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The Ultimate Guide to TEFL

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Teaching English as a Foreign Language

A TEFL certification opens the doors to the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to teach English abroad, online, or in your own community to non-native speakers. Many hiring schools prefer to only hire TEFL-certified teachers, which means getting TEFL certified is a crucial first step to teaching English around the world.

Not to mention, it's an essential qualification that ensures you're properly prepared as a teacher and are ready to make a positive impact in the lives of your students. Additionally, a TEFL qualification looks fantastic on your resume and showcases valuable skills for future professional and academic endeavors. 

If you're dreaming of teaching English as a foreign language, here's what you need to know about getting TEFL certified.

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Teaching English Abroad

What Is TEFL?

TEFL is an acronym for "Teaching English as a Foreign Language." It's a field of education dedicated to teaching non-native English speakers how to write, read, and speak English. Another common acronym sometimes used in place of TEFL is TESOL, which stands for "Teaching English to Speakers of Other languages."  

A TEFL certificate is vital training often required to teach English abroad or online. TEFL training provides new English teachers with the necessary skills to lead classrooms successfully, accurately teach English grammar, and feel confident from day one.

Read More Is a TEFL Certificate Worth It? How TEFL Can Advance Your Career at Home and Abroad

Who Can Get TEFL Certified?

To get TEFL certified, you don’t need to be from a specific country, and you don’t even need to hold a college degree. You must be:

  • Over the age of 18
  • A native English speaker or have proof of English fluency

That’s it! So long as you meet these key requirements, you can start a TEFL course and begin your exciting journey of teaching English abroad.

Why Get TEFL Certified?

A TEFL certification is an investment into your future as an English teacher that benefits not only you, but your future students too! And even though not all teaching positions require it, a TEFL certificate is an immensely valuable qualification. But at the beginning of your TEFL journey, it’s only natural to wonder—is getting TEFL certified worth it? Especially for new and aspiring TEFL teachers, it can be! 

1. Prepares you for the classroom: A reputable TEFL certification equips you with essential teaching tools and tips so you can successfully plan lessons, manage your classroom, and teach English via leading teaching philosophies.

2. Shapes you into a better teacher for your students: A high-quality TEFL course also covers how to work with different types of English learners as well as intercultural tips so you can make meaningful connections with your students and help them flourish. 

3. Gives your resume a competitive edge: TEFL jobs in desirable destinations are often highly competitive, and a TEFL certification ensures you stand out from the crowd as a TEFL leader. 

4. Opens the doors to better-paying positions: Teachers with a TEFL certificate are considered more qualified than their non-TEFL certified peers and can earn a higher salary.

5. Equips you with a professional qualification that never expires: Once you earn your TEFL certificate, it never expires, which means you can extend your teaching contract and continue teaching English abroad for years to come.

6. Allows you to see if a career in education is right for you: For those beginning or intending to pivot their professional career and unsure about what to do next, getting TEFL certified and teaching abroad can be an exciting way to test the waters and discover your next chapter.

7. Instills valuable life and professional skills: Getting TEFL certified and teaching English abroad helps you become a global citizen. And in-depth TEFL training ensures you walk away with leadership skills and cross-cultural competence that stand out to future employers, whether in education or otherwise.

Read More: 10 Life-Changing Benefits of a TEFL Certification

How to Choose the Best TEFL Course for You

Once you decide to get TEFL certified, it's time to choose the best TEFL course for you. It's essential to select a TEFL provider that is trustworthy, credible, and an international leader in the world of TEFL. Additionally, selecting a course with at least 120 hours of TEFL training is essential to meet international standards and the requirements of most employers.

When choosing a TEFL course, it's also essential to consider: 

  • Reputable TEFL accreditation 
  • Qualified TEFL instructors
  • Job search assistance 
  • A price tag that isn’t suspiciously low 

Read More: What To Look For in a TEFL Certification

One of the first steps in choosing the right TEFL course for you is considering the different types available. In general, there are three different types of TEFL courses aspiring teachers can choose to pursue.

More Information About TEFL

  1. In-person TEFL courses are programs taught in a physical classroom, typically for a few weeks, with lessons running over full days. These courses are generally the most expensive and require a full-time commitment.
  2. Online TEFL courses are conducted entirely online and may feature various components like recorded video lessons and live lectures taught over the computer. These courses are typically completed in a few months and allow for greater flexibility for participants to get certified on their own time, between work, school, and other life events. Online courses are the most convenient, but many providers are unregulated.
  3. Blended TEFL courses feature both online learning and in-person practice. Blended TEFL courses are an excellent compromise that allows participants to complete the course material on their own time while using what they learn in a real-world setting, typically through an independent TEFL practicum

TEFL Accreditation 

Choosing a TEFL certificate that’s accredited is one of the best ways to determine if a TEFL course is reputable, trustworthy, and of high quality. An accredited TEFL course has undergone a formal assessment by a third party to ensure the course curriculum and content meets academic standards. 

However, not every TEFL course has accreditation from a legitimate or regulated board. One way to ensure a TEFL accreditation is reputable is to check if it's recognized by governing bodies like the U.S. Department of Education or the U.K.'s Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual).

Read More: All About TEFL Accreditation And Why It’s So Important 

TEFL Instructors

Choosing a TEFL certification led by highly-qualified and active TEFL instructors means that you as a student get the support needed to succeed. Although a course may advertise TEFL instructors, it's important to check that they are university-trained and qualified in the field of TEFL. 

Additionally, many online TEFL courses are fully automated classes with little to no guidance from TEFL instructors. These pre-packaged courses often leave trainees without the opportunity to connect with fellow peers or TEFL instructors to answer questions. Choosing a TEFL course led by active TEFL instructors means that students receive comprehensive training with individualized feedback on assignments, the facilitation of thoughtful discussions, and one-on-one tutor time. 

Read More: The Importance of Choosing a TEFL Course with Highly Qualified TEFL Trainers 

TEFL Job Assistance 

Once you complete your TEFL training, it's time to start job hunting and applying to TEFL jobs. But navigating the job market and finding respectable positions can be a challenge! The best TEFL courses provide graduates with helpful resources for their job search and offer placement assistance with trustworthy partner schools around the world.

Read More: CIEE TEFL Job Placement Assistance

How Much Does a TEFL Certification Cost?

A TEFL certification is a professional and educational qualification that can help you secure a job teaching English at home and abroad. They can range in price from as much as $2,500 to as little as $100. However, the most comprehensive and best TEFL certification costs at least $1,000. 

This price point often signals that the TEFL certification: 

  • Meets the industry standard of 120 hours or more of instruction
  • Includes a TEFL practicum or an in-class component
  • Is led by dedicated and university-qualified TEFL instructors
  • Has accreditation from a reputable accrediting body like ACCET
  • Provides lifetime job search assistance for graduates

Cheap TEFL courses below $1,000 often lack these essential training components and may not come from a reliable provider, which can affect your ability to secure a desirable position teaching English as a foreign language. As an investment into your future, it's imperative to avoid TEFL courses that are priced suspiciously low. 

Read more: How Much Should a TEFL Course Cost?


At CIEE, fostering the development of cross-cultural understanding through international exchange and education has been at the heart of what we do since 1947. And today, we continue to uphold that tradition with our reputable and in-depth TEFL certificate courses. 

CIEE TEFL offers four core TEFL certifications that exceed international standards and prepare ESL teachers for every step of their journey as an English teacher. As an internationally recognized and trusted brand, CIEE TEFL is one of the best TEFL providers in the industry.

CIEE TEFL's flagship 150-Hour TEFL Certificate course is a premium and comprehensive TEFL training that features both the convenience of online learning and the valuable benefit of real-world practice. This course can be completed in just three months and will give your resume a competitive edge when applying to teaching positions at home or abroad.

CIEE TEFL’s 150-Hour TEFL Certificate course includes:

Learn more

If you’d like to learn more about TEFL before committing to a longer course, CIEE TEFL’s 60-Hour TEFL Certificate course provides a helpful introduction to TEFL and what teaching English abroad entails. This crash course features a laid-back learning environment that allows participants to complete their certification entirely online, at their own pace, within six months. 

Learn more

CIEE TEFL's 30-Hour TEFL Certificate course is an age specialization course that provides a deeper dive into valuable techniques and skills for teaching different age groups. Over a period of three weeks, teachers learn age-specific pedagogy for children, teens, or adults to confidently teach students of any age.

For those who wish to go above and beyond, the CIEE TEFL 180-Hour TEFL Certificate course combines the in-depth information found in the flagship 150-Hour TEFL Certificate course plus the 30-Hour age specialization training. Teachers equipped with the 180-Hour TEFL training demonstrate an eagerness to lead and succeed to employers, and it gives their resumes a competitive edge.

What People Are Saying

  • "I feel the course provides the materials needed to begin your career teaching English abroad. It gives materials that will help to teach, as well how to cater to different aspects and situations."

    Jennifer Q.

  • "What I liked most about the CIEE TEFL course was all of the content surrounding how to create lesson plans and effectively lead a lesson."

    Carrington G.

  • "Alix, the instructor, was such a joy to learn from. She always gave back helpful feedback, answered questions, was very understanding and encouraging! I'm so happy I got to take the class with her."

    Alex E.

  • "It covers basically all of the information that you need to know before teaching abroad or teaching English in a multicultural setting. I am also likely to recommend this course because of the benefits of CIEE teaching placements and job assistance after the course has finished."

    Hailey R.

  • "What I liked most about the CIEE TEFL course is that it was self-paced! It didn't make me feel rushed and I could, more or  less, take the learning at my own pace."

    Francesca B.

Would You Like to Teach English Abroad?

Check out our free resources on The Ultimate Guide to Teaching English Abroad page or you can take a look at our Teach English Abroad FAQs and TEFL FAQs for more in-depth answers.

You can also schedule a call with the TEFL team or the CIEE Teach Abroad team to learn more.

Learn More About Teaching English Abroad

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