TEFL Courses in North America

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A Guide to TEFL Courses in North America

From the cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula to the peaks of the Canadian Rockies, North America offers an endless juxtaposition of languages, cultures, landscapes, and opportunities for high-quality TEFL certification. A magnet for people from across the world, the birthplace of the “melting pot” cliché really does provide a whirlwind of adventures. Though English is spoken in its most populated countries, North America offers a chance to get TEFL certified with the added challenge of learning quirky regional dialects. Whether you are moving to the next city over or to country that seems a world away, earning TEFL certification in North America is a proven grand adventure.


From sea to shining sea, there are cities-a-plenty to choose from when earning your TEFL certificate in North America.

The best choice for where to study will depend on your personal interests and goals you have for getting TEFL certified. Are you more interested in a metropolitan city like Vancouver or New York? In these cities, you can focus on your future professional network and job opportunities. However, a more low-key city with beautiful parklands nearby is Portland. Whatever scenario is up your alley, North America has you covered with a range of TEFL and TESOL training options.

If it is your first time going away from home, it may be more comfortable to try a similar environment in the U.S. Good location options for TEFL certification in North America include Chicago, with its beautiful Lake Michigan, and Seattle, home to some of the country’s best food, coffee, and outdoor adventures. If you are keen for warmer temperatures and want to experience more Latino culture, Miami is also a great pick. But if you’d like to get away from the mainland all together, try a TEFL program in Honolulu!

If you’re ready to up and go somewhere much different, you may want to look at the TEFL and TESOL programs in Belize, Costa Rica, or Guatemala. These locations may also offer you a guaranteed paid job after your training, so it’s a valuable experience in more ways than one. Alternatively, you could explore the flavors of Mexico, with a delectable, daily, dose of chilaquiles for breakfast, hop on a cable car in Montmorency Falls, near Quebec City, or feast on some poutine in Montreal. Lastly, why not get your TEFL surf up, while living on the coast in San Diego? The options for TEFL certification in North America are (as we said) endless.

TEFL Programs in North America

TESOL and TEFL courses in North America can be structured in different ways, depending on where you study and what provider you choose to complete your certification with. TEFL programs in North America vary in length, which is most often noted in hours, from 20 hours to 140 hours. An average TEFL program length which is deemed acceptable by employers is 120 hours. You can also choose to earn TEFL certification part-time or full-time, or even online.

For most TEFL programs in North America, there is a combination of online and offline coursework required. One of the benefits to having online coursework is the opportunity to complete forum assignments, where students from around the world contribute their perspectives on a given discussion topic. Experiencing this diverse interaction will help you become more sensitive, as a teacher, to the mixture of opinions and learning styles which future students may share. TEFL courses in North America usually blend exams, quizzes, and real-world application of lessons. This is another major benefit because it keeps the coursework engaging and helps achieve necessary learning objectives in a thoughtful way. 

Keeping up with readings and staying on top of lesson planning assignments is an important aspect of becoming TEFL certified abroad. Learning the theories and philosophies of education and language learning will become just as important as your own language learning endeavors.

Costs & Affordability

TEFL program prices will differ significantly based on where you decide to earn your certification and what additional resources the program provider includes. Much like in any other case, if it’s a reliable and legitimate organization, “you get what you pay for!”

There are TEFL programs in North America that will appear more expensive than others, but that may be because they offer a pre-training course, an expansive alumni network, guaranteed job placement after the program, and/or housing. This is not the case for every TEFL certification program in North America, so be sure to ask all the questions you have during or before the application process.

TEFL programs in Canada can range from $900 to $3500, while some TEFL programs in Guatemala and Mexico will run about $1995. However, remember to keep in mind the cost of living in specific locations. Even if you sign up for a cheaper TEFL program, you might end up spending more on accommodation and daily living. Consider both the TEFL courses and the country!

Accommodations & Visas

Each TEFL certification program in North America will have its own requirements about what type of visa is needed to study and/or work in that specific country. More specifically, it will depend on what country you are coming from. The best way to find out is to speak with an advisor at the provider’s office, and be sure to check out GoAbroad's Embassy Directory for more information.

Some countries will consider the practicum/placement portion of your course as “work” and some may view it simply as part of the course-work, so it’s important to check if you only need a tourist visa (since the course is short) or a work/study visa.

Accommodation can vary from shared student dorm rooms to small apartments. There can be homestay options, hostels or hotels, based on where you study and how long your program is. TEFL program providers will typically help enrolled students to find cost effective housing in the area, but the decision on where to stay is ultimately up to the student.

Benefits & Challenges

The benefits to earning TEFL certification in North America are as boundless as the opportunities thereafter! Your network of friends and colleagues will expand enormously, as there are students from all sorts of different backgrounds in the program with you.Many people who care about becoming this type of educator care because they were positively impacted by a teacher somewhere along the way. It’s interesting to get to know your classmates and their motivations for taking the course.

A majority of the TEFL programs in North America offer job search support and provide helpful professional connections upon completion. They will support their alumni even after program completion, so that their students apply the new skills and knowledge gained as a TEFL/TESOL certified instructor.

The biggest challenges for TEFL and TESOL program students can be stepping outside of their comfort zone and getting to know new people, quickly. Public speaking is an essential skillset for all teachers, because of how often they stand in front of a classroom full of students. It’s especially important for language teachers to lead by example. Being a native English speaker is helpful in this regard, but it can also make it hard for TEFL teachers to remember their students’ perspective, as second language English learners. Remembering to consider unique learning styles and differing viewpoints from the students is most valuable.

The best reason to consider TEFL courses in North America is the value given to communication throughout the country. There are so many different places, people, cultures, and so much history, that it can be very confusing finding a correct identity. It’s important to understand why ESL students need the instruction they do and it’s best to put yourself in their shoes. North America offers so many TEFL opportunities for teachers, who wish to do just that!

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TEFL Courses in North America


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