tefl certification

Is TEFL Hard to Pass? Can You Fail a TEFL Course?

How hard is it to get a TEFL certificate? How hard is the TEFL exam? Let's take a look at how difficult a TEFL course can be and how, with the right expectations and work commitment, you can set yourself up for success.

In this article, we assume you know nothing about teaching or language instruction and start from ground zero on day one.

How Hard is it to Get a TEFL Certificate?

As long as you dedicate enough time to your coursework, complete your assignments on deadline, and respond positively to instructor feedback, you are very unlikely to fail your TEFL certification course. For instance, It is very rare for any student to fail a TEFL certification course provided by International TEFL Academy. As a matter of fact, International TEFL Academy has a passing rate of over 90% (one of the highest passing rates of any TEFL school worldwide). 

Our goal is to train the best English teachers possible and to provide our students with the best pre-enrollment advice. This ensures that our students succeed, both in choosing an appropriate TEFL course and finding exciting and rewarding opportunities to teach English abroad or online

To set yourself up for success, It is very important to have the right expectations prior to enrolling in any TEFL course. If you think your four-week TEFL course in Costa Rica or Thailand is going to be one big "spring break", where you can hit the town every night, you are in for a big surprise. These are intense, college-level courses and you will need to approach your course accordingly. You need to show up ready for class every day with your work completed and ready to go. You will have time during the weekend to relax and sightsee, but do not consider your TEFL course to be a holiday, or you will not pass.

Is TEFL Hard?

An accredited professional-level TEFL course is similar to a standard university class and you should prepare to commit the time you need to complete your coursework & practicum. If you meet class deadlines and respond positively to instructor feedback, you are unlikely to fail your TEFL course.

Can you fail your TEFL course?

How Hard is the TEFL Exam?

There is not a single exam that one must pass to get TEFL certified. Rather you will need to pass an accredited TEFL course that incorporates at least 100 hours of coursework, including lessons, exercises, tests/quizzes, and projects. Live practice teaching is also an essential part of an accredited TEFL certification.

All of our internationally accredited TEFL courses meet or exceed the standards of 100 hours of training and 6 hours of student teaching established by the British Council.  We train over 5,000 students a year and do not want any student attending who cannot realistically pass a class if they put in the time and effort.

ITA TEFL courses are comparable to a 100 level 5-6 credit hour university class and therefore, we maintain strict requirements for who can enroll:

  • A minimum of a High School Diploma or GED.
  • Fluent and proficient English Skills.
  • Non-native speakers will be required to write a brief essay and interview over the phone to verify their English skills prior to enrollment.
  • Ability to complete a university-level course that incorporates extensive reading, homework, papers, quizzes, tests, lesson plans, and student teaching/observation (practicum).  All work is graded and each student must pass the class and fulfill the practicum requirement to earn their certification.
  • Those without a four-year degree are able to enroll in our Online TEFL course.
  • Requirements and admissions policies for the Four-week Onsite Courses vary from course to course and non-native English speakers or native speakers without a four-year degree will be considered on a case-by-case basis and may be required to write an essay and/or interview. 


Other Considerations That Can Affect Your Ability to Pass 

When assessing if a TEFL course is difficult, you should also ask yourself the following:

  • Do I have enough time to dedicate to an intensive four-week TEFL course or will a part-time online course be a better fit? (Learn how the online TEFL course is ideal for those looking to earn their TEFL certification while working or going to school full-time.)
  • Do I have 10-12 hours a week to dedicate to my Online TEFL course?
  • Will I be able to focus my time and energy for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for a full month if I take a four-week course on location? Classes are typically from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday - Friday.  Student teaching is often completed in the evening.  Plan on another two hours a night to study and complete homework. 

It is the student's responsibility to check grades routinely and read through the feedback provided by the instructor. All assignments and quizzes are pass-fail graded. Students must pass our required qualifications framework and will have five attempts to pass quizzes with a 100% score and one attempt to resubmit each assignment if it does not receive a 100% score. Your instructor will coordinate a resubmission attempt so you are successful, and Student Affairs is available to help if you need to transfer to another course.

Withdrawing From Your TEFL Course

ITA does understand that many students may fall behind in a course due to illness, family emergencies, work, school, or other factors besides academics. Our transfer policy found in the Terms and Conditions document allows online class students to transfer to a different course or course date up to twice at any time before or during their TEFL class without losing their tuition.

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Support From the ITA Staff to Help You Succeed

Finally, our Student Affairs staff and our university-level professors work with all of our students while enrolled in our courses to assist them in addressing any of their concerns or questions during the course.  Our job is to professional train you, your job is to be teachable and do the work. 

Want to know more about our professors? Check out this article.

 As long as you commit the right time and effort into a TEFL course and speak English fluently, you should do very well in our courses. Nonetheless, you should speak with a TEFL Advisor prior to enrolling in a TEFL certification course. Please read our vision statement to learn more about our philosophy and our approach to education and TEFL certification.


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