Do I Need A TEFL If I Have A PGCE?

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Teaching English abroad is a very welcoming space. 

You can do a teaching English as a foreign language (or TEFL) course if you:

  • have a degree or don’t have a degree,
  • have teaching experience or don’t have teaching experience,
  • are a new teacher (NQT) or an experienced teacher – or not a teacher at all,
  • have experience in business or science or IT or art or cheffing or cricket – or any career under the sun,
  • are young or not-so-young,
  • speak English as a first language or a second or third or fourth language,
  • if you live in Toronto or Taipei,
  • and even if you support Manchester United or you support Arsenal or you can’t stand football.

In other words, TEFL jobs present opportunities for people with experience in a wide range of fields. But, it is not surprising that many people who are already qualified teachers become interested in crossing over into TEFL territory. In these cases, teachers already have a PGCE and teaching experience, so is it necessary to do a TEFL course and become TEFL-certified? In other words, is there a TEFL for qualified teachers?

A TEFL teacher teaching his students. Do I need a TEFL if I have a PGCE?

Do I need a TEFL if I have a PGCE?

Overall, yes. TEFL jobs are not the same as the jobs the PGCE has prepared you for. The teaching situations are actually quite different. 

Teaching English to non-native speakers is very different to teaching English to native speakers, and especially to teaching other subjects. The top requirements for teaching English abroad are a TEFL and (sometimes) a degree – regardless of what field that degree is in. 

The TEFL Academy has alumni teaching all over the world. Some have a TEFL qualification but no degree. Others have teaching degrees. But by far the greatest percentage are those with a degree in a field unrelated to teaching – Maths or Business or Modern Languages or Psychology, for example.

Chris worked as a personal trainer in London before moving to Poland. With a TEFL certificate from The TEFL Academy he found a job teaching in a language school. A year later he chose to become a freelancer. Now he teaches English in companies to business professionals, as well as private students. His advice?

“If you’re looking at teaching English abroad I’d recommend it: just be confident and go for it! You will be surprised what opportunities will arise.”

Can I teach English abroad if I have only a PGCE?

Having said that, there are a few teaching jobs for those with only a PGCE – but these are few and far between.

These are the jobs in the international schools. In other words, you’ll be teaching non-native speakers through English as a medium and you won’t necessarily be teaching English as a subject. Essentially, this teaching environment is very similar to your previous teaching experience. 

These international schools can be in both English-speaking countries and in non-English-speaking countries and for these jobs a teaching qualification such as the PGCE is preferred.

Indeed, if you are considering employment in a mainstream school in Australia or the United Kingdom, for example, you need a teaching qualification. However, if you are teaching in an international school in a non-English-speaking country, schools will ask for a TEFL certificate as well as a PGCE. Plus, it’s possible to get a job in these schools without a PGCE. 

A TEFL teacher teaching students in a classroom. Do I need a TEFL if I have a PGCE?

Which is better: a PGCE or TEFL for teaching English abroad?

Even if you have a PGCE, it is a good idea to do a TEFL certificate. Doing a TEFL course will not only open up opportunities for you,  it will help you deal better with the TEFL situation. Remember that even though you have teaching experience, there are certain aspects of teaching which are considerably different when teaching students who do not speak the language. 

If you have a PGCE, teaching experience and a TEFL certificate, you are putting yourself in the best situation possible. But a PGCE is not necessary to teach English abroad.

Maria is from Argentina but taught English in Trat, Thailand. As a qualified teacher, she decided to do a TEFL course to improve her chances of finding a job. She says:

I had been working as a teacher for almost 8 years so my experience helped me to do the TEFL course. I learnt a lot about teaching abroad, especially when you do not share the mother tongue.”

Maria teaching in Thailand

What qualifications do I need to teach English abroad?

To teach English abroad you need a TEFL qualification. Basically, the difference between whether or not you need a TEFL qualification as well as a PGCE or only a PGCE will depend on the country and the teaching situation:

  • If you are hoping to teach adults in a language school in Brazil, you need a TEFL qualification. 
  • If you want to teach children in Bangkok, you need a TEFL qualification.
  • If you were thinking more along the lines of an international school in Sydney, you may be able to get away with just the PGCE. At the same time, it will always be helpful to have a TEFL certificate behind your name, because you never know where you may end up and what opportunities may present themselves to you.

There are volunteering and internship positions which accept a Level 3 TEFL certificate, but most jobs require you to have a Level 5 TEFL certificate. 

What’s important about your TEFL certificate is that it is a good quality certificate and internationally recognised. Cheap and cheerful is not a good look for a TEFL course – beware of common TEFL scams before parting with your hard-earned money.

Where can I teach with a PGCE and a TEFL?

If you have both a PGCE and a TEFL and are looking to get out of your comfort zone, look at countries like the UAE or Saudi Arabia or Qatar. These countries offer university positions and prefer TEFL teachers with teaching experience. A PGCE will get you a foot in the door for these jobs. And why wouldn’t you want to – with generous salaries, accommodation and flights included, these are really dream jobs. 

But if looking for an adventure, then the world is your oyster.

Have we piqued your interest? Give us a shout and we’ll give you a call back to discuss the best TEFL options for you.

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