Should I do TEFL or TESOL?

One way to describe the difference between these two terms is shown below;

The term TEFL refers to teaching English in a country where English is not generally spoken. An example would be teaching English to Thai students in Thailand.

The term TESOL refers to teaching English in any country whether or not English is generally spoken. An example would be teaching Thai students who are learning English in Australia.

Do prospective employers prefer one or the other?

Most employers understand that the terms are used interchangeably. Though they may use only one term or the other in general usage, when it comes to describing the qualifications required for a particular job they generally use both.

The following are samples of job adverts taken from real current vacancies around the world, which you can browse through on our TESOL Jobs Page:

Australia…….currently resident in Australia CELTA/TESOL/TEFL certified…..

China………..TEFL/TESOL preferred

Indonesia……TESOL/CELTA/TEFL certificate

Thailand……...Have a CELTA/TESOL/TEFL certificate

Vietnam………TEFL/Trinity TESOL/IHC/Online Teaching Certificates

TEFL and TESOL training and qualifications

The training and subsequent qualification obtained for TEFL and TESOL courses are the same. The typical requirement of employers as seen from the job postings above, is for a certificate completed either onsite or online and the duration of the course should be around 120 hours.

Further training in both TEFL and TESOL are available moving up from the certificate level to the Diploma level, then further still to Bachelor degree and MA. A PhD in TEFL and TESOL is also available, should you wish to take your studies to the limit. Once again, the country offering the qualification will usually use the terms they are most familiar with to describe the course. PhD TEFL in Scotland (UK) for example.

Does ITTT offer both TEFL and TESOL?

ITTT’s 120-hour certificate courses are available as either TEFL or TESOL, which you may choose on successful completion of the course.

Specialization courses such as teaching business English, teaching young learners, and teaching English online have no TEFL or TESOL designation on them.

Package courses such as the 220-hour Master and 550-hour Expert Package are designated as TEFL certificates.


  • In almost all situations the terms TEFL and TESOL are used interchangeably.
  • Some countries are more familiar with one term rather than the other.
  • In recruitment circles both terms are used and seen as equal.
  • Higher level studies are available in both TEFL and TESOL and it does not matter which introductory level you have to move into further study in either TEFL or TESOL.
  • Both TEFL and TESOL courses from ITTT are valid for life.

Register for your TEFL/TESOL Course!

  • 1The registration process is free and does not commit you in any way.
  • 2Anyone fluent in English and aged 18+ is eligible for our courses.
  • 3No previous experience or qualifications are required.
  • 4Register today and receive a free e-guide covering the basics of TEFL/TESOL.
  • 5All online courses are entirely flexible and self-paced. Work at your own pace in your own time!

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