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Frequently Asked Questions about TEFL Certification and Teaching English Abroad

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Is a TEFL Certification Required to Teach English Abroad?


Do I Need a TEFL Certification to Teach English Abroad?

In a simple answer: Yes you need to be a trained educator to be a good teacher for paying students and yes many schools and governments will require it for employment.

Teaching English in Italy
Many people ask this question with the following in mind:

  • I speak English, I went to college, I must be able to be a good English teacher. What could be so difficult about teaching my own language?
Some schools in some countries may hire you without a TEFL Certification. Those who approach teaching English abroad with this mindset usually have an experience that includes some, if not all, of the following elements:
  • Difficulty finding employment due to lack of qualifications.

  • Total unpreparedness for a job that entails teaching 4-6 classes a day and up to 100 students a week who are counting on you and paying for you to teach them effectively.

  • Employment at a sub-par school with low academic, professional and ethical standards.

  • Earning lower wages compared to certified teachers.


English teaching with TEFL trainingNow, ask yourself: 

  • If I stepped into a classroom tomorrow in Tokyo, Madrid or Santiago, would I have the slightest clue how to provide English language instruction, or even how to communicate with my students?

  • Would I pay $10, $20 or even $40 an hour to take foreign language classes from somebody who hasn't received any training? 

  • If I owned a language school, would I hire teachers off the street who haven’t been trained to actually teach English as a foreign language?
  • If I begin a new English teaching job tomorrow in Tokyo, Florence or Rio de Janeiro, will I have the skills to teach English to beginning, intermediate and advanced students for 4-6 classes a day? 

  • Will I know how to design lesson plans, exams and classroom exercises that will actually enable my students achieve their goal of learning the English language? 

  • Will I be able to manage and communicate with a class of 10 – 30 students who do not speak English? 

  • Will I be able to explain the ins and outs of English grammar and syntax?

Think about these questions and you will realize that while almost any fluent English speaker can teach English, teaching English is a specialized skill and a challenging endeavor that requires training and instruction.


This is what we believe at International TEFL Academy (as listed in our Vision Statement)

  • All students have a fundamental right to receive instruction from a trained professional teacher.
  • All teachers have a responsibility to their students to provide them with the best possible educational experience, which requires professional-level training.

If you believe this as well, then the answer is obvious, you need to become a trained foreign language teacher.

Chicago class International TEFL Academy Shannon Etling student teachingHere are several reasons why holding an accredited TEFL certification is important:

  • Good training provides you with the skills you need to become an effective teacher.

  • As a trained teacher with a strong command of your subject matter and your responsibilities, chances are far higher that you will enjoy a rewarding and satisfying teaching experience abroad.

  • The vast majority of reputable schools and language institutes, both public and private, throughout the world will not even consider you as a teaching candidate if you do not hold an internationally accredited TEFL certification. In other words, if you want to even be considered for most decent English teaching jobs, you must hold an accredited TEFL certification.

    In a recent article in the Chicago Tribune about teaching English Abroad, Dave Perling, founder of one of the largest job boards and forums for teaching English abroad on the entire Internet, said, "A few years ago, all you needed was a college degree — if anything. Now that more people are applying, many recruiters also require at least some ESL (English as a second language) training.”

  • In some countries, a TEFL Certification is required for a foreigner to legally work as an English teacher.

  • While interviewing for positions, you will be asked to display a strong grasp of basic teaching skills like lesson planning, curriculum development, and teaching methodology, that can only be gained through taking a quality accredited TEFL certificInternational TEFL Academy Chicago grads aug 2012ation course.

  • In this age of tightening job markets, you must give yourself every advantage and without your accredited TEFL certification, you will certainly put yourself at a distinct disadvantage.

  • When you earn your accredited TEFL certification through the International TEFL Academy, you will receive the Job Search Guidance you need to navigate international job markets, understand hiring practices in different countries, and to avail yourself to the best possible job opportunities wherever it is that you want to teach English abroad.

  • Perhaps most importantly, without the proper training that you will receive by taking an accredited TEFL certification course, you will not be able to provide a quality educational experience to your students.

For your reference this link to our Country Chart provides basic information about working and getting hired in approximately 50 countries around the world, including information on ESL hiring seasons, salaries and the interview process.  




I have my ESL (English As A Second Language) certification. This one is the one for PK to 12th. Could you expound on what is all taught in your TEFL certification?
Posted @ Monday, March 04, 2013 5:04 PM by Lydia
Hi Lydia, The TEFL course is at least 100 hours of courswork and 6 hours of observed teaching of ESL students. Some of our courses are up to 150 hours and the online class has 20 hours of student teaching. This is a link to the curriculum: 
Posted @ Tuesday, March 05, 2013 1:33 PM by International TEFL Academy
I have a degree in primary school teaching and fr the pet 2 years have been teaching in an Indigenous community in Australia which is comprised completely with ESL students. Do I still need this qualification and second if I do am I still required to complete the observation requirements? 
Posted @ Tuesday, July 16, 2013 12:34 AM by Ben Battams
Ben, how has your two years been. could you share how you like it and are you happy enough to stay. If you plan on going somewhere else.....where would you like to go. Just interested. Lydia
Posted @ Wednesday, July 17, 2013 4:11 PM by lydia
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