The Route to TEFL Certification

A 120-hour TEFL certification course is your entrance ticket into teaching English as a foreign language abroad or online.

TEFL training will not only prepare you to be an effective and confident ESL teacher, but you will also be eligible for thousands of teaching jobs worldwide.

But as there are literally hundreds of options to take a course, you most likely have some questions upfront.

Am I right?

In this section, you’ll learn everything you need to know about TEFL certification.

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Our Top Picks About TEFL Certification

Frequently Asked Questions About TEFL Certification (and the Answers)

Researching TEFL training options can be confusing enough without having to tear your hair out over the different certification types. TEFL, TESOL, CELTA, and DELTA can look like major alphabet soup if you haven’t encountered the acronyms and their meanings before.

And is an in-class training which costs more than $1,000 dollars really better than a cheap online course? How are you supposed to know which one to choose?

The good news is that once you read our crash-course on TEFL training, you’ll be well-versed in the teach abroad options and ready to choose the best certificate for you.

  1. What is TEFL certification?
  2. What do you learn in a TEFL course?
  3. What are the requirements to obtain a TEFL certificate?
  4. Online vs. in-class course: Which one is better for you?
  5. Is there a difference between TEFL and TESOL?
  6. What is CELTA?
  7. What is DELTA?
  8. Which certification type is best for me?

1. What is TEFL Certification?

TEFL stands for “Teaching English as a Foreign Language.” If you plan to move abroad and teach English in a foreign country, then you’ll need a TEFL certification.

Getting TEFL certified entails completing a training course either online or in person. Your TEFL certification will give you teaching skills and help you get teaching or tutoring jobs. Most employers only hire foreign teachers who have TEFL certificates, and in some countries, a TEFL certificate is even a requirement for obtaining a work visa. Some companies offer TEFL courses as short as 20 hours, but most schools require at least 120 hours of TEFL training.

2. What Do You Learn in a TEFL Course?

Your TEFL course will teach you a number of tools that will help you teach English as a foreign language, such as how students acquire foreign languages and what teaching methods are effective. In your course, you will also learn how to lesson plan and structure class. Additionally, you’ll spend time preparing and presenting a live demo lesson, and you’ll get to observe demo lessons to get ideas about how to structure your class.

3. What are the Requirements to Obtain a TEFL Certificate?

Getting a TEFL certificate is not an onerous task. All you really need is fluent English and the time and resources to learn. Some TEFL providers require participants in their courses to be over 18 or to have a diploma from a four-year college or ask for a photocopied passport to prove citizenship from an English-speaking country. Additionally, you may have to undergo an interview or assessment before being accepted into your TEFL course.

Some TEFL providers don’t have any requirements at all, as long as you pay the course fee for them. Keep in mind, however, that completion of a TEFL course does not guarantee to get a job or work visa in a foreign country.

4. Online vs. In-Class Course: Which One is Better for Me?

An in-class TEFL course is preferable to an online one in a number of ways. An instructor who’s in the room with you will be able to better illustrate teaching methods and better evaluate your teaching demo. Additionally, face-to-face interaction will help you feel better about your class and will make your teaching demo feel more like the real thing.

However, an in-person TEFL course is more expensive than an online one, and it also requires you to spend around 4 weeks in the classroom learning. The time and money requirements of an in-person TEFL course can be prohibitive, but if you’re able to afford one you’ll highly benefit from the instruction and experience you get in an in-person TEFL class.

An online TEFL course doesn’t offer the same experience as an in-person one, and it doesn’t give you the same teaching practice that an in-person class would. However, it’s more cost-effective and comes with the added bonus that you can do it anywhere. Additionally, online TEFL courses are self-paced, so you can take as much or as little time as you need to learn the material. An online TEFL course is a great option if you already have some teaching experience and want to save money.

Some TEFL course providers offer hybrid courses, where you spend the complete part of the class online and the other part in person. This type of class is great because you can learn all the theory online and then practice what you’ve learned in a classroom setting. You’ll need to set aside less time for the in-person class, but you’ll still get the benefits of a hands-on learning experience.

5. Is There a Difference Between TEFL and TESOL?

TESOL stands for “Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages,” which is an umbrella term that encompasses all the other acronyms. Unlike TEFL, TESOL does not only connote teaching English in a foreign country. It can also refer to teachers who work in their home country, and teach English to non-native speakers (also known as TESL, or “Teaching English as a Second Language”).

The certifications for TEFL, TESL, and TESOL are similar – and some employers may accept them interchangeably. If you got a TEFL certification to teach abroad and then moved back home – you may still be able to use your certificate to teach non-native speakers domestically (and vice versa). It all depends on the employer, and how strict they are about the specific strategies you learned to teach EFL and/or ESL learners.

6. What is CELTA?

CELTA, short for Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, is a type of TEFL and TESOL that is exclusively administered by Cambridge University. It has the strictest standards out of all of the programs, and the quality is always guaranteed.

CELTA is the most expensive TEFL certificate, mainly because it’s considered the “gold standard” out of all of the programs. It typically costs between $1,500 and $4,000, although the supposed payoff is that teachers with a CELTA certification may able to get higher paying jobs and more teaching opportunities.

Certain countries with high teaching standards and lucrative job offers, like the UAE, Qatar, and Kuwait, are more likely to hire teachers with a CELTA than those with a run-of-the-mill TEFL certification.

7. What is DELTA?

DELTA is similar to CELTA, except that it’s a full-fledged diploma instead of a certificate. It stands for “Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults.”

It is also administered through Cambridge University and has the same international recognition and prestige as the CELTA. You must obtain the CELTA before the DELTA since prior teaching experience is a requirement for the latter.

The diploma is most appropriate for English teachers with a few years of experience who want to strengthen their qualifications and skill-set. Typically, people do not obtain the DELTA unless they plan to focus their career on teaching English to non-native speakers. It is also common for people to pursue the DELTA if they want to become managers, directors, or teacher trainers.

The cost for the DELTA is much higher than the other certifications, although lower than a Masters in TESOL – typically, the minimum you’ll pay is about $3,500.

8. Which Certification Type is Best for Me?

Now you’ve learned what is TEFL and what different certificates are available. In order to figure out which certificate is the right fit for you, you must first decide how you plan to use it. Do you want to move abroad and teach English for a few months or years? Consider getting your TEFL. If you’d rather stay at home and teach English domestically, then a TESL or TESOL is a more appropriate option.

If having the best certificate and most competitive skill-set is important to you, then you should pay the higher price tag and get your CELTA. You won’t need to consider the DELTA until you’ve already gotten a certificate and have taught English for at least two years. Only then, after you’ve decided to build a career out of teaching English, does it make sense to pursue your DELTA.

If you still aren’t sure, it’s okay to start small. You can get your TEFL or TESOL first to see if teaching is the right fit for you, and then move on to the CELTA if you want to deepen your knowledge and enhance your resume. You may find that you absolutely love teaching, and want to educate yourself to the point of obtaining the DELTA.

There’s no set path that you must follow when it comes to teaching English, so choose what makes sense for you at the moment. You can always continue learning and pursuing higher certifications if it makes sense for you in the future.

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