Thinking about teaching English abroad for your next global adventure?
If you aren’t, you should be. Teaching abroad is a round-trip ticket to anywhere in the world that most intrigues you. English has become the lingua franca of the 21st century, and native-speaking teachers are in high demand to pass along this valuable skill to learners of all ages and proficiencies. This is an opportunity to travel the world, place yourself in a unique environment, experience and promote cultural exchange, and learn every bit as much as you teach along the way.
If you are already thinking about teaching English abroad, then you know there’s some initial steps you must take before embarking on the adventure. The first is earning your Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification, which qualifies you to teach English to second-language speakers all across the world. There are tons of TESOL certification programs out there, and choosing the right one can be a daunting task. So to help out, we’ve compiled a cheat sheet that will help you with exactly how to get TESOL certified.
What is "TESOL certification?"
TESOL and TEFL certifications are the most commonly recognized qualifications around the world for teaching English to non-native speakers. While the two types of certification are very similar, the technical difference is that TESOL designates teaching English to second-language speakers (ESL) in an English-speaking country, while TEFL designates teaching ESL in a non-English speaking country. Most positions you apply to, though, will treat either certification as equivalent to the other.
Is there a difference between TEFL, TESOL and TESL? Technically speaking, yes. TEFL teachers teach English in non-native English speaking countries. TESL teachers teach English in native English speaking countries, and TESOL is the general term to cover all three! —Premier TEFL
Once you go through training and become TESOL certified, you will be eligible to begin teaching ESL all around the world in a variety of formats. From teaching young children in primary school or after-school classes to working with fluent professionals to perfect their accent, ESL teachers are in high demand everywhere to help smoothly facilitate communication in the 21st century. Many TESOL schools will also offer lifetime job-placement assistance, maintaining a network of schools and programs across many different regions of the world.
There are two basic ways to go about your TEFL/TESOL training: In-class and online courses. Both generally require at least 120 hours of training in order to become certified. However there are some important differences between the two.
In-class TESOL Certification
The major benefit of in-class as opposed to online training is that you can gain practical experience in a classroom setting; learning and communicating in person, while also getting the opportunity to practice teaching in front of a classroom. This type of TESOL/TEFL training can help you get comfortable working with peers and pupils, preparing you to jump straight into a teaching job upon graduation.
Another benefit of in-class training is that you can travel anywhere in the world to take courses. If you are planning to look for an ESL teaching job in China, for example, there are many TESOL/TEFL training programs that will enable you to become certified in-country— making it that much easier to find a teaching job abroad! This introductory training period is extremely valuable in familiarizing yourself with the new language and culture of the country in which you intend to begin teaching, and can help with networking opportunities as well.
Online TESOL Certification
The major benefit of online as opposed to in-class courses is practicality. Earning your TESOL/TEFL certificate online enables you to complete the training at your leisure as you have time, starting immediately whenever you want to begin, remotely from anywhere in the world. Understandably, online training programs are also significantly more affordable than in-classroom training. The quality of the content you are learning will not change, either, as many TESOL/TEFL training programs offer the same curriculum in both formats.
Some online courses are also hybrid, offering you the opportunity to interact with teachers or mentors via the web throughout the duration of your studies, and also offering supplemental in-classroom practice teaching opportunities in certain major cities.
One can’t say objectively whether online or in-classroom training is better; it comes down to you, the aspiring teacher, your prior experience with ESL, and the type of training you deem most useful in pursuing your ultimate path to teaching abroad.
TESOL certification costs & requirements
As mentioned, online courses are the more affordable option between the two. In-class courses can run up to costing a couple thousand dollars, while online courses will cost you several hundred. There is a large variance in the affordability of different TESOL/TEFL programs, so take the time to research a lot of different options that will fit in your budget. The bright side is that once you become TESOL certified, you can actually be employed in a salaried teaching position anywhere in the world, and quickly make this money back.
Beyond the financial commitment, TESOL certification requirements include at least 120 hours of training, and many programs will offer additional hours on top of this base requirement if you plan on gaining practice teaching in front of a classroom or specializing within your studies in anyway (i.e. teaching to native Spanish, Mandarin, or Arabic speakers). Online courses will allow you to complete these minimum hours as you have the time, while in-classroom courses will most often fan the classes out across a one-month training period.
Top TESOL certification programs
International TEFL Academy is one of the largest providers for TEFL training in the world, with classes offered in over 25 locations around the globe. Certifying thousands of new teachers every year and linking graduates to 80 countries around the world, you can’t go wrong with this proven organization.
International TEFL and TESOL Training works with major TESOL/TEFL providers to set you up with top-rated training courses all around the world, from Brazil to Ireland to Thailand. They also offer professional guidance throughout for graduates throughout their educational careers.
3. Maximo Nivel
If you’re interested in combining your training with the opportunity to immerse yourself in a Spanish-speaking country, then Maximo Nivel is a great organization to look to. They offer all sorts of acclaimed programs across Latin America, including TEFL certification courses.
Oxford Seminars offers courses taught by experienced professionals covering a wide array of teaching methods and strategies. They also prepare you for teaching English to second-language learners in a variety of formats, from children in grammar school to business professionals.
Online TESOL certification programs
1. Premier TEFL
Premier TEFL has over three decades of experience in the field of teaching English to second-language learners, and today offers a diversity of online programs that span different depths and costs. Programs are practical, manageable, and allot trainees up to three months to complete all the course-sections.
University of Toronto is one of the most highly regarded universities in the world, and their online TEFL training is put together by leading educators in the field. Programs are offered at 100 hours, 120 hours, and 150 hours, with the opportunity to specialize with each ascending length according to your particular ESL aspirations.
3. i-to-i TEFL
Since its inception over 20 years ago, i-to-i TEFL has trained over 150,000 educators to teach all around the world. Their online courses are fully accredited, and their jobs board regularly lists hundreds of of jobs that you can apply to across the globe immediately after graduation.
Get TESOL certified, bay-bay
Now that you better understand how to get TESOL certified, you can go out and make your dreams of teaching English as a second language (both at home and abroad) a reality. Remember to always read program reviews and reach out to program alumni to get the real scoop on TESOL certification cost and requirements.