Home » TEFL Certification » What is TEFL Certification?

What is TEFL Certification?

Last Updated: September 2, 2021
TEFL Certificate Diploma

TEFL stands for “Teaching English as a Foreign Language”.

TEFL isn’t a single school. Instead, it’s an entire industry of teaching English in a foreign country where English is not the native language.

As English becomes the language of globalization, TEFL means increasing its fluency.

The role of a TEFL teacher is to give students the information they need to learn the English language.

What is TEFL certification?

If you can speak English, it doesn’t mean you can teach it. TEFL certification fills in that gap by preparing you to be a more effective English teacher abroad. A TEFL course doesn’t teach you how to speak English. Instead, you must already be a fluent English speaker before you enroll in a TEFL certification program.

When you take a TEFL course, they all have the same outcome in mind: increase fluency in English as a global language. By enrolling in a TEFL course, it prepares you to be a better English teacher around the world. As a TEFL teacher, you are the learning guide in countries where the native language isn’t English.

Some of the industry standards in a TEFL course includes the following:

  • Accreditation by a recognized organization
  • Minimum duration of 120 hours
  • Challenges you to write lesson plans
  • Includes a practicum with live teaching
  • Contributes advice from a personal tutor
  • Provides a TEFL certification with an identifier
  • Assists in job placement with partner schools
  • Costs anywhere from 400-1000$

Types of TEFL certification courses

In general, the two ways to enroll in a TEFL courses is by:

Online English Teacher

Online/blended courses – During the global pandemic, TEFL programs are introducing opportunities to enroll online through a virtual learning platform. As shown in many universities and colleges, you get a dedicated tutor or advisor which guides you through the course. During the practicum, you teach a virtual class with live feedback from other trainees.

In-class learning courses – Employers often prefer this means of certification because you have real students observing your classroom. Besides the teaching practice, you’re in a classroom setting and it’s more interactive. If you can, we recommend enrolling in a face-to-face course.

Is TEFL the same as TESOL and TESL?

Here’s what 3 of the major teaching ESL acronyms stand for.

  • TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Language
  • TESOL: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
  • TESL: Teaching English as a Second Language

We use TEFL, TESOL, and TESL interchangeably. But if you really want to be nit-picky, the main difference is where the language learning takes place.

When you teach in your home country, you’re teaching in an environment where English is already spoken. This means that for immigrants who learn English, it will be their second or other languages. Hence, we get TESOL/TESL which specializes in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages or Second Languages.

But it really doesn’t matter too much for any type of teaching certificate as they all get treated relatively the same. In Canada, Australia, and the United States, they tend to use TEFL, TESOL, and TESL. 

The United Kingdom commonly uses CELTA for teaching certifications. This is an excellent program innovated by Cambridge University. If you want to be a professional teacher and make it a career, then CELTA is a rewarding opportunity.

CELTA Certification Curriculum

Which TEFL courses do you recommend?

There’s a lot of great TEFL courses that we’re proud to recommend. But there are also some shady TEFL programs out there that don’t provide any significant value to your TEFL career. In the TEFL industry, it’s “buyer beware” out there.

The best TEFL courses focus on the needs of students. Here are some of the ones we recommend:

The TEFL Academy

TEFL Academy TTA Logo

The TEFL Academy offers a 20-hour classroom teaching practice course. This is one of the best opportunities to get you the training you need to be a TEFL teacher.  Throughout the course, you also learn teaching theories and you have to submit assignments. It’s also one of the only programs to be TQUK and DEAC qualified (both the US and UK government)

Premier TEFL

TEFL Thumbnail Premier TEFL

For job placement and internship opportunities, we recommend the Premier TEFL. They have a clear focus not only when you are a student in their class, but during your job hunt and placement. The country profiles are excellent guides on where you want to teach in the world. Lastly, it’s one of the largest programs with 95% of enrolled students recommending taking this course.


TeflPros Logo

We like TEFLPros because their course helps you become a specialist in planning your daily lessons. This is really what it’s all about teaching abroad, especially if you want to make it a professional career. Their course engages you in lesson planning, classroom management, and student interaction.

To TEFL or not to TEFL

TEFL Certificate Diploma

If students are willing to pay a lot of money to learn English then TEFL teachers should at the batter minimum invest in certification.

While CELTA is a superior option for serious teachers who want to get some experience, TEFL programs are more for the casual teacher

No matter the type of certification it should prepare you with ESL activities, ESL games, and ESL lesson plans to engage your students.

TEFL is a tricky industry. But today, we hope you’ve learned something to help direct you on the right path ahead.

Get Fully-TEFL Certified

Do you want to teach abroad or online? Check out our accredited TEFL certification guide. Become a teacher and make a difference in the world today.