Do I Need TEFL Training to Teach English Abroad?

English teaching wannabes and newbies ask me these questions frequently:

1. Is TEFL training required to get the job I want?

2. Do I have to have it?

3. Would it make a difference to employers if I had it?

If you’ve been waiting impatiently for the answer to just those questions, here they are: 1. sometimes, 2. sometimes and 3. yes.

Some countries require a Teaching English as a Foreign Language(TEFL) certification before they can approve your papers to work legally. Thus – before you can work in Thailand, Indonesia and a few other places, you must have completed a TEFL course.

That said, most countries don’t require any TEFL training at all. However, even in those places the best employers will prefer their new hires to have had training before they start work. So, in fact, getting TEFL training may your first hop in leap-frogging up the food chain, work-wise.

New TEFL teachers shouldn’t forget that, even if many countries and jobs don’t require training at all, teaching abroad shouldn’t be about getting by with the minimum effort and just doing a lackluster job. Doing a good job is good for you, too.

Will TEFL Training Really Make a Difference?

There are several ways in which you may benefit from TEFL training. The first is that many employers will pay higher salaries to teachers who have had good training. While this might not be much on a monthly basis, over a year or a semester it will add up. TEFL certification courses tend to easily pay for themselves in only one or two years. Add to that the idea that you’ll land a better job with a TEFL certificate than without training and you might be seeing an even better return on your investment.

Doing it Right is the Right Thing to Do

Those are the good practical reasons for getting yourself some training. There are also some ethical, moral and emotional issues to consider.

The first is that you owe it to your students. In most foreign countries, your students are paying a lot of money to sit in your class. Wouldn’t it be fair to them if you knew what you were doing? Getting a TEFL certification is the first step to being a better teacher.

Lest you think I exaggerate, I do realize teaching English overseas isn’t brain surgery or even rocket science, but it does require skill to do it well. As long as you are changing your life by heading overseas – why not do it right and feel good or even GREAT about the service you provide to your students?

The days of just showing up at a TEFL, “chatting with the students for an hour,” and collecting your money are long gone. Language schools these days would like you to provide some real teaching in their classrooms. And students can intuit when a teacher knows what they are doing – and when they don’t.

It Just Feels Better

One of the best reasons for getting yourself some training is that you will find preparing your classes much easier and you will enjoy your work more knowing that you are providing a quality service and not just grabbing someone else’s money. Best of all, you will sleep better at night.

It’s about doing it right – and feeling good about it.

Now . . . not everyone can afford the tuition for a full-blown TEFL certification program, not to mention taking four to six weeks off work to complete it. So, in the following post we will talk about some good alternatives to the commercially available courses.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Get some training. You will enjoy yourself more and do a better job.  Remember how lousy teachers really turned you off when you were still in school? Yeah, don’t be one of those.

TED’s Tips™ #2: If you can’t afford the “Full Monty” of a four-to-six-week course, check out alternatives in the next post.

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