TEFL vs TESOL vs TESL, who wins the battle of the English teacher training certifications and what are the key differences between them?
TEFL vs TESOL vs TESL
They all qualify you to teach English, but in order to choose the right course and get the best TEFL certification for you it is important to understand their differences and determine which is most suited to your English teaching goals. Here’s what you need to know:
|Definition||TEFL is Teaching English as a Foreign Language.||TESL is Teaching English as a Second Language.||TESOL is Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.|
|Who is it for?||A TEFL course is for people who wish to teach English to speakers of foreign languages abroad, where English is not the native language.||A TESL course is for people who wish to teach English to speakers of foreign languages in countries where English is the native language.||A TESOL course is for people who wish to teach English both in English speaking countries and non-English speaking countries to speakers of other languages.|
|Where can you teach with it?||Anywhere where English is not the native language. This could be in Asia, South America, Europe, Africa or online.||In English speaking countries to speakers of foreign languages. This could be in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia etc.||In English speaking countries, abroad or online. TEFL and TESOL can largely be used interchangeably and you’ll often see TEFL course providers offering a TEFL/TESOL course.|
Which TEFL course should you take?
So, who comes out on top in the TEFL vs TESOL vs TESL debate? Firstly, it is worth noting that the word ‘TEFL courses’ can be used as an overarching phrase to describe all of the above course types. Furthermore, if you look at the course content of each qualification you will find that they largely overlaps with each other.
Of the three qualifications, TEFL is the most widely recognized. Once you obtain your TEFL certificate you’ll be able to teach English at home, abroad or online. However, it is targeted more at those who wish to travel and teach English abroad or online.
TESL is the most specific in scope in terms of who it trains you to teach. People who live in English speaking countries and intend to stay and teach English there should consider TESL.
TESOL falls neatly somewhere between the offerings of TEFL and TESL, though a TESOL course can almost be identical to a TEFL course. Some course providers even use the names interchangeably!
Overall, TEFL, TESOL and TESL share a lot of similarities and can all provide you with a great starting point for your TEFL journey. However, you should be aware that there are different TEFL levels when it comes to TEFL courses, so make sure you do your research and choose the best TEFL course for you. At the end of the day, they will all help you secure your first TEFL job.
Finally, before deciding upon your qualification, you should always check the requirements of your potential employer or the country you wish to work in. There can be a number of requirements for teaching English abroad so make sure you can fulfil these.
What about CELTA and DELTA?
There are also other more intensive and advanced qualifications available such as the CELTA and DELTA respectively. You can read more about the differences between TEFL, TESL, TESOL, CELTA and DELTA here.