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My ESL Certification – Everything You Need To Know About Certificates

TEFL/TESL Certificates are not very time consuming to receive, but finding a reputable school or online program can be fairly difficult. ESL Certificates come in all shapes and sizes, from fly-by-night web-based courses, to the yearlong graduate-level programs found at many of our colleges and universities. To break it down, here are a few of the ESL certificates offered:

  • TEFL/TESL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language/Teaching English as a Second Language)
  • TESOL (Teaching English to Speaks of Other Languages)
  • CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults)
  • DELTA (Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults)

So, now that I’ve confused you with all of these different certificates, you’re probably asking yourself, “what’s the difference between them?” The answer is pretty much nothing. Each offers a certificate course designed with curriculum development, teaching methodology, and lesson planning in mind. I recommend that if you are looking to pursue a certificate for a specific job in mind, you should contact your school or company and ask them which certificate they require (if any). Over the years I have encountered some positions that will only hire those with specific certificates – though very rare, it has happened.

All the Things you didn’t know bout certificates (IMPORTANT SECTION AHEAD)

There is NO regulatory agency or government bureau that decides which certificates are deemed good or bad. What this means for schools and companies abroad is that they do not know if your certificate was given out by a reputable source.

The number 100 is very special in the ESL community. Because there are no regulatory agencies to protect schools from phony certificates, most employers ask for a certificate that is AT LEAST 100 hours in length. When you decide on a certificate course, make sure to ask if the course is at least 100 hours and if the number is printed on the certificate.

Is an ESL/EFL certificate necessary to find an ESL/EFL Job?

The answer is – NO. There are jobs that do not require a certificate; however, a certificate is a huge advantage when looking for jobs. If you are someone who just graduated from college and have masses loans to pay, you can apply to some government funded programs without a certificate. Check out my List of Government-Funded Programs by Country.



You are a Certified Teacher

You have a base of knowledge to help you maneuver through an EFL classroom. Teaching ESL is actually very difficult, and takes a years of practice and dedication to be a decent teacher. A certificate is a great way build a foundation of knowledge that you can use in all of your endeavors. Plus, it looks great on a resume long after you’re done teaching.

You are more marketable

With the current economic downturn, you are not the only person with the idea to work abroad. From my relationships with companies and schools, I can tell you that they receive hundreds of CVs and Resumes on a daily basis. An ESL/EFL Certificate will give you an edge on the competition. It is very important to position yourself in a place that will allow you to work abroad, and although you can work without a certificate, completing your application process will be much easier with a teaching certification.

You Build Relationships in the Teaching Field

I like the fact that I have a list of colleagues that I can count on for ideas in curriculum development and lesson planning. Going through a certificate program will make you friends and mentors that will sculpt and help your career from the start. Having friends to rely on when you begin a new career is especially helpful.


Certifications are Time Consuming and Expensive

Some of us (including me) are not financially able to invest the time and money that is need to complete a certificate course.

In conclusion, a TEFL/TESL certificate is not a necessity to teach abroad, but it will help you greatly in finding a good job and knowing what to do when you get there. If you are interested in earning a certificate, you should contact different schools and ask about their program and curriculum. Ask them to provide you with names of previous graduates whom you can speak with. Speak with the program coordinator and ask for a tour of the school. If the course is in a language school, make sure you will have actual in-class time with real ESL students before starting your program. Speak to the coordinator about job-placement after the completion of the course. If the course is online, be extra careful about the legitimacy of the certificate.

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