So, you’ve been thinking about teaching English abroad! Maybe something has inspired you – be it the beaches of Thailand, the beautiful rivers and lakes of China, the narrow streets of eastern Europe or the majesty of the Middle East. And you’ve decided that teaching overseas is your ticket to see the world while still earning a paycheck.
Congrats! But where do you start first?
A Google search for “how to teach English abroad” will return just as many results about TEFL certification as ways to start your international teaching job search. And take a quick glance through some current vacancies for English teaching jobs abroad and you’re sure to see TEFL certification listed as a requirement on most, if not all, job descriptions.
Put simply, teaching English abroad and TEFL certification go hand in hand, like PB&J. With all this talk about TEFL certification, you’re likely wondering if it’s really worth your time (and money) to take a TEFL course. Is a TEFL certification something you can get by without?
TEFL certification 101
Before we get down to it, let’s quickly review the basics:
TEFL stands for Teaching English as Foreign Language.
A TEFL certificate is an internationally recognized certification that qualifies first-time and experienced teachers to teach English abroad.
Online and onsite TEFL certification courses range in price (and quality) from $150 to $2,000 USD.
Why the huge range in the cost of TEFL courses?
If the steep price range of TEFL courses is surprising to you, allow us to explain a little more.
While a TEFL certification is the ESL qualification of choice for hiring schools all around the world, there’s no single international accrediting body in place (yet, anyway!) to govern TEFL course standards.
Welp. So what does all this mean?
It means that because there is no single organization regulating the quality of TEFL courses, anyone (yes, even you!) can actually create and sell a TEFL course. Which obviously goes a long way in accounting for the huge range in both price and quality of the myriad TEFL course offerings currently on the market.
Takeaway: Wondering how much a reputable TEFL course should set you back? High-quality TEFL courses come in around the $1,000 USD mark.
With that caveat out of the way, it’s time to get down to the topic at hand: is a TEFL certification really worth the cost?
Without a TEFL certification, you’ll struggle to find a job teaching English abroad
Along with your Bachelor’s degree (any major), a TEFL certification is a staple requirement for most jobs teaching English abroad.
OK OK, for a few English teaching vacancies, you might still be able to squeeze by with just your Bachelor’s degree.
But, without that all-important TEFL certificate, it’s going to prove pretty tough to compete with other teach abroad candidates who went to the effort to get TEFL certified. Not to mention the job candidates who have a TEFL certificate and a few years of teaching experience.
Trust us – while the international ESL job market is undoubtedly booming, the competition for better paying English teaching jobs abroad is pretty stiff.
If you want to be in the running for the top teaching jobs, in your destination of choice, hiring schools will want proof that you have the skills and qualifications to be a successful English teacher.
That proof is…drumroll please…your TEFL certification!
Sidenote: While a TEFL certificate is not a hard-and-fast requirement for certified teachers looking to teach abroad, plenty of certified teachers do opt to get TEFL certified to brush up on their skills for the foreign language classroom.
You’ll be confident at the front of your new classroom
Cast your mind back – can you remember a time you were responsible for a group of 25+ children who didn’t speak English as their first language? How about a time you needed to explain the meaning of a gerund, a phrasal verb or the progressive tense?
Me, neither – just the thought is giving me sweaty palms!
Let’s cut to the chase. You wouldn’t run a marathon without stretching first, right? The same principle applies to teaching English language learners. If you want to be a great English teacher and feel confident in the spotlight at the front of the classroom, you’ll need a few tools and tricks in your back pocket.
A reputable TEFL course will teach you the basics of everything you need to know about teaching English language skills, English grammar, creating lesson plans, managing a classroom and so much more. Things that you will be expected to do in any English teaching job abroad, with little to no onsite training.
Investing in getting TEFL certified before teaching abroad means less time spent planning your classes (and pulling your hair out trying to understand tricky grammar concepts) when you could be exploring your new city.
What’s more, if you teach in a language academy or private school abroad, your students are paying private tuition or fees to be in your class. So make your time (and their time and money) count. Don’t let your students down because skipped getting TEFL certified and are woefully underprepared.
You’ll land a better, higher-paying teaching job
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that the more qualified you are, the better jobs you can expect to qualify for.
The best hiring schools abroad are looking for qualified teachers and pay according to your level of education and experience. This means having a TEFL can put you in a higher pay grade. Being TEFL certified also equals additional perks, like round-trip airfare and accommodation costs covered.
Investing in a TEFL certification now is an investment in your bank account later. Whether you want to save to travel, pay off student debt or put a downpayment on a house or car when you move back home, a TEFL certification can help you land a higher payer teaching salary.
So, to quickly recap, is a TEFL certificate worth the cost? Well, do you want to qualify for teaching jobs abroad, be confident in your new classroom and get hired for, higher-paying teaching jobs abroad? Then the answer’s a resounding “yes”!
Choosing to enroll in a TEFL course now will increase your chances of cashing in on your ideal teaching adventure. Compare TEFL courses from OISE at the University of Toronto and give us a call if you have any questions at all about getting TEFL certified!