Published 29th October 2019

Is tefl hard?

If you’re considering teaching English abroad and are looking into doing a Teaching English as a Foreign Language course, you may be wondering how hard it is to pass. After all, if you are either starting out in a career or changing careers, you don’t want to waste your time and money on a venture which will get you nowhere, do you? So, is TEFL hard to pass?

Unfortunately there is no easy answer for this, simply because we don’t know you. A TEFL course is an intensive course of study. The shortest TEFL course we recommend you do is 120 hours long and a lot of that time will be spent reading books, digesting information, and trying to understand theories of learning and methods of teaching. The rest of the time will be spent either planning lessons and developing content or teaching. 

If you are not very academic (and not many of us are) or if it’s been a long time since you were last in a classroom, you might find the course challenging simply because you don’t enjoy reading or haven’t had to read academic texts for a while. The same goes for the assignments: if you haven’t written an essay in years or if writing is not your strong point, then you might find the assignments in the course overwhelming.

Is it possible to fail the TEFL?

In a word, yes. Many people believe that you can’t fail a TEFL course because there are not many people who do. The argument is that TEFL institutions are run as businesses so they prefer their students to pass because they’ll then recommend the course to their friends. Of course this might be true of some of the dodgier TEFL courses, but for the most part it’s not.

TEFL teachers around the world are judged according to their TEFL certificate by potential employers. TEFL institutions will become known by the caliber of their teachers. In other words, if a TEFL course passes every Tom, Dick and Harry who does the course then there is a real possibility they’ll get a bad reputation based on a few bad apples. But if their teachers are consistently good, that TEFL course will become respected and known as a good preparation course.  

Why would you fail the TEFL?

Having said that, it is not often than TEFL students fail the TEFL course. Face-to-face courses generally have interviews and strict admission requirements so if is not likely a student will complete or pass the course, they will not be admitted in the first place. Online courses these days offer so much in the way of support that even if you are struggling with the course you will be mentored and assisted until you overcome your difficulties. 

However, there are a few reasons a person might fail the TEFL:

Personal issues may mean a person does not complete the course. 

The TEFL course is a hectic course which you need to dedicate a lot of time and energy to. If there are personal issues preventing you from focusing 100% on your course, you will have problems completing it. 

Time commitments can prevent a person from being able to dedicate enough time to the course. 

If you are working or studying while you are doing the TEFL course, you might find that there aren’t enough hours in your day to do what you need to do. Needless to say, if you don’t have time to put in the work, you won’t be able to finish or pass the course.

A person might not complete all the required assignments, or not to the satisfactory level.

If you cannot complete all the required assignments, you cannot pass the course. At the same time, you might not pass the assignments, which might mean you cannot pass the course.

Their level of English might not be high enough for them to handle the course material.

Most TEFL courses take your English level into consideration. This means that you should be able to handle the level of difficulty of the course materials. However, if English is not your first language, you might find that your English level is not high enough for the course. 

They might realise that teaching is not suited to them.

This happens in any course of study. When you start something it can seem like a great idea, but when you actually do it you realise that it’s not what you expected and it’s not something you enjoy doing.

To go back to the question, is TEFL hard to pass? For the most part the answer is no, if you have the time to dedicate to the course and if there are no extenuating circumstances which can derail you. If you’re still not sure if TEFL is for you, join a few online forums and ask TEFL teachers what they think. There’s nobody better to ask than someone who has done it themselves.

  1. Good day,
    I trust that you are well.

    I am not sure whether I will be able to cope with the TEFL course as I am a full-time employee. Any input from TEFL qualified teachers who had a full time position and a family who got through and passed the course would be highly appreciated.

    Kind regards,

    1. Hello Nabeweya, we have many students who are working full time or have family commitments. The course is designed to allow flexibility for every student as we give 6 months access to the course. We have sent you an email with our course information and a prospectus. 🙂

  2. Good day

    I have great interest in enrolling for TEFL course early next year 2020. I would like to know if there are usually teaching opportunities in Halifax Canada?

    1. Hello Mamosa, we have sent you an email with our course information and a prospectus. Canada is one of the few countries that do not accept TEFL qualifications unfortunately. 🙂

      1. Hi,

        I am doing the TEFL course and would like to speak to someone who has done it.

        My number is 0717715253

        Please will you contact me regarding this.


    1. Hello Kirsten, the course that we are offering is a level 5 168-hour TEFL course. Some students finish the course in 4-6 weeks working on the course full time, but we give you 6 months access to the online course so you can fit your studies around your existing commitments. Your 6 months of online enrolment starts from the day you pay for the course. 🙂

    1. Hello Terence, thank you for your interest in our Level 5 TEFL course. We have sent you an email with our course information and a prospectus. 🙂

    1. Hi Kesia, We have emailed you more information about our course now. Feel free to reply to this if you have any more questions.

  3. Hello,
    I was working full time on a cruise ship while doing my course. I finished the course in 4 months and then I did my 2 classroom days when I finished working on the cruise ship.
    Prior to this I hadn’t written an essay or read a book in over 5 years. I’d say it can definitely be done with a full time job.
    Now I am a full time English teacher in Genova Italy.

    1. Thank you for contacting us, There are 10 units – each with an end of unit test. Additionally there are 3 assessments which you will be marked on making up your final grade.

  4. Good evening I would be very interested in doing an online course with TEFL Academy
    and would appreciate an application form (2) for Mr Marcello Acquisto and myself,
    Beverly Acquisto.
    Yours sincerely
    Beverly Guiney Acquisto

    1. Hi Beverly – Glad to hear you’re interested! We’ve emailed you some information on how to enrol now 😊

  5. Good day

    I’m considering doing the level 5 180h course but obviously haven’t studied in 12 years. English is also my second language although I’ve been teaching/lecturing in English for the past 10 years. Will I be able to cope with the content of the course?

    1. HI Elena – We have graduates from all ages and backgrounds so as long as you are managing your time and asking questions to the Academic Support team if stuck and taking their feedback on board you should be able to manage!

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