120-hour vs Level 5: TEFL hours and levels explained

120-hour vs Level 5: TEFL hours and levels explained

There are a lot of different TEFL courses and providers out there and it can all quickly get a bit confusing. What do the different hours mean? Are there levels of TEFL qualifications? Will some courses increase your earning potential?

The most important thing to research when choosing a TEFL course is accreditation, which we’ve covered in a previous blog post . Once you’ve decided on the provider to study with you need to choose the course that’s right for you and in this article we’re going to break down the facts and help you do just that!

TEFL levels explained

You would be forgiven for thinking there are levels of TEFL qualifications, but this isn’t really the case. Level 5 would suggest there are four preceding levels, so where are the Level 1, 2, etc. courses?

The reason a Level 5 TEFL course is called as such is because of Ofqual . Ofqual is a non-ministerial government department that regulates qualifications in England not the whole of the UK. For those unfamiliar with how the devolved nations operate (Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland), education is the responsibility of the government in each nation. The regulatory body in Scotland is the SQA, in Wales it’s Qualifications Wales, and in Northern Ireland it’s the CCEA. So there’s no such thing as a ‘UK government regulated’ course.

But back to Ofqual. Ofqual has a qualifications framework that consists of 8 levels of ascending difficulty. A grade of D, E, F, or G at GCSE is considered Level 1, and at the top end of the scale at Level 8 is a PhD.

If a learning provider seeks out Ofqual regulation then they would go to an approved awarding body, not directly to Ofqual. In our case, that’s TQUK, but there are a number of other awarding bodies. This external body will thoroughly assess and inspect the learning provider and course and award regulation if the correct standards have been met.

To summarise: Level 5 TEFL courses are named as such because they have been assessed to be a level 5 qualification in accordance with Ofqual’s qualifications framework.

TEFL hours explained

TEFL courses are usually measured in hours. The hours listed is the length of time it would typically take to complete the course.

120 hours has been the industry standard for some time now, and you’ll see it specified on many job adverts. This is seen as the minimum amount of training required to get started teaching English and covers the essentials, from grammar to teaching techniques.

Taking a course with fewer hours puts you at a serious disadvantage as many employers won’t look at an applicant if they don’t meet the required 120 hours. Building your hours, with advanced training , can strengthen your CV and help to make it easier to secure work, particularly if you’re aiming to go into a specific area of TEFL.

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