Take the First Step Toward Teaching English Online and Abroad!
Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) is an exciting opportunity and we can help you make it happen! This page will answer common questions, help you decide which TEFL course is right for you, and explore where TEFL certification can take you.
Get Started with Top Questions about TEFL Courses & Certification
The terms TEFL and TESOL are generally used interchangeably when it comes to certification in teaching English and qualifying for jobs. In fact, when you’re shopping around for TEFL courses, you may see them described as “TEFL / TESOL courses" or when you're looking for jobs, you might see an ad for a position that requires “TEFL / TESOL certification.”
Yet technically, there are slight differences between these two terms. TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. It refers to teaching English in a country where English is not a primary language (rather, it is a foreign language). An example of TEFL would be a teacher from the U.S. teaching English in China. TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. It's a more general term that includes teaching English as a foreign language (as in the China example) as well as teaching English as a second language (TESL), meaning in a country where the primary language is English. An example of TESL would be a teacher at an English language institute in the U.S. who teaches students from around the world. The important thing to keep in mind is that the terms are widely used interchangeably, so either a TEFL or TESOL certificate will meet certification requirements for jobs teaching English.
Anyone who speaks English and has a desire to help others learn it can be a TEFL / TESOL teacher. Here are a few common profiles of TEFL / TESOL teachers.
- • Recent high school graduates - A year or two out in the world before going to university or starting work is a useful “gap” experience. This practice is very popular in Europe and is gaining popularity elsewhere, as well.
- • University graduates - A stint working in another country before starting a career at home provides memories for a lifetime, boosts your resume with international experience, and may even change the direction of your career.
- • Mid-career changers - Those who are tired of their 9-to-5 desk job find an adventure teaching English abroad is just the break they need. Plus, many TEFL employers worldwide are happy to hire teachers who have a bit more life and work experience.
- • Post-career retirees - Living abroad and contributing to a community as a teacher can be the perfect next chapter for those who have finished their first career and are ready for something new in retirement. Read an interview with Wes, who taught English in South America after retirement.
- • Non-native speakers of English - Because they’ve learned English themselves, non-native English speakers have a deeper insight into the nature of learning a foreign language and use this advantage as English teachers in their home country or abroad. Learn more about the advantages of non-native English teachers in the TEFL classroom.
- • Digital nomads - Teaching English online offers the ultimate option for teachers looking for flexibility and location independence. Teach from anywhere with a stable Internet connection, make your own hours, and see the world! Meet Rachel, a digital nomad currently in Mexico.
A TEFL / TESOL certificate is the primary qualification needed to teach English as a foreign language. Taking a TEFL / TESOL course and earning your certification opens doors to jobs teaching English worldwide and online. Bridge offers a variety of both online TEFL certification as well as onsite/blended TEFL certification.
Because TEFL / TESOL courses are not universally standardized, the content and quality may vary greatly from one organization to the next. Therefore, it’s very important to check that the organization providing your course has external recognition by a recognized body (such as ACCET, which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education). This will let you know that the TEFL / TESOL program meets certain academic and professional industry standards. It also indicates to schools that your certificate is high-quality, verified, and internationally accepted.
Bridge is accredited by ACCET, the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (U.S. Department of Education recognized agency) as well as UK-based Aqueduto, Association for Quality Education & Online Training.
If you are new to teaching and/or don’t have previous TEFL certification, we recommend taking a Bridge Professional TEFL / TESOL Certificate if to get started teaching English. These courses provide initial training for new English language teachers (such as teaching strategies and lesson planning), are 100% online, and meet requirements for thousands of teaching positions at languages institutes and schools worldwide. You can choose from two levels of accredited Professional TEFL / TESOL Certification:
- • Our most advanced course is the graduate-level, 150-Hour Bridge International Diploma in English Language Teaching (IDELTOnline™). In this interactive training, you’ll join an international group of classmates led by a master’s level instructor, and take part in collaborative activities, discussion boards, and optional live sessions. Choose this university-affiliated course to exceed certification requirements and stand out as the most competitive candidate for English teaching jobs.
- • The 120-Hour Bridge Master Certificate is a self-paced, tutor-led course that meets certification requirements to teach English. Not your average 120-hour certification, this course is recommended for undergraduate-level university credits by the American Council on Education, and like all Bridge courses, it’s offered on our state-of-the-art online learning platform with dynamic course features.