Why Bother with a TEFL Certificate?

Why Bother with a TEFL Certificate?

We get a lot of questions from individuals hoping to head overseas to teach ESL, asking if they should bother with a TEFL certificate. Some are certified teachers and some are just individuals looking for a new adventure.

Some have classroom experience teaching subject-specific material and some have never stepped foot in a classroom. Across this spectrum of potential ESL teachers, we always say the same thing: a TEFL certificate can make a huge difference.

Why should this certificate make such a difference, especially for certified teachers who have plenty of in-class experience?

Let us explain:

Most reputable TEFL certificates are comprised of at least 100 hours of ESL-specific information and teaching tactics to help build a teacher’s confidence while teaching English-language learners overseas.

ESL teachers face a set of challenges entirely unique to teaching ESL – you will have to stand in front of a classroom of learners with a completely different L1 (native language). The 100-hour course provides you with some essential tools to handle these challenges accordingly.

Look for a TEFL certificate that covers the following information:

  • A brief English grammar refresh
  • Principles of second language acquisition
  • Teaching methods for classrooms with a different L1
  • Which English language elements are most difficult for learners and appropriate teaching tactics
  • Dos and Don’ts in ESL teaching
  • Correcting student errors appropriately to encourage free-flowing conversation
  • Pronunciation and Phonetics
  • Integrating external content in classroom activities

Teaching English isn’t as easy as speaking English

Speaking English doesn’t automatically make you qualified to teach English to a classroom of eager adult learners with many, many questions. This is a common misconception in the ESL world.

You have to be prepared to explain the nuances of the language and the grammatical rules as well.

Teaching ESL is still a job, and it can be a very rewarding one. But as with all jobs, it’s important to be qualified and skilled at what you do.

Over time, the classroom experience comes, but giving yourself the knowledge to answer your students and provide them with the best English education that you can is some of the legwork you can do before you leave.

It will also take the edge off your lesson planning and your question and answer sessions with your students.

Certified teachers can benefit from a TEFL certificate too

And for certified teachers looking to head overseas to teach at a private international school or in a public school system like ADEC, a TEFL certificate can be just as useful.

Most reputable certificates will cover teaching techniques when teaching a classroom of learners with a different L1 – an important difference from in-class teaching experience that you may already have.

Teaching students Chemistry in English for the first time will bring about a whole new set of challenges to prepare for.

Teach Away has a unique partnership with the University of Toronto, where together we have developed a reputable TEFL certificate. 

Learn more and read about each individual unit and the material covered, as well as supplementary learning material.


I am a trained teacher who is now eligible to work in Canada. I am having challenge finding teaching jobs. I think this course will offer me a greater opportunity in my search. I am also interested in linguistics and would like to see how I can marry these areas in my field of work.
Hi Doug,

Great question! The average student completes the 100-hour course in 6-8 weeks. As this is an average, it accounts for students who devote their full-time schedules to the TEFL Online course and those working on the course part-time. If you have more of your full-time schedule to contribute to working on the course you can expect to move through the materials at a faster pace. For more information regarding completion times you can visit our FAQ page, here: https://teflonline.teachaway.com/what-is-esl-faq/

Christie Van Tol

Although a “self-determined pace” is highly subjective, can you give me some idea of a reasonable time-frame to complete your 100-hour course? I have recently retired from teaching and am able to approach the course as a "full-time student. "

Thank you.

Doug Rutherford

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