You: Hello, hi, yes, I would like to teach abroad!
Me: Do you have a TEFL certificate?
You: UGH that’s all anyone seems to care about. But, like, why? Is TEFL worth it? Are online TEFL courses valid? Are they worth it? Are they good or bad? Will they be accepted?
Still you: Also, stop putting words in my mouth. And, are you real? Or just a figment of my imagination?
Me: Obviously I’m real. You’re reading this to yourself right now (probably at your desk, maybe in the library… I’m totally right, aren’t I? That’s beside the point.).
Real talk—what’s with everyone questioning is TEFL worth it? Seriously? OF COURSE it’s worth it, and it’s necessary. If you don’t believe me, your conscience/the all-knowing TEFL queen of this article, then you should trust our meaningful travel and TEFL experts.
We asked them your top two questions: is TEFL worth it? Is an online TEFL certification worth it? And, the big one: Will a TEFL certification really help me get a better teaching job? Here’s what they had to say…
The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.”
(But also, please use the book!).
Is getting a TEFL certificate actually worth it?
You’re looking for a reason to be abroad long-term, you’re wanting to work and really get to know your local community, then getting TEFL certified and teaching abroad is the best!
What is TEFL certification?
So, first things first, what is a TEFL certification? Well, TEFL stands for “Teaching English as a Foreign Language.” TEFL is a type of certification that’s acknowledged worldwide. And, it is a credential that you can earn to teach English in another country.
Do I reeeeeally need it?
So, do you reeeeally need a TEFL certification? Yes and here’s why.
If you have not taught before, and this was the case with me, I was not a trained teacher—y’all I had no idea what I was doing! Just because you can teach your dog a word or two of English, doesn’t mean that translates to teaching people. I needed to learn how to be an English teacher.
There are conventions and things that I’ve always stuck to because that’s how I learned the language just growing up speaking English, but I could never properly or succinctly explain those rules to someone until I took a TEFL certification course.
What are the benefits of TEFL certification?
A TEFL certificate makes you stand out when applying for jobs. Show future employers that you have the stuff to make it through a really rigorous course load in a very short amount of time. It really helped me to be more competitive and get the job that I have, and also allowed me to be more competitive with my salary. (Plus) Most schools will require it. So, get that certificate if having a good teaching job is one of your goals.
Okay, but is it actually worth it?
Yep. It’s definitely worth it. It’s a really great experience! I mean, whether you decide to immediately go into teaching abroad, whether you’re planning on teaching English abroad as your whole career, or as just, maybe, a little sabbatical or break, it’s only going to ensure that you have a successful time.
I didn’t want to just be a teacher, I really wanted to be a good teacher and I felt like having that foundation in the TEFL certificate was going to provide that for me. I’m doing lots of planning and working and preparation to make a classroom that is both engaging and helpful to my English learning students.
You’re going to learn great communication strategies. You’re going to learn how to lesson plan—which, sounds like it’s very specific to teaching, but writing up those plans and thinking higher level, trying to teach really complex concepts, is something that is easily translatable into any field, and is really going to help you long-term regardless of where you end up. And, I think that’s really valuable.
So, how do you get TEFL Certified?
Step 1: Find Your TEFL Course Provider & Understand Your Program Options
First things first is you’ve gotta look for programs online. Make sure it’s a reliable and trustworthy program through word-of-mouth references—you can ask to speak to someone who has taught with them before. Make sure they have a staff that’s responsive and will answer your questions. Check that they have a credible website, look up reviews, I read a lot of blogs.
There’s a few ways to [get TEFL certified]. I went the route of getting mine online because I have a lot of teaching experience already. It’s a great way to go. It tends to be less expensive. It’s really convenient, you can do it on your own time. You’re able to take a much more personalized approach to getting your TEFL certificate. And, sort of learn in your own style and at your own pace. But, if you don’t have that teaching background I definitely recommend looking into getting TEFL certification in a classroom environment.
You can also do an in-person course in the country where you plan on teaching. You can really adjust to life abroad in-country while taking your TEFL certification course. And, that can really help you once you get in the classroom. You’re all settled in and it makes it a little easier in order to start interviewing, and finding those teaching positions in-country.
[Guess what? You can get matched with TEFL courses… for FREE!]
Step 2: Ace Your Course & Teaching Practicum!
Once you find your program and you’ve signed up—you’re either chugging away online or you’re going to class every day, you’re going to have 120 hours minimum of classroom instruction, to kind of get a feel for the industry and what it’s about.
This is where you’re actually getting up, you’re in front of a class, and you’re teaching these lessons. As far as working with students, you know, that’s really the fun part. Teaching practicum is incredibly important to make sure that you are ready to go abroad and teach!
Make sure, also, that the program has rigorous requirements. You don’t want to be going to a program where they allow just anyone at all to teach because that probably means that they don’t care about their students.
Step 3: Time to Find a Teaching Job Abroad
Once you’ve aced all of that and you have your certificate in hand…
Use the resources from your program. A lot of TEFL certificate programs also include alumni services that have job placement assistance, in addition to helping you with your resume, and interview questions, and things like that. So, really take advantage of those resources.
It’s really interesting to see what jobs are available, where they are, how much they pay, what’s required. Think of a place you really want to go, you really want to teach, and start your search there! And, hopefully you’ll find something quick. But, the world is really your oyster. There are so many different countries that need qualified English teachers.
You’re just one click away from being an ESL teacher abroad.
*HAPPY DANCE TO THAT*
[Psssst… Me again, you can also save and compare teaching jobs side-by-side with MyGoAbroad...You’re welcome.]
- Step 1: Find programs & enroll
- Step 2: Ace your course & teaching practicum
- Step 3: Use TEFL resources to find a teaching job abroad
[Yeah, y’all. It’s THAT simple!]
Some final advice for future ESL teachers
One thing that no one told me, though, was that not everyone is there because they want to be. It’s just really important that you always, at the heart of things, keep your students in mind. For me, when I was learning a language I was PUMPED, I was so excited to be in the classroom. But, depending on where you are in the world, some people may be learning English not because they want to, but because they have to for tourism or for their job. So, ask your students what is their motivation, why they’re there, and take that and be compassionate.
Make sure that you’re listening to them and helping them engage. Really find that “Aha!” moment, where they get it, because that’s the best part about teaching—is that little “ting!” when you see the light bulb go off. Inspire these kids to not only learn English, but enjoy learning English, and continue learning once the class is over.
So, if you’re excited and you’re wanting to help students reach that light bulb moment, teaching English abroad is definitely, definitely, definitely for you. And, if you want to teach abroad then you have got to get your TEFL certificate. Teaching abroad is really one of the best ways to be abroad for an extended period of time and to do so in a meaningful way.
One last time for the people in the back! Getting your TEFL certificate is totally worth it and you should start looking for programs RIGHT NOW!
Next steps to earning your TEFL certificate—because it IS worth it
Yeah. Seriously. Right. FREAKING. Now. Here are some more rad resources to help you get the ball rolling!
- Get matched with the perfect TEFL certificate program with an Online Advisor
- Save and compare your top-pick TEFL programs with MyGoAbroad
- The Ultimate Guide to TEFL Certification for Americans Who Want to Teach Abroad
- TEFL Certification Online vs. Classes: Which is Right for You?
- Download our free ebook with the best advice across the web for new ESL teachers!
Now you’re ready to get certified and get in the classroom! Chalk it up to being well-prepared.
Check out these TEFL certification providers
With options online, in your home country, and abroad, there’s no shortage of TEFL programs to help make your teach abroad dreams come true. Here are a few favorites:
1. TEFL Worldwide Prague
For a great experience getting hands-on teacher training abroad, TEFL Worldwide Prague is the ideal program. It’s short, sweet, but still pretty intense, and with their dedicated staff and job placement services, you’ll be teaching abroad in no time!
2. International TEFL Academy
The world is your oyster with International TEFL Academy, offering accredited TEFL classes in 25 locations worldwide and state-of-the-art online classes part time. In addition to earning an internationally accredited qualification recognized worldwide, all of ITA’s students receive lifetime job search guidance and access to a full array of alumni services and networking opportunities. #WorthIt
3. Premier TEFL
Premier TEFL offers fully accredited, easy-to-understand, and affordable courses online. You’ll be certified and ready to teach abroad in just three months! Plus, their staff is attentive and helpful in guiding you through the course.
4. i-To-i TEFL
i-To-i TEFL gives you the freedom and flexibility to take courses online, in-class, or a combination of both! Allowing you to take the bulk of your coursework in your own time online, but still get in-class teaching practice. With stellar job placement assistance, you’ll be working with students from all over the world before you even finish asking “is TEFL worth it?”
A little less talk, a lot more TEFL
Ultimately, deciding is TEFL worth it or whether or not an online tefl certificate is worth it, is totally up to you. We’re not saying there aren’t teaching jobs out there if you don’t get TEFL certified, but we still strongly recommend that you take the time and put in the effort to get certified. Like Jannan said, you don’t just want to be a teacher, you want to be a good teacher, right? A TEFL certification will help you be a better, more effective teacher. That’s a win-win for you and your students.
So, you tell us… is TEFL worth it?