What is TEFL?

A Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification is an internationally recognized qualification to teach English abroad and a critical component of your international teaching job application.

What is a TEFL certification and why is it important?

A Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification is a commonly required qualification for new and experienced teachers who want to teach English abroad. With a TEFL certification, teachers can:

  • Qualify for teaching jobs. The minimum requirements to teach abroad are a Bachelor’s degree in any area and a TEFL certification.
  • Gain the skills required to teach abroad. A TEFL certification prepares you to teach English language skills, plan lessons for foreign language learners, refresh your understanding of English grammar concepts and more.
  • Stand out in job applications. Even in situations where the hiring school has not explicitly listed a TEFL certification as a requirement, it is always considered a strong asset and could help set you apart from candidates who are not TEFL certified.
  • Earn a higher salary with more reputable schools. Teachers with a TEFL certificate qualify for teaching positions with more reputable schools, which means better benefits and higher salaries.

Online TEFL courses are a convenient and flexible way to earn a TEFL certification. Offered year-round with no fixed start dates, teachers can begin online TEFL training instantly and complete their certification from anywhere in the world. Learn more about completing your TEFL certification online.

What do you learn in a TEFL course?

A TEFL course covers topics including teaching language skills, grammar, lesson planning and classroom management. A TEFL course will teach you how to:

  • Teach English Language Skills. Teach the five major elements of language learning: reading, writing, speaking, listening and pronunciation.
  • Simplify English Grammar. Simplify complex English grammar concepts for ELLs (English Language Learners).
  • Plan Lessons. Plan and deliver effective lessons that meet class learning objectives and promote productive learning.
  • Manage a Classroom. Manage your classroom and student behavior to create a welcoming and safe learning environment.
  • Identify Learning Styles. Identify different learning styles and adapt lessons to suit students and their needs.
  • Build Effective Learning Materials. Find, adapt and personalize a wide variety of text-based and digital materials for use in the classroom.

Reputable programs will teach specialized teaching strategies for teachers to tailor their TEFL certification to their desired teaching position. Specializations could include teaching business English, teaching English to young children, teaching test preparation courses and more.


Should I take a TEFL, TESL or TESOL course?

TEFL, TESL and TESOL are all different types of certificates for teaching English to non-native English speakers. Choosing the right course for you depends on where you would like to teach. If you want to teach abroad in a foreign country where English is not the first language, a TEFL course is the most prestigious and internationally recognized certification. If you are looking to qualify for ESL teaching jobs in South Africa, a TESL certificate accredited by TESL South Africa is a common requirement. A TESOL course is valuable for teachers wishing to teach in English and non-English speaking countries.