Answers to Your Not-So-Frequently-Asked TEFL QuestionsBy Jennifer Collis
April 20, 2021
You’re not exactly a newbie when it comes to TEFL/TESOL. You’ve spent hours searching topics related to teaching English online or abroad, and you know a thing or two about how it all works, like how many hours of training you need to get a job and what requirements there are for different countries around the world or for online gigs. Good job, TEFL expert, but this article is for you! Below, you’ll find answers to your not-so-frequently-asked questions.
I’m already a state-licensed teacher. Do I still need to get TEFL/TESOL certified to teach English online or abroad?
Maybe not! The answer is that it depends on what kind of job you want. For example, some schools only require teachers to have a state teaching license from their home country. A TEFL/TESOL certificate is more often required by licensed teachers if they are applying specifically for jobs at language institutes or online, where they will teach just one subject, the English language. English students can be adults as well, so TEFL/TESOL certification would make you a better candidate for the job than say, a K-12 teaching license.
I have a friend teaching without a TEFL/TESOL certificate. Is it really necessary?
This is a tricky one. Usually, when people say that their friend teaches EFL without a TEFL/TESOL certificate, they are referring to someone who is already a state-certified teacher, which is sometimes enough to get hired (see above). But there are cases, too, in which a person with no teacher training or experience is hired to lead English classes at a language institute. This is very rare, however, and you should focus on being a prepared teacher so that you’ll have access to the best, high-paying jobs.
What is the difference between TEFL and TESOL?
Although there are small differences between TEFL vs. TESOL, when it comes to teaching English, they’re pretty much used interchangeably. TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. A certificate in either TEFL or TESOL should qualify you for the same jobs!
Will my TEFL/TESOL course give me the materials I need to teach classes, or does the school that hires me provide that?
This can be a point of confusion for some who are new to the TEFL/TESOL field, as many prospective teachers wonder what kind of teaching materials they’ll get in their TEFL/TESOL course. While teacher training courses do include supplemental resources for teachers, they do not provide the textbook or curriculum you will use in your classroom.
This should be provided by the school that hires you, and it will be suited to the age and level of the students you’ll teach. On that note, good questions to ask a school when you interview for teaching jobs are: What textbook do you use? Do you have a sample curriculum I could see? Note that some positions do require you to develop your own curriculum and materials as well.
What qualities make a good EFL teacher?
TEFL/TESOL certification, and in some cases a degree, are the qualifications you’ll need to get a teaching job abroad or online, but what are the personality traits that ESL companies look for? Generally speaking, successful teachers are friendly, outgoing, and confident, as well as infinitely patient. Perhaps most importantly though, teaching EFL abroad or online requires extreme flexibility to deal with day-to-day challenges in the classroom.
Are there age limits – either lower or upper – to teach abroad or online?
Definitely not! Teachers can be 19 or in their sixties. It’s just important to be aware of the requirements to teach English online and/or the preferences of countries and regions worldwide when it comes to hiring teachers. In Asia, for example, young teachers are generally preferred, while Latin American schools will hire teachers of all ages. If you are on the very young side and are itching to go abroad, you might focus on a region where a college degree is not always required, such as South America.
Is it safe to find TEFL/TESOL jobs online? What about scams?
Like with anything online, it’s true that there are sometimes TEFL job scams out there, mostly advertising for positions abroad. They are, however, typically quite easy to spot, as they’ll almost always involve asking you to send money for flights, training, or something else in advance.
As long as you familiarize yourself with how to avoid TEFL job scams and what to look for in a legitimate job, you don’t have to worry too much. There are thousands of legitimate TEFL job opportunities out there, and, as stated before, the occasional scam is usually pretty easy to spot. You can also use trusted sources, like the Bridge Job Board, to find pre-vetted TEFL/TESOL companies and schools!
Should I get an MA in TESOL or just a TEFL certificate? What difference does it make in terms of job opportunities?
Teachers who pursue an MA in TESOL are typically those who want to make a long-term career out of teaching English and who want to work in a region like the Middle East, where hiring requirements are stricter, or in higher education. A TEFL/TESOL certificate will qualify you for most jobs abroad and online, but MA TESOL jobs include other types of positions, such as curriculum developer and school director.
If you’re not sure whether or not you want to pursue a Master’s in TESOL, you can always start with a TEFL/TESOL certification course like the Bridge IDELTOnline™, which can be used later on as a pathway to a Master’s degree program.