What is a TEFL course and who is it for?

A TEFL course prepares people of all English teaching experience levels to teach English to non-native speakers abroad. For people starting out in this field of English teaching it is the most common entry level course, though there are also more advanced courses for those already with teaching experience or looking to study further.

What does TEFL mean?

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language and refers to English language teaching and learning that takes place in a country that does not count English as its native language.

Are there any entry requirements to do a TEFL course?

You’ll be expected to have a good level of English in order to successfully pass a TEFL course and demonstrate that you understand the key teaching concepts within it. However, unlike the CELTA course there are no specific, defined entry requirements and these will vary from course provider to course provider.

How can you study for a TEFL course?

You can do a TEFL course either online or in the classroom, or do a combination of both (often referred to as a hybrid TEFL course). Classroom TEFL courses are much more likely to contain teaching practice, so if this is something that you’d like this may be the way to go. In contrast, online TEFL courses generally offer a greater amount of flexibility and allow you to complete it more at your own pace, so this will be more suitable for some.

In terms of time required, if you are doing a classroom TEFL course you can expect to have to dedicate up to 4 weeks to complete an intensive program. If you’ve opted for an online TEFL course you’ll often be able to complete it in your own time, although there may still be deadlines for assignments and completion depending upon the format of our chosen course.

Where can I take a TEFL course?

TEFL courses can be taken in many countries all over the world or online, so it’s really up to you where you take your TEFL course. Just make sure you do your research and find a TEFL course that fits your needs and comes from a reputable course provider.

What content is covered in a typical TEFL course?

Good TEFL courses train you in the core concepts of English teaching to non-native speakers and typically should cover the following content:

Lesson planning

Plan lessons for a range of ages, English levels, student types and abilities. Some students will be learning English to pass exams whereas others will be studying English for their jobs.

Teaching methodologies and techniques

Learn the techniques required to deliver grammar and vocabulary lessons, and focus on the four key skill areas of reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Lesson content and learning activities

Identify appropriate teaching resources and content suitable for the lesson type and student English level, and develop the right learning activities to teach the target language.

Classroom management

Understand how to structure a lesson to get the most out of your students and keep them engaged, including how to manage a class and student behaviour.

How long is a TEFL course?

The typical duration of a TEFL course can be anywhere between 120 – 160 hours. You can also take shorter courses that are more specialised, but generally when starting out you want a course that gives you a good, broad overview of TEFL as a whole so a longer course is recommended.

Additionally, you may see TEFL taster courses being offered by course providers and TEFL trainers. These can also be referred to as foundation or introduction courses and can last anywhere between 10 – 60 hours and done either online or in the classroom. They cover the basics of TEFL, but are generally more to see if TEFL is for you before taking the plunge on a longer, more comprehensive course. When it comes to getting a job, although they may give you some experience which will be enough for volunteering or for in certain countries where employer requirements are lower, you’ll find you’re more likely to need to do the full-length course to get a job with a good employer in your desired location.

What do you get at the end of a TEFL course?

Upon completion of a TEFL course you’ll be awarded a TEFL certificate. This is proof that you have successfully completed the course and passed any associated tests, and that you’re now ready to go out and apply what you’ve been taught in the classroom. For many employers, showing that you are TEFL certified is often one of the minimum requirements for you to get a job teaching English abroad, so a TEFL certificate is a must have for many budding English teachers and almost acts like a passport into English teaching.

It is worth noting that some TEFL certificates will come with an accreditation from a recognised language learning body or institution, and it is worth looking out for these as they may also form part of employer requirements when it comes to applying for a job. However, it doesn’t always mean they are better than other TEFL certificates, and in some countries the fact that you are a native English speaker will be enough to get you the job.

Should you do a TEFL course?

We’ve established that it can be possible to get an English teaching job without doing a TEFL course, but it is likely that this will either be in a volunteer role or a low paid role in a less desirable location. Of course, you need to do what is right for you, so if that is what you’re looking for then that is fine. However, just ask yourself this, would you be ready to stand up in front of a class of students and try and teach English without any preparation? If you don’t have the knowledge on how to deliver a lesson or what content to include in it, it won’t make for a comfortable experience for you or for your students, and their English learning will suffer as result. Even if you are already trained as a teacher in another field a TEFL course is still worthwhile, because it will train you to teach English to non-native speakers and cover the best techniques and methods for doing so. This will give you the best shot at getting a job you want in your dream location, which for many will form one of their key reasons for doing a TEFL course as it gives them the opportunity to travel and teach.