Home How to Become a TEFL Teacher: Steps, Qualifications & Much, Much More!

How to Become a TEFL Teacher: Steps, Qualifications & Much, Much More!

By Brian Miller, Secondary Principal

Hands raised in front of chalkboardTeaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) is a unique job unlike any other. And, it quickly and easily opens doors of opportunity, both in international and online work.

As the world continues to globalize, as more and more countries begin to open their boarders, share ideas, and engage in commerce, speaking English continues to be a gateway to a better life and career for many non-English speakers… and it’s definitely improving career prospects for TEFL teachers in the process.

If you have ever wanted to teach TEFL and have longed to travel the world, becoming a TEFL teacher might be a great opportunity, and a perfect fit for you.

Teach TEFL! The Job Description and Opportunities That Come with TEFL Teaching Qualifications

Passports on world mapWhat does a TEFL teacher do? TEFL teachers teach non-native speakers to read, write, and speak the English language. It is not considered a core subject in any western high school curriculum, but is almost essential to any international school or high school of a non-English speaking countries. It is also highly needed in the more urban or coastal/border cities as they tend to have a more dense population of non-native English speaking students.

Life as a TEFL Teacher

The job description of a TEFL teacher is much like that of any other subject teacher. The duties include but are not limited to the following:

  • Create lessons that teaches the required content and engages the students, as individuals and as a group.
  • Use both formative and summative assessment to gauge learning and modify instruction
  • Build meaningful relationships with both staff and students
  • Collaborate with other building and district teachers
  • Communicate regularly and effectively with parents
  • Constantly evaluate and grow as a teacher

Being a TEFL Teacher Can Involve Teaching Western Culture

There’s a lot more to being a teacher than simply teaching your course material. All teachers are expected to help their students become quality men and women who can grow up to be contributing members to their local and greater society. As a TEFL teacher, the expectation is no different. Where TEFL teachers differ, however, is that it is not uncommon for their students and parents to also expect their teacher to teach them about Western culture. TEFL teachers, therefore, often put in extra time with their students, helping them learn how to navigate the various nuances and expectations of a foreign culture.

Teach TEFL Online

Do you need TEFL to teach English online? Yes. Although there may be some exceptions to this, most online language schools require that their TEFL teachers hold a TEFL certificate from an accredited school. Teaching TEFL classes online can be a great benefit for many as it allows you to work from home, saving money on transportation, and requiring a lot less after-school activities.

Opportunities for International Travel are Yours When You Teach TEFL

Where can you teach English with TEFL? Anywhere. Teaching TEFL provides many opportunities for travel, all throughout the world. And because the requirements for TEFL certification are much less than obtaining a teaching certificate, you can start teaching much faster and with much less accrued student debt. Being TEFL certified also provides you opportunities to add income to the full-time job you hold as it allows you to teach or tutor any non-native speaker looking to improve their English skills.

How to Become a TEFL Teacher: Certification Requirements

Is TEFL a teaching license? No. Having a TEFL certification does not mean you have a degree in education. Being TEFL certified means you are globally recognized to teach English abroad or online to non-native speakers.

What qualifications do you need to be a TEFL teacher? It depends. For many parts of the world, such as Latin America, Eastern Europe, Cambodia, and parts of China, you don’t even need a college degree to teach TEFL, but you must be fluent in the written and spoken English language. For other parts of the world, such as Western Europe, the Persian Gulf, and parts of Asia a TEFL certification is most often required.

For all countries, however, being TEFL certified is best because not only does it make you a more qualified and reliable teacher, it opens doors of opportunities as schools tend to hire certified teachers over non-certified teachers.

To become a certified TEFL teacher you must:

  • Decide between TEFL or TESOL certification
  • Enroll in either a 4-week intensive course (online or in-person) or a 11-week part-time online TEFL course
  • Research where in the world you are interested in living.

Once certified, it is best that you spend a good amount of time researching the many places and schools available. It is also in your best interest to apply early. International schools tend to hire within the first few months of the year so start looking for jobs come January or February. They – and you – will want to have plenty of time to figure out visa, passports, and travel plans well in advance so don’t wait too long to apply, lest you lose opportunities.

Salary and Growth Opportunities When You Teach TEFL

Woman dreaming of financial successHow much do TEFL teachers make? It depends. The TEFL and teaching salaries around the world vary, but it is generally understood that TEFL teachers can earn anywhere between $600 and $4,000 USD, per month, depending on where you live and the community you work for. Those numbers, however, can often be misleading or unfair because various companies can provide hiring packages that are unique and beneficial for their potential teachers.

TEFL Teacher Fringe Benefits

Being a TEFL teacher can be a significantly rewarding experience but with limited pay. That does not mean, however, that the school with which you are apply doesn’t find creative ways to make your time and efforts well worth it. While applying, look added benefits such as”

  • Paid travel. Some companies will pay to send you to and from your home country at various times. This added bonus, although not technically part of your pay, is a significant benefit to your out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Housing costs. Like paid travel, many companies will either pay for your housing outright or will provide additional housing pay. This pay will not be part of your income but will reduce your monthly expenditures as well as alleviate the frustration of not only trying to find adequate housing but also dealing with the mess of language and paperwork barriers.
  • Additional Schooling: In an attempt to secure quality teachers, many international schools will provide additional schooling such as TEFL certification or masters courses, free, in exchange for years of service.

Like any teaching position, for those interested, there are ample opportunities for personal growth and professional advancement. First and foremost, the more you teach and investigate your teaching craft, the more you will grow and learn and improve in your TEFL teaching skills. For those who are interested in advancing in their teaching and educational career, the path is fairly straightforward. From obtaining a teaching certificate to pursing a masters, the more education and experience you have in the world of education the more opportunities will open for other teaching roles or leadership positions.

Being a teacher is often considered one of the most rewarding careers our world has to offer. Becoming a certified TEFL teacher is no different. Not only does it provide you with ample opportunities to interact with, learn from, and teach people from all over the world, it is a profession that instantly impact your local and greater community. You are helping people open doors for their future lives!

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Should I become a TEFL teacher?” The answer is most certainly yes. The only real question is where. Are you ready for your next adventure?