It's a huge benefit to take an accredited TEFL Certification course, although some schools in some countries will hire native English speakers with no training or teaching experience.
However, if you want to teach English abroad professionally and do not have an advanced degree in teaching English as a foreign language, it would be a huge benefit to take an accredited TEFL certification course.
What qualifications do I need to teach English abroad?
There are a lot of rumours flying around about TEFL and the qualifications you need to do a TEFL or find a TEFL job, so we thought we’d set the record straight on a few things. Deciding to do a TEFL course and embark on a TEFL adventure is a big step and a big life decision and we’d hate for you to be dissuaded from following your dream because of some confusion.
Do I need a degree?
The question on everyone’s lips. You don’t need a degree to do a TEFL course. A degree does not necessarily mean that you are more qualified to be an English teacher than anyone else. In fact, many people who do not have degrees have spent those years working and gaining other useful skills which will help them in the classroom.
However, the one drawback to not having a degree is that you might experience difficulty finding a job. This is not because of any reason except that the governments of certain countries require a person to have an undergraduate degree to qualify for a working visa. If you don’t have a degree, just make sure you know which countries you can legally find work in and don’t get upset when schools in certain countries won’t hire you.
Do I need an English qualification?
If you are a native speaker, no. If you are a non-native speaker your TEFL course provider will ask you your English level. Non-native speakers should have an English level of C1 (Advanced) as a minimum. If there is any question as to your level, they may ask for an IELTS or TOEFL certificate as proof. The reason your level of English needs to be high is not only so that you can pass your TEFL course but so that your students can benefit from having you as a model of English in the classroom.
If you are not sure what level your English is there are several websites where you can test it yourself, for example:
C1 is the level represented by the following public exams:
The Pearson Test of English (PTE) General Level 4
Trinity ISE III
Trinity GESE Grades 10 and 11
Cambridge CAE (Grade A,B or C)
Cambridge Business Higher
IELTS score 6.5-7.5
TOEFL score 95-120
TOIEIC Listening: 490-495 Reading 455 Speaking: 180 Writing: 180
There has been a lot of debate about the preference for native speakers as TEFL teachers, but employers are starting to realise the benefits of having a non-native teacher. So the fact that you’re a non-native speaker should not count against you when looking for a job, as long as your English level is high enough.
Do I need a teaching qualification?
No. The TEFL certificate is a stand-alone teaching certificate, meaning that you don’t need to have any experience or background in teaching in order to take the course and pass it. The TEFL course will teach you everything you need to know to be able to teach English as a Foreign Language in the classroom.
It might seem a bit weird that you only need a minimum of a 120-hour teaching certificate to be able to teach a class full of innocent learners, but this is the way it is. Teaching English as a Foreign Language is totally different from other kinds of teaching so other teaching qualifications will be useful but it won’t teach you what you need to know about TEFL.