What are the TEFL requirements?Written by Marni on January 12th, 2011
TEFL refers to teaching English as a foreign language, and denotes situations where English is being taught in a place where it is not the native language. As one billion people speak English globally, and 300 million of these are studying the language, there is a high demand for TESL teachers. Despite this healthy market, the schools and institutions that hire TEFL teachers can be selective about the background of their foreign-bred employees, and there is a growing emphasis on official documentation for those who would like to be teaching English overseas.
Whereas in the early years of TESL, foreign schools often hired TESL teachers with no official qualifications beyond their fluency as English speakers, in recent years there has been a shift. Currently, there is an emphasis in many places for those teaching English overseas to have at minimum a university degree. In addition, many schools have a preference for applicants who have completed a TEFL certificate on top of their degree. The TEFL diploma is recognized internationally, and consists of a four-week full-time program (or part-time spread out over a longer duration) of at least 100 hours, with six hours of observed teaching. The students must then be validated by an external body, such as a university.
To qualify to take a TEFL course, students must: be fluent in English; 21 years old or older; and have five years’ work-related experience, or hold a degree or professional qualification. Introductory courses are available for those who wish to acquire a sense of what the TESL course holds or who can’t afford the full tuition.
There is no age limit for TEFL teachers, though some schools prescribe age ranges and gender preferences for their instructors. In fact, many TEFL teachers enter the field in mid-life, and thus bring to their classrooms a wealth of living experience. Others are young – 19 is the minimum age – and their experience teaching English overseas may prepare them for a life of teaching, adventure – or both.