Should I Do An English Proficiency Course Like IELTS Or TOEIC Before TEFL?

Should I Do An English Proficiency Course Like IELTS Or TOEIC Before TEFL?

By Paula Dicu

Having a good command of the English language is essential to become a successful ESL teacher.

And although English doesn’t have to be your first language, you must be fluent and speak with clarity. 

But there’s another scenario to think about! If you are someone that is not fluent in English but you still wish to teach English, it could be essential to complete an English proficiency score. 

A high score will help you vouch for your fluency and understanding. 

If you are someone who fits this description, your next step will be to complete the IELTS (English test primarily taken for immigration purposes) or TOEIC (English test primarily taken for international employment purposes).

The TEFL certification is an additional factor that helps teaching candidates stand out, and thus makes them eligible for certain ESL teaching jobs.

Overall, when you’re deciding whether to complete the IELTS or TOEIC, you will need to assess your specific goals and circumstances. 

We will help you better understand the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing IELTS or TOEIC before TEFL. 

  1. The difference between IELTS and TOEIC
  2. Advantages of Taking an English Proficiency Course (IELTS or TOEIC)
  3. Disadvantages of Taking an English Proficiency Course Before TEFL
  4. Advantages of Pursuing TEFL Certification First
  5. Disadvantages of Pursuing TEFL Certification Firsst

The difference between IELTS and TOEIC

The first step is to truly understand the differences between IELTS and TOEIC.

IELTS is used for assessing English language proficiency for academic or immigration purposes. 

The IELTS is not a requirement for TEFL certification programs, but it will be beneficial if you plan to study abroad and you need to demonstrate your English language skills for immigration purposes.

The TOEIC, on the other hand, is designed to assess English language skills in a professional or business context. 

So, if your professional goals are to reach English for business or academic purposes, and if you plan to work in a corporate environment where English proficiency is essential, it will be beneficial to have a high score on the TOEIC.

A great command of the English language is essential in the ESL teaching profession, and the TEFL certification focuses on teaching you how to teach English effectively. 

Your level of English-language proficiency prior to the TEFL enrollment is something that you will need to consider if you wish to pursue this career path.

Now, let’s delve more into the advantages and disadvantages of taking an English proficiency course. 

Advantages of Taking an English Proficiency Course (IELTS or TOEIC) 

Improved Language Skills 

Participating in an English proficiency course like IELTS or TOEIC can significantly enhance your language skills. 

You'll gain a deeper understanding of English grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation, which will be invaluable when teaching English to non-native speakers.


Achieving a high score on an English proficiency test can boost your confidence in your own language abilities. 

Confidence is a crucial asset for effective teaching, as it enables you to communicate clearly and engage with your students more effectively.

Global Recognition

The IELTS and TOEIC scores are widely recognized worldwide. 

They can open doors to various opportunities, including TEFL jobs, further education, and immigration to English-speaking countries.

Personal Satisfaction

Successfully completing an English proficiency course can be personally rewarding. 

It demonstrates your commitment to improving your language skills and your dedication to becoming an effective English teacher

Disadvantages of Taking an English Proficiency Course Before TEFL

Time and Cost

English proficiency courses can be time-consuming and costly. 

Investing time and money in such courses may delay your TEFL certification, and you may not see an immediate return on your investment.


If your English skills are already at an advanced level, you might find some of the content in these courses redundant. 

In these cases, your time and resources could be better spent on TEFL training.

Understanding TEFL Program Requirements

Some TEFL programs and employers may not require an IELTS or TOEIC score for non-native English speakers. 

Therefore, taking these tests may not be necessary if they are not a prerequisite for your specific TEFL course or job application.

Advantages of Pursuing TEFL Certification First

Focused Training

TEFL certification programs are specifically designed to prepare you for teaching English as a foreign language. 

They cover teaching techniques, classroom management, and may even offer you practical teaching experience, which are crucial for success as a TEFL teacher.

Immediate Entry into the TEFL Field

Completing your TEFL certification allows you to enter the field of English teaching right away. 

You can start gaining experience and building your teaching portfolio sooner.

Varied Job Opportunities

Many TEFL programs provide job placement assistance and can help you find teaching positions that match your qualifications and career goals.


 TEFL programs often connect you with a network of fellow teachers and potential employers, which can be invaluable for your career development.

Disadvantages of Pursuing TEFL Certification First

Potential Language Barrier

If your English proficiency is not at an acceptable level, you may face challenges during your TEFL certification course, which will hinder your learning experience.

Limited Job Opportunities

Some employers and countries may require a certain level of English proficiency, which you may not meet without prior English proficiency training.

In these circumstances, you will benefit from receiving a high score on the IELT or TOEIC.

Choosing the best option for your career goals

The decision to take an English proficiency course before pursuing a TEFL certification depends on your individual circumstances and desires.

If you're still unsure about whether to take IELTS, TOEIC, or pursue a TEFL certification first, it's a good idea to consult with the specific TEFL program you're interested in and consider your overall career goals. 

Ask yourself: does this course align with my long-term objectives and the requirements of my chosen career path?

But if you have the time and resources, and if you feel that improving your English skills will significantly benefit your teaching career, it may be a worthwhile step. 

However, if you are eager to start teaching English and you already meet the minimum language requirements for your chosen TEFL program or job, pursuing TEFL certification first can be the more practical and efficient choice. 

Ultimately, consider your unique situation and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option carefully before making a decision.

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