6 things about TEFL you thought were true, but aren't | Part 1

6 things about TEFL you thought were true, but aren't | Part 1

Updated December 21, 2021

Read the second part of this two-post series to learn one very important TEFL truth! 

Misconceptions surrounding TEFL courses are very common. There are a lot of queries about these courses that seek clarification on items such as official accreditation as well as differentiation between each type of course. This article sets the record straight on a handful of frequently faced myths to do with TEFL courses.

If I speak English, I can teach English: False

English teaching positions can vary greatly from position to position, organization to organization, and from job to job. Almost always, a bachelor’s degree is required. In addition, a TEFL certification (or other type of ESL teaching certification) can be required.

Can you explain what a gerund is? Unless you have special education, the answer is probably no (although you do use gerunds every day). This is because expert-level English speakers learn English differently to ESL students. Explaining English language rules and concepts can be difficult; native speakers often know the answer, but don’t always know why certain English rules are the way they are (think of trying to explain to someone why the “I before E except after C” rule doesn’t apply to the word science). ESL learners on the other hand, learn the reasoning behind unique English grammar rules.

In short, speaking the language alone isn’t quite enough to properly deliver lessons in classrooms full of ESL students!

TEFL courses are accredited: False

There is no official accrediting body for TEFL, which means that anyone can develop and sell a TEFL course. It is important to be mindful of the course you choose and the company or institution that has developed it. While some organizations, such as universities or well-established teach abroad companies, are held in high regard, other companies may not be accepted by education institutions overseas.

To avoid problematic issues while seeking employment abroad, make sure the TEFL course you’re enrolling in has a solid reputation and is recognized at the school or in the country you’re hoping to find employment in. If your goal is to teach at a legitimate and reputable school, you’ll be expected to have a TEFL certificate from a reputable and globally-recognized issuing organization.

TEFL, TESL, and TESOL are all the same: False

TEFL, TESL, and TESOL are easy acronyms to confuse – or to think of as three in the same. These three certification types each serve a unique purpose and stand for different types of English instruction:

  • TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language: This qualification concentrates on teaching the skills needed to instruct English in a country where English is not the first language.
  • TESL – Teaching English as a Second Language: TESL is aimed at teachers who plan to teach English to English language learners, who are currently living in an English-speaking country.
  • TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of another Language: This qualification is newer and gives some flexibility as to whether you teach English overseas or in an  English speaking country. While TESOL courses may cover a broader range of topics, they tend to study them in less depth.

You can find more in-depth descriptions of TEFL, TESL, and TESOL here: What’s the difference between TEFL, TESL and TESOL?

There you have it – three misconceptions about TEFL courses debunked. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we set the record straight about practicum (teaching practice), the benefits of TEFL for licensed teachers, and more!

If you have any questions or TEFL myths you’d like cleared up, please leave us your question in the comment section below.

Make this the year you qualify to teach abroad. To learn more and compare our courses, click here.


I just would like to find out if you have to have a matric qualification to do one of these courses.
Suzette van Wyk
Hello Suzette,

Thank you for your comment!
There are no prerequisites to enroll in the TEFL Online program, and you may do so with or without a matric qualification. That being said, the widely accepted minimum requirements to teach English abroad are a bachelors (university) degree and a TEFL certificate. This is not to say that teachers with less than a university level education and a TEFL certificate do not continue to be hired abroad, however you will face a high-level of competition when applying for jobs abroad. We would be happy to answer any further question you may have about the program at teflonline@teachaway.com

Christie Van Tol
Can you pay in instalments

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