TEFL Courses: Teach English as a Foreign Language at home or abroad

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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If you enjoy teaching and have a desire to travel, doing a TEFL course may change your life. TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This qualification is for anyone who wants to teach English to people who are not native speakers. TEFL is also called TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language).

Why do a TEFL course?

TEFL courses are popular with students who want to work and travel after graduation. People who wish to change careers or establish themselves in another country also take TEFL courses.

Millions of people around the world want to learn or improve their English. English is the language of global trade, scientific research and academic study. It is the standard language of specialised fields, such as air-traffic control and global politics. Furthermore, many multinational companies use English as a working language. This is one reason so many of them have set up operations in Ireland.

There are several thousand English language teachers working throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South America. The demand does not appear to be drying up.

Furthermore, many people with TEFL qualifications work in Ireland too. Every year thousands of students come to Ireland to learn or improve their English. A total of 119,000 students learned English in Ireland in 2016.

The majority of these come from the EU, particularly Italy, Spain and France.  In addition, several thousand come from Brazil, Japan and South Korea. Given the huge number of students, there is a demand for qualified teachers.

Got a BA? You’ll still need a TEFL course

In the past, it was possible to teach English abroad if you were a native English speaker. This was particularly true if you had an arts degree.

These days however, you’ll need TEFL training. After all, being able to speak English is quite different to being able to teach it. Furthermore, it is surprising how much (or little) most of us know about the mechanics of the language.

Most reputable English language schools will not take on teachers who have not done a TEFL course. Therefore, the best way to become a TEFL teacher is to gain a recognised certificate.

What does it involve?

Quite a lot! There are many different TEFL courses. They have their own variations in curricula, delivery methods and qualifications. Some courses last a few months, others can take up to a year. Online and distance learning TEFL courses are also available.

Subjects taught on a typical TEFL course include:

  • Language awareness
  • Classroom management
  • Lesson planning
  • Career information
  • Language skills
  • Testing
  • Error correction
  • Materials evaluation
  • Methodology and presentation
  • Practice techniques

It is a fair amount of work and students can expect plenty of homework. The final assessment is generally through a mix of classroom practice, project work and a final exam.

Entry requirements

Many TEFL courses (and all those recognised by the Irish Department of Education) require trainees to have an undergraduate degree. Competence in spoken and written English is of course necessary. Some courses will interview potential students in advance. However, it is not necessary to be a native English speaker.

TEFL course options

The costs of a TEFL course can vary. It depends on the institution, the length of course, and qualification at the end. Therefore, students must do some investigation do find the best course for them. This list is a great place to start!

If you are looking for a part-time TEFL course, NUI Galway offers a one-year TEFL postgraduate certificate over two evenings per week. For details, click here. The International Career Institute offers a distance learning TEFL course. Please click here for details.

Further information

For information on TEFL certification bodies, please click here.

If you are wondering about part-time TEFL teaching in Ireland, please see our article here.

Frank Bolger

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