Welcome to the world of TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) AKA the gateway to the dream of studying or even working abroad in the United States for all international people from other language backgrounds. While the TOEFL might not have been on your horizon compared to its cousins, the SAT, ACT, and GRE, it’s kind of a big deal for most students around the world. Plus, if you’ve been considering getting certified to teach English, you may have also heard TOEFL tossed around with all the other acronyms of TESOL, TEFL, CELTA, and IELTS. Sound familiar?
We know, all these exams and certifications might just seem like an alphabet jumble of acronyms. But, look no further! Here’s everything you want to know about TOEFL certification.
Some FAQs on TOEFL
What is TOEFL?
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is a standardized test administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to create a baseline for comparison of students by their English language capabilities. The TOEFL exam is comprised of 4 sections: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. Each section has a maximum value of 30 points for a maximum total score of 120 points. Just like some other standardized test you may know and love or any other language tests in your past, the TOEFL is highly structured and features a variety of annoyingly dense texts, fast audio recordings, confusing speaking prompts, and abstract essays that are designed to both test knowledge of specific skills and also knowledge of how to take the test.
As a TOEFL teacher, you’ll have the opportunity to work with students not only on their English capabilities but also on their abilities to remain calm, cool, and collected as they conquer this scary test. While TESOL, TEFL, and CELTA are all certifications to teach English abroad to different audiences, a TOEFL certification will train you in how to prepare students for this specific exam. This means gaining knowledge both in the aspects of English that are usually tested on the exam, as well as the strategies to move through the exam swiftly and adeptly. Perhaps this sounds like a specialized and narrow-minded certification to go after. However, as a TOEFL teacher, you will play an important role in the futures of ambitious students with big goals that extend beyond taking the TOEFL.
Why Does a TOEFL Matter?
The TOEFL exam plays a highly important role for students, teachers, admissions officers, and universities as it is one of the most widely recognized standards of English language proficiency. Almost all higher education institutions in the US, and some even in the UK, require that students submit a TOEFL exam score along with their applications. This is then used to judge their qualifications for succeeding in an academic setting and can make or break a school’s admission decision about a particular student. While every university has different average scores for admitted applicants, most American universities will only consider applicants for scholarships who score an 80 or above on the TOEFL exam.
How is TOEFL certification different than TESOL, TEFL, CELTA, etc.?
TESOL, TEFL, and CELTA are all specific teaching certifications for teachers abroad looking to work with students across all levels of English language proficiency. As a TOEFL teacher, however, you’ll be working with students who are intermediate to proficient in English, looking to ace their TOEFL exams in order to embark on their own international education adventure.
Your teacher TOEFL teacher training and certification will resemble TESOL, TEFL, and CELTA classes; since you’ll still be teaching general English grammar, writing, reading, and aural comprehension, but with additional practice teaching specific TOEFL test strategies. That way your students will walk into their test confident they have what it takes to ace it!
How to Become a TOEFL Teacher
Are you ready to be the teacher that changes a student’s life and gives them the skills to get the score to attend the international school of their dreams? Then it’s time to become a TOEFL teacher! The first step is to get certified to be an English language teacher with either TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certification. At its heart, the TOEFL Is an English test and so your foundation as an English language teacher will be invaluable as you help your students. Plus, when teaching abroad, having a basic English teaching certification will allow you a wider variety of job opportunities at language schools or when teaching privately to prepare students for the TOEFL exam.
Some TOEFL teacher training and certification courses are combined programs that will both certify you to teach English generally and prepare you for how to teach to the TOEFL test. If you’re serious about exam preparation, look out for these supplementary certifications, as well as the requirements for employers in your target destination for teaching.
Best places to teach TOEFL abroad
Finding both financial and personal success as a TOEFL teacher abroad is all about where there’s a demand for students to take the test. Think about it, where are the most international students coming to the United States coming from? According to the 2016 Open Doors Report, the top 4 countries of origin for international students in the United States are:
Almost one-third of all international students coming to the United States are Chinese, which means there’s a massive number of Chinese students who are getting serious about taking the TOEFL exam each year. Aim to teach in wealthier cities like Shanghai or Beijing where parents are making the investment in their children to score high on the TOEFL and get into the top American universities.
From the beginning of the 2014 academic year to 2015, the number of Indian students studying in the United States grew by approximately 25%! With India’s continued economic development and the second-largest population size following China, there’s no doubt that the number of educated students seeking higher education overseas will continue to grow. Meet some of the world’s future travelers and innovators by teaching TOEFL in India.
3. Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is one of the most oil-rich countries in the world and places a high value on strong higher education. While the country has several exceptional universities, Saudis value international education and have several scholarship programs for their students to study in the United States that require the TOEFL exam. However, be prepared for some cultural limitations, such as gender-segregated classrooms or tutoring sessions, depending on the school or clientele you choose to teach.
4. South Korea
Known for their rigorous education system, South Koreans take learning seriously and are high-achievers when it comes to studying overseas. While Seoul is the capital and likely to be the biggest hub for students taking the TOEFL, teaching in other cities, like Busan, is a great way to see other parts of the country and meet a variety of students and people who will highly value the expertise of a TOEFL-certified native English speaking teacher.
Changing lives with a TOEFL certification
Join in the fever of the global community of international students by getting to know the TOEFL exam. With a TOEFL teacher certification, you’ll be able to reach out to students who both want to connect with American culture in the classroom and outside of it as they continue to pursue their academic and professional dreams. Think back to when you got back your own SAT or GRE score or a university admissions letter and felt that rush of excitement and satisfaction.
As a TOEFL teacher, you’ll get to relive those moments all over again with the joy on your students’ faces as they pass through one more gateway on their journey to study or work abroad. There are many ways to make a difference by teaching English abroad, but being a TOEFL teacher is a direct way to transform your students’ lives!