Getting Started In TEFL: Choosing A TEFL Course

The demand for English teachers around the world today is very high, as English continues to be the preferred language in many areas of life, from study and work to entertainment and travel. For the foreseeable future at least, you will never be short of a job if you choose English teaching as a career.

So, if you’ve heard tales from a returning teacher of the wonders of living and working in Thailand, Brazil or Morocco and you think it might just be the career for you, how, exactly, do you get started?

Well, the first thing to confront you may well be the minefield of acronyms, so let’s work through that first of all.

ESL stands for English as a Second Language. Add a T, giving TESL, and you have Teaching English as a Second Language.

EFL is English as a Foreign Language. Again, add a T, and you have TEFL, Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

Traditionally, TEFL refers to teaching in non-English speaking countries, whereas TESL refers to teaching in English speaking countries, to non-native speakers living or working there. In practice, though, the two terms are often used interchangeably, and both are covered by the all-encompassing TESOL, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

During your training or job search, you might come across a host of other acronyms, asking you if you have experience teaching ESP or EAP, FCE or IELTS! Don’t be daunted by these – there is a link to the most common acronyms at the bottom of this article. tefl certification online free

Now that you know a little about some of the jargon you’ll be facing, the next step is usually a qualification of some kind. The days of being able to secure an English teaching job solely on the strength of being a native speaker, although not entirely gone, are fading fast. A quick search on the internet for “TEFL courses” (we’ll stick with this acronym for now) will return a mind-boggling selection, of varying content, duration, and quality, and it can be difficult to know what to go for.

It might surprise you to discover that most TEFL courses are short. The most internationally recognised and accepted are the “CELTA” (there’s yet another acronym for you), run by the University of Cambridge, and the “Trinity Cert TESOL”, run by Trinity College, London. Both of these are 120 hour, classroom-based courses, and include several hours of observed teaching practice. In other words, they get you in front of students during the course so that you can put into practice what you learn. These courses are usually studied over a very intensive four week period, and involve a lot of work outside the classroom, preparing classes and writing assignments.

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