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What is TEFL and what is TEFL certification?

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language – in other words, teaching English to non-native English speakers. That could be a super-excited group of three-year-old kids in China, hardworking teenagers preparing for international exams in Japan or a smartly dressed business woman brushing up on her language skills in Brazil.

If you’re teaching English to someone who does not speak it as their first language, you are a TEFL teacher. And as English is in high demand all over the world, training as a TEFL teacher opens the door to amazing opportunities across the globe.

What is a TEFL course?

A TEFL course is a course that trains you to teach English as a Foreign Language. There are thousands of TEFL courses out there, from introductory courses lasting just a few hours, right through to DELTA courses – which are advanced level courses for TEFL practitioners who have had at least a couple of years of full-time teaching experience.

If you’re planning to find paid English teaching jobs abroad, then you need to look for a TEFL certification course from an accredited provider that lasts a minimum of 120 hours. A good TEFL certification course will give you a solid grounding in teaching methodology and equip you with the practical tools and materials you need to plan and deliver great lessons in the classroom. Equally important however, is that it leads to the all-important TEFL certification that you need to find paid English teaching work abroad.

What is TEFL certification?

TEFL certification means that you have successfully completed a TEFL certification course with an accredited provider and have a certificate to prove it. Revel in that feeling of a job well done!

Reputable TEFL employers will expect to see your TEFL certificate as part of their recruitment process. In addition, more and more countries are requiring prospective teachers to prove that they are TEFL certified before they will issue a visa. So your TEFL certificate is an important document. Frame it, photograph it, be proud of it. But definitely do not lose it!

What is a TEFL qualification?

Okay, this is where it gets a tad complicated, so bear with us…

A TEFL course trains you how to Teach English as a Foreign Language. A TEFL qualification shows that you have met nationally agreed standards for TEFL.

So, course = learning how to do TEFL. Qualification = proving you understand and can apply what you’ve learnt to a set standard.

Most TEFL training providers will give you a TEFL certificate if you complete their course. In practice, this is usually enough to bag you that first job. However, choosing a course that leads to a regulated qualification can push your CV up the pile and give you confidence in those all-important first lessons.

Tip: In England, all regulated TEFL qualifications appear on Ofqual’s register. If you’re not sure if a ‘TEFL qualification’ is genuine, check if it’s listed here.

How long does TEFL take?

Entry-level TEFL certification courses usually last for a minimum of 120 hours. However, the great news is that there’s loads of flexibility in how you study – so you can do a TEFL course as quickly or as slowly as you choose.

If you simply can’t wait to book that flight then you could start a fully online TEFL course today, work intensively on the course for the next two weeks and complete it within a fortnight. At the other end of the scale, you could spread out a part-time TEFL certification course for the best part of a year, with only a day or two’s commitment per month. For most people, there’s a midway balance of between one to two months.

Take a look at our article on which TEFL course you should take to find out more.

How much is a TEFL course?

How much a TEFL course costs depends on the course you choose.

Assuming you’re looking for a 120-hour TEFL certification course, the cheapest option is fully online training. Prices with accredited TEFL providers cost around £150-£300 ($200-$400 / €170-€350) – less if you keep your eye out for frequent reduced price offers. However, do bear in mind that this won’t give you any direct classroom experience.

At the other end of the scale, classroom-based courses come with a price tag of around £1,000-£1,500 ($1,300-$2,000 / €1,150-€1,750). Combined TEFL courses, which are a blend of online and classroom elements, sit in the middle. Expect to pay from around £250-£400 ($300-$550 / €280-€450) for this option – but again you can bag yourself a bargain if you watch out for offers.

In all cases, the price will go up if you want to add on specialist modules or choose CELTA or CertTESOL – the most widely recognised ‘brands’ of TEFL course worldwide.

When can I start my TEFL adventure?

Now! There are TEFL courses starting all the time, all over the world. And once you’ve got that hard-earned certificate in your hands, head straight over to our TEFL jobs pages and get packing for your first TEFL job in your dream destination.

Soon it will be you that’s dipping your toes into ridiculously turquoise sea in Vietnam, posting jaw-dropping Instagram images from the Great Wall of China or sampling scrumptious dishes in Mexico that bombard your senses with delight– and still getting to work on time!

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