Decide to Teach English Abroad – Step 3 – Get TEFL/TESOL Certified
Get TEFL/TESOL certified, what does it mean anyway?
Step 3 of the series is all about how to get TEFL/TESOL certified. This can be a confusing subject because there are a lot of different courses and certifications advertised. I want to break it down for you so you understand the different terminology and what makes a legitimate TEFL/TESOL course. As I mentioned in the last post (Decide to teach abroad – Step 2 – Find a TEFL job) every job has different qualifications and requirements, so it’s important to have a look at the different jobs available and see what the requirements are. Once you have done that you can now focus on how to get TEFL/TESOL certified.
A quick note before we start…some jobs may not require an English language certification. However, I would strongly advise doing one for a few main reasons (especially if you don’t have any previous teaching experience).
- If you want to teach and travel in different countries getting a certification beforehand will give you more job options in the future.
- You will have more knowledge, experience, and confidence teaching English before even entering a classroom which will set you up better in your new job.
- It positions you in a more professional way to potential businesses and will often time help you earn more money!
Okay, now that I have gotten that out of the way, let’s get started with the TEFL/TESOL certification breakdown.
TEFL vs. TESL VS. TESOL
You will see a lot of certification courses offered using the acronym TESOL, TEFL or TESOL/TEFL or TESL. The biggest difference between TEFL, TESL, and TESOL is their meanings. TEFL refers to Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL – in a non-English speaking country) and TESL refers to Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL – to language learners in an English speaking country). The reason most websites advertise their courses as TEFL courses is that they are sending their students abroad to foreign language countries (hence using TEFL). TESOL has been included in the mix, referring to Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. This acronym is meant to cover both TEFL and TESL. This is why TESOL and TEFL are used interchangeably to name English Language certification courses. To get your TEFL/TESOL certification to teach abroad both TEFL and TESOL named courses will be recognized overseas.
There are also accredited courses that offer intensive TESOL/TESL training in English speaking countries. These kinds of courses will differ based on the country. For example in Canada, there is an 8-month college level TESOL course which allows TESOL teachers to teach in Canada at Colleges and in higher level ESL jobs. For this post, we will focus specifically on courses for teaching English abroad.
The CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) course is a Cambridge TEFL Course offered part-time, full-time and online with a practical component. It is well-known and recognized worldwide with over 300 centres all over the world. To make sure that you can find a legitimate course in your area they have a search function on their website to find the closest centre to you. For the online component, you will receive training online and will have to travel to the centre for lesson planning and practical lessons. This is a great option if you are looking for a legitimate course that you can build you teaching career on. I took this course myself (the in-class option) and found it very helpful and very intense! It is also important to note that if you want to teach English in Europe or Britain a CELTA is a requirement.
For more information go to the CELTA Website
So what differentiates CELTA from other TEFL/TESOL courses?
The main difference is that CELTA is a specific brand of TEFL training courses offered by Cambridge. Also, they don’t offer job placement assistance. Most recruitment websites offer a generic TEFL course and job placement. CELTA is a stand-alone course so once you complete the course you find your own job.
General TEFL/TESOL courses are offered by a number of different companies and have to follow specific standards and requirements in order to be an accredited and legitimate TEFL course. So what this means is that the company creates the course based on the standards of the accredited bodies.The most important thing when deciding on a TEFL course is to take one that meets the set standards of an accredited body and is recognized internationally. Click To Tweet
So let’s break down what to look for in an accredited course:
- At least 100 hours of coursework
- At least 6 hours of practical teaching experience
- The course is taught by an instructor with a Masters Level teaching degree in English Language teaching (MA TESOL) or a DELTA (the equivalent of an MA TESOL through Cambridge)
- The course has been accredited by a proper external accreditation body such as TQUK, Accet, IATQUO.
It is also important to note that most TEFL/TESOL courses offered by Universities will be accredited.
I would be wary of cheaper courses that don’t meet these standards! Of course you don’t want to overpay for your course, however, remember that this is an investment in your future job. It will help you feel comfortable and confident as a teacher and help to get you set up in your new place.
It is important to note that both TEFL (including CELTA) and TESOL courses will be recognized as proper certifications for teaching English abroad.
To help make your search for courses easier I have compiled a list of TEFL courses that are accredited, legitimate and offer a lot of different options for you as far as jobs, types of certifications and job placement help. You can also choose to do these courses online, in-house or in the actual country you want to work in.
For a list of Certified TEFL courses that meet these standards and provide different options for you to get your certification go to my TEFL Courses page HERE.
Internships are also a great way to get TEFL certified especially if you don’t have a degree! For more information check out the blog post The Best Way to Teach ESL Without a Degree.
(There are affiliate links on this page and post!! For more information on this please go to my Disclosure Policy)
You will notice that there are specialized courses that may be useful for you, later on, to help develop your teaching career and open up new opportunities for you. However, for your first time, the basic 120-hour course will do for most teaching positions.
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Other posts in the Decide to Teach Abroad series
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For the first two steps of the series click on the links below:
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