TESOL/TEFL certifications are now becoming more common throughout the ESOL teaching world. In fact, some teaching programs are now making certification a requirement. However, even more than just meeting the requirements to get a job, going through a certification course is going to help you become a more grounded teacher in the long run.
A TESOL/TEFL certification often gives many points on making you a more effective teacher. It isn’t all just refreshing a few grammar rules. You learn about lesson planning and classroom management as well.
To that end, there is always some fuzziness surrounding the terminology of these certifications. You’ve seen the acronyms TESL, TEFL, TESOL, etc. For the sake of obtaining certification for teaching abroad, they can be deemed as somewhat interchangeable. There is a great explanation of the differences on International TEFL Academy’s site that you can peruse to get a firmer grasp of the topic. Just look under the FAQ section for an explanation of the differences among TESOL, TEFL, and CELTA certifications.
Not all certifications are created equal, and they all serve different purposes. Concerning the vast majority of teaching opportunities, the core requirement focuses on the 120+ hour TESOL/TEFL certification. I say 120+ because companies can vary slightly on the length of their courses. Essentially, when you are looking into a certification company’s courses, they will often have one that is somewhere in the vicinity of 100-170 hours. This is the course you are looking for. The variance can exist for a number of reasons, and the duration is not necessarily an indication of quality. You should look through the curriculum to see which company you prefer.
An emerging requirement of many ESOL programs is for certifications to be earned either completely or at least partially in-class. A 120 hour TEFL certification course, for example, typically consists of 100 hours of online lesson delivery and a 20 hour in-class.
Who did I obtain my TEFL certification through? I used a company called ITTT (International TEFL and TESOL Training). I completed the all-online course when the in-class portion was not a requirement. They also have combined courses as well. ITTT offered a great program and I also had a tutor review my work and provide feedback on assignments throughout the course.
The landscape of ESOL is changing where becoming certified is no longer an option. If you really want the best options for teaching abroad, I highly recommend investing in a course. Read about two TESOL certification companies I recommend.
In addition to a TESOL certificate, I obtained a teaching license for the state of Florida. It is a very involved process. If you are considering a career in teaching, or want to greatly improve your options with international/private schools or some public school programs, a teaching license is required.