What does TEFL certification mean?

The obvious place to start is with the acronym TEFL, what does it actually stand for? TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language and it can be used to refer to any situation where a non-native English speaker is being taught English. Technically, TEFL refers to situations where English is being taught in a non-English speaking country, but in most circumstances it is commonly used regardless of the learning environment. TEFL is also the name given to teacher training courses and the resulting certification that potential teachers undertake in order to meet the qualification criteria set out by most international employers of English language teachers.

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TEFL and TESOL certification

Although a TEFL certificate is required to apply for most English language teaching jobs, many teachers actually have a TESOL certificate instead. The good news is that TEFL and TESOL basically refer to the same thing and the training courses involved are identical. The only difference is that some certificates are stamped with TEFL and others with TESOL. TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and is technically used when English is being taught in an English speaking country. However, TEFL and TESOL are routinely used interchangeably by most people within the English teaching world.

Do I need a TEFL Certificate to teach abroad?

TEFL and TESOL certification

As mentioned, English language teacher training can result in either a TEFL or TESOL certificate. You can usually decide which one you have on your certification based on where in the world you are most likely to be working. In some English speaking countries such as Australia, Canada, and the USA, a TESOL certificate may be more appropriate, while those teaching overseas in a non-English speaking country may find that a TEFL certificate is the preferred option. The best approach is to do some research into the job options in your chosen destinations and see what employers are asking for. Also, you can check the website of the country’s immigration department to see what qualifications they specify when applying for entry visas or work permits. Even if you change your mind regarding locations at a later date it should be no problem as both a TEFL and a TESOL certificate will be equally valid no matter where in the world you are teaching.

TEFL terms explained

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