Teaching English in 2021: Setting Realistic TEFL Goals


Today, we are talking about setting realistic goals, basically having a realistic timeline for how long it takes from actually taking a TEFL course to going on to teaching English either online or abroad.

If your goal is to teach English in 2021, what do you need to do? What are the steps? Okay, let me add this little graphic here, so that's what I've prepared for you guys. Setting realistic goals for teaching English in 2021 and as always please leave your comments at any time. There's also going to be a Q&A section at the end of the session so there will be plenty of time to ask questions and for me to answer them. I am working this whole live situation by myself so I might miss a question here and there, but like I said at the end there will be another opportunity for you to ask questions before I sign off.

Let's get started. So a little bit about myself first. My name is Linda and I am a travel writer and content creator under the name Linda Goes East because I moved to Asia. You can find my personal website at and on social media at Linda Goes East. I'm originally from Germany and the USA as my Mom is German and my Dad is American. I have spent some time in both countries but now I am based in South Korea. I've been in Korea for five and a half years now and before that I also lived and taught English in China.

I've always really been interested in Asia and specifically China and then I met my husband and he was Korean so that's how I ended up here. I am also a TEFL and TESOL marketing professional at ITTT. You can find us at and on Instagram at international TEFL training and on all other social media platforms. ITTT is a leading TEFL and TESOL course provider and we've been in business since 1997, so a very long time. In that time we have graduated over 120,000 teachers who have moved on to amazing adventures overseas or teaching English online and even opening their own schools or teaching businesses. There's a lot of opportunities and options out there. But enough about me.

I would like to know if you are already teaching or are completely new to teaching and are wanting to start teaching English in 2021. What are your goals?

That's what I'm interested to know from you guys, so who here is already teaching and who here is interested in starting to teach? We have something from Anthony. He says I've been teaching English for about five years and I've taught some Europeans, a few Asians, but mostly Hispanic speakers. I am not TEFL certified but I want to be so I have the chance to teach abroad. Cool, so you're already teaching but you're looking to get certified for more opportunities. That's great.

Lewis says he is also already teaching. Great. Tiana says I'm completely new to it, but I'm not ready to start for a few years yet. Okay, well it's never too early to start gathering information, so that's really great. Susana says she switched from teaching science to teaching English. That’s very cool. Vidya says I have just started teaching a year ago but I do not have much direction so I want to upgrade my skill set.

Hi Muhammad, thanks for joining. So it's kind of mixed as a lot of people are already teaching and a lot of people are completely new, that's great. There will be some useful information in this presentation for all of you I hope, so let's jump right in.

First I want to talk a little bit about the demand for English teachers in 2021. If you're interested in more details about this topic you can take a look at our previous live session last week, you can find it on our Facebook page. It was about teaching English in 2021 and what you need to know about the trends after COVID. There were four key things to remember for 2021.

Employers will tend to be more selective in who they hire because of the additional hurdles with the pandemic. Because you need additional certifications and it costs a little bit more money to hire somebody to teach English. This is mostly for teaching English abroad to bring somebody to your country costs a little bit more so they are likely to be more selective. They will look more closely at your resume just to make sure they hire the best possible candidate for their school so that they don't have a high turnover of staff and lose more money.

Also very interesting, and this was from a UNESCO article for the years ahead, there is a 2030 education goal to have enough teachers for all primary and secondary students in the world and we actually need 69 million new teachers to reach this goal. So the demand for teaching English in 2021 and over the next few years is still very high despite everything that has happened in 2020. Teachers are still getting hired for teaching jobs abroad and not only online. Schools will be able to hire a much greater volume of teachers for the February to May 2021 intake compared to the previous intake in 2020. That's also because governments have responded in a more positive way or in a more productive way now they have had time to figure things out in terms of how we deal with the pandemic and who they let into the country. They have made new visa regulations, new laws, and things to allow people to come back as teachers especially if you have a work visa. And of course, teaching English online continues to grow in popularity and I think a lot of you guys might also be interested in teaching English online.

I have got a couple of more responses about what you guys are currently doing so I will just look through those real quick. We have Fannie who says I've taught in China for a few years and I'm TEFL certified and now I'm looking for more opportunities. Great, I love that. Then Christy says what additional qualifications have you noticed for 2021 that you mentioned?

So the additional hurdles that I was talking about. Basically, a lot of countries now require you to have a COVID test before you enter the country. So you need to take care of that and then there's the quarantine phase in many countries. Also, my prediction is that we will have something connected to the vaccine, so that maybe later in 2021 or even in 2022 it will be another requirement to be vaccinated in order to teach. Already you have similar things in some countries where you have to have a general health check, or you have to take an HIV test for entering some countries, or in Japan you need a TB test in order to enter for work. Things like that, just additional things and I think we're gonna see more of that.

Juliana hi, nice to see you again. All right, so you can see the demand is still really high and English teachers are still needed and still being hired. Now I want to take a look at the teaching English timeline and basically there are five steps from choosing your course to actually teaching.

First is choosing a TEFL or TESOL course, then you work through the units, the third step is receiving your certificate, fourth is applying for jobs, and then the fifth step is starting to teach. This whole process can take at least six months, although some people can do it more quickly depending on if you want to teach English online or if you want to go abroad. It's a little bit different moving abroad as it requires a bit more time to set everything up. Now I'm going to go over each of those steps in a little bit more detail.

So the first step would be choosing a TEFL or TESOL certificate course.

A lot of people ask why should I get TEFL certified as I'm already a teacher and I have experience in the classroom? Maybe you even have a teaching license in your home country. But do you still need a TEFL certificate? Most likely yes, because a TEFL certificate has become a required certification in the English teaching world worldwide and it's even a requirement to secure a work visa in countries like China and South Korea. Also, if you want to enter a teacher recruitment program a TEFL certificate is usually a requirement. Even if it's not a requirement in a country, there are a lot of schools that require their teachers to be certified.

The other main reason why you should get TEFL certified is because the course teaches you all the skills you need to teach effectively. It teaches you the theories, the methods, and the techniques of teaching. It also teaches you about classroom management, lesson planning, which is super important, it also teaches you about evaluation and testing, equipment and teaching aids, and also English grammar. So there are two main reasons why you should get TEFL certified. One is that it is a requirement in many cases and then also just for yourself so that you know you are able to provide value to your future students. That you know what you're doing in the classroom. That's why you should get certified.

So how do you choose a good TEFL provider?

We always get asked this a lot because if you do a Google search for TEFL or TESOL courses you will find so many options and you are like which course provider should I choose? There are several main points you should look out for. The provider's accreditation is important. Are their courses accredited and by who? Who are the teacher trainers and the staff and have they taught abroad or online? Basically, how much experience do they have? Course reviews are another great resource, you can check out review sites like, trustpilot, and Google Reviews, and read through the reviews. Also look for course reviews on Facebook and other social media sites. How do they present themselves on social media? Things like that. Also, do they offer job support and is the job support free and valid for a lifetime? Do you have to pay for job placements? What other included services are there when I purchase a TEFL course? Do I have to pay for my certificate, do I have to pay for shipment, do I have to pay for notarization? And then there are job prospects. What are their course graduates doing now? Are they teaching? Where are they teaching? Any good course provider should be able to answer all these questions. These are the types of things you should look out for when choosing a TEFL course provider.

So why should you choose ITTT?

Well, we have a whole page on our website as to why you should choose ITTT. Let me paste the link for you guys right here so you can check that out. There is a big list of reasons, but the most important ones are, like I said we've been in business since 1997 and our staff is all very experienced, We have all taught English abroad or online. Our courses are not only for native English speakers, but also fluent non-native speakers. You get an embossed certificate and a PDF copy immediately upon completion. We have 24/7 customer care. Our courses are accredited worldwide and we have won several awards. We offer lifetime job assistance and we also have excellent reviews online.

That is just a short version as I don't want to bore you, but anyway I just pasted the link into the comment box so you can check that out for more details about why you should choose ITTT. If you're tuning in from YouTube or our Facebook page there's a section with video testimonials that you could check. We always get a lot of video testimonials from real graduates talking about their experience and they're always really good to watch.

All right, so once you have found your TEFL course provider it's about which course is the right one for you.

Actually I already did a live session about that topic and if you're interested you can check that out because we offer a lot of different course options. There really is something for everyone depending on what your goals are and what you want to do. Once you've figured that out and you've picked a course you're ready to start studying which is already step number two. So that's pretty much self-explanatory, working through the course units. If you take an online course you obviously study at your own pace and you can work through as many units as you like per day or per week depending on your schedule. You have up to six months to complete the course and with our diploma course you have up to 12 months, so it depends on the course you choose, but most of the courses are six months. So that gives you a lot of time, depending on your own learning style and how much time you have. I did mine, and I was working at the time, in three or four months. If you have a lot of free time you could finish it even quicker.

You can study the course on any device. On your laptop, on a PC, on a smartphone, or on a tablet, it doesn't really matter as long as you have a stable internet connection. Also, there are no specific times that you need to be online, no live classes that you need to attend or anything like that, so you can study from anywhere at any time.

All right, let me answer this question real quick. Would the 120-hour TEFL course suit my case of teaching kindergarten kids as they do not want grammar as such but more learning through fun activities?

Basically, the 120-hour course is the standard TEFL course that's the minimum requirement that most schools will have around the world. This course doesn't really have a target student level attached to it, so it is right for you and anyone else who is starting out in teaching. If you do the 120-hour course you will find there are two versions, one is with tutor support and one is without tutor support. If you choose the one with tutor support you get a free specialization course and in your case I would choose the one for teaching young learners as this is specifically for children of all ages. So I would definitely recommend you do the 120-hour course, plus the young learners free course. Depending on what your goal is later on, you could also do the business English course as well. These are like short top-up courses. There is also one for teaching English online that you can take on top of your regular course.

Hi Ellis, thanks for tuning in. Ellis wants to know about course prices.

This depends on which course you choose, but let me drop the link to our course list so you can have an overview that you can check out. It's here at There you have an overview of all of these courses and their prices for tutored and for non-tutored.

So working through the course units is pretty self-explanatory, but what you can also do in this step while you're working through your course units is you can start getting your documents ready. What kind of documents you need in order to teach English is going to depend on whether you want to teach English online or abroad. There are some basic documents you will need and this is mostly for teaching abroad. You'll need a passport that is valid for at least six months or even a year. It’s even better if it's more than that because if you go abroad and teach for a year and it runs out you can go to your local embassy and get it renewed but it's pricey and it's a real hassle. So if you can, have your passport ready and valid for a couple of years before you go.

You'll also need a copy of your CV/resume and cover letter if you want to apply for a job. In some cases you will also need translated documents, depending on where you want to go and teach you could need your resume translated into that language. It’s always a good idea to have some extra passport photos to hand as well as in some countries you will need these to get a work visa or an ID card. Then there are some special documents that are a little bit harder to get or it takes more time and money to get. First there is a visa, so you need to figure out will I need a visa, what kind of visa will I need? But this is something that either your recruiter or your future employer will help you with in most cases. Many will get their work visa before leaving their home country at the local embassy and in some cases you will just have a tourist visa and then you'll be able to change it once you are in the country where you are working. So it depends on that country's rules and laws.

In some cases you will also need a criminal background check and that can take a couple of months to get. I did mine in the U.S.A. and it took a few months. I think you need to get your fingerprints taken and then they do a criminal background check with that. Also, you might need to order university transcripts if you don't have them anymore. Sometimes these need to be apostilled, which is an international kind of stamp. There are also online services that do that, but again it takes time as you need to mail your documents. There are also other things like an international driver's license, and any vaccines you need for the destinations where you are heading. Some countries will require you to take a health check either after you get to the country or before you leave home. Maybe you want to make a checklist for all these items you might need? Most of these things are obviously for teaching English abroad, so if you want to teach English online your list is going to be a lot shorter.

Alice asks if the final certificate is mailed to you? Yes it is and I'm actually going to mention that in just a few minutes, but yes you receive it in the mail anywhere in the world. And then also another question from Alice. What country do you suggest teaching in?

It all depends on what you are looking for and what you want as there's destinations where you can earn more money or less money. It also depends on what culture you're interested in or maybe you want to learn a specific new language. I personally always loved teaching and living in Asia, so that's what I do and what I love. I actually already did a live stream on the best TEFL destinations for 2021 recently, so you should check that out as there's a lot of cool countries in there with a lot of current information.

All right, so step number three. You have passed your course and then you receive your hard copy certificate in the mail.

You actually get two versions of your certificate, one is obviously the main embossed hard-copy certificate, let me show you this. So they have a personalized certificate number that can be verified by employers and governments directly through our website. Here is the personalized number right here, so every certificate has a unique number that your employer can use basically to check that it is an original TEFL certificate because there are some people that think they're smart and they photoshop their certificates and so this is basically something that avoids that. Then you also receive a PDF copy of your certificate while you are waiting for your hard-copy certificate to arrive. You can use this version immediately when applying for jobs.

Hi Irma, she says sorry I’m late. No problem thanks for joining us. We have another question from Vidya. Could you also talk about how non-native English speakers are also able to succeed with their TEFL certification and also provide guidance for online teaching if I want to expand into that later?

Okay, so actually my co-worker Liza does her live sessions every Tuesday and she did one exactly on this topic because she's a non-native English speaker from Russia. She's an excellent English teacher, she's so confident and she knows a lot of stuff and her recent topic was pretty much answering your question. So check that out. Obviously, TEFL is not only for native English speakers, I think that's one of the biggest misconceptions out there. As a non-native English speaker you have plenty of opportunities. You might be a little bit more limited in your destination because some countries have rules that mean they can only hire native English speakers, but it's not everywhere so you still have a lot of options. Like I said, check out my co-worker Liza's live session on just that topic because she knows all about it and she has a lot of great advice because she's been through it herself. Take a look at our Facebook page as we have a whole folder of videos and live sessions.

As for teaching English online, we have a special course for teaching English online so you can take that and it includes a lot of helpful information. We also have lifetime job guidance and I'm going to tell you what that means in just a bit.

All right, another question from Ellis. I love it when people ask questions. So he asks is the test hard?

I did a live stream about this recently. It was basically a deep dive into our 120-hour course and the platform and what it looks like. In that course there are 20 units and after every unit you do a multiple choice assessment based on the content that you learned in that unit. And then once you have all 20 multiple choice assessments done and your pass rate is over 75% you move on to your final test and it's actually not an exam it's a final summative task. It’s kind of like an essay so there's no final test as such. You write an essay about a TEFL related topic of your choice. I’ve done multiple courses from ITTT and I didn't find the tests too hard. You have to read through the material and if you pay attention it's really not difficult to pass in my opinion.

Okay, so we have received the certificate and now the fourth step is applying for jobs.

So there's basically two ways you can find jobs, one would be the independent job search where you look for jobs on your own via online job postings, on Facebook groups and forums, or you can also do your own school research if you already know where you want to teach. If you know the country or city, you could Google English schools and then write to those schools directly.

The other way would be to use recruitment agencies. There are local recruiters that focus on one country like China and then there are international ones that deal with the whole world or specific regions like Asia. The best thing about recruitment agencies is that they come at zero cost to the teacher because the recruiters are paid by the school. So if you see a recruitment agency promising you TEFL jobs but you need to pay a fee or you need to pay a visa fee or something, it's likely to be a scam.

Here at ITTT we work with a lot of recruiters in all different regions and we can connect you with them as part of our lifetime job support service. The service never expires and this lifetime job support basically gets you access to our database of potential employers, so the recruiters that we work with and also the schools that we work with both teaching abroad and also teaching online. You get exclusive leads on unadvertised jobs as many of our partners only share their job openings with us because they value our certification and they know that our courses are of a high quality. You cannot find those jobs anywhere else on the web. We also offer advice on constructing a high-quality CV/resume and advice on writing cover letters for your portfolio.

There's also assistance with planning trial lessons for job interviews because in some interviews schools will ask you to do a 10 or 20 minute lesson on a certain topic. This can be quite intimidating but we will help you out with that. Like I said, this service never expires so even if you get TEFL certified with ITTT and don’t use your certificate. Let's say you want to do something else and then 10 years later you're like hey I have the certificate so let me teach now, then you can still contact us and we'll still help you because this job support never expires for all graduates.

We're almost at the end so the last step is you start teaching.

You have everything done now, you have your TEFL certificate, you hopefully have your documents in order, and you have your hard-copy certificate in hand, you have applied for jobs and got the one you wanted, and now you start teaching. You either go abroad to teach English or you start teaching English online. So actually let me ask you guys which one are you more interested in? Are you more interested in teaching English online or abroad? Let me know in the comments.

Flavia asks if there is any practice at the end of the course?

So you mean teaching practice right? Depending on which course you take there are a lot of videos included of teaching methods and things like that. Then there's also a lot of hands-on activities and information. We teach a well-known teaching methodology that follows a structure so you will have to create your own lesson plans, so that's very hands-on. But in terms of actual teaching practice, that is not included in the online course. But we do have an extra course that focuses on teaching practice, so you can check that out on our website.

Okay then, back to the question. Which do you prefer teaching English abroad or teaching English online?

Lewis says he prefers teaching online. That’s great Lewis. Vidya says I want to teach both abroad and online, I haven't tried online yet so I want to improve my in-class teaching first.

Yeah, that's cool. A lot of people also try online first before they go abroad, but either way works. I also have a couple of friends who do both at the same time. They're full-time in-class teachers and then on the side they teach English online to make some extra money.

Irma says I am interested in teaching English abroad, but COVID is blocking my way and I'm confused right now.

Yeah I think we're all confused Irma, but you know they're still hiring teachers abroad so like I said in the last session, it's not like the door has been closed on teaching English abroad. It's still open and the demand is really high. Don't let something like that hold you back, but obviously we also have to be responsible at the same time, so whatever makes more sense for you in your current situation.

Juliana says teaching online would be a good choice for now. I think so too, a lot of people are definitely going in that direction right now for sure.

Okay, now I want to share the 30% discount link that I mentioned earlier. I also want to try something new this time so I have also got a QR code that you can scan that will also lead you to the 30% off discount. If somebody could try that and let me know if it works it'd be great. I am also going to post the usual link into the comments section now.

Jacinta wants to say thank you to ITTT. I did the 470-hour course and I'm still doing the last two specialized courses. The structure is clear and the information, research, and tips are excellent. Thank you so much for that feedback, congratulations on choosing that course, I think it's a great option that will definitely set you up for success in the teaching world. Good luck with your last two specialized courses.

All right, we still have a couple of minutes here so if there are any questions that you have that haven't been answered you can ask now, and if somebody could try the QR code that would be great. I think it works fine as I'm doing it right now, so this is what it should look like.

Vidya asks when do we have to pay the course fee as I'm expecting my pay only after the 10th so I wouldn't be able to pay immediately. Can we get some more time?

Yeah sure, you can fill out the application and then complete the payment at a later date that suits you. We'll send you several reminders via email so you don't have to pay right away today, you can fill out your details and pay later. We have many different payment options, like credit card, wire transfer, WeChat, PayPal, yeah different options so fill out the application form which is non-binding and then once you hit the green button at the bottom it goes to the next page that will list all the different payment options. You can pay right then or you can pay later, that's okay.

Lewis says the QR code works fine for him, so that’s cool. Well if there are no more questions I think I'm going to sign off. Remember that all of our live sessions are available on our Facebook page and YouTube channel. You can always come back and watch them again at any time. My name is Linda and I go live every Friday from Korea. My co-worker Liza who is a non-native English teacher goes live every Tuesday. She's really awesome and has a lot of great tips for non-native English teachers. So there's always two live streams per week. I highly recommend you like and subscribe to our pages so that you don't miss any of our live sessions. You will get a notification whenever we go live.

Before I go let me just ask you this question. What other topics would you like us to talk about in these live sessions?

We are doing this for you guys, so we are always looking for interesting topics to make you happy. Basically, what are you interested in seeing more of in terms of teaching or destinations or things like that? Let me know.

Vidya says thank you so much, I'm so glad I could make it today. It was awesome to have you here, you asked a lot of great questions. I love it when people ask questions, because if nobody asks questions it'd be quite boring and I'd probably get more nervous.

We have a new listener coming on, it's great to see you although we're actually already at the end, but you can watch the replay once we are done. Don't forget to use the discount code either via the QR or the link in the comment section.

Lewis says he's interested in hearing more about online teaching.

Okay, let me write that down. I always write down all your suggestions.

Hi Daniel from Haiti. We're actually at the end of the session but you can watch the replay and don't forget the 30% discount link. It seems like a lot of people have joined us at the end so I will post the discount again.

Margaret says what is the name of the Facebook group.

Well you are watching from Facebook so you should see it at the top of the stream. Let me share that with you real quick. This is our Facebook page, you should check it out as we share a lot of posts every day. We also have a blog and an FAQ page with videos, teaching tips, and teaching materials. We share a lot of stuff.

Justin says that he is currently teaching at a Hong Kong school. Cool, I love Hong Kong. Vidya says could you provide tips on classroom teaching grade wise like kindergartners, primary school and so on?

Okay, let me write that down. Tips on classroom teaching. Great, well I think that is it for today. Don't forget the 30% discount because if you are thinking about taking a TEFL course be sure to take advantage of this offer as it's a great deal. We only share this 30% discount during our live streams so this is only for you guys.

Thanks so much for watching, a lot of new faces, a lot of old faces that we've seen before which is cool. If you have just joined us make sure you watch the full replay. I hope you have all found it informative and I hope to see you all again next week for another live session. Stay safe out there and have a wonderful day, thank you so much for tuning in.

One last comment. Vidya says I have just applied for the 120-hour TEFL course plus the free young learners course using the 30% off link.

Awesome, thanks so much for telling us, that's great. I’m so excited for your journey, keep us updated with your progress. I'm really signing off now, so I wish you all a wonderful day, night, evening, afternoon wherever you are and I hope to see you all next week. Don’t forget my co-worker Liza who's doing her live stream on Tuesdays about topics concerning non-native English speaking teachers and also online teaching.

Have a lovely day, see you again, bye-bye

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