English as a Second Language Certificates & Teaching English Abroad:

There are many opportunities to teach English abroad for native English speakers, but before teaching it is important that you have the right qualifications. The base qualifications that are typically required before applying and being accepted for an English teaching position are the TEFL, TESOL, and CELTA. Each one of these certificates are unique unto themselves and provide each future English teacher with a different range of skill at varying prices.

TEFL – The TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) probably the most common English teaching certificate.  This being said there is no real standardization around this certificate so a TEFL is more or less a blanket term for a wide range of programs that are held at variety of organizations. Because of this you can receive a TEFL certificate from an online course at the steep price of $35 from groupon.com, but you can also receive one from a local university that is better and at a much higher price. If you do get a TEFL certificate, it is also important to explain where you got it from, what the requirements were to pass that course, and what you think your TEFL certificate can bring to the classroom. It is important to remember that your education will help give you the needed confidence in our teaching abilities to be an effective teacher. I would recommend that if you do get a TEFL certificate, to try and get one from an accredited institution that will really push you to become the best English teacher you can be. Also it is important to remember that most employers will want you to have at least a 120-hour certificate, even if it is in the PRC, so don’t get tempted by a quick 40-hour certificate, because it will be far below the necessary teaching requirements.

TESOL – The TESOL and the CELTA are both standardized programs as compared to the unstandardized TEFL. The TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is an examination offered by the Trinity College in London, and has acted as an alternative to the CELTA exam. The TESOL tends to be more readily available than the CELTA, which makes it a good option if there is not a CELTA center in your area, and it also tends to be much cheaper than the CELTA exam. The standardization of this program makes it a much better option than the TEFL as your employer will have an understanding of the course that you have taken. With that in mind it is important to note that at TESOL will be much more expensive than a TEFL, but with that extra cost comes student teaching, and a greater depth of knowledge in the mechanics of being a teacher.

CELTA – The CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) has been seen as the “gold-standard” for a preliminary English teaching certificate. These certificates are approved by Cambridge University, and are provided by Cambridge approved testing centers. There is also an individual sent by Cambridge to oversee each CELTA class, as well as provide feedback to each CELTA student. This certificate is much more expensive than the other and ranges between £900 and £2500. The cheapest tuition that I found was in Belgrade Serbia for £900 and the most expensive one that I found was in San Francisco in the United States for £2500. I should also note that you typically have to pay the tuition in pounds and then pay for housing along with other fees in the local currency. CELTA courses can also be taken on either a full-time, a part-time basis, with the full-time course lasting around one month, while a part-time course might last for three months. Some institutions also offer an online/inclass option, which typically lasts around four months, where you do your work on your own time, while periodically checking in with an instructor. This course option does require students to do in class teaching which would be done over the course of one to two weeks at the specific testing center. Another regulation that is important to know with the CELTA is that if you miss a class, you end up forfeiting your certificate, so make sure you’re not sick during that three to one-month period.

If teaching English abroad is something that interests you, these courses are all options that you can take to get the certifications necessary to teach. I should also note that almost every employer will require you to have a Bachelor’s degree, so if you do not have that, and wish to become an English teacher, it is almost a requirement to get the Bachelor’s degree first. When I was applying to various CELTA programs (I should probably note that I am a little biased to the CELTA), it was a requirement that you have your college degree before the course’s scheduled start date. With that being said there has been rumored that there are some language schools in the PRC that will accept teachers without their Bachelor’s. I would personally stay away from those institutions, as it is national law that all teachers have received higher education.

I hope that this article was informative and somewhat enjoyable to read. If you have any questions about any of this, I am by no means an expert, but I have spent a fair amount of time researching how to become an ESL teacher. I will also include some links below on how to find schools that offer these certificates and some good YouTube Channels about teaching ESL abroad.


YouTube Channels: Most of the channels that I have spent time watching are about Westerners teaching English and living in China. Many of their earlier videos were on teaching English in China, but as their channels have grown they have spent more time focusing on Chinese culture. It is great to watch their newer videos on China, but for the purposes of this article I would just do a quick search on their channel page for teaching English

BenTeachesEnglishOverseas: I should note that he has taught in China, but has also taught English in a number of other countries across the globe.


Frank Macri:








Links: For finding TESOL and TEFL schools I would just do a search around the lines of “Your City TESOL or TEFL certificate.” You can also do searches for online TEFL certificates, these will not be accredited, but if you are looking for a cheap way to reach the minimum requirements for many of the jobs in China and Southeast Asia this is a good option. If you are looking for a CELTA certificate, I would recommend taking a look at the link below. Cambridge English’s search feature is really nice since you can quickly find CELTA certified school anywhere across the globe without being bogged down with articles like mine talk about the CELTA rather than the specific schools you would be interested in contacting. I wish you all the best with your search in whatever you might do.


I wish you the best in whatever you dream to do

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