Have you noticed that in most places you visit you find at least a few people who speak a little English? English is fast becoming a global language used in business, tourism, international government, and aviation. People around the world realize the value in speaking English and the possibilities that open up to them if they have some level of fluency. Whether a person or a company is trying to compete on the international stage or a domestic one, English has become something of a gateway to success.
With a growing desire to learn English comes a growing need for English teachers. And a growing need for English teachers has translated to a growing number of ways to get TEFL certified. If you’re a native English speaker looking to work abroad, teaching English as a foreign language could be for you. Read on if you’re dying to find out how to become TEFL certified.
Understanding your options abroad vs. at home
We’ve all got different learning styles, budgets, and timelines. It’s a good thing then, that there are a few ways to get TEFL certified. You can get certified at home or abroad; in person, online, or a combination of both. Maybe you’re not sure where in the world you want to teach, or you want to fit in a course while you’re preparing to move abroad. Online classes mean you can become TEFL certified anywhere. In-person classes at home allow you to get hands-on experience without the added pressure of adapting to a new home.
If you already have your heart set on a certain spot, then why wait to get your travels started?! Taking a TEFL course abroad and get a headstart on your own language learning, start building up a tolerance to spicy curry, learn your way around your new home. Taking an online course while abroad allows you to settle into your chosen country while having the flexibility to study remotely. An in-person class abroad will give you the opportunity to adapt to your new surroundings and become TEFL certified at the same time (2 birds, one awesome experience!).
3 common ways to become TEFL certified
Abroad or at home, there are three common ways to get TEFL certified:
The king of convenience! Read on to learn our take on the pros and cons of online TEFL courses.
- Pros: An online TEFL course can be completed at home or abroad (in your new home?). In most cases you can complete an online course at your own pace. This can be especially useful if you’re also working to complete another degree and/or working hard to save money for your big international adventure. Online courses are often cheaper than in-person ones too. If you’re still wondering if TEFL is really right for you, an online class will let you learn a bit more before you commit to a destination and new career.
- Cons: While you can be a successful TEFL teacher online, most future teachers are planning to teach IRL. Online TEFL courses do not provide you with an opportunity to get some hands on, real-world classroom practice. Not every job will require you to have classroom experience before you start teaching, but it will definitely give your application a boost.
- More info: New teachers, consider the hands-on experience factor before you embark on your TEFL journey. If you’ve already been named teacher of the year a few times and are just looking for a new outlet for your educational genius, you probably aren’t quite as worried about finding a TEFL class with hands-on practice built in. If you’re ready to scare some students with the sometimes bizarre grammar rules of the English language then check out GoAbroad’s guide to online TEFL courses.
An in-person TEFL course can be completed at home or abroad (class at the beach sounds way more exciting though).
- Pros: An in-person course will, in addition to teaching lessons, allow you to get some hands-on experience in a classroom. Since the end goal is to teach real people, classroom experience will be beneficial. An in-person course is a great excuse to get the adventure started. Choosing a TEFL course in the country you want to teach in will give you a head start in learning about, and acclimating to, your new home. Finding a job is often easier if you’re already in-country too. Of all the ways to get TEFL certified, an in-person and in-country course may be the most daunting, but also the most adventurous!
- Cons: Choosing an in-person course is a big commitment though. These courses are usually about 4 weeks of intensive training. While the cost of living in your chosen destination may be lower than at home, the course itself is often more expensive than an online one. While a TEFL course abroad will give you the opportunity to ease into life abroad before you find a job, dealing with cultural adjustment and learning about a new place while studying hard can be a struggle.
- More Info: Does walking past the Colosseum on your way to class sound like the perfect life? How about classes on the beach in Costa Rica? Or are you dreaming about riding your bicycle across the Amsterdam canals after a full day of TEFL learning? If you said yes to any of those idyllic scenarios, then check this guide to in-person TEFL courses abroad.
Having trouble making decisions? Why not find an online TEFL course that includes classroom practice?! This sounds like the best of both worlds. Online TEFL courses are usually cheaper and more flexible than in-person classes, but in-person classes give you the opportunity to try out teaching in a real classroom. Not everyone can make an in-person and/or international TEFL course work and that is ok. There are several very good online courses out there (see the link to our guide above).
- Pros: Getting some in-person, hands-on experience in a classroom will be invaluable when it comes time to find a teaching job. And when you walk into class that first day to your eager students (or maybe not if you’re teaching teenagers), you’ll be confident that you know how to handle a classroom setting and impart your English language wisdom to the group.
- Cons: The downside to this method is that finding the right combination to fit your needs can be tough. Programs that are all online or all in-person are more common. If you’ve got the motivation you can do anything. Find the TEFL program of your dreams with GoAbroad’s help!
Next steps to getting TEFL certified
Now that we’ve shown you how to become TEFL certified in a variety of ways, you’ve got a lot to think about and that’s a good thing. TEFL certification courses come in all shapes and sizes, all over the world. Now that you know a bit more about your options, it’s time to choose a course, learn A LOT, find a job, and have fun! If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the different ways to get TEFL certified, check out some more resources:
- Suzanne knows what it’s like to be overwhelmed by choices.
- GoAbroad’s Online Advisors are ready to offer you customized advice to help you find the perfect program
- Follow up a chat with your GoAbroad advisor with this article that aims to help you find the course that’s right for you.
- Did you know there’s more than one type of certification for English teachers abroad?
- Worried about cost?
- What happens when you’re finally TEFL certified?
Feeling more informed and excited? Hooray! That was our goal. Now you just need to pick a destination (there are 195 countries in the world, good luck!).
Ready to get that new qualification?!
English is the language everyone, everywhere, wants to learn. You’re a native English speaker? Perfect! Teaching English as a Foreign Language is popular amongst a wide variety of people from career changers, to travelers looking to make money along the way. While you don’t strictly need certification to teach English abroad, you significantly improve your job prospects if you become TEFL certified (and you’ll be a better teacher too!).