What is a TEFL exam?

First we need to define what TEFL means before looking at the various ways in which it can be examined to provide a teaching certificate. There are various locations in which a TEFL exam can be taken and different methods of instruction, these will also be considered.

What does TEFL stand for?

The acronym TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language and it can be used in any situation where the English language is being taught to non-native English speakers. Technically speaking, TEFL refers to teaching English in countries where English is not the native language. It is a term used mainly in the UK and is used interchangeably with the equivalent USA term TESOL.

As with any profession, teaching has a series of exams at different levels. Within the world of ESL the entry level examination for teachers is the TEFL certificate.

What does the TEFL certificate involve and how is it examined?

There is no single answer to this question, due to the fact that there are so many different organizations offering their own “brand” of certification. However, there are enough common features within the industry to provide some general outlines as to what a certificate involves, in terms of hours of study and an outline curriculum.

The generally accepted minimum course hours for a TEFL certification are 120-hours of study. Within those hours there are usually two distinct areas of study. The first area relates to teaching skills and the second relates to language awareness.

Teaching skills typically involve the understanding of basic teaching methodology, which is called pedagogy for young learners and andragogy for adult learners. The role of the teacher and learner are often studied. How to assess students at the various stages of a course is also a typical TEFL syllabus component. Possibly the most important skill developed in this section of the course is how to plan and deliver lessons to a range of student levels and grouping types.

Language awareness relates to the English language knowledge you are required to teach to your students. This necessarily involves some level of understanding of English grammar. ESL teaching usually covers five distinct levels from beginners to advanced and as you may be required to teach any or all of these levels, your knowledge of the material to be taught within each of those levels must be up to scratch.

Testing for a TEFL certification can take a number of forms which may include a certain ratio of continuous assessment and final examination. Testing may be done through multiple choice, short essay and long form style questioning.

Where can I take the exam?

Two main types of TEFL certification take place, these being online courses and onsite courses.

Online courses can be taken from wherever you are in the world and may or may not involve some form of teaching practice. Onsite courses can be taken at one of the many training centers around the world and typically involve a four-week attendance with observed teaching practice of at least six hours.

Which type of TEFL exam does ITTT offer?

All ITTT’s courses result in certification, assessment of which includes examination or testing.

Our modular online certificate and diploma level courses have a multiple choice exam at the end of each unit or module. All these tests are ‘open book’, which means you may use your own notes and the internet during the exams. A certificate is awarded if your average exam result from all the unit tests is 75% or above.

Our onsite courses generally have a mix of continuous assessment and final examination of language awareness, at the end of the course. As this type of study involves observed teaching practice, this is also assessed.



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