EFL stands for English as a Foreign Language and is to almost all purposes the same as ESL, English as a Second Language. These two are also equivalent to ESOL which means, English to Speakers of Other Languages.
For each of these terms, when we talk about the teaching of them, we add a ‘T’ to the front of each acronym and hence we arrive at the terms TEFL, TESL and TESOL. As they are basically the same we will refer to just one from here on, TEFL for the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language and EFL for English as a Foreign Language.
Almost all TEFL teaching positions require a minimum qualification of a 100 to 120-hour TEFL certification. Courses provided to cover this certification are usually delivered by one of three methods, namely, onsite courses, online courses and combined courses. Each of these will be outlined in detail in the next section.
As the name implies this is where the training takes place at some fixed worldwide location. These locations are typically in countries where English is being taught to a large number of local people. The local population provides the teaching practice opportunities for such courses and typically the courses last about four weeks. Certification is usually 120-hours with six hours of observed teaching practice.
Online courses can be taken from wherever you are in the world. This has the advantage that you can study from your own home. Online courses are typically 100 to 120 hours in length for an entry level certification. Online courses don’t usually involve teaching practice, but some companies (such as ITTT) do offer further extension teaching practice certificates which can also be completed online.
Combined courses bring together both previous types of certification. Typically a combined course requires the participant to complete an online component of the certification from anywhere in the world. This is then followed by an onsite portion where the teaching practice would take place. As a large proportion of the “theory” is covered online, this allows for a shorter duration stay at the onsite location.
There are jobs available throughout the world. The minimal qualification for these jobs is typically a 120-hour TEFL certification. Other attributes and qualifications may also be required depending upon the country and the level of the job.
It was shown that it was possible to obtain certification in three different ways, there are also three common ways in which you could find yourself working.
1) At a school or language center. This would be a fixed location and you would teach onsite to a range of class ages and levels.
2) Online. There are now many companies that offer online teaching positions. You would work remotely from where you choose to be.
3) A combination of the above. You could opt for an onsite position with limited hours and top up your salary by going online.
Whichever option you choose, contracts are typically limited to one school year. If you find the position does not suit you, you can always move on, once your contract expires.