Teaching English in a foreign country is one of the best expat jobs. However, teaching English abroad can be quite complicated when you are starting out. There are different programs, courses or job boards or forums, all with the acronyms, including TESOL, CELTA or TEFL, among a host of others. This might leave you even more confused, wondering the best course to take, or even where to start, if you wish to teach English overseas. Understanding the core terminologies helps in finding the right opportunity that will ensure a great experience living overseas.

ESL – English as Second Language 

ESL refers to English language education, especially in countries with English as the official language. Examples include foreign exchange students or recent immigrants studying English in a country dominated by the English language and culture.

EFL – English as a Foreign Language

Although it is highly similar to ESL, this term refers to English Language Education in jurisdictions where English is not the official language. Almost every country can be referred to as English as a foreign language. In these countries, students often communicate or used their native language in their day-to-day life and only use English in the classroom.

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TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language

TEFL is the most popular term used in teaching English overseas. On the other hand, a TEFL Certification simply refers to the certificate and training courses, commonly needed by language schools as well as institutes around the world that seek to hire English teachers.

You should know that TEFL does not specifically refer to a single company, body or school. It is more of an industry acronym. There are hundreds, if not thousands of schools that offer TEFL courses and programs. TEFL certifications and training programs normally vary depending on length, expense and quality of the certification offered.

TESOL – Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

In terms of teaching English overseas, TESOL is an acronym, just like TEFL. It refers to teaching the English language, specifically to non-native English speakers. The terms TEFL and TESOL are mainly used interchangeably when referring to programs or courses needed for an English instructor.

It is a common practice for Canadian, Australian or British training centers to provide a TESOL certificate that can be used for domestic and overseas teaching, and can be regulated by their governments. The USA has not established domestic regulation when it comes to teaching English especially in private schools. This means that most European and USA training would mostly use the term EFL in terms of teaching abroad.

CELTA – Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults

CELTA is a specific form of TEFL certification, which is normally awarded by the Cambridge English Assessment. This is a non-profit assessment organization, which belongs to the University of Cambridge. The course is provided by a wide range of educational institutions, including Eton Institute and different schools around the world. It is a 4-week, 120-hour intensive learning program.

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The Best Qualification for You 

Now that you have a better understanding of the various courses, programs and terminologies, you might be wondering which is the best certification for you. Whichever certification you take, it can only be legitimate if it adheres to certain international standards set by leaders in the field. They include:

– An average of 100 hours of coursework and training. This is equal to four weeks of intensive learning.
– An average of 6 hours live practice. This involves teaching an actual ESL class, not merely role-playing.
– The course uses a curriculum that is approved, accredited and externally monitored by credible and independent organizations in the field.

There are numerous TEFL courses offered in the world today, normally at cheaper prices that may not meet the set standards. Therefore, always take your courses at accredited TEFL institutions to ensure that you receive training and skills needed to teach at the professional level. Such training will qualify you for thousands of jobs globally. Additionally, take your certification in an institution that can support and guide you on opportunities for overseas job placement.

Bottom Line 

Whether you choose TESOL or CELTA, the most important thing is to ensure that your certification meets the international standards. By being awarded an accredited certificate you can work everywhere, without any limitations!

Find out more about why you should start thinking about your future in teaching with our CELTA  and TESOL