Here’s Why You Should Get TEFL Certified Before You Go Abroad

Authored By:

Joanna Y.

If you’re thinking about teaching abroad you’ve most likely come across TEFL certification as part of your research. In fact, you’ve probably come across a billion different TEFL certifications online, and are wondering which one is worth spending your hard earned $$ on - if any. There are quite a few English teaching jobs that don’t even require applicants to be TEFL certified, afterall, and it can sound pretty tempting to save your dollars and just learn on the job. 

But, what if there was more to getting TEFL certified than meets the eye? Read on to find out some surprising benefits to getting TEFL certified before you travel overseas...

Choose your perfect adventure

One of the amazing things about TEFL teaching is that it it literally opens up a world of employment opportunities. But, for the indecisive among us, this can also mean there are some near impossible decisions to make. How do you choose between an incredible 12 months in Spain or an awe-inspiring year in China?

If you love the idea of teaching abroad but haven’t quite pinned down where or when you want to go, a TEFL certification course might be the first step in helping you decide. A little insight might reveal that you’re interested in teaching kids, for example, or that you love helping learners get up to speed with writing in the latin alphabet. Ask your tutors about their experiences in different countries, talk to your fellow students about their teaching plans and soak up what you learn about different cultures during your course. All of this can help you balance your following your dreams with making an informed decision that you’ll feel confident in wherever you choose to teach. 

Build up your teaching skills

Next up, the obvious. If you’re new to English teaching getting TEFL certified before you travel will give you all the skills you need to make your time in the classroom a success from the get-go. Any good TEFL certification course will help you get to grips with education theory (such as how language acquisition works and teaching methodology), as well as the nitty-gritty of English grammar and lesson planning. All of which will you’ll want to have a good grasp of before you’re standing up in front of a class-full of students. 

Ultimately, getting TEFL certification is the surest way to make sure you walk into the first day of your new teaching job feeling confident in what you bring to the classroom.

Learn at your own pace

As we’ve mentioned, there are a lot of TEFL certification courses out there and actually picking one of them can be overwhelming. It’s no surprise that jumping on a plane to do a month-long TEFL immersion in Prague or Thailand can easily seem like the most tempting option, especially when you’re itching to get out there and spread your wings in the wider world. 

But, before you book a flight, take a moment to think about your long-term goals. 

Any course that you sign up for should be a good fit for your budget, timeframe and learning needs. Remember, TEFL certification lasts a lifetime and arms you with skills that will come in handy throughout your teaching career, so it’s worth making sure you get the most out of any certification course you sign up for. For many aspiring teachers, completing TEFL certification courses before they travel allows them to focus on acquiring new skills in a familiar, low-stress environment. And with plenty of online options (such as CIEE’s own 150-hour TEFL certification) many courses fit in around your existing schedule, giving you extra time to earn travel funds, pack your bags, and tie up any loose ends at home before you start your overseas adventure.

Find your ideal teaching position

Once you know what you’re doing in the classroom and where you want to travel to, there’s only one thing left to do - find your first teaching job! 

The most logical place to begin your job hunt is online, which leaves you with two issues: Firstly, choice. There are thousands of teaching jobs out there, so how do you choose? Secondly, safety. How can you tell online which schools to trust and which to avoid?

One of the easiest ways to narrow down your selection and make a safe choice is to sign up for a well-known international program or international school brand, rather than an individual school. Signing up with an established and trusted global company makes it easy for you to research past teachers’ experiences and gives you peace of mind knowing that there will be others in your position, signing up at the same time as you. 

If you are interested in applying for this kind of TEFL role, it’s worth knowing that most reliable, global English teaching programs require applicants to be TEFL certified and also begin the hiring process while the applicant is still in their native country so that visa processes and benefits for teachers (such as return flights to and from the teaching destination) are correctly implemented.

So, being TEFL certified before you travel is actually a requirement for some of the most coveted English teaching roles around the world! 

Set yourself up for success 

Moving abroad is a once in a lifetime adventure, and part of what makes that so thrilling is that you’ll be taking a step into the great unknown to see the world, test your limits and learn new things.

But there’s no reason that learning shouldn’t begin before you start travelling! In fact, starting early will give you more time to experience the things that probably made you want to go abroad in the first place. Instead of being hunched over Teaching-101 textbooks as soon as you arrive in your new home,  you’ll know you’ve got the basics of your job down, thanks to your TEFL certification. And with things in the classroom under control you’ll be free to do… whatever else you want! Whether that be try new foods, make new friends, get to know a whole new culture or explore new places. Your overseas adventure starts whenever you’re ready.