TEFL – Your questions answered

If you are looking for a job less ordinary, TEFL could be your next adventure. You could travel the world, embrace new cultures and make a global network of friends – but you could also forge a lifelong career in teaching.

Here we answer some commonly asked questions relating to TEFL!

What is TEFL?

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language to people whose first language isn’t English. In order to do this, a qualification to train you up to be a teacher should be obtained. At International House, we offer the CELTA which is an intensive, initial TEFL qualification designed for people with little or no previous English language teaching experience or training. Find out more about the CELTA qualification here.

What should I look for in a TEFL qualification?

In order to be suitably equipped to teach English in a proper school, your TEFL qualification should be certified by an official accrediting body. The CELTA is certified by Cambridge Assessment English and as a result is highly regarded internationally and recognised by Ofqual at level 5 on the Qualifications and Credit Framework.

It might help to look at the type of TEFL job you want and work backwards from there. For example, a TEFL job with International House must…

  • be externally validated by a reputable examination body (e.g. a university, recognised examination board or other body with Royal Charter)
  • have 6 hours of observed and assessed teaching practice (i.e. teaching practice where a qualified assessor observes the trainee teacher teaching real students and gives feedback on his or her performance)
  • include at least 100 hours of face-to-face ELT input from a suitably qualified trainer

The CELTA will equip you with all these basic requirements.

Who can do TEFL?

Everyone! You might be a graduate who wants their first job to be teaching overseas. Or you might be someone who has worked in a different career for several decades and is looking for a change. Some people use TEFL as a way to travel the world; others teach students in their home country.

Is TEFL a proper job?

The short answer to this question is: yes! Teaching English as a foreign language to children – and adults – to help them understand the world beyond their own language, communicate on a global scale, study abroad one day, make friends from around the world, aid their career advancement, and understand music, film and television in English, is a worthy job.

In return, you will gain valuable skills for your own CV and professional development, including (but not limited to): initiative, commitment, patience, dedication, perseverance, organisation, and actual work experience. You’ll work with children and adults of all English levels, so you’ll develop excellent personal skills. If you teach abroad, you will have the opportunity to study a new language and experience another culture, which will then enable you to learn more about yourself and your own abilities and limits.

Is TEFL a step on my ‘career ladder’?

Many graduates choose to gain a TEFL qualification and teach overseas as their first job. Or some people, who have worked in a different career for several decades, may choose to teach English to make an exciting change in their life. Whichever it is, doing a CELTA is the first step of what could be a prosperous and fulfilling teaching career. International House offers opportunities to further your knowledge and experience via our Online Teacher Training Institute or in one of our schools.

Of course, TEFL skills are also transferable to other jobs and career paths! If teaching isn’t for you, then you could branch into other areas of the industry like writing course books or other materials, marketing, academic management, teacher training or business development.

Where can I go with TEFL?

Academically, you can further your knowledge in a variety of areas. Geographically, you could go anywhere! The demand in schools around the world for English language teachers is ongoing (you can view our Jobs board to see which International House schools are currently recruiting) so if you’re proactive, you will be able to find work. EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teaching contracts tend to be around 9-to-12 months long so wherever you end up teaching, you could move to the other side of the world in a year’s time if you wish.

What will I get out of TEFL?

Adventure, experience, a global network of friends, an everyday life less ordinary, a potential career in teaching if you want it, or a springboard onto another career path if you decide you don’t. You will also get a lot out of the place you choose to teach in, whether that’s a beautiful city in Italy (say ciao to infinite cappuccinos and pizza), Thailand (exposure to exquisite nature and a relaxed way of life), or Australia (g’day to winter sunshine!). So, really, you can get out of TEFL what you choose to put in.

Do I need to speak the language of the country that I would like to teach in?

No, you don’t have to, although we do encourage teachers to learn a language themselves as it will give you an important insight into the challenges your students face. During your TEFL course, you will learn how to teach English without using the students’ native language. This means you can teach students of different nationalities in the same class and teach in countries all over the world. Speaking the local language will help you navigate life in your chosen destination.

How can I get started with TEFL?

If you are a proficient English language user (between CEFR Level C1 and C2 or above) and educated to the standard required for entry into higher education, you are ready to take the CELTA qualification with International House. Find out more about the CELTA and where you can take it here!