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Your guide to getting TEFL certified abroad

Are you preparing to teach English abroad? Consider becoming a more qualified applicant by obtaining your TEFL certification!

The opportunity to teach English abroad is a great way to see the world, work overseas, and leave a positive impact on local communities. Teaching English, specifically, has become one of the most popular ways to teach around the world, creating a competitive market for ESL teaching jobs.

However, travelers with TEFL teaching certifications have a major advantage over other candidates!

So, what is TEFL?

TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification is an internationally-recognized credential designed to train teachers to confidently teach English to non-native speakers, become a more prepared teacher abroad, and provide access to teaching opportunities around the world.

Why get TEFL certified?

  • Teaches you valuable skills to help you with classroom management, lesson planning, proficiency testing, and phonetics
  • Introduces you to friends and fellow teachers who will share the same career journey with you
  • Increases job security and can help you receive higher pay
  • Offer you extended support during the job search
  • Some countries require it!

If you’re wondering, “how do I pick a TEFL program?” and don’t know where to start – Go Overseas has you covered. We’ve created a database of online, in-class, and accredited TEFL certification programs that will help you gain the teaching credentials you need.

We’re committed to providing information that will help you find a trusted TEFL program that fits perfectly for you and your teaching goals.

Explore our expert resources to learn more about how to choose a TEFL certification program, why you should get tefl certified, and even our picks for the best online tefl courses.

Types of TEFL certifications

There are three main types of teaching certifications: TEFL, TESOL, and CELTA. Though they’re all slightly different in terms of length, coursework, and cost, they all focus on training English speakers to teach English in a classroom setting.

Let’s break it down further to help you understand what type of certification you’ll need.

  • TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language): Provides you with the skills to teach English in non-English speaking countries.
  • TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages): Allows you to teach English to students living in English-speaking countries and focuses on teaching them grammar, writing, and general language skills.
  • CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults): Designed by Cambridge University, CELTA is a type of TEFL certification that will train you to teach English around the world. It’s a more intensive course than your typical TEFL program and is considered the most prestigious qualification for teaching abroad.

How to choose a TEFL course

Choosing the right TEFL course is essential. However with so many options advertised on discount listings, travel sites, and across the web, how can you be sure you’ve enrolled into a trusted program?

As you research and compare TEFL programs, we recommend asking these important questions:

  • Is the TEFL certification accredited and recognized?To prove your certification is accredited, make sure your TEFL certificate is approved by independent bodies like ALTE, English Profile, QuiTE, British Council, NCFE, ACCET, IATEFL, ODLQC, ACTDEC, or affiliated with a recognizable university, like Cambridge university for the CELTA certificate.
  • Does the TEFL course length meet international standards? 120 hours is the golden number for a TEFL course! The industry standard includes 100 hours of training, plus 20 hours of teaching practice, although 6 is the minimum.
  • Will you have an opportunity for live teaching practice? In order for your TEFL certification course to be recognized, it must incorporate at least 6-20 hours of live teaching practice. Worried about doing a virtual course? You’ll be happy to hear that many online TEFL courses incorporate live teaching practice in their practicum!
  • How qualified are the instructors?Your TEFL certificate course should be taught by a university-level instructor, with experience in teaching English, as well as training teachers.
  • What support do they offer? Having the chance to receive benefits such as job placement assistance, referrals to recruiters and top schools, and even interview help can go a long way!
  • Is the course reasonably priced? Although prices for TEFL courses can vary, it’s important to make sure you’re paying for high-quality training that meets all of the above criteria.

Read more: How to Choose a TEFL Certification Program

Average costs for TEFL certification

The costs of TEFL certification courses can vary, depending on the provider and course length. Some schools and language programs may even offer to pay for your TEFL certification if you agree to teach at their school (though, those schools reportedly pay much less in salary).

If you are planning to get certified onsite, either in your home country or abroad, you can expect to pay around $1,500-$2,000 for your TEFL certification through a reputable program or university.

Though other programs may advertise cheaper, discount classes, be sure to review the fine print closely, as those courses may not meet the hour minimum or accreditation requirements of the school you want to teach at.

If you’re looking to participate in TEFL abroad programs, you will likely have to factor other expenses such as airfare, housing, your visa, and daily transportation. Despite these fees, the course itself may be more affordable overseas than taking it in your home country, plus you’ll receive first-hand cultural immersion in the environment you’re looking to teach in! Some programs even offer the opportunity for you to earn your TEFL while teaching abroad.

If you’re looking to take the convenient route and get certified from home, you’ll find many accredited, high quality virtual TEFL courses ranging between $300-$600.

Make sure though that you don’t fall for any unusually cheap TEFL scams! You may be swayed by these “more affordable” programs, but be sure to confirm that it’s accredited and offers live teaching practice – otherwise you’re wasting money!

Online vs in-person TEFL Certification

An online course is a great way to earn your certification without breaking the bank, or disrupting your schedule. Wondering if it’s right for you? Compare the pros and cons of an online TEFL course versus in-person.

Pros of an online TEFL course:

  • Can be customized to fit your schedule! With an online course, you can learn whenever and wherever works best for you – all you need is strong wifi and plenty of space to focus! This may also allow you to focus on other priorities such as work or school as you learn.
  • It’s a more personalized learning experience. Missed something the teacher said? Easy, you can just pause and review the recorded lecture! Not sure you understand the key concept they’re teaching? You can open a new tab and read additional material! With an online course, you can adjust the lesson to fit your style of learning.
  • It’s definitely the more affordable option, as you won’t have to worry about travel expenses or your commute, on top of course fees.

Cons of an online TEFL course:

  • May not be as hands-on as an in-person TEFL course. (Though this doesn’t mean you won’t receive live teaching practice! It just may not be on the same level of immersion and real-time experience, as a TEFL course in your desired teaching country.)
  • You’ll need to be on-top of your game – since you won’t meet in person with your teacher or classmates, it’s important that you stay on top of your assignments and hold yourself accountable to be an active learner and student!
  • A self-paced online course can take longer for you to complete, compared to a full-time, intensive course in a classroom, which typically runs for four weeks

But, if you’re stuck deciding between an online and in-person course, you can always opt for a hybrid TEFL course, which will allow you to do the live practice teaching sessions in person, but study the curriculum from the comfort of your home!

Thinking about an online course? Take a look at our picks for the 11 best online TEFL courses!

Find your perfect TEFL course

Whether you’re looking to enroll in an on-site TEFL course in Argentina, or learn from home, you can start researching and comparing thousands of TEFL certification programs here at Go Overseas!

Want to read more? Get started with these articles:

How Go Overseas Works

Go Overseas is your trusted source for travel abroad programs: here you can browse and discover thousands of vetted providers. Just like a trusted travel buddy, we want to help you find the right information and feel excited and confident about your first or next culturally immersive trip overseas. We know sometimes having an abundance of options can be overwhelming, so we have a few tips on how to use Go Overseas to find the perfect transformative travel program for you.

  1. Browse 16,000+ programs: Narrow your search results by using filters, such as program type, location, and length.

  2. Read 46,000+ Reviews: Real people have gone on these programs, and have experiences to share. Read alumni reviews on any program that interests you to get an idea of what it's really like to be on the ground, overseas.

  3. Read 5,700+ Interviews: For any program that really sparks your interest, read personal stories and in-depth accounts from travelers like you. If you'd like to reach out and hear more from the traveler who left an interview, let us know and we'll help connect you.

  4. Browse community photos: Pictures of food, accommodations, adventures, and people (oh, the friends you'll make!) in program community galleries will help you visualize yourself abroad.

  5. Wish List 💙: Not ready to commit to a program? Click the Wish List heart icon to bookmark programs and save them for later. Then, compare programs side by side.

What kind of course would you like to take?

Online Course

Online Courses

Earn your TEFL certificate online and use it to unlock a world of teaching opportunities around the world.

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TEFL/TESOL

TEFL Certificate

Choose between TEFL certification options like TEFL and TESOL to find the career path that's right for you.

View TESOL Courses

CELTA

CELTA Certificate

A CELTA course will train you to teach English anywhere around the world, accredited by Cambridge University.

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Recent TEFL Articles

Frequently Asked TEFL Questions

  • How do I get a TEFL Certificate?

    There are many ways to get a TEFL certificate to teach abroad. Whether in person, online, or a mix of the two (called a ‘hybrid’ course), certification to teach English as a foreign language is flexible and can be earned in your home country or while overseas.

    While certified teachers who’ve taken the course in person rave about the hands-on learning, immersive teaching exercises, and increased accountability, online TEFL graduates appreciate being able to balance their course with daily responsibilities at home, while learning at their own pace.

    Choose the TEFL certification course that is right for you by browsing the Go Overseas database of available courses.

  • Do I really need a TEFL certificate to teach abroad?

    Whether you are considering an online or in-person TEFL/TESOL certification course or an accredited CELTA (Certificate In English Language Teaching to Adults) certification, the question still lies therein: is TEFL certification really necessary to teach abroad?

    Technically, you don’t need to be certified to teach abroad. However, those who aren’t certified end up with very limited options. Some would also say that teaching overseas with no academic background or teaching certification is a serious disservice to your students -- and many schools (and countries) will not even consider you as a teaching candidate without it.

    TEFL certifications aren’t just a piece of paper. The courses include in-depth training to help you better lesson plan and instruct, not to mention providing hands on teaching experience to add to your resume. Read this teacher’s thoughts on whether a TEFL certificate is worth it.

  • How much is a TEFL Certificate?

    TEFL certificate courses can cost a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the provider and course duration. Some schools and language programs may even offer to pay for your TEFL certification if you agree to teach at their school (though, those schools reportedly pay much less in salary).

    You can expect to pay nearly $2,000 if you want to be TEFL certified from a reputable program. Though other programs may advertise cheaper, discount classes, be sure to review the fine print closely, as those courses may not meet the hour minimum or accreditation requirements of the school you want to teach at.

  • Do I have to have a degree to do a TEFL course?

    Certain countries prefer to hire teachers with a college degree (and some even require it) but not all. Luckily, TEFL certificate programs do not require a degree to take the course and can be used to supplement a degree when applying for teaching jobs in many countries. All you have to do is speak native English or demonstrate advanced English-speaking skills.

    If you are seeking a TESOL or CELTA certification course, however, you may be required to have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college. This certification prerequisite varies per program.

  • Do I need a Master's degree in TEFL to teach abroad?

    While a four-year degree may be required in many high-paying schools and countries (like Qatar, Japan, the UAE, Korea, and Saudi Arabia), other countries have more lax education laws and hire teachers who don’t have a college degree at all -- let alone, a master’s degree.

    Absence of a graduate or Master’s degree in teaching English as a foreign language will not prevent you from securing a job abroad. Having one, however, will definitely help you access bigger opportunities! For teach abroad candidates seeking extensive international experience and high pay, a Master’s degree is totally worth it.

  • Is it better to take an Online TEFL course or do a TEFL course in person?

    International teachers have mixed opinions about the online vs. in-person TEFL course debate. The truth is, the best type of TEFL certification course is the one that you actually complete! If an in-person TEFL course doesn’t fit your schedule and lifestyle, you’ll end up wasting your money and never finishing it.

    Online courses, on the other hand, provide convenience but may sacrifice immersive learning. Which is important to you? To decide whether to get TEFL certified online or in person, ask yourself these questions:

    • Do I have the time to attend in-person classes?
    • Do I want to get TEFL certified while abroad, or before I leave?
    • What is my budget for TEFL certification?
    • How much time do I have to get certified?
    • Do I need to practice teaching in front of a classroom?
  • How do I choose a good TEFL course?

    With an abundance of TEFL course choices available, the options can feel overwhelming. Between fine print, accreditation information, and fees, how do you know what to look for when selecting a good TEFL certificate course? Here are a few key elements to consider when choosing the right TEFL certification course for you:

    To learn more about what to look out for when choosing a TEFL certificate course, review our expert guide to selecting a top-level TEFL certification.

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