Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

What is TEFL?

tefl flagsA TEFL qualification could be your ticket to worldwide travel as well as setting you up for your future career. Read on to find out more.

What is it?

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. It’s a qualification which trains you to teach English to people studying it as a second language, either in the UK or abroad. You might also hear it called TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) or ELT (English Language Teaching).

How does it work?

Getting your TEFL qualification means studying a TEFL course, normally lasting a month or more. Hundreds of organisations offer TEFL courses, and entry requirements vary between each, so you’ll need to do some serious research. Things to think about might include:

  • Is it an accredited course?
    Accredited means that your TEFL qualification is an official one recognised around the world. You can check this by seeing whether your course is marked by an official exam organisation like The College Of Teachers, Cambridge RSA, Trinity or other universities. The course should also be a minimum of 120 hours.
  • Do I want to study abroad?
    Studying in the UK could be cheaper and easier, as you won’t have to arrange things like flights and accommodation for the course. However, studying your TEFL abroad will give you a taste of another culture, and it’s much easier to find jobs afterwards if you’re in the country already.

Where can it lead?

Practically anywhere you can think of! English teachers are in high demand all around the world, so chances are you’ll be able to get a job almost everywhere if you look hard enough. The company you study with can help with this, and websites like and Cactus also advertise the latest international jobs.
You don’t have to stay in one place either. Many TEFL teachers work for six months in one country and then move to another, using their pay to fund a worldwide trip as part of a gap year or even longer.
You can also use your TEFL if you don’t want to travel, since there are plenty of jobs in Britain teaching English at summer schools or on other courses. But wherever you go and whatever you do with it, a TEFL will give you important communication skills and boost your confidence, which is really useful for teaching and loads of other careers.

Related links