“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 represents one of the fastest growing educational fields in the world. The field presents thousands of excellent professional opportunities for teaching English abroad in all corners of the globe to native and fluent English speakers who earn their TEFL/TESOL certification.
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.
What is TEFL & what does it have to do with teaching English abroad?
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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 getting a job teaching English abroad
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. You don't need to possess a degree in education, prior teaching experience, or even a college degree to get paid to teach English abroad. Private language schools abroad want to hire people who have received a certain degree of professional level training. Internationally recognized standards hold that professional-level TEFL certification must meet certain standards established by 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.
International TEFL Academy TEFL Certification Course Options:
- Four-week International Courses in 25 Locations Worldwide
- Online TEFL Certification (11 weeks, part-time)
Learn more about Teaching English Abroad
Request a free brochure or call 773-634-9900 to speak with an expert advisor about all aspects of TEFL certification and teaching English abroad, including the hiring process, salaries, visas, TEFL class options, job placement assistance and more.
- How quickly can I get TEFL certified and begin teaching English abroad?
- What's the Difference Between TEFL, TESOL & CELTA?
- 7 Key Tips to Evaluating a TEFL / TESOL Training School
- What is Accreditation for TEFL Certification Really All About?
- Is a TEFL Certification Required to Teach English Abroad?
NOTE: This article was originally published in 2011. It has been updated and refreshed for accuracy & freshness on May 31, 2017