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What Are TEFL Qualifications?

Tara Barnett
Tara Barnett

TEFL, which stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, is a profession that can be carried out with many different types of qualifications. Generally speaking, TEFL qualifications are those that will yield a job in this profession. People who do not intend to pursue this type of teaching as a lifelong career are often suited to TEFL qualifications like CerTESOL (Certificate in Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages) or CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults). Those who wish to work as English teachers for more than a few years might be better served by an advanced teaching degree targeted to English learners. There are many different TEFL qualifications that can yield a job, and the qualifications needed are usually specified by the school or country where the school is located.

Depending on the area’s standards, TEFL qualifications can take many different forms. Even so, there are typically very basic qualifications that schools require. First and foremost, schools almost always demand that teachers are native English speakers. Additionally, schools typically require students to have accomplished a certain level of education, sometimes with the requirement that a high grade must have been achieved.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Almost all TEFL certification programs require a bachelor's degree. Whether entering into a graduate school or a certification program, it is nearly impossible to get a teaching job without a college degree. This degree need not be in a field related to English, but some schools consider a BA in English itself a qualification to teach.

Most people who obtain TEFL qualifications do so through certification programs. This is because most schools do not require an advanced degree to teach English as a foreign language if the teacher is a native speaker. There are several well-known certification programs, including CerTESOL, which is offered by Trinity, and CELTA, which is offered by Cambridge. Which certification is better for an individual depends on where he or she wishes to teach, as different countries prefer different certifications. It is important to note that even though there are alternate TEFL certification programs available, those that do not include teaching practice are unlikely to be worthwhile as job qualifications.

There are also other types of TEFL qualifications that can be part of getting a job as an English teacher. For example, having a teaching degree provided through a university system can be used as a qualification for teaching English, although certification may still be required. An advanced degree can also sometimes be used for this purpose. Volunteer experience can sometimes be a qualifying factor, particularly if the work was done in a similar environment.

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