TEFL and TESOL Training and Qualifications

There are several ways to become a qualified English language teacher and your choice of qualification route mainly depends on where and who you want to teach. The time you have to train and the cost of training are also important considerations.

Can anyone be an English language teacher?

It is still possible to get a job teaching EFL/ESL without any formal qualification, but this is becoming increasingly rare. There is a global shortage of teachers, but unqualified teachers are only recruited locally and the pay is usually poor. In major cities and tourist centres only qualified teachers will be taken on.

Is there a standard TEFL qualification?

No. There are many routes to qualification as a TEFL teacher ranging from intensive 3-weekend Certificate courses to two-year Master’s Degrees. In the USA and some of the Far East, a good first degree is adequate; whereas in Europe, the Commonwealth and South America teachers are preferred to have taken a TEFL course. Of these TEFL courses, the two best-known practical teaching certificates are CELTA and Certificate in TESOL, validated by University of Cambridge ESOL (administered around the world by UCLES) and Trinity College London respectively. Once you have experience as a teacher, you can move on to a post-experience course such as the Diploma in ELT (from Cambridge) or the Licentiate Diploma in TESOL (from Trinity College London) – see page 176 for details of these courses, MAs and doctorates in ELT.

Am I too old to teach ?

Many middle-aged people faced with redundancy or early retirement decide to embark on a career in English language teaching. Although age can be a barrier in some parts of the world, most schools welcome the added depth of life experience that a more mature teacher can bring to the classroom.

I’m not sure if I want to commit to long course. What should I do?

There are a number of introductory courses in teaching EFL/ESL offered by various institutions including Oxford Seminars (www.oxfordseminars.com), if you think that you might not want to commit yourself to a career in teaching, but many employers may not consider you qualified unless you have at least a Certificate (see below).


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