Is it hard to get TEFL certified?

In order to be a regular subject teacher in a state school in most countries throughout the world a teaching degree is required. Such degrees are usually three or four years of study dedicated to gaining subject knowledge and teaching skills. The same two areas are covered in any TEFL or TESOL certification course, the timeframe however is greatly reduced. Typically a course may take 120-hours. The teaching of EFL is therefore fairly unique in that it offers you the opportunity to enter the teaching profession in a very short time, compared to the regular teacher training process.

There are a number of ways in which TEFL certification can be obtained and these fall into three different categories.

Online courses: As the name implies these courses are done via a computer or similar device. As they are online they can be completed from anywhere in the world, either in your own home or while traveling etc.

Onsite courses: In this case you travel to a center at some location throughout the world, usually where English is taught as a foreign language. Training centers are often attached to language schools, giving the opportunity for real world teaching practice. Courses are typically 120-hours and take about four weeks to complete.

Combined or Hybrid courses: In these types of courses a mixture of the two previous scenarios is created. Typically, theory work is completed online followed by a shorter teaching practice experience at a training center. Again the overall course length is 120-hours and the time spent at a training center is typically eight to fourteen days.

Each of these different routes to certification produce a 120-hour TEFL certification, which is the minimum qualification requirement for most entry level EFL jobs. Training covers the two main areas of ‘teaching skills’ and grammar knowledge often called ‘language awareness’.

Teaching skills will cover such areas as:

  • How to plan lessons
  • How to arrange students for optimum learning
  • Motivation of students and building rapport
  • How to create suitable materials for your lessons
  • The four skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking

Language awareness is usually presented to encompass five different student levels from the basic starter to the advanced learner and will cover such areas as:

  • The parts of speech
  • The English tense system
  • Modals, conditionals and other structures
  • How to teach certain language features used for reading and writing
  • Advanced grammar structures, such as reported speech and transitive/intransitive structures

Onsite courses and combined courses will also include an additional element of observed teaching practice. This will usually involve teaching real English Language Learners (ELL’s) at a range of levels.

Some online certification courses are also able to offer online teaching practice to gain a similar experience.


Comparatively speaking the time required to enter the teaching profession through the TEFL certification route is very short.

Courses are available in a variety of formats to suit your lifestyle, learning preferences and budget.

Courses should cover language knowledge and teaching skills to prepare you for classroom teaching.

There are three routes to obtaining certification, online, onsite and a combination of both.