TEFL - Teaching English as a Foreign Language


Considering teaching English as a foreign language?

Teaching English as a foreign language, often shortened to TEFL, is something that every English-speaking student should consider. Whether you want to get the qualification and then use it to gain experiences abroad in a gap year or whether you want to spend a few years teaching abroad after your degree, its time and effort that will never be wasted. Online courses are available and it’s possible to study and gain a TEFL qualification as long as you are over 18 and you speak English fluently.

TEFL coursesTESOL/TEFL – what do all these acronyms mean?

When you start looking into teaching as a foreign language you start to come across what seems like a foreign language in itself. Here is a quick guide:

  • TEFL, as we have already seen, is Teaching English as a foreign language (EFL is English as a foreign language).
  • TESL is teaching English as a second language (ESL is English as a second language).
  • TESOL stands for teaching English to speakers of other languages.
  • ELT is simply English language teaching.
  • DELTA is a Diploma in English language teaching to adults while CELTA is a certificate in English language teaching to adults.

TEFL and TESOL courses

It’s possible to choose from a range of courses, many of them incorporating online study. The cheaper ones tend to cost about £200 and are less rigorous than the more expensive accredited courses, which will set you back closer to £1000.

Trinity College London, known for its Trinity TESOL courses (certificates and diplomas) is probably the most highly regarded. Trinity College’s accredited courses are available at colleges and centres all over the UK.

TESOLWhy choose an accredited TEFL/TESOL course?

Choosing an accredited course is advisable as it is recognised by a wider range of organisations, including The British Council (which arranges a lot of TEFL placements) and the Open University, which accepts the course credits towards an OU degree.

It’s also important to remember that once you get a placement abroad, you will be in a classroom of students keen and willing to speak English but there may be 30 or 40 of them. To be able to stand up in that situation and deliver your course and achieve results, you need to have a thorough grounding in teaching English.

A Trinity certificate in TESOL is classified as level 5 of the National Qualifications Framework in the UK. This means its equivalent to studying at second year undergraduate degree level. Their TESOL diploma is classed higher, at level 7 and is aimed at people with previous teaching experience.

TEFL and TESOL internships

One popular way to gain teaching experience after obtaining a TEFL qualification and to travel is to do an internship. Gap year internship programmes are available all over the world – China, Ghana, Peru, India, for example. You usually go for six months and by the time you come back to start uni, you will be way ahead of your peers in terms of being able to deliver a presentation.

A post-graduate with a TEFL qualification and this sort of experience can add to their CV and experience working life abroad by taking up a TEFL post for a couple of years before coming back to settle into a job in the UK. Employers are impressed by the commitment that gaining and using a TEFL qualification demonstrates.