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Do I Need a TEFL/TESOL Certificate to Teach Abroad?

Is a TEFL/TESOL certificate absolutely, positively necessary to get a teaching job abroad? Well, yes and no; read on to find out more.

If you've been hanging around in online TEFL forums, you've probably wandered across a conversation about whether you really need a TEFL or TESOL qualification. It's a natural enough question: after all, you may well be planning a stint teaching abroad because you can't afford to travel without working. And the truth is, in most countries you can secure a teaching position without a TEFL qualification. The question is - do you really want to?

It pays to be prepared

You can always throw yourself in at the deep end. You know, just start teaching without any preparation and see how well you do. But that's a pretty scary thought isn't it? Without a TEFL course or TESOL training how will you know if what you're doing is right? And just imagine walking into a classroom full of students and having nothing to say - it'd be like that nightmare where you turn up at school naked!

Some hopeful teachers just dismiss it as a really (REALLY) steep learning curve. But remember, you won't have anyone to shadow and it's difficult to learn from the other teachers if you can't watch them in action. You'll certainly learn from your mistakes, but how many will you have to make to equal 120 hours of focused TEFL training?

Perhaps more importantly, starting to teach without TEFL or TESOL training really isn't fair on your class. They deserve the best teaching possible and if you aren't prepared, if you don't know what to expect, they simply won't get it. Even if you're planning to travel to a country that doesn't demand a TEFL or TESOL qualification, you should seriously consider getting one.

Improve your job prospects

Many reputable language schools simply won't employ you without a TEFL of TESOL qualification. This may mean that you have to accept a job from a less reliable institution - something we really wouldn't recommend. In more developed countries, finding TEFL jobs without a qualification can be extremely difficult and you'll probably spend weeks searching for work once you've arrived, with no chance of organising your position before you travel.

A TEFL course ticks important boxes. You'll get more opportunities to convince schools to hire you and you'll know exactly what to do during telephone interviews. So even though a TEFL or TESOL course isn't essential, it is important.

What's more, a TEFL or TESOL course will make you stand out from the crowd. Language schools might not ask for them, but you can bet that applicants with a TEFL qualification go in one pile, while those without go in another.

Make life easier

If you want to make things a little easier on yourself, a TEFL or TESOL qualification is the place to start. You don't have to take a full-time 4 week course; a 20 hour weekend course or a 100 hour online course may be enough. And the time and money will be worth it in the end. Not only will you be well prepared, you'll probably be able to get a better paid job, too.




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I didn't get the certificate yet I still have a job. That said I have advantages, it took me a while to get some recognition working small positions. No-one had to sponsor me for a visa either, I'm in my place on a 'dependancy visa' not a working visa. It would certainly be a help to get some certification. If you don't have certification don't expect to just walk into a position, start at the bottom, cash in hand private tutoring, getting experience, small unrecognized language centers, etc.

What class/certificate program/group do you think is the best buy for the money?Is there a group/organization out there that should be avoided?

I have been considering doing a TEFL course. How difficult is it to get a job abroad after completing the course? (I was thinking the 140hour one)
I had a look on another website that said most employers like you to have a first class degree, previous experience and possibly a linguistics postgraduate degree - none of which I have. Is this true?