Published 20th November 2015

So, what exactly is TEFL? You’ve probably heard many stories about Teaching English as a Foreign Language – the different TEFL certificates, the adventures TEFL teachers have, the challenges and the enjoyment of a TEFL job – but you may still be a little confused about how TEFL actually works. So let’s break it down for you.

What does TEFL stand for?

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, which means teaching English to students who do not have English as their first language, possibly not even their second language, but maybe their third or fourth language – their foreign language, so to speak. You could do TEFL teaching in an English-speaking country teaching students who have come from all over the world to learn English, or in a non-English speaking country, where the students study English as another subject at school.

How is TEFL different to other teaching?

The beauty of TEFL in contrast to teaching in the mainstream sense is that you are able to do this job all over the world and in fact, this is usually the reason people decide to become involved in TEFL. Being TEFL-qualified means that you can apply for jobs in any country you choose and this also means that there are numerous different opportunities for TEFL teachers: you could choose to teach in a remote village or a big city, teach children or adults, teach in a school or a language schools – the possibilities are endless.

What Exactly Is TEFL?

How can I get involved in TEFL?

In order to embark on this wonderful TEFL adventure, you need to do a TEFL course. A TEFL course is a course you need to complete in order to gain an internationally-recognised certificate. A TEFL course could involve face-to-face or online tuition, but it should be at least 120 hours of tuition in total. Once you have the TEFL certificate you are free to browse the numerous jobs board and try and find a job wherever you heart desires.

Can I make a career of TEFL?

Absolutely. TEFL is a great career choice simply because there are so many different opportunities within the TEFL field. While the obvious job is working as a TEFL teacher, you could also write EFL materials, work in an EFL publishing house, be a social leader for EFL summer camps or become involved in management in an EFL school. What this means is that even if you start out as a teacher, you may find yourself moving into a completely different position but still remaining within the field.

Let’s be honest: the majority of people who become TEFL teachers do so for the travel opportunities. If this is your reason for considering TEFL, then you won’t be disappointed: If you are involved in TEFL, you will travel. Having said that, though, this is by no means the only benefit of doing TEFL and you will certainly never regret your decision for becoming involved in the world of TEFL.