What is a TESOL Certification?
If you have been toying with the idea of teaching English in a foreign country, you might have realized that most places require a sort of certification. You might have also realized that there are several varieties of certifications out there.
You have probably seen by now the terms TEFL or TESOL and might be a little confused as to what they are. Is TESOL the same as TEFL, or are they different? The basic answer is that while they do have a subtle difference in their meaning, in most cases, the two terms are equivalent and can be interchanged. They are both forms of preparing and certifying teachers to teach English to students whose first language is not English.
Despite most instances and publications using the terms interchangeably, there are a few very slight differences between the two. In this article, we will examine the meaning of both terms and break down the small differences between the two types of certification. This article will also discuss the requirements of getting a TESOL certification. Everything from the cost, to the length of the course, to how long the certification is valid will be discussed here.
Once a teacher completes the TESOL certification training, they will be ready and eligible to teach ESL all over the world and in a variety of formats. They will be able to teach age groups from younger children in elementary school, or even business professionals looking to take professional English courses. ESL and EFL teachers are very much in global demand.
Many TESOL schools also offer a lifetime of job placement assistance upon completion of the course. This can be very helpful as they maintain a network of potential schools, all across the world.
But which certification is right for you and what’s the difference anyway? Let’s take a look at TEFL and TESOL certifications and how they are used.
TEFL VS TESOL
In most circles, these two terms are generally interchangeable umbrella terms that refer to training and certification courses to prepare teachers to instruct EFL students. There are a few technicalities that differentiate the two terms; however, they are both used by those looking to work abroad as an English teacher.
Most publications or certification courses might refer to the course as a TEFL/TESOL course. In the same vein, schools and academies that are recruiting teacher will make no distinction between the two certifications. For example, most job listings will advertise jobs as requiring a TEFL/TESOL certification.
Once you are TESOL certified, you will be a ready and qualified teacher, ready to look for jobs anywhere in the world. There are plenty of opportunities for TESOL teachers. The English language is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. That means that native speakers are very much in demand.
Getting a TESOL certification can open up many opportunities to travel, experience different cultures, and start a fun and exciting career. Teaching in other countries can be a great opportunity to promote cultural exchange and learn more about yourself as well. The possibilities are endless when you have the proper training.
Which one is better?
In most cases, potential employers will not prefer one over the other. These are merely two common ways of establishing that a teacher has been trained and certified in the appropriate areas. Even though schools do not make any distinctions between the two, there is a slight difference in the meaning. Taking a deeper look at the two acronyms will help to understand what the difference is.
What does TEFL mean?
So what exactly is TEFL? The term TEFL stands for “Teaching English as a Foreign Language”, and it refers to the act of teaching in a country where English is not spoken natively. An example of a TEFL job would be teaching English to students in South Korea.
What does TESOL mean?
The term TESOL stands for “Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages”, which is where the difference lies. TESOL includes the same jobs of teaching English as a foreign language, just like the South Korea example, as well as teaching English as a second language (TESL). This means that it includes teaching English, where the main language is English as well. So, this would also apply to the teacher teaching English as a second language in Canada, for instance.
The most important take away to keep in mind is that while there is a technical distinction between the two, they are widely used interchangeably. This means that either a TEFL or a TESOL certification will meet the requirements for most jobs involving teaching English. The biggest exception to this rule is at the university level. For instance, if you were studying to become an English teacher, you would get your degree in TESOL, not in TEFL.
What are TESOL certifications good for?
Much like the equivalent TEFL certification, the TESOL is primarily used by those looking to become either an EFL or ESL instructor. They can be used for both classroom and online purposes. This certification is generally used as a pre-requisite for TEFL job listings, or for teaching students online. Generally, a TEFL certification will require around 100 hours of study in order to qualify for these positions.
What are the requirements for TESOL certification?
Whether it be an online class or in-person, the general requirement to sign up for a TESOL certification is to have a sufficient English level. In order for non-native speakers to sign up for the course, the general recommendation is that have a level in the range of B1 to C2 CEFR level. CEFR is the “Common European Framework of Reference”, and it is used internationally for assessing English levels.
Every TESOL or TEFL course will have their own requirements and guidelines, and they can differ depending on how rigorous the courses are.
Some TESOL certification programs are more advanced and have university-level coursework. They might even offer some college credits. However, these courses often have additional requirements beyond just language level. These requirements can be a highschool or university diploma.
How can I get TESOL certification?
The simplest and most common way to get a TESOL certification is to take an online course. These courses have a variety of different hour requirements ranging from 40 to 150 hours. They typically provide some flexibility for students to complete their coursework on their own time.
Another option is the in-person TESOL course. This course is offered in a traditional classroom environment, which can be either locally, or in the country where you would like to begin teaching. Generally, these courses can last around four weeks and usually follow a more intensive, full-time schedule.
The Best 120-Hour Course
If you decide that TESOL is the right option for you, next, you need to decide how many hours are necessary. Generally, most teachers settle on the 120-hour course as it is the most widely accepted option, with the least amount of hours.
Be sure that any TESOL course you select is accredited and recognized by any job that you are looking to apply to. Some companies are not accredited and will not be recognized by all schools or employers.
If you are ready to pull the trigger on a decent 120-hour course, one of the best is offered by Premier TESOL. Premier is fully accredited and recognized around the world. This course is quite affordable and is completely online. It allows students to work at their own pace, on their own time, to fit their schedule.
The modules are in-depth and detailed but also easy to follow and understand. This TESOL course offers everything teachers will need to teach abroad.
How much does a TESOL certification cost?
Depending on the course load and the requirements, the TESOL certification courses can vary quite a bit in their pricing. These factors can depend on where you take the course online or in-person, the number of hours you decide to take, and the level of instructor interaction throughout the course.
For most courses, prospective students can expect to pay USD 200 for a very basic course. The courses that are over 100 hours tend to be in the USD 400-500 range. Lastly, university-level training can be much higher. Usually, this level course is between USD 1000-2500 in price. However, the university-level courses are much more intensive and come with college credit.
How much time does TESOL certification take?
In most cases, the average TESOL certification course will take around three months to complete. Of course, this will depend on the number of hours of the course and how much time the student dedicates to studying each week. Most people go for the mid-range option of 120 hours to be eligible for the majority of teaching jobs. This level should take around six weeks to complete if the student only worked on it part-time.
For in-class TESOL courses, they are generally four weeks in length and involve full time, intensive training.
How much money can TESOL teachers make?
There are many opportunities for TESOL teachers all over the world, and depending on the country, EFL jobs can vary greatly. If a teacher were to work in the US, many of the ESL/EFL jobs can either full or part-time, in which the teacher is either paid a salary or hourly wage.
For most jobs outside of the US, teachers are generally paid monthly at an agreed-upon salary. While it is uncertain exactly how much teachers can make working abroad, one thing is for sure. Getting a TESOL certification can greatly increase a teacher’s chances of landing a job and getting a higher salary. In the competitive world of English teaching, anything that can set a teacher apart from the other applicants is very important.
How long is the certification valid for?
Once you complete your TESOL certification, it does not expire. The certification will be valid for your entire lifetime. Many teachers choose to continue to build on their initial certification in order to open up more opportunities for jobs. They can upgrade their courseload to add hours of training through specialized TESOL courses. These teachers are in high demand when they get speciality certification, such as teaching English to younger learners.
Both TEFL and TESOL are common acronyms in the world of English teaching, and they are often used to refer to the same thing. Despite the common interchangeability of the two phrases, it is helpful for teachers to have a clear understanding of what TESOL is and what makes up the nuances of the term.
Is a TESOL certification worth it?
The answer to that question depends entirely on what the teacher plans to do with their certification. If a teacher is looking for teaching jobs abroad and doesn’t plan to return to their home country to teach ESL at a later date, then getting the cheaper TEFL certificate might be a better option.
However, if the teacher plans on making a career out of this profession and desires to teach English in a country that speaks English, the TESOL might be a good investment. Remember that it is entirely possible to add more hours to your certification at a later date, which is what many teachers do. If you want to test the waters and try your hand teaching for a year or two, you might want to simply get a 120-hour TEFL and come back to the TESOL.
If you are a university student who is currently enrolled in school and you plan on teaching, it might be wise to with a TESOL course, since it can count as university credit. This can be beneficial to both your plans and your current studies.
Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide whether or not a TESOL certificate is worth it. Just keep in mind to check to make sure that it is a valid and accredited course and that the certificate will be accepted by potential employers.
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