TEFL is an industry with one goal; to teach English to non-native English speakers. You’ll hear many different phrases like teaching English as a foreign language, teaching English as a second language, or teaching English for special purposes. There are slight differences between them, but in general, they all have the same aim of teaching English.
When starting to look into TEFL as a career, your first step is to get an English teaching certificate. This is achieved by enrolling in a course and completing it. Once you complete an online course, you’ll receive a certificate and be able to teach English to non-native speakers. We’ll go through the different types of courses in a bit, but first, let’s touch on all those acronyms that get thrown around.
What is TEFL: Acronyms Explained
Here is a list of acronyms that you will come across during your TEFL career:
CEELT Cambridge Examination in English for Language Teachers
CELTA Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
DELTA Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
DOS director of studies
EAP English for academic purposes
EFL English as a foreign language
ELL English language learner
ELT English language training or teaching
ESL English as a second language
ESOL English for speakers of other languages
ESP English for specific purposes
EST English for science and technology
IATEFL International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language
IELTS International English Language Testing System
L1 first language
L2 second language
PGCE Post Graduate Certificate in Education (UK teaching qualification necessary for state sector)
PPP Presentation, Practice, Production (Teaching method)
TEFL Teaching English as a foreign language
TESL Teaching English as a second language
TESOL Teaching English to speakers of other languages
TOEFL Test of English as a Foreign Language
TOEIC Test of English for International Communication
TSE Test of spoken English
TTT Teacher talking time
TWE Test of written English
VSO Voluntary Service Overseas
TEFL Vs TESOL Vs CELTA
TEFL and TESOL qualifications are primarily remote learning with flexibility and affordable options. CELTA and TrinityTESOL are primarily in-classroom, tutor-led classes that are intensive full-time learning, which does end up being on the more expensive side.
So, what is the difference between TEFL and TESOL? TEFL stands for teaching English as a foreign language, while TESOL stands for teaching English as a second language. What this means is that TEFL courses are geared towards teaching abroad or online when the student is in their home country and teaches more the grammar and vocabulary and how to speak properly in every English speaking country, while TESOL is geared towards teaching English in YOUR country to non-native speakers and focuses on a more unique English language, like British English or American English.
In saying this, the two are interchangeable as they both cover all aspects. However, TEFL is looked at more favorably in Asia and may even be asked for in terms of visa or employment. If you do already have a BEd or CELTA, but need a quick certification, we recommend the 120-hour TEFL Course, which will be fast to do as you are already trained, affordable, and will cover all visa requirements. For this reason alone, getting a TEFL certificate is worth it!
What is TEFL: The Different Types of TEFL
There are two main TEFL qualifications; the 120-hour TEFL Course and the 180-hour Level 5 TEFL Course. They both have the same agenda; to give you a qualification to teach English as a foreign language. The Level 5 Course is the higher qualification and will open up more opportunities for you. If you have the time to study a little harder and a little more within your budget, definitely choose the Level 5 course. This is not to say that the 120-hour course will not suffice, but just that the level 5 qualification is looked at favorably by potential employers. It’ll give you an upper hand. There are exceptions like experience. So if you choose an internship or are an educator already, the 120-hour course will do perfectly for you.
There are also specialist courses that will help you to gain access to niches of TEFL that are higher paid or in an area that you can see yourself in! If you want to adults business English or find the curriculum structure around exam preparation suiting you, then these specialist courses can help you immensely. There is so much that you can learn in the world of TEFL, and the main TEFL courses cover a wide variety of subjects, but going into depth into one subject can be seriously beneficial for you. It’s like doing a Ph.D. and focusing on one sector of your degree. Become a master in what you want to do as a TEFL teacher.
What is TEFL: The Opportunities
We’ve mentioned just a few times the doors that a TEFL qualification can open. And we’re not wrong! To finish off this blog, we leave you with a few scenarios of past TEFL students that you yourself could live out:
- Teach young learners in a classroom setting in your dream destination through a program. Meet amazing people and join the TEFL community in that destination.
- Earn extra money while teaching English online. You can have prior commitments like a 9-5 job or while raising a family. Your schedule is flexible and you can work when you want to work.
- Volunteer in a developing country and teach the locals English, helping them to join the international world and reach their goals.
- Prepare non-native speakers for English exams so they can gain a certificate to help with visas or their careers.