What is TEFL: FAQs

Are you new to TEFL and wondering what it’s all about? Perhaps you’re not sure if it’s right for you or what path it could take you on?

We’ve put together some of the most commonly asked questions about TEFL to help you get to grips with the basics!

What is TEFL?

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. TEFL teachers can work abroad, online, and in their home country.

Is TEFL the same as TESOL?

TEFL and TESOL are frequently used interchangeably. TESOL stands for Teaching English as a Second Language, and is often used to refer to teaching language learners within an English speaking country, as well as abroad. Generally speaking, TEFL and TESOL courses are the same.

Where can I teach English?

You can find jobs teaching English all over the world! With over 2 billion English language learners worldwide there’s huge demand for qualified EFL teachers.
 
The strongest jobs market in the world can be found in China, but you’ll find plenty of work across Asia, in Europe, the Middle East, and in South America. Take a look at our guide all about teaching English abroad to find out more.

Glasses and books on top of a map

What are the requirements for TEFL?

To teach English abroad or online you need to be fluent in English and have at least a 120-hour TEFL qualification. Some countries and employers also require teachers to have a BA degree as well. If you don’t have a degree check out our posts about how to TEFL abroad and online without one.
 
It’s always important to check out the visa requirements for any country you’re interested in working in. Some can have additional requirements concerning criminal records and nationality.

What is TEFL certification?

TEFL certification is the qualification most employers recruiting English teachers require. TEFL qualifications are measured in hours, with the industry standard being 120 – so make sure to sign up for a course with at least those hours!
 
A TEFL course will teach you the skills required for teaching English as a foreign language. While you might be able to speak English fluently that doesn’t mean you know how to teach it effectively to English language learners!

Do I need a TEFL qualification?

These days a TEFL qualification is essential. Decades ago, native English speakers could arrive in certain countries and find a job teaching English with zero experience or qualifications. Those days are pretty much over, with most employers requiring teachers to have at least a 120-hour qualification.  

What is TEFL accreditation?

Accreditation is quality control conducted by an external organisation. It gives you assurance that the course you sign up for does what it says it does, as well as giving employers assurance that you’ve received quality training necessary for the job.
 
There is no over-arching body that accredits TEFL courses, so course providers will be accredited by a range of bodies. Many budget TEFL courses are not adequately accredited, which means employers may not recognise the qualification, so it’s really important you do your research. Check out our post all about TEFL accreditation to learn more.

How long does it take to get TEFL qualified?

A 120-hour online TEFL course should take around 10 to 12 weeks to complete. Most course providers offer self-paced study, so you can work through the course at your own speed and in your own time.
 
Be wary of providers claiming you can easily complete your 120-hour course in just a couple of weeks – or even days. This is usually an indication that what’s being offered isn’t really a 120-hour course. While it can be possible to complete a legitimate course within a couple of weeks if you were to dedicate all of your time to it, this isn’t recommended as it isn’t conducive to learning.
 
For more information take a look at our post about how long it takes to get TEFL qualified.

A teacher in front of students

Do I need a degree to TEFL?

You don’t need a degree to TEFL, but your options are more limited. In Asia (with the exception of Cambodia) and the Middle East a degree is a visa requirement, so without one you won’t be able to work in these parts of the world. However, in Europe and South America there are lots of options for teachers who don’t have a degree!
 
Take a look at our posts about TEFL abroad and teaching English online without a degree for tips and advice.

How much can I earn teaching English abroad?

How much you can earn really depends on where in the world you teach. The highest salaries can be found in the Middle East, where teachers can earn up to £4,000/$5,000 a month. In Asia salaries can roughly be between £650 – £2,000 ($800 – $2,500) depending on the country, in Europe you’re looking at around £700 – £1,500 ($900 – $2,100), and in South America £400 – £800 ($500 – $1,000).
 
Keep in mind that in some parts of the world benefits such as flights and accommodation can be included, so while salaries might look higher in one country you may have more disposable income elsewhere if you’re not paying rent. Top tip: always look into living costs!
 
For detailed information about how much you can earn teaching in specific countries see our post about TEFL salaries.

How much can I earn teaching English online?

Online teachers are typically paid an hourly rate, which can vary from £8 ($10) at the lower end up to £20+ / $25+ for more experienced teachers. How much you can earn depends on experience, the type of lessons you conduct, and whether you work for an online company or as an independent teacher.
 
We have a post detailing how much you can earn working for specific online companies, as well as what you can expect to earn teaching different types of lessons.

Where can I find TEFL jobs?

You can find thousands of TEFL jobs advertised on various online jobs boards. Our TEFL Org Jobs Centre is regularly updated with new positions, and we have a handy list of top jobs boards where you can find even more.

Do you have any more questions? Get in touch with our team over live chat, by email (advice@tefl.org) or by calling us on 01349 800 600!

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