What is the Difference Between TESOL and TEFL Certificates?

Getting certified to teach English is an excellent second career. You can also get this training early in life and earn as you travel and grow. Properly managed, your training can make it easy to either find work stateside or to move to a new country and support yourself with a teaching position overseas.

The Difference Between TESOL and TEFL Certifications

Let’s address the alphabet soup factor:

  • TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This is an excellent certification for those hoping to live and work abroad.
  • TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of a Second (Other) Language. While you can take this certification abroad, this training can also help you find work teaching English to immigrants and refugees who have relocated to your home country.

Ultimately, your TEFL certificate is a critical tool in your suitcase to help you move overseas and make enough to keep traveling. There are several training organizations that will support you in your job search once you have your completed certificate.

Your TESOL certification can also make travel easier. Because you will have specific training for those working to learn a second language, you may find more work teaching adults. As a native English speaker, you may be able to find work in:

  • Canada
  • Australia
  • United Kingdom

Recent world events have led to many refugees needing ways to quickly learn English and start building a new life in their adopted country. If this appeals to you, getting your TESOL certification may be a better choice.

TEFL Coursework Considerations

Your TEFL training will be classroom-centered. You will learn methods of teaching in

  • pronunciation
  • listening
  • speaking
  • reading
  • writing

Detailed training on simplifying English grammar will also be included. Depending on where you are teaching, the challenges of the history of the English language will take careful training so you can help your students build confidence in English grammar.

If you don’t have classroom management experience, your TEFL training will help you get on top of this concern. Knowing your subject is critical, but if you can’t create a calm classroom that offers a safe space for learners, your teaching may be wasted.

You will study the different learning styles you will come in contact with. Small children often need to move to learn effectively. Adults may come to your class at the end of a long day and struggle to absorb more data. Your lesson planning training can help you build in ways to keep your students engaged.

Finally, you will receive training on building the right learning materials for your classroom. Once you are confident in classroom management and have designed your space to foster safe learning, your lesson planning and material prep will flow easily.

TESOL Coursework Considerations

As noted above, TESOL teachers often work with adults. Many of these students will have come out of difficult circumstances, up to and including facing life as a refugee. Your training may include understanding how adults pick up second languages. For adults who have been forced out of their home country, challenges include:

  • a poor national education system in their home country
  • lack of access to higher education
  • low literacy rates

Understanding how the adult brain picks up a new language and the strategies needed to build vocabulary and proper syntax is critical to becoming a great TESOL teacher.

Your training will also include teaching grammatical structure. This may include conversational training as well as writing training. Your ability to give feedback and study how the structure of the student’s first language feeds into writing projects will also be included in your classroom work.

As a TESOL teacher, your classroom management style training may be quite different from TEFL training. Again, your students will likely be adults, though you may also be teaching children. You may need to use different technology and do a lot more conversational teaching than in a classroom setting centered around children.

As your students advance, your teaching will likely need to encompass more writing. Depending on the life history of your students, this English writing and reading training may be their first chance to focus on reading and writing. Your interest in their history will make it much easier to plan lessons specific to their learning needs.

Individual Training Considerations

You don’t need to speak the language of your host country or the language of your students. However, if you choose to work overseas, it’s a good idea to do your best to learn the language so you can better study and understand the culture. Your students are working hard to learn the English language to function in the business and culture of English-speaking countries such as the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Australia.

Do Your Homework

If you want to move to another country to teach, carefully review the visa and passport requirements. You can get a visa for a variety of purposes, including:

  • simple tourism
  • study abroad
  • living abroad
  • working and living abroad

Depending on the visa you get, you may need to be able to demonstrate that you have savings or an income. Your training program should be able to help you navigate this before you choose a training program, but do make sure you do your own research. If you have some savings, you may find it easier to get a student visa and work part-time as you explore your travel options.

These Training Programs Can Help You Change Your Life

If you are considering retirement but concerned about funds, or if you simply want to see more of the world, the ability to work and support yourself at your destination greatly expands your options. Take a look at the travel documentation requirements at your intended destination. Direct your training to that location to start and consider getting additional certification once you start teaching. While you’re training, find time to study your intended destination.

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