Frequently Asked Questions about TEFL Certification and Teaching English Abroad

What is TEFL and What is TEFL Certification?

Posted by International TEFL Academy on Thu, Feb 23, 2012 @ 08:55 AM

TEFL Certification - What is it all about?


“TEFL” is the acronym for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, or simply, English language instruction for non-native speakers. Also known as Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), English Language Teaching (ELT), and teaching ESL (English as a Second Language), the field of TEFL/TESOL is one of the fastest growing educational fields in the world, presenting thousands of excellent professional opportunities in all corners of the globe to native and fluent English speakers who earn their TEFL/TESOL certification.What is TEFL?

In practical terms, when these terms are applied to the field of teaching English abroad, there is little or no difference between “TEFL” and “TESOL.” They are both acronyms that essentially mean the same thing: teaching the English language to non-native speakers. Likewise, in the vast majority cases, when it comes to teaching English abroad, a “TEFL certification” and a “TESOL certification” are the same and the terms are interchangeable.

TEFL - TESOL - What is in a name?On a more technical level, TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) is the term applied to the teaching of English to non-native speakers in native English speaking countries, so those who will earn degrees and work domestically in the field in the UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and South Africa and US will typically use the term “TESOL.”


TEFL or TESOL Certification and requirements for English teaching jobs

To Teach English as a Foreign Language in a foreign country (non native English speaking country), a TEFL Certification is typically required as schools and language institutes want to hire teachers who have received proper training.  Internationally recognized standards hold that professional-level TEFL certification must meet certain standards established by the British Council and other leading bodies in the field.

These standards include:

  • At least 100 hours of coursework;

  • At least 6-20 hours of practicum (live practice teaching and observation with actual non-native English speaker and NOT role-playing with fellow TEFL classmates);

  • An accredited curriculum from a recognized, independent organization within the field;

  • Instruction provided by a qualified instructor (who has an equivalent to a Master Degree in TESOL or related field);

  • It is also recommended that you take your TEFL certification course from an organization that provides comprehensive job search guidance.  

All International TEFL Academy TEFL certification courses meet and often exceed these standards.  To learn more about what to consider when looking at TEFL certification courses, check out 7 Key Tips to Evaluate a TEFL / TESOL Training School on our TEFL Articles page.


TEFL Course Options:

Four-week International Courses in 25 Locations Worldwide

Online TEFL Certification (11 weeks, part-time)

To learn more about TEFL-related lingo, check out our TEFL terminology page.

Tags: TEFL, TESOL, What is TEFL, What is TESOL, What is TEFL Certification

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