What is TEFL?

TEFL what you need to know

If you’re looking for a job outside of your comfort zone, why not consider TEFL?

Not only is it a great way to learn something new and add real value to your CV, Teaching English as a Foreign Language could also be the key to opening opportunities up all over the world.

Here’s a quick guide to TEFL, and how to find the right course for you:

What is TEFL?

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

It specifically refers to teaching English to students who don’t consider it their first language. It’s usually performed in the students’ own country, and can be taught in public situations, such as state schools, or privately.

TEFL has absolutely nothing to do with frying pans.

Why TEFL?

There are now over one billion people learning English as a foreign language worldwide. What’s more, that number is expected to double by the year 2025, and the majority of those learning will be in non-English speaking countries. For this reason, demand has never been higher for good English teachers.

There are thousands of TEFL jobs posted every month, allowing you to travel to destinations all over the world. If you’re looking to travel and do something that makes a difference, there isn’t a more rewarding career path out there.

Where can I teach?

To put it simply? Pretty much everywhere.

You could decide to stay in Western Europe, teaching in countries such as Spain, France and Italy. Alternatively you could choose to take on an adventure in a whole new continent. The choice is yours.

Popular destinations for TEFL teachers outside of Western Europe include Central and South America (e.g. Mexico and Argentina), Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Eastern Europe and Russia to name but a few.

Do I have to speak a second language to TEFL?

Very often you don’t need any previous experience of a language to start TEFL.

Employers generally prefer for you to speak English at all times during lessons to help your students become fully immersed in the language. Learning a few simple phrases is recommended, out of courtesy as much as anything (and by courtesy, we mainly mean to understand what your pupils are gossiping about), and can also help you acclimatise to your new location.

However, you certainly won’t need to be fluent. Remember: you’re the one doing the teaching.

How much will I be paid to TEFL?

Salaries for TEFL tutors will vary from country to country.

Typical rates of pay can range from between around £600 per month for positions in Europe or Central and South America (often the least lucrative locations), to almost £1000 per month in areas of high demand, such as Hong Kong and South Korea.

However, it’s worth remembering that many employers provide subsidised rent or even free accommodation and meals for their teachers, making TEFL a great way to start saving money whilst travelling.

Do I need a degree to TEFL?

Ultimately, it depends where you want to teach.

There’s a huge demand for English teachers across the world. However, different countries have different requirements to get started.

In Western Europe, for example, you will typically need a degree, an EU passport (or working holiday visa), as well as specific TEFL training. In Asia, a degree is generally required to secure a working visa, and a TEFL certification is preferred. In Central and South America, you will not need a degree and, in some cases, you will not need a TEFL certificate.

Always be sure to look up specific requirements in your preferred destination before you get started. Have a quick scan of TEFL jobs in your location of choice to get started.

What is a TEFL certificate?

A TEFL certificate is a qualification specifically set up to demonstrate your proficiency in teaching English as a foreign language. Very often it serves as a pre-requisite for anyone looking to TEFL.

Trinity CertTESOL (run by Trinity College, London) and CELTA (run by Cambridge University) are two of the most popular and widely recognised certifications employers look for, and the TEFL Academy provide an excellent online offering. However, there are a whole host of other providers who offer well-respected programs of their own.

The most important thing to consider is what type of course is right for you. Once you’ve decided whether you want to learn face-to-face or online, how long you’ve got to dedicate to studying, and how much money you have to spend, you’re ready to get started.

How long will a TEFL course last?

Once again, this decision will largely be up to you.

As a general guideline, online courses range anywhere from 20-120 hours of part time study. Face-to-face courses will usually be slightly shorter.

The Cambridge CELTA & Trinity CertTESOL certifications, for example, only take 4 weeks of training. However, study is full-time, and includes real teaching under observation and a written examination.

As a rule of thumb, most jobs require around 120 hours of TEFL training to get started, so any course around this level will ensure that you cover all the bases.

What about TESL/TESOL/ELT/ESOL?

You may see many other variations of TEFL when looking for jobs. Often these are used interchangeably to mean the same thing, and vary primarily due to their country of origin.

For example:

TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language

TESL – Teaching English as a Second Language

TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

ELT – English Language Teaching

The only real difference is with ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages). ESOL is intended for those who teach speakers within their own, predominantly English speaking, country.

What is ESOL?

How can TEFL improve my CV?

Even if you’re not looking to teach in the long-term, TEFL positions look great on your applications, and can often be the difference between two candidates.

Benefits include:

  • International work experience
  • Demonstrating that you are a fast learner
  • Showing how quickly you can adapt to new situations
  • Improving your communication skills
  • Learning a new language

There are many more CV-boosting-benefits to consider, as well as that all-important life experience. So whether you want to set yourself apart or just learn something new, TEFL will work for you.

So, how do I find TEFL jobs?

If you’re serious about starting TEFL, it’s time to get certified.

Search all available TEFL courses, and start your TEFL adventure now.  Your life may never be the same again…

Ready to make your move? View all available TEFL positions now.