English teachers for foreigners are in high demand worldwide. The profession is not limited to native speakers; proficient English speakers can also pursue teaching opportunities abroad.

However, fluency in English alone is not sufficient for teaching others — knowledge of effective language teaching methods is essential. Consequently, numerous courses have emerged to provide at least minimal training for a large number of teachers. These courses offer certificates upon completion, which are often required when applying for teaching positions abroad.

When a job vacancy abroad specifies a requirement for a TESOL certificate, it means exactly that.

What is TESOL?

TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. It is a certification program designed for English teachers who instruct non-native speakers. To obtain a TESOL certificate, one must enroll in a course that covers teaching methods offered by educational organizations. Although there is no universal course standard or TESOL certificate, the CELTA and Trinity TESOL are widely recognized variants.


How to getIn-person / online
Language proficiencyC1+
Recommended duration120+ hours
Best certificates
  • Trinity TESOL
Alternative titles
  • TEFL
  • TESL

Why pursue TESOL

  • Enter the English teaching profession
  • Validate or enhance your existing teaching qualifications
  • Teach English as a foreign language overseas

TESOL, TEFL and TESL — what's the difference

In addition to TESOL, other abbreviations like TEFL and TESL are commonly mentioned in teacher requirements. They represent different types of certification for teaching English as a foreign language, each with their own characteristics:

  • TEFL — Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This certification allows teaching English in countries where it is not the primary language of communication, such as China.
  • TESL — Teaching English as a Second Language. This certification applies to teaching English in countries where it is the primary language, like the UK, Canada, and the USA. It involves instructing immigrants or tourists.
  • TESOL — This certification combines teaching techniques for both EFL (English as a Foreign Language) and ESL (English as a Second Language). TESOL enables teaching opportunities worldwide.

Although TESOL and TEFL are often used interchangeably, there are distinctions. It is advisable to choose certification based on the desired country of employment and employer requirements. For instance, TEFL / TESOL certificates are in demand in Asian countries like China and Thailand. It is crucial not to confuse TESOL certification with master's programs in teaching English to foreigners, such as a Master of Arts in TESOL.

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Who requires a TESOL certificate

Employers abroad usually require a TESOL certificate. Job postings may state "TESOL / TEFL certification or equivalent required". Additionally, a certificate may be necessary for obtaining a work visa in certain Asian countries.

In some cases, certificate legalization at the embassy of the country where the course was taken is mandatory. The embassy must be located in the country of employment. For example, if a candidate is planning to work in Thailand and needs to legalize a British TESOL certificate, they should contact the British Embassy in Bangkok.

How to get a TESOL certificate

A TESOL certificate can be earned by completing a specialized course, either:

  • Full-time in your home country
  • Full-time abroad
  • Online

What does a typical TESOL course entail

  • Lectures on various language teaching methodologies
  • Seminars involving group work
  • Written assignments, such as essays, lesson planning, and evaluations of participant and teacher lessons
  • Practical experience conducting classroom lessons or working with real groups

The final grade for the course is determined by assessments throughout, including written work and practical performance. This grade serves as the basis for certificate issuance.

How to choose a TESOL course

TESOL courses face a significant challenge: the absence of a governing body that establishes consistent standards and oversees all English teaching methodology programs for foreigners. As a result, these courses are proliferating rapidly, and the quality of some, as well as the value of the certificates they provide, are questionable.

Compounding the issue is the demand for subpar certificates, as certain foreign employers, particularly in Asian countries, accept them merely as formalities. This has led to the rise of "courses" that can be purchased cheaply through coupon websites and completed within a few days.

Some even offer paid services where someone else takes the TESOL / TEFL courses on behalf of the individual, providing pre-made "certificates." Clearly, such certificates hold no value in either case.

So, what should someone do if they seek a reputable course that offers real learning opportunities and enhances professional prospects? There are two options:

  • Personally assess the quality of the chosen course based on several criteria — despite the chaos in the TESOL certification landscape, good courses do exist
  • Enroll in courses recognized by employers worldwide, such as CELTA and Trinity TESOL
Comparison of TESOL courses
TESOL certificationGoverning bodyDurationCostValidity
TESOL / TEFLDepends on course1+ months250 USDPartial
CELTACambridge CELA, Great Britain4–5 weeks2,000 USDWorldwide
Trinity CertTESOLTrinity College London, UK5 weeks1,200 USDWorldwide

TESOL / TEFL courses

When opting for TESOL / TEFL courses, the ideal choice is to immerse oneself in an English-speaking country to fully experience the language environment. Moreover, courses in these countries are somewhat regulated by the government.

Alternatively, courses offered in your own country can be more affordable.

Lastly, online courses provide the most budget-friendly option, offering flexibility in class scheduling and the ability to take a foreign course from the comfort of home.

However, online courses have a noticeable drawback: the quality of online interaction with participants and teachers cannot match that of in-person classroom presence and hands-on teaching practice under the guidance of professionals.

Finding a quality TESOL / TEFL course at home, abroad, and online

  • Avoid relying on claims of "accreditation". Claims of accreditation by course organizers may involve private accrediting companies that may not ensure course quality, but rather collect membership fees. The names of such accreditations may hold little weight for employers. However, reputable accreditations from major institutions like the British Council, Ofqual, ODLQC, ACTDEC, TESL Canada, and others can be trusted. Another positive indication is if the course is affiliated with a university, indicating adherence to educational standards, such as national ones.
  • Ensure the course offers a minimum of 120 hours. While there are introductory courses with fewer class hours, the certificates obtained from such courses may not be suitable for employment. Be cautious of courses that promise completion within just a few days.
  • Consider the cost of the course. A course priced at 19 USD may seem tempting, but it is unlikely to provide a quality TESOL certificate. In reality, a good online course typically costs a few hundred dollars at least.
  • The course should have reviews. Read reviews of the course and contact previous participants if possible to gather more information.
  • Teachers must be well-qualified. A strong qualification could be a master's degree in TESOL or a DELTA certificate.
  • Verify if the course includes a practical component. Practical experience is crucial, as it allows students to apply their skills and receive feedback. Even in online courses, practical components can be implemented through video recordings of practice sessions. The more substantial the practical part — ideally, at least 6 hours — the better. Be cautious of courses that solely rely on video watching and tests.
  • Choose an educational organization that is open to dialogue. This includes high-quality communication with clients and transparency regarding the course program and other important training details.
Examples of online TESOL courses
150-hour Master TEFL TESOL courseGreat BritainTEFL TESOL Certificate195 USD/courseup to 6 months
TESOL Certificate CourseraUSAArizona State University50 USD/month5 months
Online Premier TEFL CourseGreat BritainTEFL Organisation Ltd391 USDup to 6 months
120-hour Professional TEFL courseCanadaMyTEFL299 USD3 months
OISE University of TorontoCanadaUniversity of Toronto1,165 USD2–3 months
170-hour Online TEFL Certification ClassUSAInternational TEFL Academy1,399 USD2.5 months

Numerous online TESOL courses are available, which can be found on dedicated search engines like GoOverseas or TEFL CourseReview.

Cambridge CELTA

CELTA, which stands for Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, is a course offered by Cambridge English Language Assessment.

Course details:

  • Suitable for beginners and teachers with limited experience
  • Participants must be 18 years or older
  • English proficiency level: C1 or higher
  • Course duration: 120+ hours
  • Available study options: intensive (full-time) for 4-5 weeks, evening (part-time) for several months to a year, and online for 10 weeks or more

CELTA is widely recognized as the industry standard in TESOL courses and is highly reputable.

The certification does not involve an exam. Instead, the final grade is determined based on marks received for written work and teaching practice.

The possible ratings are Pass, Pass B, and the highest, Pass A — achieving a higher rating increases job prospects. Accredited Cambridge organizations offer CELTA courses, and the certificate enables individuals to teach teenagers and adults worldwide, including English-speaking countries.

For more information, visit the official CELTA website.

DELTA — the highest teaching qualification from Cambridge

English teachers can pursue the DELTA (Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), which is the most advanced teaching qualification offered by Cambridge.
This three-module course is designed for experienced English teachers with at least one year of teaching experience and an English proficiency level of C1 to C2. Modules 1 and 3 can be independently prepared and completed without attending the course, utilizing self-study resources.
The assessment includes written work and an exam. Upon successful completion, participants receive one of three positive ratings: Pass, Pass with Merit, or Pass with Distinction. The DELTA qualification allows teachers to work with learners of any age group.
Additional information about the course can be found on the official DELTA website.

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TESOL from Trinity College London

Trinity College London offers a TESOL course designed for individuals with little or no prior teaching experience.

The requirements for participants include being at least 18 years old, having a secondary education, and demonstrating excellent English proficiency, which is assessed during the interview process.

The course consists of five units and typically spans around 5-6 weeks. The CertTESOL certification can be obtained from over one hundred accredited organizations in various countries, including Argentina, Austria, Brazil, and others. Some organizations also offer an online course option. The CertTESOL qualification is widely recognized by employers worldwide.

For further information, please visit the official Trinity College London website.

Upgrading to the max: DipTESOL

The DipTESOL course is designed for experienced teachers seeking professional advancement. This qualification is equivalent to a master's degree (RQF / EQF level 7) and opens doors to roles such as examiners, senior teachers, and other esteemed positions within the English teaching field. Accredited organizations offer DipTESOL courses in multiple countries across the globe.
For more details, refer to the official DipTESOL website.

TEFL / TESOL certificates from TEFL TESOL Certificate

These affordable online courses are based in the UK and accredited by the internationally recognized organization ACCRIN. They offer certificate programs suitable for both beginners and experienced teachers. The advantage of this course is that upon completion, you will receive both TEFL and TESOL certificates, which significantly enhance your employment prospects.

The certificate is recognized by employers worldwide, and if needed, consular legalization can be arranged. This involves obtaining confirmation from the consul of the country where you intend to work, validating your certificate as an official document.

Contacts — TEFL TESOL Certificate

Website: https://tefl-tesol-certificate.com
Email: [email protected]
Viber: +441444390214
WhatsApp: +16465438447

Is it hard to get a TEFL / TESOL certification

According to some participants, getting a certificate in TESOL / TEFL courses is generally easier compared to a CELTA course, for instance. However, others state that it depends on the school, as high-quality TESOL / TEFL courses can be quite intense and not all participants successfully complete them.

There are some general tips that can help you succeed in any course teaching English to non-native speakers:

  • Brush up on your English skills before starting the course, as the instruction is entirely in the English language and requires adequate preparation.
  • Allocate maximum time to the course without distractions. For online courses, it is crucial to manage your schedule effectively, ensuring regular study and meeting deadlines, which requires self-discipline.
  • Stay focused on your goal of obtaining a TESOL certificate and not give up in the face of challenges that are inherent in any high-quality training. Following these tips will increase your chances of obtaining the desired certificate.
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