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Are you considering teaching English as a second language – abroad or online?

Usually, getting your TEFL certification is the first big step towards a career as an ESL teacher.

Maybe you are overwhelmed trying to comb through all the resources and options out there.

Read on to learn what the TEFL certification is and what TEFL course options are out there so you can get the accreditation you need to start teaching English as a second language.

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What is TEFL Certification?

Your TEFL Certification gives you a license to teach English as a foreign language upon completion of a teaching course. In fact, TEFL stands for Teaching English As a Foreign Language.

There are a number of other acronyms for TEFL instruction, including TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), ELT (English Language Teaching), and ESL (English as a Second Language).

ESL is one of the world’s fastest growing educational fields right now, and as such untold numbers of opportunities are cropping up for certified professionals to teach English online and around the world.

Anyone who is a fluent English speaker (“native-level”) and over 18 years old can get TEFL certified, and there are many platforms that offer TEFL certification both online and in person.

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Why You Need a TEFL to Teach English Abroad or Online

While you don’t always need a TEFL to teach English abroad or online, the benefits that come with your certification are sizeable.

First off, many countries and employers do require all teachers to be TEFL certified. Even if a TEFL certification isn’t required for your situation, the course will give you classroom management and teaching skills that are crucial for success in and out of the classroom.

The TEFL helps you get jobs at good schools with high pay rates and good working conditions, and it’s pretty hard to find above-board employment without it.

Learn more about the reasons to become TEFL certified:

Which Course Options Are Available?

While you’ll find a wide range of TEFL courses offered online, most schools and countries require teachers to have at least a 120-hour certification.

There are options that are over 120 hours, in which you might learn more in-depth about teaching certain groups of students or have more opportunity for practicums or professional development.

In general, though, a 120-hour course is your best bet because it will fulfill hiring and visa requirements and adequately prepare you to teach abroad.

Besides different options for TEFL course length, you should consider whether you’d like to take your course completely online, in person, or as a combination of the two.

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Also, consider whether you’d like to take a course that includes a practicum where you prepare and teach a lesson to a class made up of fellow TEFL students.

How you make the decision of which course to take depends on what kind of instruction you think will be most beneficial to you, what kind of time commitment you can make, and how much money you’re willing to spend on a TEFL course.

Learn more:

Can I Get TEFL Certified Completely Online?

Yes, you can!

An in-person TEFL course gives you the opportunity to watch and practice teaching demonstrations live, and some people just learn better when they’re face-to-face with their teachers.

However, many people learn perfectly well online, and an online TEFL course certification is just as valid as an in-person one (and it costs less).

There are a number of online TEFL course providers who reliably place their graduates in high-paying teaching jobs worldwide.

Learn more about online TEFL courses:

How to Shop a TEFL Course

Figuring out which TEFL course is right for you can be totally overwhelming. You might be tempted to go for the least expensive offer you can find, but a course that’s dirt cheap probably won’t provide the best, most comprehensive training.

Before you make any final decisions, make sure the course you’re looking at has good alumni reviews on sites like GoAbroad and GoOverseas.

You can also check out the course’s website, talk to an advisor via phone or online chat, and perhaps even speak with alumni who’ve reviewed the course somewhere on the Internet.

Double-check that any course you’re considering is accredited and offers at least 120 hours of training as well as job guidance and responsive live support -- you’ll appreciate the service if you ever have any problems or issues.

Good TEFL providers should be able to give you any information you want about the course, and they should also be able to assist you with getting TEFL jobs and moving abroad.

Recommended TEFL Certification Courses

If you’re not sure which course is right for you, we suggest looking at the following course options -- they’re both well-established, honest providers that administer comprehensive, reasonably priced TEFL courses.

120-hour Accredited Online TEFL Training by Let's TEFL

The course includes job placement, personal tutor support and much more -- available for an unrivaled price!

In-Class Courses by ITTT International TEFL and TESOL Training

Take a course at over 50 destinations worldwide including a great package of benefits!

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 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

Learn more:

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.

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The accredited Let's TEFL online course including guaranteed job placement is now available for an unrivaled price!

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4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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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