What is a TEFL course?

More and more employers now expect their English teachers to have a minimum of a 120-hour TEFL certificate. Gaining a TEFL certificate shows your commitment to the profession and gives you an introductory preparation to the knowledge and skills needed to teach English.

Types of TEFL course

There are three main routes to a 120-hour TEFL certification.

  • In-class and combined TEFL courses give you the theory and some real practical experience of teaching English language learners. As these courses are primarily taken in countries where English is not the first language you would need to travel abroad for a set period of time.
  • Typical in-class 120-hour certification requires four weeks attendance at one location.
  • Typical 120-hour combined courses require less on site attendance as the theory is covered online.
  • 120-hour online courses, which do not require travel to attend a location, are able to give you a thorough understanding of the teaching theory needed to be able to operate effectively in the classroom.

Course content

There are two main areas covered in a TEFL course,

1) Teaching skills

  • You will cover information relating to teaching special groups, such as; young learners, adult learners, business classes, one-on-one lessons and large groups.
  • For each of these different types of learners you will cover their reasons for learning, their attitudes towards it and what motivational factors affect their classroom behavior.
  • You will look at what makes a good lesson, how to structure and plan it and how to create activities designed to get the students talking in English.
  • You will learn about the four skills of English which need to be taught, namely, speaking, writing, listening and reading.
  • How, when and why do you test and evaluate students, is another important topic you will cover.

2) Language awareness

A good TEFL course will give you a solid grounding in the basics of the English language. You will learn how English grammar works and how you can explain it.

Topics covered will typically include;

  • The parts of speech
  • The English tense system
  • Modal verbs
  • Conditional sentences
  • Phrasal verbs
  • Active and Passive voice
  • Some courses also cover phonology

Depending on which type of course you undertake, onsite, combined or online, the topics presented throughout the course will be tested to ensure an adequate level of understanding. This may be done in an end of module fashion for a typical online course, or a final single exam for a typical onsite course.

Which course is best for you?

There are two major factors when making your choice of type of course. Those factors are;

1) How much time do you have? and 2) What is your budget?

  • Onsite courses usually require four weeks of attendance at a training center.
  • Combined courses usually require 10 days of attendance at a training center.
  • Online courses can be taken from anywhere at your own pace (10 days could be possible) and usually have a time limit of 6 months.
  • Onsite courses are typically the most expensive option, followed by combined courses and online courses are the cheapest option (as it does not require travel).

If you are set on teaching in a particular country, your best choice could be to take an onsite course in that country or you could purchase an online course and complete it while visiting that country.

Your own personal circumstances and hopes will determine which course type is best for you.