thought to be 2 billion English language learners in the world, that’s a lot of opportunity.
Now that we’ve established how TEFL certification works and why you should do a TEFL certification, let’s take a look at some of the TEFL certification courses that are available to you.
TEFL certification options
When it comes to getting TEFL certified there are a number of options you could pursue. You could do an online TEFL course and get TEFL certified online. You could do an in person TEFL course and do for your TEFL certification course in the classroom. Or you could do a hybrid TEFL course and do a combination of both.
However, before you think about that, you need to know about the different types of TEFL certification that are available. Depending upon where in the world you want to teach English, one TEFL certification may be better than another.
So without further ado, here are the different types of TEFL certification programs you could be looking at:
The TEFL certification (Teaching English as a Foreign Language certification) is arguably the most well known TEFL qualification and is globally recognized for teaching English abroad. So, if you want to teach English as a foreign language, it’s a great starting point.
This is highlighted when you look at the international TEFL job market. Most English language schools and language institutes ask for a TEFL certificate. This essentially makes doing a TEFL course a prerequisite if you want to teach English abroad.
Doing a TEFL course will serve you equally well if you wish to teach English online. The majority of companies that offer online English teaching jobs also require you to be TEFL certified. Fortunately, you can study for a TEFL certification online or in class anywhere in the world.
TEFL certification courses come in a wide range of prices. This depends upon the type of TEFL training provided, the course contents and the course’s TEFL level.
Don’t worry if you’re short on cash. Acquiring your TEFL certificate doesn’t have to break the bank and there are plenty of cheaper options available. This allows you to see if you’re suited to an English teaching job without having to blow your budget. TEFL courses can therefore be perfect if you want to get into teaching abroad without investing huge sums of money.
Should I do a TEFL course?
A TEFL course is for you if you want to teach English as a foreign language abroad. You’ll be trained to teach English language learners all around the world and learn how to effectively manage a classroom. It is also a great qualification if you want to get into teaching English online.
Anyone over the age of 18 can do a TEFL course. So, if you’re a college graduate looking to teach abroad, a new teacher looking to get TEFL certified, or if you’re just after a career change, TEFL could be ideal for you.
Obtaining a TEFL certification will provide you with a great foundation for the start of your English teaching journey. Upon successful completion of a TEFL course you’ll receive your TEFL certificate and will be ready to explore the world!
Takeaway: TEFL is the most well-known of the TEFL certification options and is a great entry level qualification. If you want to get a job teaching English abroad or start teaching English online, TEFL is ideal.
A TESOL certification is perfect if you’re thinking about teaching English to non-native speakers in your home country as well as teaching English abroad. In other words, it’s great for keeping your options open!
So, if you’re interested in English language teaching both at home and abroad, or just undecided on where you want to teach, this could be the right TEFL certification course for you.
The content of a TESOL course is often very similar to that of a TEFL course. There is a lot of crossover between them and many of the course modules are the same. Consequently, some course providers will offer you the choice of a TEFL certificate or TESOL certificate upon completion of the same, identical TEFL course.
TESOL is a newer certification than TEFL, but it’s not unusual to see it being offered as a bachelor’s degree or Master’s in TESOL. This reflects its slightly more intensive nature when compared to a TEFL course. However, you can still get your TESOL certificate without having to do a degree so don’t worry!
Takeaway: Ideal for hedging your bets, a TESOL certification will prepare you for teaching English abroad, teaching English online and teaching English in your home country.
A TESL certification is for you if you’re looking to teach English to non-native English speakers living in native-English speaking countries. This means teaching English to ESL students (English as a second language students) in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Ireland.
TESL courses are similar to TEFL courses, but with more of a focus on the needs of ESL students. ESL teaching can be slightly different to EFL teaching so it is important to have that focus. Nonetheless, the similarities between the two mean that you still might be able to go after teaching jobs abroad even if you have done a TESL course. However, if a teaching job abroad is what you’re really after then you should be looking at TEFL courses.
Takeaway: If you’re looking to teach English in a native English speaking country, then you should look no further than a TESL course.
CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is an advanced TEFL certification course accredited by none other than Cambridge University! It has a great reputation around the world, and is almost like a branded version of a TESOL course.
CELTA courses are for people with little or no English teaching experience. They are ideal if you’re serious about getting into English teaching and want to receive some of the best TEFL training. This is reflected in the price, but it’s worth it.
In order to take a CELTA course you need to be over 18 years of age. It is usually run over an intensive 4 week period. You’ll receive professional level training and upon obtaining your certification you will stand out amongst other English teachers abroad. People with CELTA are some of the most sought after TEFL graduates. This means that you’ll also be able to teach English online with no problem too.
Anybody you speak to who has taken CELTA will always remember their training course. It’s hard work but highly rewarding, and it can be a great way to start building your teaching network. This is always handy, as many CELTA graduates will go on to build careers in English language teaching.
Takeaway: CELTA is a great bet if you’re looking for an advanced TEFL program that will help you become a professional English teacher.
Following so far? Don’t worry if this is a lot to take in, we’re here to help!
How to choose the right TEFL certification course for you
Now that you’re aware of the different types of TEFL certification available, it’s time to think about which TEFL certification is right for you. This will help you firm up your goals and decide which TEFL courses to look at.
Things to consider:
Do you want to teach English online, abroad or in your home country?
Teach English online
If you wish to teach English online, obtaining your TEFL certification online is the quickest, most cost effective way to go. This could be achieved through doing either a TEFL or TESOL course.
Much like teaching online, an online TEFL course can be done from anywhere in the world. This includes from the comfort of your own home or whilst you are travelling and teaching abroad!
Just keep in mind that they can vary greatly in price. This will depend upon a number of factors including; the level of the TEFL course and overall quality of the TEFL program, the instruction offered, if there is teaching practice included and the reputation of the course provider.
There are hundreds of online TEFL courses to choose from, so it’s up to you to pick the right TEFL certification for you.
One of the best value online TEFL courses on offer at the minute is the TEFL level 5 220 hour master package from ITTT. It includes an additional Business English module as well as a module for TEYL (Teaching English to Young Learners). You’ll even get an additional 10% off by going through our link!
Teach English abroad
If you want to teach English abroad then you should be looking at TEFL courses. Simply put, TEFL courses train you how to teach English as a foreign language. You can choose to do either an in-class TEFL course or an online TEFL course.
In-class TEFL courses abroad will give you a slight edge for teaching English abroad. You’ll build a readymade network and may get a TEFL job off the back of doing your course there.
Teach English in your home country
Finally, if you’re happy to teach English at home, and home is a native English speaking country, a TESL course will be the one for you.
Do you want to obtain your TEFL certification online or abroad?
TEFL certification online
Online TEFL courses are cheaper and offer a higher degree of flexibility when compared to their in class counterparts abroad. You can usually complete them in your own time and they can be done from anywhere in the world. This means if you want to start teaching online ASAP you can get one in a hurry if you need to!
Studying for an online TEFL certification can also be done around your existing job or personal activities. So, if you’re on a budget and want some flexibility, online TEFL courses are the way to go.
TEFL certification abroad
On the other hand, if you’re after a memorable experience it’s hard to beat studying abroad. By obtaining your TEFL certificate overseas, not only will you get to experience a new country, you’re also more likely to get that all important teaching practice in.
This, combined with the fact that you would already be developing your teaching network abroad, should help you have an easier time of it when it comes to finding a job teaching English abroad.
If you want to obtain your TEFL certificate abroad, you should be looking at TEFL courses or CELTA courses.
Is it an accredited TEFL certification?
An accredited TEFL certification is one that has been independently evaluated by an external body to ensure that it meets certain educational standards. This means that it should be a TEFL training course that delivers professional, high quality training. Needless to say, if you want to get value for money and land a teaching job at the end of your course, you should look for one that is TEFL accredited. Click here to learn more about why taking an accredited TEFL certification is important.
What are the requirements of the language schools you are looking at?
Heard that famous phrase failing to plan is planning to fail? Well, ideally before you decide upon your TEFL certification you should research the requirements of language schools in your desired location. That way you can find out what TEFL courses you should be looking at.
If you want a job teaching English abroad, some countries and/or language schools will have stricter requirements than others. For example, some schools might require you to have an accredited TEFL certification. Whilst others may ask for a specific TEFL course in order to become an English teacher with them.
If You’re interested in teaching online, doing your TEFL certification online should be sufficient for most online English teaching companies. You can check out the requirements of some of the main online English teaching jobs here.
You might also want to take into the account the price of the TEFL certification…
How much does a TEFL certification cost?
The cost of a TEFL certification can be anywhere between $60 – $2,500. It’s therefore worthwhile having a budget in mind before you begin your search. The reason for such a vast discrepancy in price is that there are so many TEFL courses out there from so many different TEFL course providers. Furthermore, there is usually a big price difference between online TEFL courses and in-class TEFL courses. Read on to find out much obtaining a TEFL certification online and in-class abroad could set you back.
Online TEFL courses cost
At the lower end of the price range you’ll find the online courses. You could expect to pay anywhere between $60 – $1,500 for an online TEFL course. The price will depend upon a number of factors such as the level of the TEFL course, the quality of the course content and instruction provided, and the reputation of the course provider.
The reason why online courses can charge lower prices is because they have a lot less overheads than in-class courses. This incudes not having to pay for classroom space or teaching materials. Quite frequently, TEFL online courses won’t include a tutor either.
However, don’t let this put you off! In recent years we have seen a significant increase in the quality of what online courses offer. There are now some great online TEFL courses out there and some of them even include a qualified TEFL tutor!
If you are thinking of doing your TEFL certification online, you just need to be aware that you get what you pay for.
For those on a very low budget you can check out the cheapest online TEFL certifications here. These courses should be fine if you just want to teach English online with certain companies, but they won’t necessarily make you stand out from the crowd.
So, if you want to teach English abroad whilst still trying to save on your course you should check out these cheap online TEFL courses instead.
Finally, if you’re willing to pay out for the best online TEFL courses available you could be looking to pay anything up to $1,500. For this money you should get a very high quality course with great support. Needless to say, you will feel the benefits of this when it comes to applying for jobs and teaching TEFL classes. Both employers and students alike will recognize this.
Currently, two of the highest rated online courses in this bracket are:
- 170-Hour Online TEFL Certification Course from the International TEFL Academy
- The TEFLPros Plus 120 Hour Digital TEFL Course
In-class TEFL courses cost
In-class TEFL courses can be broken down into TEFL courses taken in your home country and TEFL courses abroad. Depending upon where you live, both could cost up to $2,500 once you take all expenses into account. However, you can find TEFL courses abroad for as low as $1,000.
Doing a paid TEFL internship can also help lower the cost. Plus you’ll begin working and start getting paid right after obtaining your TEFL certification.
Note: Don’t forget that if you’re doing an in-class TEFL course at home you’ll have to account for travel and food expenses. Whilst if you’re doing your TEFL course abroad you’ll need to factor in travel (flights), food and accommodation. Find out more about the factors that can affect TEFL certification cost here.
Still need help deciding upon your TEFL certification? Take our quiz to find out which TEFL course you should take.
TEFL Certification FAQs
Yes, you can get a valid TEFL certification online. You just need to make sure it is TEFL accredited and meets industry standards. In other words, if you want to get TEFL certified online, you should look for a course that is at least 120 hours long and ideally contains teaching practice. This is because employers can often request some form of teaching experience. If this is the case and your TEFL course doesn’t come with teaching practice, you’ll have to get creative! Offering a few free lessons to students or doing some volunteer teaching could be one way to resolve this and hone your English language instruction.
Yes, without a doubt! A valid TEFL certification will qualify you to teach English online and teach English abroad. Once you’re TEFL certified you should be able to get a job teaching English online in no time!
You don’t need a TEFL certification to teach in every country in the world, but most will require you to have one. Finding a job will be a lot easier if you are TEFL certified, and you’ll have a much better chance of landing decent teaching positions. You’ll also be prepared to teach your students when it comes to actually starting your TEFL classes!
Yes, you do. Although there are some exceptions in countries where English is in very high demand and there is a lack of English teachers available. However, this is rare. Also, just because people are fluent English speakers it doesn’t mean that they’ll make good English teachers. If you want to teach English effectively, you owe it to yourself and your students to get TEFL certified.
It can take anywhere between 4 weeks to 6 months to get a fully accredited TEFL certification. If you want to get one in 4 weeks you’ll typically be looking at a full-time, intensive 4 week course where you are studying between 30-40 hours a week. This can be quite demanding and usually applies to in-class TEFL courses. If you prefer to go at your own pace you’re usually given up to 6 months to complete your TEFL certification online. However, you could equally complete it within 4 weeks or even earlier if you wished to do so!
A TEFL certification course can cost anywhere between $60 all the way up to $2,500. Online courses are usually cheaper whilst in-class TEFL courses are more expensive.