Choosing the best TEFL courses is usually a matter of researching a course’s legitimacy, its international recognition, and its certification requirements. Having some idea of the work you would like to secure with your TEFL training is almost always helpful, as well. Many courses offer general education, but some are more nuanced, offering specific preparations for certain age groups, languages, or locations. TEFL courses are offered in many countries around the world on varying schedules. Some are offered by universities or qualify for university-level credit, while others are much more casual.
TEFL, which stands for teaching English as a foreign language, is an international program that trains people — usually native English speakers — to teach the language to those who cannot speak it. For the most part, there is no uniformity to the types of teaching courses that are offered. Some are long, while some are short; some are offered through universities or in affiliation with universities, but most are independent. The best way to choose a TEFL course is to do some research into all of your options, then weigh which choice is best for your needs.
In most cases, you will not be required to have specific language-teaching coursework in order to be hired as an English teacher abroad. Different schools and local governments have different requirements, of course, but fluency in English is usually the only hard and fast requirement. Teacher training is always an asset, however.
There is no such thing as a TEFL license or other universal standard required for the job. Most TEFL courses issue certifications of some kind, and a TEFL certificate from a reputed entity can be helpful when looking for jobs. Several international bodies issue teaching certificates based on a range of different criteria. It is important that you look into the legitimacy of any credentialing agency or system before enrolling in a course.
Most TEFL courses are offered by independent agencies in cities throughout the United States, Canada, the U.K., and Australia. Some are designed to be completed in a few weeks of intensive preparation, while others are spaced out over a few months. Most of the time, courses are open to any interested English speaker, but sometimes a college degree or equivalent is required. TEFL coursework is often eligible for university credit, as well, depending on the provider. Online TEFL classes are also an option in most places.
Students who already know where they want to go to teach English can sometimes also enroll in TEFL courses in non-English speaking countries for a full immersion experience. Many different international TEFL training programs host students in established job markets and train them specifically for the needs of a local community. In these cases, students must go to where the jobs are before being trained or hired.
Deciding which course option is best for you is mostly a matter of weighing your options. Compare courses’ practice-teaching requirements, one-on-one feedback, and job placement help. Speak to alumni, if possible, about their experiences with the program and whether they felt that the coursework adequately prepared them both for the job market and the classroom. It can also be helpful to speak to prospective employers about experiences they have had with graduates of various programs.