What is TEFL and what is TEFL certification? [Frequently Asked Questions Answered] (2023)

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Learn what TEFL stands for and understand how a TEFL certification provides the professional-level training you need to teach English abroad and online.

Written by: Juan Bentley|UPDATED:June 29, 2023

Written by: Juan Bentley

UPDATED:June 29, 2023

What is TEFL and what is TEFL certification? [Frequently Asked Questions Answered] (1)

What is TEFL and what is TEFL certification? [Frequently Asked Questions Answered] (2)

Interested in learning more about becoming TEFL certified, but wondering what it all means and where to start? You've come to the right place! We're going to make sure you understand the basics of TEFL, so let's dive right in:

  • TEFL concept
  • TEFL Certification Courses
  • Student Favorite: Online TEFL Course
  • A benefit of TEFL certification: teaching English online

TEFL concept

What is TEFL?

"TEFL" is an acronym for Teaching English as a Foreign Language or simply teaching English to non-native speakers.It is also commonly known as Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages ​​(TESOL), English Language Teaching (ELT), and Teaching ESL (English as a Second Language).

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The field of TEFL/TESOL represents one of the fastest growing educational fields in the world. It presents thousands of great career opportunities forteach English abroadin all corners of the world for native and fluent English speakers getting their TEFL/TESOL certification.

In practical terms, there is little to no difference between "TEFL" and "TESOL". Both are acronyms that essentially mean the same thing: teaching English to non-native speakers. Also, in the vast majority of cases, when you come across references toESL teaching certificatesto teach English abroad, a "TEFL certification" and one "TESOL certification“they are the same and the terms are interchangeable.

On a more technical level,TESOLis the term applied to teaching English to non-native speakers in native English-speaking countries. It refers to those who will obtain degrees and work in the field nationally in the UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA.

Sometimes TEFL and TESL can be used interchangeably. What is TESL?

Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) means teaching English to students whose first language is not English. TESL is commonly used to refer to teaching English to non-native speakers living in a country where English is the dominant language.

Read more: TEFL, TESOL, TESL, CELTA, DELTA: What's the difference?

TEFL or TESOL certification and requirements to find an English teaching job abroad

What is TEFL certification?

TEFL certification is an internationally recognized professional certificate that certifies that a person is qualified to teach English as a foreign language. TEFL certification is generally required to get a job teaching English abroad or online to students whose language is not English.

You may also hear the phrase TEFL certified in connection with TEFL certification.

What is a TEFL certificate?

The TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate is an internationally recognized professional certificate that certifies that the holder is qualified to teach English as a foreign language. A TEFL certificate allows people to teach English to non-native speakers abroad or online.

To teach English as a foreign language in a foreign country (ie a non-English speaking country), a TEFL certification is usually required, as language schools and institutes want to hire teachers who have received the appropriate training.

It is not necessary to have an education degree or previous teaching experience,or even a university degreeGet paid to teach English abroad. At the very least, you need a certification to teach English abroad. Private language schools abroad, online tutoring companies, and government programs that hire native English speakers to teach abroad seek to hire people who have received some degree of professional education.

How does TEFL certification work?

An accredited TEFL certification school will provide training from a highly qualified instructor covering the skills and tools you will need to work as a professional English teacher. Professional-level TEFL courses must meet certain standards and include live, hands-on teaching.

What is TEFL and what is TEFL certification? [Frequently Asked Questions Answered] (3)These standards include:

  • At least 100 hours of course work.
  • At least 6 to 20 hours of practice (hands-on teaching and live observation with a non-native English speaker and NO role-playing with TEFL peers).
  • An accredited degree program from an independent and recognized organization within the field;
  • Instruction provided by a qualified instructor.(holder of an equivalent master's degree in TESOL or related field);
  • It is also recommended that you take the TEFL certification course from an organization that provides comprehensive job search guidance.

Read more:

  • 7 Key Tips for Evaluating a TEFL/TESOL Education School
  • Job search guidelines for teaching English abroad

TEFL Certification Course Options

Now that you understand what TEFL and TEFL certifications mean, it's time to consider how to get TEFL certified. To become TEFL certified, you need to check out TEFL certification programs and take a TEFL certification course. TEFL courses are typically offered in person, in a classroom-like environment here in the US and around the world, or online through a virtual learning platform like Moodle or even Zoom.

What are TEFL certification programs?

The TEFL Certification Program is an educational program for Teaching English as a Foreign Language that is regulated according to international standards. Upon completion, a person receives a TEFL certificate, which can be used to find a job teaching English to non-native speakers around the world.

Read more:TEFL Certification Courses

Also, when it comes to choosing the right TEFL certification course, accreditation is a key consideration. Why does this matter? Think of it as a guarantee that you will receive a high-quality, professional-level education. Knowing that a legitimate external body oversees your education and ensuring that the educational standards outlined above are met in your TEFL course gives you the confidence that you are receiving an excellent education.

Read more: Level 5 accreditation for TEFL certification

What is TEFL and what is TEFL certification? [Frequently Asked Questions Answered] (4)

Is it possible to get a valid TEFL certification online?

With the increasing prevalence of online education, a question that often arises for those who want to teach English abroad is: can I really get a valid online TEFL certification that employers will recognize when I apply for an English teaching job abroad?

The answer is yes" -as long as your online TEFL course is accredited and meets all the standards outlined above. If you're looking for a truly professional-level certification that will give you the skills, resources, and qualifications you need to land a top job, be aware that many online TEFL courses, especially the cheaper ones, don't meet these standards. Online TEFL courses that do not include practice (ie, live teaching practice in front of real students), for example, are not recognized by many language schools and TEFL programs around the world.

Read more:

What is TEFL and what is TEFL certification? [Frequently Asked Questions Answered] (5)

Will a TEFL certification qualify me to teach English online?

Yes, it will be!In addition to providing a recognized qualification forTEFL jobs abroad,a TEFL certification will qualify you to teach English online. In fact, like English schools around the world, online language companies often require their English teachers to hold a legitimate, reputable TEFL certification.

Many certified TEFL English teachers abroad teach English online part-time as a way to supplement their income as a local school English teacher. Others teach English full-time online, giving them the opportunity to move from one country to another more often. In fact, they can earn income while teaching English online from anywhere as long as they have a good internet connection. Most teachers can earn at least 10-20 dollars (USD) per hour and work hours are very flexible.

Read more: teach english online

If you are considering teaching English online, you may also decide to improve your online teaching skills to become more marketable to online language schools. Look for specialty courses after TEFL certification to teach English online. They are supplementary trainings that aim to improve your TEFL certification skills and apply them specifically to the world of online English teaching.

Read more: Online English Teaching Specialty Course

What is TEFL and what is TEFL certification? [Frequently Asked Questions Answered] (6)

Ready to start?

We'd love to answer any of your questions! International TEFL Academy TEFL certifications meet or exceed international standards and are internationally accredited by authoritative bodies in the field. In other words, a TEFL certification from the International TEFL Academy is recognized at the highest level by employers around the world.

In addition to being internationally accredited, the International TEFL Academy has enjoyed aA+ rating by the Better Business Bureau (BBB)since 2012.

As of early 2019, the ITA was named the#1 TEFL schoolby GoOverseas.com and GoAbroad.com in various award categories for TEFL certification, including:

Read more:

So this bridge in contact!Call usThefill out a formand you will be assigned a personal advisor who has taught English and/or lived abroad. Feel free to ask them anything, even about their own experience. They will be happy to help you!

Want to learn more about teaching English abroad and online?

Request afree brochureor call 773-634-9900 to speak with an expert advisor about all aspects of TEFL certification and teaching English abroad or online, including the hiring process, salaries, visas, TEFL class options, job placement assistance, and but.


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