TEFL Courses

Why Should You Get TEFL Certified?

Jessie Beck
Topic Expert

A Washington DC native, Jessie Beck studied in Dakar and Malta, taught in Costa Rica, and volunteered with the Peace Corps in Madagascar before ending up at Go Overseas as Editor / Content Marketing Director. She has since moved to work at Asana.

As the Teach Abroad Director for Go Overseas, I get a lot of questions from our users asking "So, do I really need a TEFL certificate to teach abroad?"

The short answer is no, you really don't need a TEFL certificate to teach abroad. There are certainly jobs that don't require you to be TEFL certified, but just because you can get a job without this certificate, doesn't necessarily mean you should. Among many things -- which we'll get into later -- it's a disservice to those you're trying to help: your students.

The days when recent college grads backpacking around China could land job for a few months, teach, and continue backpacking across the continent, are quickly fading.

At the same time, we all know that a good TEFL certification course isn't the cheapest thing out there. Which is why this spring, Go Overseas and International TEFL Academy, one of the largest TEFL certification course providers out there, want to help an aspiring teacher become TEFL certified -- for free.

So, why should you get TEFL certified before teaching abroad? And what's this free TEFL certification course I mentioned? Read on, you hopeful, aspiring teacher, you. I'm not going to lead you on for nothing...

Why Should You Get TEFL Certified?

As English increasingly grows as a global language, so too has the demand for English teachers abroad. However, the days when recent college grads backpacking around China could land a job for a few months, teach, and continue backpacking across the continent, are quickly fading.

Schools across the globe have been slowly demanding higher and higher standards for the teachers they hire -- a TEFL certification being the most common qualification teachers must have (other than fluency in English, of course).

Not only that, but getting TEFL certified is the responsible thing to do. In my personal experience, I got a CELTA certificate (think of TEFL as the product, and CELTA as a brand) and though it was expensive (over $2,000), it was worth every cent.

Related: What's the Difference Between CELTA & TEFL? Let Us Count the Ways...

As I always tell aspiring teachers, it’s a new job, and you need training for new jobs. At first, you have no idea what you’re doing but getting TEFL certified gives you the tools to create a successful lesson and better help your students learn.

In short, the main reasons why anyone thinking of teaching abroad should get TEFL certified:

  • It helps you be a better teacher to your students.
  • It gives you more confidence in the classroom.
  • You learn about essential teaching and classroom management strategies -- trust me, you want to know how to keep your classroom in control.
  • Most TEFL courses will give you job placement assistance or set you up with a job when you finish.
  • Having a TEFL certificate makes you qualified for better, and better paying teaching jobs. In the end, the money you invest in a certificate pays itself back by getting a higher paying job.
  • It's a way to test out if teaching is really for you. Most courses have practice teaching components, if you hate those, maybe reconsider teaching abroad now before it's too late.

At the end of the day, teaching a language is far more complex than some assume. If you're teaching in a classroom (as opposed to one-on-one conversational tutoring), you're not going to just stand there and talk and expect students to learn.

You have to enter with a strategy, know what to communicate and what to leave out, and how to set up a learning environment that will help students figure out the language, and facilitate -- not dominate -- discussion. TEFL courses help you learn how to do this.

We Want To Help You Get TEFL Certified

Dorky as it might be, I'm pretty passionate about TEFL certificates (seriously, meet me in a bar and ask my opinion on TEFL certificates... you won't get rid of me for at least one round of drinks), so last week, the teams here at Go Overseas and International TEFL Academy got together to launch our first ever teach abroad contest.

To enter, applicants will teach us a phrase in another language, using text, photos, or video, for a chance to win one of several prizes. The winner will be chosen based on clarity (teacher skills!) and creativity.

The grand prize winner will receive a free on-site TEFL course through International TEFL Academy in their choice of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, San Diego, or Chicago, along with roundtrip airfare and housing for the duration of the course. One runner up will receive a free online course with International TEFL Academy, and an honorable mention will receive a Camelbak backpack.

International TEFL Academy also offers lifetime job guidance and support for all of their TEFL course graduates. For the grand prize winner, this isn’t just a fun trip abroad, it’s an opportunity to jump start their year or career teaching English abroad and get professional guidance every step of the way.

I'm personally excited to read each and every entry (literally, I will!) -- and not just because I'm hoping to add a few new Spanish phrases to my repertoire. The Go Overseas community is pretty awesome, and I know you all will be showing off the best of your teaching abilities!

Raising Awareness of TEFL Certificates

Of course, we can only sponsor two TEFL certification courses, but we're also hoping that in the process of hosting this competition, we'll spread some residual awareness of how important TEFL certificates are to begin with.

Some people wrongly assume teaching English is an easy way to make money while traveling, but it, like any job, requires a unique set of skills. “I really wish I had gotten TEFL certified before I taught in South Korea,” says Tucker Hutchinson, “it would have made a huge difference in my confidence and ability to teach well.”

Recently, a recruiter friend of mine mentioned that he sees a lot of teachers come to South Korea expecting it to be a cultural immersion "vacation" of sorts, but then get disappointed when they discover how much actual work teaching can be.

Schools already know this, and are trying to get their students the best education possible by making sure they have talented, caring, and -- above all -- qualified teachers leading each class.

Teacher and school expectations don't always match up, but raising awareness of TEFL certifications is getting these two parties' visions in line.

How Can You Enter?

"Okay, okay, enough Jessie!" you're probably thinking (while making a note to never bring up TEFL certificates with me at a bar), "where can I enter?"

You can enter by heading over to the teach abroad competition page and submitting an application whenever you're ready, or share it around if you know someone else who might be interested. The contest ends on June 10th, 2015 at midnight PST. Applicants must be over the age of 19 and a resident of the United States or Canada.

“We’re all curious to see the creativity of the entries,” says our CTO Andrew Dunkle. Good luck!