Published 14th August 2019
You’ve probably seen the adverts for it. Maybe you read a blog or two about it. Quite possibly you have a friend or cousin or former colleague who’s doing it. And while you’ve seen the pictures of tropical paradises and heard the stories of cute kids and overbearing parents, you’re probably wondering to yourself: can I do that? Can I get a TEFL qualification and teach English abroad? Who can get a TEFL?
While we’d love to immediately say yes! Of course you can! there are a few requirements to do a TEFL course. However, they might not be what you think. There may be a few different reasons why people think they might not be eligible to do a TEFL course and get a TEFL certificate, but we’re here to clarify this murky issue and set the record straight.
Am I too young/old?
Considering that the stereotypical TEFL teacher is a 20-something backpacker with no qualifications, it’s not surprising that many people might worry that they are too young or too old to do a TEFL. Indeed, there are both lower and upper limits on doing a TEFL, both for good reason. However, the majority of us won’t need to worry about these.
First of all, you need to be 18 years or older to do a TEFL course. This is because you need to have graduated high school. A TEFL course is the equivalent level of a degree, so you need to be able to engage with the course appropriately in order to be able to complete the course and pass.
On the other side of the spectrum, there is no official age limit, but there are a number of countries that won’t grant you a working visa if you are older than a certain age – usually 60 or 65. Having said that, if you want to get a TEFL to teach privately or if you have already found somewhere that would be happy to have you as a TEFL teacher, then we say go for it. Also, there’s nothing stopping you from doing a TEFL course just for the fun of it!
I don’t have a degree!
This is a very common concern. While having a Bachelor’s degree is beneficial to getting you a TEFL job, it is by no means essential. The reason again is that pesky working visa. Some governments won’t give you a working visa unless you have a degree. Bear in mind, though, that this can be any degree, not necessarily a degree in English or Education.
If you don’t have a degree, all you need to do is look for a job where they are not that fussy. Popular TEFL destinations which don’t require a degree to teach are most countries in Central and South America, Cambodia, Egypt, Turkey and Spain (fi you have an EU passport) – but those are just a few to whet your appetite.
I’m not a native speaker!
Again, not an issue. To be able to teach English as a Foreign Language you need to prove that you have an English level of C1 (or Advanced) according to the CEFR. If you are not a native speaker you must show that you’ve attended an English medium school or university or you can do an English exam.
If you’re worried about your skills as an English language teacher if you’re not a native speaker, then you have even less to worry about. There is no reason that native speakers would be better teachers than non-native speakers. In fact, because you have already learnt the language and gone through the same process as your learners, you may have a headstart to other teachers.
I work full-time/ I’m still studying!
This is the beauty of the TEFL. There is a TEFL course to suit everyone, just as there is a TEFL job to suit everyone. If you are working you can choose to do an online course, which you can complete in the evenings or on weekends. You could do the practical component of the course over a weekend.
If you’re still studying, the same applies. You can choose to do an online course in your free time and the practical component on a weekend. Or you could choose to do a full-time face-to-face course during university holidays.
Sure it’ll be exhausting and difficult to juggle your life with the course, but since most courses are only 120 hours, before you know it it’ll be over. And it’ll be totally worth it.In a nutshell, the answer to the question Who can get a TEFL? is probably You!