Which TEFL Course Should I Choose?

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English is by far the fastest-spreading language in the world. With more people speaking English than ever before, it has become the universal language for communication in tourism, commerce, trade, education, and science on an international level. The number of students, travelers, and business people learning English around the world is astonishing. Demand for teachers of English has never been higher. Students of all ages all over the world are actively seeking to learn English.

compass to your tefl course

What is TEFL?

TEFL stands for “Teaching English as a Foreign Language.” The student’s native language is not English while the teacher may or may not be a native English speaker.

TEFL used to be a mainly private sector industry, in which the student centric, communicative approach was a departure from the stiff traditional English methodologies employed in public school systems. However, that has changed in recent years with public education systems around the world seeking qualified TEFL trainers for updated programs, goals, and better results.

How do I get a TEFL Certification?

The “Teaching English as a Foreign Language” (TEFL) certificate, is the most commonly accepted certificate worldwide. This certificate allows you to teach English to non-native speakers across the globe. The main qualifications to get a TEFL is to have the ability to speak English at a high level and then complete a course. You can complete a TEFL course either online or in a classroom. The different courses vary based on the number of hours it takes to complete them.

Which TEFL Course Should I Choose? 1

What is the difference between TESOL, TESL, TEFL, and CELTA?

There are some subtle differences between the various acronyms. According to the British Council:

TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is often used to mean the same thing as TEFL, but it is also used to describe English language teaching to people living in an English-speaking country who are not native English speakers – such as refugees and first-generation immigrants. In other words, they are continuously surrounded by the language and will be using it every day outside of the classroom. In the UK, ESOL courses provide students with a level of English that will allow them to integrate into the country’s educational, work and cultural environment.

TESL stands for Teaching English as a Second Language. English is spoken as a common second language in the context of official communication and administration in many countries where several other language groups co-exist – such as Nigeria, Kenya, India and Singapore. Another term that may be used in this context is TEAL (Teaching English as an Additional Language).

TEFL – “Teaching English as a Foreign Language” certificate, is the most commonly accepted certificate worldwide. This certificate allows you to teach English to non-native speakers across the globe. TEFL students are learning English in their home country. The main qualifications to get a TEFL is to have the ability to speak English at a native-level and then complete a course.

CELTA stands for “Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults” and is a very prestigious certification. In order to receive a CELTA, you must complete a 120-hour course along with six hours of teaching real ESL students. The majority of the programs are held over one-month and are full time. However, you may be able to find some courses that are part-time and are spread out over three months. The CELTA program must follow a strict regulation created by Cambridge University. Due to its intense nature and requirements, the cost also tends to be much higher and can be up to €1700!

My Choice

Which TEFL courses are better? Face-to-face, online or blended?

Face-to-face TEFL courses provide quality instruction and skill-building. They come with strict schedules for instruction and studying, no flexibility in class location, and intensive timelines.

On the other hand, online TEFL courses offer time flexibility, location independence, and cost savings. 

Blended courses have all the benefits of the online courses plus some extra hours of classroom observation. As part of the course, you usually observe something between 6 and 18 hours of real teachers teaching real classes. Peer to peer teaching practice is also a common aspects of blended courses. 

How long does it take to complete a TEFL course?

Most TEFL courses last 120 hours and you can expect to complete them within 4-8 weeks. There are however longer courses, going up to 180 hours, which normally take 10-12 weeks to complete.

How much does a TEFL Course cost?

You will find most TEFL courses in the price region of $120-350, which makes them one of the most affordable skills certifications.

Which TEFL Course Should I Choose? 3

Accreditation

One of the first things you should look for when searching for a TEFL course is whether and how it is accredited. The most prestigious body is Ofqual (The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation, a UK government department), but you may also find ACDL (Accreditation Council for Distance Learning) and TQUK (Training Qualifications UK). Always do your research and avoid completely non-accredited courses.

How will I get a job placement?

Do you want to get into teaching abroad? On successful completion of your TEFL course, you can start applying for teaching jobs abroad. Most TEFL course providers offer an exclusive jobs board and will help you with your job placement. This can include:

  • assistance on CV creation
  • matching graduates with destinations and employers
  • securing interviews with safe and reliable employers
  • help with pre-departure preparations (e.g. Visa application)
  • local assistance on housing, bank accounts, SIM card

If your goal is to teach English online, some course providers will help you with your profile creation and prepare you for interviews. Some have even formed partnerships with specific platforms (like VIPKid), and will make it even easier to get accepted.

In either case, you can expect to have your first job placement(s) right after successful completion of your TEFL course, and maybe even before that.

Do I have to be a native English speaker to take a TEFL course?

No, you do not need to be a native speaker to teach English. In fact there are more non-native TEFL instructors around the world than native ones! While many employers prefer native English speakers, completing a TEFL course demonstrates professional commitment and growth, which are highly valued in the TEFL industry.

Which TEFL Course Should I Choose? 5

What level of English do I need to take a TEFL course?

It goes without saying that you need a fluent command of the English language to study any TEFL course. If you are a non-native English speaker, and can competently understand English, then all courses are suitable. TEFL teachers are expected to have one of these minimum scores or levels:

  • CEFR: B2
  • IELTS: 6.5
  • TOEIC: 785
  • TOEFL: 100
  • The Pearson Test of English (PTE) General: Level 4
  • Trinity ISE: III
  • Trinity GESE: Grades 10 and 11

What education level is required to become a TEFL teacher?

To get hired in the TEFL industry you will be required to be aged 18 with a high school diploma (Leaving Certificate / A-levels / Matric or equivalent) at minimum.

Do I need teaching experience to do TEFL?

No, there are plenty of TEFL jobs for first-time English teachers. However, it depends on the teaching position offered whether you will need previous teaching experience or not. Just like in any industry there are jobs for beginners, right up to those with years of classroom experience.

Teaching experience can range from personal tutoring, volunteer homework clubs to teacher placements as part of an education degree. Most TEFL course providers offer teaching opportunities for first-time teachers and experienced teachers. They are the perfect helping hand to launch your TEFL career.

Which TEFL Course Should I Choose? 7

How much does a TEFL teacher earn?

TEFL teacher salaries depend on the country you take up a teaching position with. The highest paid salaries are typically in the Middle East, where salaries reach a whopping $3,000 – $4,000 per month (often tax free).

Asia comes a close second with salaries in Japan around $2,500 per month; South Korea pays a handsome $1,500 and includes rent-free housing.

In Europe TEFL teachers can expect to earn $1,250 – $2,000.

Latin America and Africa will pay less, but with lower costs of living you will enjoy a comfortable life.

Always research first the cost of living in each country. There are numerous free online tools that will tell exactly how far your salary will get you.

What is an Internship?

TEFL internships are a great way to start your new career. Get paid a great salary and receive support throughout your contract!

TEFL internships are usually open to anyone who has enrolled on a TEFL courses and meets the requirements listed for each opportunity. Internships are the fastest way to kick-start your TEFL career!  

There are many benefit in choosing an internship:

  • No degree required. An internship allows you to teach immediately, and build up your resume.
  • No teaching experience is necessary.
  • You’ll take part in country orientations and often placements with other likeminded individuals, meaning lots of shared fun, excitement, adventures and lifelong friendships.

Teaching English is one of the most fulfilling jobs in the world. A TEFL course will get you on the path of adventure, discovery, as well as personal and professional development.

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Savas Savides
Education born and bred. I have worked as a teacher for many private language schools, as a test centre administrator, as a teacher trainer, as an educational consultant, and as a publisher. I am an advocate for literacy and a huge proponent of using technology in the classroom. I have a BA in English and an MBA in Marketing. I mostly write about English Language Teaching. I live in sunny Athens.

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