International Standards for TEFL Certification

Standards for TEFL Certification Courses

I am going to say something that is true, but that some people don’t want to hear.

There is not ONE organization or ONE standard in the world for TEFL programs. Period.

So . . . what does it really mean then when TEFL programs say they are “Internationally Recognized”? As we know most do, right there on their websites.

Generally, it means they belong to an organization or two, often just a paid membership. Other than that – don’t read too much into it. There are a few that belong to organizations that will check their course content and maybe even come by to see if it is done well. But don’t read too much into that either. Large fees are paid and well . . . one hates to bite the hand that feeds them.

Bottom Line:

What new teachers usually really want to know is this: If I take that course, will it help me get a job? Will it meet the standards of employers? Will it meet the standards of the Ministries of Education in countries where a TEFL Certification of some sort is required?

Employers and Departments of Education requiring TEFL certification are generally looking for a fairly standardized requirement: a minimum of 100 hours of in-classroom training and at least six hours of observed teaching practice (OTP).

The OTP must be with real students, not other teacher-trainees, not as demonstration lessons in the classroom, and must be observed by an experienced EFL teacher who will give you detailed feedback after each lesson.

Observed teaching practice is a critical part of the training and assures that you will have some real practice with real students and will provide you with some confidence the first time you are on your own in front of a classroom.

Is there one set international agency that has set this standard?

No, it just seems to be what is considered the minimum acceptable training for developing good basic EFL teaching skills. Will you be an excellent teacher by the time you finish such training? No, but you should have the knowledge you need to further develop your skills as a teacher.

What types of TEFL Certificates are out there?

You will see many types of certifications out there – but look for a good basic one that meets the above standards. Some organizations will add on a module for Business English or will give you a concentration in Young Learners – and those are generally helpful if those are areas in which you wish to teach.

In terms of terminology there are really only two types of programs out there that tend to meet the standards mentioned earlier on this page.

One is a TEFL Certification or “TEFL Cert” – more of a generic term meaning “Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certification”, and the other is the CELTA, the Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults. Some years back there was the Trinity RSA. Generally all of these can be considered equivalent and will have roughly similar content.

One important note – if you intend to teach in Europe of the UK there is strong preference there for the CELTA name brand. In most of the rest of the world employers don’t generally have a preference. Know that schools that sell CELTA or even their own name brand, often prefer to hire students who have taken their course.

TED’s Tips™ #1: If you spend the money and time to get a TEFL Certification (or CELTA) be sure it is one that meets the generally accepted international standards reviewed on this page. Otherwise you may find someday that you will need to take another course to meet the requirements of a job that you really want.

TED’s Tips™ #2: If you intend to work in Europe, the UK and/or for schools that sell the CELTA course, get a CELTA.

TED’s Tips™ #3: If you have the opportunity, there are many reasons why it might be best to take your TEFL course in the country in which you first wish to teach. Experience with the problems specific to that country is very helpful on your first job. I’ve taught in five countries and each one has their own unique problems. As you develop your skills you will get better at quickly finding solutions, but a newbie teacher fresh out of the box will often struggle with solving pronunciation issues and explaining common problems that their students have.

TED’s Tips™ #4: Check out TEFL Program dot com for the five checklists the website provides to help you select the BEST training for you.

2 thoughts on “International Standards for TEFL Certification”

  1. Hello Ted,
    I would like some guidance, if you have the time. I am looking into CELTA at the AVO-Bell School of English in Sofia, Bulgaria, do you have any words of wisdom?

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