TEFL 101: The Beginner’s Guide

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If you’re reading this, you’re probably considering some of the many ways you can start your next adventure abroad. Luckily, you’ve come across one of the best ways to do so. Teaching English as a foreign language opens the door to opportunities overseas you never thought possible. And having a TEFL certification is the best way to start. TEFL comes with many benefits such as earning a higher salary on the job and helping you feel more equipped for your time in the classroom.  With your certification you will be able to travel with freedom, make a difference in the lives of others, and get paid to do it. In the end, you may feel like you’ve earned a little bit more than money. The road there might feel a little bit long, but with it comes a lifetime of opportunities and adventures.

What Is TEFL?

A TEFL Certification is an academic course that certifies you globally to Teach English as a Foreign Language (Get it? TEFL?). This course can look very different depending on how you choose to take it, but the good news is that means there’s a TEFL course out there for everyone.

The world of TEFL can be a confusing place. One Google search and you’re bombarded with more information that you know what to do with. Don’t panic just yet. Becoming TEFL certified isn’t as complicated as you might think, but there are a few things you need to look out for.

Benefits of TEFL

Before we go over the nitty gritty, we can talk about all the cool ways a TEFL Certification can benefit you:

  1. TEFL gives you the confidence you need to take over a classroom…even if you’ve never done it before. With TEFL, you’ll have all the tools and practice you need for some extra classroom confidence.
  2. TEFL looks great on a resume. Even if teaching isn’t your career path, employers will see your TEFL certification as a stamp of your international experience and diverse skill set.
  3. TEFL never expires! Renewals? Never heard of her. TEFL has got you covered for life.
  4. TEFL allows you a more competitive wage. While in some countries you can teach without TEFL, having the certification can earn you a higher salary.
  5. TEFL opens doors.  Although it’s possible to teach without TEFL, you’d be limiting yourself to more opportunities. With TEFL, you’ll be qualified to teach wherever your imagination takes you (on Earth, don’t get too crazy).

Choosing your course

When searching for your TEFL course, you’re going to get a lot of offers, and I mean a lot. Even Groupon has their hand on a TEFL Course, but don’t let these offers derail you from a proper education! If you want to teach the best, you’ve got to be taught the best. With TEFL, you really do get what you pay for.

First, ask yourself what kind of course works best for you. Do you prefer an in-person or online course? Do you have time for an in-person course? Its best to decide on these questions before jumping in the deep end. An on-site course will typically be more expensive and pose more time constraints. However, there’s nothing like an immersive classroom experience with hands-on instruction.

Of course, there are plenty of benefits to an online course. You can schedule your coursework around other commitments and still have access to adequate instruction and assistance. Some online courses have smaller classroom sizes and live tutors for students to have the best and most inclusive experience possible.

Choosing an online course can pose some challenges. Like Groupon, there are lots of bargain TEFL courses offered, but these courses may not hold up to international standards. Before you waste your time and money on a knock-off, check the accreditation to make sure you’re signing up for the real deal. Look for tutors and classroom sizes to see if they can give each of their students enough attention. Do they have a syllabus for you to get an idea of what you’ll be learning? What will your time commitment look like? These are all things that a reputable TEFL course will provide upfront!  A proper online course will also have been reviewed by a scholarly organization, even if they aren’t affiliate, so keep an eye out for accreditation. Also look at course hours; TESOL, (the head honchos) have identified 100-120 hours of coursework with additional 20 hours of practicum as the international standard.

Preparation with Practicum

Completing in-person practicum hours may feel annoying, daunting, and overall not how you want to spend your free time.  However, it’s not only necessary, it’s worth it. Hear us out here. Picture yourself entering your new job abroad. You’ve finally figured out your very new and confusing morning commute and you’re running a few minutes behind. It’s now time to start your new job and you’ve NEVER stood in front of a classroom before. Or heck, even had practice tutoring one-on-one. Those practicum hours are sounding pretty good right now, aren’t they?

Practicum allows you to take all the useful information you’ve learned in your coursework and put it into action before your big debut. This time will allow you to perfect your skills and learn a little bit more about yourself. Hopefully these hours offer new and creative ways you can bring English into your classroom overseas.  The best part, you can complete these hours anywhere in your local community! If you aren’t sure where in your community to complete your practicum, look for an online course that assists you in finding the best locations and methods. Some TEFL courses even offer overseas practicum training so you can complete your TEFL course in a fun new destination. This way, you’ll feel even more ready for your new job. So, do a little digging, use the resources you have provided, and you’ll be on your way.

TEFL is your ticket

You never know what doors teaching English abroad and having a TEFL certification will open! If you’re looking for course options, browse CIEE to see what we have to offer, but there’s plenty out there! TEFL with CIEE provides multiple ways to complete your course. Through CIEE you can choose the number of course hours you want, enroll in small class sizes, consult with live tutors, and hear advice on completing your practicum.

TEFL is your ticket to an international network and world of opportunity. So, even if teaching isn’t for you, the skills you’ve learned along the way are invaluable. You can brag about your certification in a future job interview, or hey, just keep on using it! No matter what, TEFL is with you for life.