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July 12, 2006

Teacher Development- Which TEFL certificate?

Hello Readers!

Google is a great search engine, but it can at times be utterly annoying with exactly how many results it can turn up for you. When I first went into ESL teaching, I knew absolutely nothing about the field. In fact, I didn't even realize that many people did it as a profession. Yes, I was so naive as to think that the field of ESL was limited to recent college graduates from English-speaking countries who wanted to experience life in another country for a year or two before heading back to the real world of loans, mortgages, and capitalist lifestyles. But after a year of teaching in China, I realized that ESL could actually be a profession and there were certificates and diplomas, masters degrees and even PhDs in the field. And that's when I went to google for help. I googled "TEFL certificate" and found...

... approximately 1,500,000 results! Whew! Talk about overwhelming! So how do you choose a good program?

First of all, think about why you want to get a TEFL certificate. Do you want to learn the basics of ESL before you begin teaching? Do you want to get a pay raise? Do you want to be qualified for a job in Europe, China, or North America? Do you want to get into curriculum development or teaching training?

If you want to learn the basics, any old TEFL certificate will probably give you some kind of idea about what you'll need to do. I'd recommend going online and finding one of the cheapest certificates out there. I'd also recommend picking up one of the following books that was recommended reading for my CELTA course, both of which can be found at Amazon:

How To Teach English, by Jeremy Harmer

Learning Teaching, by Jim Scrivener

If you want a pay riase, find out from you boss what kind of certificates they accept. Schools that know what they're doing will probably tell you that they will only accept a certificate from an accredited school, such as the TEFL through Trinity Lutheran or the CELTA through Cambridge University. Schools that don't have a clue, won't know more than you and will be satisfied with any certificate that bears your name and has the words TEFL Certificate on it. (Who cares if all you did was attend a one day workshop??!!)

If you want to teach ESL in most western countries, chances are you'll need either a TEFL Certificate or a CELTA from an accredited institution that includes approximately 120 hours of instruction, 6 hours of observing qualified teachers, and about 6 hours of observed teaching practice with at least 2 different levels of students (eg. beginners and intermediate level students). What this means, again, is that online TEFL certificates are not going to cut it. America seems to lean more towards TEFL certificates, but I've seen plenty of job vacancies (especially in California) that ask for CELTA qualified teachers. The only place where TEFL certificates don't seem to be necessary are in Asia, though from my experience in China, having one will definitely be beneficial.

If you've been in the profession a while, still enjoy it, and are thinking about getting more qualifications in order to do your job better and or to get into curriculum development, teacher training, etc., then you could do a few different things. You could look into obtaining a DELTA (which allows you to be a CELTA trainer), a diploma, a masters degree or a PhD. However, I would highly suggest getting a few years of different kinds of experience under your belt before you look any training beyong a basic TEFL certificate, as training can get quite expensive and ESL jobs don't always pay enough to consider the training an investment unless you are really interested in the field.

For more information about a CELTA, go to the following link:
For more information about a DELTA, go to the following link:
For more information about postgraduate degrees in ESL:

Please feel free to leave a comment about your experience, questions, or comments regarding TEFL training below and/or on the ESL Employment forum at www.eslemployment.com.

Good luck!

Carol Rueckert
Writer, ESL Lesson Plan
E-mail: crueckert@eslemployment.com
Blog: www.esl-lesson-plan.com

*Looking for more articles that spotlight Teacher Development in the ESL industry? Click HERE!

About the author of this entry:
Carol, a native English-speaker who hails from the small town of St. Joseph in Minnesota, USA, has lived and worked in China since 1998. During that time, she has worked with students that range in age from three to more than sixty years old. She’s worked in universities, private language schools, grade schools, international schools, as well as private tutoring. Besides teaching, she’s also worked as a head teacher, an education manager, and a material development manager. In addition to working on this newsletter, she currently writes a monthly column for Time Out Beijing as well as working as an ESL instructor for the Australian International School of Beijing. Carol is also enrolled in Oxford Brookes' MA TESL program in Oxford, England. Look for her posts on the ESL-Jobs-Forum discussion boards!

Posted by crueckert at July 12, 2006 05:06 AM

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Ok - what are good websites to find International Schools at - do they have hiring forums here in the US?

Posted by: Karen Mezouane at July 13, 2006 11:03 AM

Hi Karen,

Try this one: http://overseasdigest.com/jobfairs.htm

Good luck!

Carol Rueckert

Posted by: Carol Rueckert at July 13, 2006 11:18 AM

I am replying to your email on 'tefl' certificate; well i would like to know if there is a way that you can work towards earning the 'tefl' course certificate?
What I am saying is that by being an 'assistant' in towards taking the course?
Also I am in Texas, is there any location/facility that teaches course for that?
> thanking you,

Posted by: lucio sanchez, jr at July 13, 2006 02:27 PM

Hi Lucio,

Good question.

I've just done a quick google search for you and found a few websites you
might be interested in looking at:



I've also heard that there is a CELTA program in Houston, Texas.

As far as 'working' towards a TEFL certificate, unfortunately, it's just
not possible. The courses are typically instensive 4-8 weeks of training
(4 for full time and 8 for part time) that require full attendance.

Good luck!

Carol Rueckert
Writer, ESL Lesson Plan

Posted by: Carol Rueckert at July 14, 2006 12:34 AM

Dear Prof.
I am eagerly looking for the curriculum of TEFL in well-known universities all over the world.My main concern is the B.A. level;however, other levels might help as well. My purpose is to analyze those TEFL curriculums and further, to compare them with the ones we follow in our country,Iran. I am in an urgent need of such curricula and will sincerely appreciate your help.
Best regards, M. Shafa

Posted by: M.Shafa at October 16, 2007 06:54 AM

Thanks for all the great insights you have provided in to TEFL.

Posted by: TEFL Training at August 25, 2008 08:12 PM

Thank you for the good informarion, if I take the on line course, do I have to meet somewhere for an oral test, Im in China
My English is good but im not a native english speaker. And how will I recieve the diploma? By mail? Sincerely

Posted by: Mary at September 17, 2008 07:00 AM

The best information i have found exactly here. Keep going Thank you

Posted by: Kelly Brown at June 12, 2009 04:09 PM

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