If you have never looked into the growing field of teaching English as a foreign language, you may find all the information out there a bit intimidating at first.  After all, what do all of these acronyms mean?  TEFL? TESOL? ESL? More importantly, how do you know which course to pick, which school to attend, or even if the school is accredited?  Sit back and relax, because this article has got you covered.


TEFL course requirements

All TEFL courses and TEFL course providers must meet the same criteria, no matter which you choose to go with.  This includes:

  • The course and provider should be accredited. TEFL course providers must adhere to the stringent rules laid out by official accreditation bodies in the UK, as well as be responsible for regular check that show maintenance of those standards over time.  Bodies such as the Open and Distance Learning Quality Council, College of Teachers, Accreditation Council for TESOL Distance Education Courses, and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority are all responsible for ensuring these standards are met.  Accreditation is awarded to schools and course providers which have met at least the minimum standards set by the British Council.  This accreditation lets students know that the TEFL course meets requirements and will be a recognised qualification upon completion.
  • It must meet the hours set by the British Council. One hundred and twenty hours are required to complete the TEFL qualification, comprised of one hundred and twenty hours of study and at least six hours of observed practice lessons. A trained TEFL tutor must be on site to monitor the practice lessons.
  • A comprehensive grammar sections is a must have for any prospective TEFL course.   Grammar is a big part of what will be taught to students in the TEFL classroom, and therefore you must be trained on how to convey these difficult and complex ideas to your students.
  • The school should aid in job placement. If you are interested in becoming a TEFL teacher in order to teach abroad, select a school that will offer help after you have obtained your qualification.   As it takes a lot of preparation to get a job in a foreign country and move there, the school should be interested in helping you with paperwork, visa applications, arranging flights and accommodation, and applying for jobs.
  • Think on your future plans. Naturally, each country will have its own requirements for prospective TEFL teachers, as well as their own unique brand of red tape when it comes to immigration and visas.  If you know where you would like to teach, an accredited institution should help prepare you for these specific differences.


Online or Classroom Setting?

The only difference between the online and classroom setting (or a mixed course of both) is down to personal preferences and schedule allowances, so long as the qualification is from an accredited school, the end result is the same no matter which you choose.   The online option allows for students to student in their own time, at their own pace, and as such the flexibility of the online course is preferred by many students.   With any accredited organisation the one hundred and twenty hour qualification will give students the ability to teach anywhere in the UK or abroad, as well as prepare them for teaching both children and adults.  Some organisations, such as The TEFL Academy, offer purely online courses which are backed by the support of a dedicated team of tutors, or a combined option whereby twenty hours of the qualification are in person with a tutor.


Diploma Courses

If you’ve obtained the one hundred and twenty hour TEFL qualification and are looking to add a bit more weight to your CV, you may want to consider a Diploma qualification.   Quite a few countries worldwide are now looking for more than just the TEFL qualification from teacher applicants, and the diploma can be a great way to set yourself apart from the others.  Cambridge’s DELTA and Trinity’s DipTESOL are the most popular options for the TEFL diploma and, while the course itself can be done in just eight weeks, some students take considerably longer at a year or more, especially if done in an online capacity.  Yet having the TEFL Diploma will open doors otherwise shut to the average TEFL teacher, such as high paying jobs within academies or teacher trainer positions.


Further  application.

If you’re interested in TEFL as a means of funding adventure and travel abroad, then the one hundred and twenty hour TEFL qualification might be the end of the line.   Yet many TEFL graduates look on their chosen path as a lifelong career, with many graduates choosing to stay in their home country to teach English as a second language, both with private and public institutions, or even becoming TEAL tutors themselves.  If becoming a TEFL tutor is what interests you, it’s possible to go even further beyond the TEFL qualification and Diploma into a TEFL Masters (not to be confused with post graduate work at university, also sometimes called a Masters).  Though the Masters route is for the more academically minded, it’s another great option to further your TEFL knowledge, can be done in your spare time whilst teaching, and is another great addition to the TEFL teacher’s CV.


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