Published 23rd June 2021

Do I Need to Know the Language to Teach English as a Foreign Language?

Before we get into it, let’s just say one thing: many of you might be thinking this post applies only to non-native speakers of English, but you’d be wrong. There are many levels to this topic. It’s not simply a yes or a no. In order to teach English as a Foreign Language, there are a few requirements you need to satisfy. You need to be over 18 years of age. Having a degree is non-negotiable in some countries and having a TEFL certificate from a reputable provider is always recommended and sometimes required, no matter where you teach. And you need to be a native speaker of English or speak English to an Advanced (C1) level. So, you are probably asking yourself, is my English good enough to teach English as a foreign language.?

Read more: Can I Teach English as a Foreign Language without a Degree?

I’m a native speaker of English. Is my English good enough to teach English as a Foreign Language?

While your proficiency in English is important, your knowledge of the intricacies of the language is also significant. Many native speakers of English do not have a good knowledge of the basics of the English language. They are not taught grammatical rules at school and they do not know many of the reasons why we use certain words in specific situations. In other words, though they can speak English they cannot explain it or teach it.

If English is your first language, you have the advantage of automatically qualifying to do a TEFL course. This course will be essential to you to learn the foundations of the English language and how to teach it. This will supplement your inherent knowledge of the language and how we use it to communicate in different situations. Even if you do not have a deep understanding of some aspects of the English language, the TEFL course will make sure you are ready to teach English to English language learners.

I’m a non-native speaker of English. Is my English good enough to teach English as a Foreign Language?

On the other side of the coin, if you aren’t a native speaker of English, you may also have gaps in your knowledge. Even though you learnt to speak the language, you might not have the same feel for the language as a native speaker has. There may be moments when you use a turn of phrase which doesn’t sound natural to a native speaker. At the same time, you understand the process of learning English as a Foreign Language like no native speaker ever can, so there are both advantages and disadvantages of being a non-native teacher.

If English is not your first language, the first step is to make sure you qualify for a TEFL course. In order to do a TEFL course, your English needs to be at least C1 level, according to the CEFR. This can be proven in your TEFL interview or with the results of an English exam, such as the IELTS or the Cambridge Advanced.

Once you have your TEFL certificate under your belt, along with your English level there should be no doubt that you are capable of teaching English to English language learners.

Read more: What Level Should My English Be For a TEFL Course?[K1] 

How can I upskill my English?

If, however, you are still worried about your English level, there are a number of ways you can upskill your English. A TEFL course is the first step. Your TEFL course will provide you with an overview of the English language. It will help you brush up on the linguistic knowledge you already know, and introduce you to what you don’t. You will look at grammar, vocabulary, functional language, and pronunciation, as well as the skills involved in reading, writing, listening and speaking.

Besides focusing on this knowledge, a TEFL course will show you how to teach the language. Understanding and using a grammatical concept is very different to teaching it. And that’s the whole point of a TEFL course anyway, isn’t it – to teach you how to teach English. Rest assured, if you are worried your English knowledge is not up to scratch, the TEFL course will help you not only upskill your own linguistic abilities but also help you teach the language to language learners.

Then, in your own time, you can read books and keep up-to-date with linguistic research related to teaching English as a Foreign Language. There are so many different options available to you, make sure you pick carefully so that you can read for enjoyment. You can choose to read books on the English language itself or those related to the different aspects of teaching the language.

student preparing to check if their english is good enough to teach english as a foreign language

Read more: The Best TEFL Books for the TEFL Teacher

Finally, there is the good ol’ internet. During your career, especially when you start out, there will be questions posed by your students which you don’t have the answer to. There will be moments you are not sure *exactly* of what you are teaching. And there will even be times when you are totally confused by your coursebook. In those moments, all you need to do is take a breath and ask Google. It’s easy enough to find grammar reference information online and there is no shame is looking things up and educating yourself.

So, to answer the question Is my English good enough to teach English as a Foreign Language?, we say: probably. If your English is at the C1 level or above or you are a native speaker, we are confident that a TEFL course will prepare you to teach English as a Foreign Language. And because we know how much you are going to love teaching, we also know that you will make sure you find out the answers to any English questions you may have during your career!

  1. I’m interested in teaching English online. I’m Indian. And retired. Need something to do and would like to Augment my income with a partime teaching job.
    I would like more information on the subject and your advice.
    I consider my English to be pretty good.

    1. Hello, we offer a 168 hour, level 5, TEFL Course, which will qualify you to teach English as a foreign language in most countries around the world. We’re the world’s only TEFL course provider that has received official recognition from government regulated awarding bodies both in the US and the UK. Our course has been approved by the DEAC, a U.S. Department of Education National Accreditor. Our course is internationally recognised, regulated by Ofqual, a UK government department and awarded by Qualifi, a UK government recognised awarding body. You can find more information via the following link: https://www.theteflacademy.com/accreditation.

      You can find our current course prices here: https://www.theteflacademy.com/tefl-courses

      Some students finish the course in 4-6 weeks working on the course full time, but we give you 6 months of 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.

      There are very few requirements to do the TEFL course with us. You only need to:

      be over the age of 16 (Online Course) or be over the age of 18 (Combined Course)
      have a minimum C1 level of English (advanced)
      have access to a computer and the internet
      have basic computer skills.
      If you fit all of these requirements then you will be able to enrol for our course online or over the phone. You can choose to study our course completely online, https://www.theteflacademy.com/online-course, or combined with 20 hours of face-to-face classroom training, https://www.theteflacademy.com/course-information. Louise 😊

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