What is TEFL and how does it work?

TEFL is an acronym for teaching English as a foreign language. Also known as TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages), ELT (English language teaching) or teaching ESL (English as a second language), these acronyms all refer to essentially the same thing: teaching English to non-native speakers. There is more demand for English than ever before, due to its global dominance as a lingua franca, and the TEFL job market is booming – teachers can find work all over the world, from China to South America, from Russia to Sri Lanka. And with people moving around more and more, there is also demand for ESL teachers in countries where English is the official language and new arrivals want to learn English.

So how do you become a TEFL teacher? Well, you don’t need a university degree, but you do need TEFL certification in order to get hired as a teacher in the vast majority of academies, and the way to get certified is to do a TEFL course. Lots of people get their certification at home, but there are definite advantages to doing a course in your chosen location. You’ll make friends, get an idea of the job market and benefit from the local experience of the tutors. You’ll get to be a student for the first few weeks in your new home, instead of having to start job hunting as soon as you arrive.

Once you’ve chosen a school, you need to decide what kind of course you want to do.  There are various kinds of courses – weekend courses, online courses – but the most popular course at TEFL Iberia is the 160-hour course, with 10+ hours of teaching practice. This involves four weeks of intensive training. You’ll learn about grammar and teaching methodologies during the morning input sessions, and in the afternoons you’ll be putting your new knowledge into practice and teaching real English learners in class. It’s important to do a course which will provide you with practical teaching experience.

Towards the end of your course you will get some careers guidance from your tutors. There are lots of different types of TEFL work. Some people stick to one type of teaching, whereas other people enjoy the variety of teaching different types of learners in different contexts. Regardless, your tutors will help you create a TEFL CV, figure out what type of teaching you’d enjoy and then point you in the right direction.

After that it’s up to you! A TEFL certificate will take you anywhere in the world, and lots of our graduates have ended up living and working in lots of different countries. For information on TEFL salaries across the world, check out this blog post. If you’re planning to stay and work in Barcelona, you’ll join a growing community of TEFL teachers living and working in this beautiful Mediterranean city. You’ll get an idea of what a day in the life of a TEFL teacher in Barcelona is like here.

So what are you waiting for? Apply for a course and start your TEFL adventure.