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Answers to Your TEFL Certification Questions

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TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. You can teach English abroad, or in your home country. It’s sometimes referred to as TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), but they’re the same thing.

These are terms you’ll become familiar with as you pursue teaching English abroad. We’ve spelled out the most commonly used acronyms here:

EFL: English as a Foreign Language- Typically refers to English language instruction in a non-English-speaking country (Your students may be referred to as EFL students)

TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Language

ELT: English Language Teaching – Another umbrella term for the entire field

ELL: English Language Learner – Any nonnative speaker who is learning English (Your students may be referred to as ELLs.)

ESL: English as a Second Language – Typically refers to English language instruction in an English-speaking country (Your students may be referred to as ESL students.)

TESL: Teaching English as a Second Language

TESOL: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages –The umbrella term for the field of teaching nonnative speakers of English in any context

TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language – A popular worldwide test of English (Your students may be preparing to take this exam.)

TOEIC: Test of English for International Communication – A popular worldwide test of English (Your students may be preparing to take this exam)

IELTS: International English Language Testing System– A popular worldwide test of English (Your students may be preparing to take this exam.)

Many people teach English to travel the world with a purpose, work or volunteer in their community, boost their résumé, make a difference in students’ lives, explore teaching, or simply try something new and exciting. Whatever your reason, one thing is certain: Teaching English will be a rewarding experience.

In most cases, anyone who is fluent in English and TEFL certified can teach English. Most countries also require a bachelor’s degree. 

No. You only need to be a fluent speaker of English.

A CIEE TEFL certificate benefits both you and your students. If you’re feeling nervous or overwhelmed about moving to a foreign country, standing in front of a group of children, and teaching a grammar concept that you never learned well yourself, earning a TEFL certificate can give you confidence and skills. If you have teaching experience but you have never taught English abroad, you can benefit from a TEFL certificate, too!

Regardless of your background, earning a TEFL certificate builds your resume and makes you a competitive applicant for a teaching position. After completing this course, you can walk into your classroom on your first day with confidence. Earning a TEFL certificate also serves your students, because your classroom management tools and enhanced grammar skills will help them learn better. Plus, with CIEE, you’ll also receive intercultural communication training to help you build a strong rapport with your students and coworkers abroad.

Through CIEE’s TEFL courses, you’ll become a confident teacher, motivate your learners, and create effective lesson plans.


Our 150-hour TEFL Certificate course has two parts – a 130-hour online core course and a 20-hour practicum. With the 130-hour core course, you’ll complete an introductory module and 10 core course modules over 11 weeks. You’ll learn TEFL-related concepts and theories and use that knowledge to effectively interact with quizzes, discussion boards, assignments, and tutorials. You’ll learn to recognize and evaluate a range of EFL teaching and learning methodologies, create materials for specific cultural contexts, identify and explain key linguistic elements of the English language, and plan and deliver English language lessons that focus on learners’ needs and interests. Then, you’ll also learn classroom management skills and techniques and develop reflective skills necessary to grow professionally and improve your intercultural competence. You’ll complete a 20-hour practicum – consisting of student teaching, in-person tutoring, virtual tutoring, and/or classroom observation for nonnative English speakers – in your own community.

With our 60-hour TEFL Certificate course, you’ll learn the basics of how to teach English as a second language. You’ll be introduced to TEFL methodologies, but no practicum is required to earn your certificate.

Our courses are delivered completely online via a cutting-edge learning management system. In the 60-hour TEFL Certificate course, you’ll need to complete the six modules of the course within six months of starting, but can work at your own pace. in the 150-hour TEFL Certification course, you’ll start with an introduction module, and then complete 10 core course modules. You can work whenever you want, but you’ll need to complete five units – that’s one module – per week. We suggest that you study one unit per day, which should take two to three hours, depending on your learning style and study skills.

Our 150-hour TEFL Certification Course was developed by TEFL professionals, academic peers, intercultural experts, and educational programmers. Our unique format allows us to provide specialized support that many of our competitors lack. Unlike many others, with CIEE’s 150-hour TEFL Certification course, you get personal support from the same expert instructor for the duration of your course. You can ask questions and develop a working relationship with him/her. You’ll also have real-time interactions during scheduled weekly sessions. Other program providers expect you to work on your own and have your assignments graded by a constantly changing pool of instructors. Not CIEE. What’s more, you’ll get to work with other CIEE trainees, which allows for rich discussion and support from your peers.

CIEE gives students flexibility, with a structure that ensures certification is completed in 11 weeks.

Our program is one of very few online programs that includes a practicum with certification. This gives you a chance to test your new teaching skills in real teaching situations and distinguish yourself from other TEFL-certified trainees who haven’t had this practice.

Each trainee is assigned to a TEFL instructor, who monitors student progress, grades assignments, and gives personalized feedback. In the 150-hour TEFL Certification course, trainees join peers and their instructor once a week for a live tutorial. All of our TEFL instructors have a Master’s in TESOL and are eager to share their knowledge.


ACCET logo

CIEE TEFL is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a reliable authority providing objective third-party evaluation of education and training practices. 

To earn accreditation, CIEE TEFL completed a comprehensive Analytic Self-Evaluation Report (ASER) that included all aspects of its administrative and educational activities. An on-site review was completed by an examination team consisting of experts, including curriculum content specialists, a management/administration specialist, and a commission representative. The examination team reviewed CIEE TEFL’s administrative and educational activities to ensure that they meet ACCET standards, policies, and procedures.

The 150-hour TEFL Certification course takes 11 weeks to complete. Expect to spend two to three hours a day on coursework, and an additional hour every week for a tutorial that provides real-time instruction.

The 60-hour TEFL Certificate course can be completed at your own pace over six months. Most students complete the course in five to seven weeks.

The 30-hour TEFL Certificate course is completed over 3 weeks. 

No. All course content is online.

You simply need a computer, access to the Internet, a microphone, and a headset.

Yes. In the 60-hour TEFL Certificate course, you’ll need to complete the six modules of the course within six months of starting. In the 150-hour TEFL Certification course, you’ll need to complete five units (one module) per week. The majority of the course consists of lessons, reading, and exercises that you complete online. Want to do it at 5 a.m.? Go for it! If 11 p.m. is more your style, that works, too. Just note, assignments are due on Wednesdays and Sundays. 

Participants in all CIEE TEFL courses must be native English speakers or maintain an advanced level of English proficiency equivalent to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) C1 level or higher. If a nonnative English speaker applies for a CIEE TEFL course, they must demonstrate their advanced English proficiency by submitting one of the following minimum test score proofs: TOEFL iBT: 95; IELTS: 7; CAE: 180; PTE General: Level 4; PTE Academic: 76; TOEIC Listening & Reading: 945 and Speaking & Writing: 360.

No. CIEE TEFL will provide job assistance once you’ve completed the course. We’ll also provide information about applying for a CIEE Teach Abroad position when you complete the TEFL course.

Our 150-hour TEFL Certification courses start every two weeks.

With open enrollment, you can start our 60-hour TEFL Certificate whenever it’s convenient for you.

As part of the CIEE 150-hour TEFL Certification course, you’re required to complete 20 hours of real-world teaching with nonnative English speakers within 30 days of completing the online portion of the course. We suggest starting your practicum during the course.

You can choose student teaching, face-to-face tutoring, virtual tutoring, or class observation. You can complete your practicum in a traditional classroom setting or online. You can work with young learners or adult learners, as long as the learners are nonnative English speakers. Options include public or private K-12 schools, community colleges, universities, nongovernmental organizations and community centers, private language schools, and personal tutoring.

If you’re worried about finding a place to complete your practicum, have no fear. CIEE TEFL staff will help you!

CIEE TEFL provides you with lifetime job assistance and updated resources to help you find a position at home or abroad. 

For additional locations and more individual support, check out a CIEE Teach Abroad program.

After you have successfully completed your online course, and we have reviewed and approved the practicum documentation (if you’re enrolled in our 150-hour TEFL Certification course), you’ll receive your certificate by e-mail within 30 days.  CIEE TEFL will mail your certificate to you upon request.

Never! You can count on your CIEE TEFL certification to enhance your resume and professional credentials for the rest of your life.

Choosing a Course

TEFL programs are identified with a number of hours that correlates to the amount of training you’ve completed to earn your certificate. Generally, the more hours your certificate shows, the more experience you have, and the better trained you’ll be. Hiring organizations with desirable, secure positions generally look for a TEFL certificate that shows at least 120 hours of training.

You can start right here. Sign up for a CIEE TEFL course and you’ll be on your way. Once you earn your certification, you’ll be ready to search for a job.

We can help with that, too! With our Teach Abroad programs, CIEE offers placements in a number of different locations across the world.

The main differences relate to timing, support, and opportunity for practice. Most online programs allow you to work at your own pace, either throughout the program or week by week. This makes them far more flexible than attending a class at a set time, and allows you to work on your certificate any time of day, as long as you have Internet access.

Online classes tend to have a variety of support options. In-class teaching has an instructor and students – online classrooms range from no support (working through the program entirely on your own) to TEFL instructors to university professors. Our 60-hour TEFL Certificate course is an automated course. It’s designed to introduce you to TEFL. Our 150-hour TEFL Certificate course includes weekly virtual tutorials with a TEFL instructor and classmates.

Many online programs do not offer students a chance to practice teaching. This has been an advantage of TEFL traditional classroom courses. The CIEE 150-hour TEFL certificate course, however, requires students to complete a 20-hour practicum. This means you’ll learn online and apply what you’ve learned in a real-world setting. That's great preparation for the time you start teaching abroad and will give you the classroom experience hiring institutions are looking for.

Teaching Abroad

Many people teach abroad to learn how to understand and communicate with people from different cultures, travel the world with a purpose, build confidence, boost their résumé, make a difference in the lives of others, learn a new language, earn money to pay off student loans, explore teaching, or simply try something new and exciting. Many of the people who teach abroad are recent college graduates, but teaching abroad is also a great way to break out of a career rut. Whatever your reason, you can count on teaching abroad to be a transformative experience.

Each country is different. Some require it, some don’t. But even if certification isn’t required in the country where you plan to teach, we highly recommend earning a CIEE TEFL certificate to help you stand out among other applicants and increase your chances of getting the jobs you want, in addition to building your confidence and helping you be a more effective teacher.

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