What is TESOL?

The acronym TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Although it is commonly used to describe the act of teaching English abroad, it is also used when referring to the training courses that people take to prepare themselves for the reality of teaching overseas, as well as the qualification they are awarded once they successfully complete their training. Once you have secured a TESOL certification you will be in a great position to land an English language teaching job in virtually any country you prefer.

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If you have done any research into English language teaching you are certain to have come across other acronyms similar to TESOL that can be a little confusing, such as TEFL, TESL and ELT. The bottom line is that these acronyms are typically used interchangeably to mean the same thing and different countries, employers and organisations have their own preference as to which they use and how they use them. Despite being used interchangeably, there are some small technical differences between these acronyms which are outlined below.

TEFL - Teaching English as a Foreign Language

TEFL is most often used when English is being taught in a country where it is not the native language (teaching English to French people in France, for example).

TESL - Teaching English as a Second Language

TESL is most often used when English is being taught to non-native speakers of English in a country where English is the native language (teaching refugees in the USA, for example).

TESOL - Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

In theory, TESOL encompasses both of the above.

ELT - English Language Teaching

ELT is most often used to refer to either TEFL or TESL by certain institutions in the U.K.

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TESOL Qualifications

If the idea of heading overseas to teach English appeals to you, completing an internationally recognised TESOL certification course before you get started should really be a high priority. Although it may still be possible to find teaching jobs without any qualifications in some countries, a TESOL certificate is seen as the worldwide standard qualification required and it is now widely expected by the majority of employers who offer competitive salaries and comfortable working environments.

What do you need to be able to Teach English Around the World?

Choosing a TESOL Certificate Course

While researching TESOL courses you will no doubt find there are a multitude of different course providers out there, many of which offer a wide range of course options that vary greatly in cost and time commitment. Due to the huge amount of choice it can be very hard to decide which course you should sign-up for. The first thing to consider when making your choice is that TESOL certification courses are typically labelled with the hours of study they require on average to successfully complete. You might well find short courses from 40 hours or less, while some providers offer more advanced courses that can stretch to 500 hours or more. The unwritten rule here is that any TESOL course under 100 hours would typically be seen as an introductory course that is aimed at people planning to volunteer their services as an English teacher. In contrast, a TESOL certificate of 100 hours or more is generally expected by employers who offer a good rate of pay. For more information, take a look at our FAQ on TESOL course hours.

Online or In-Class TESOL Course?

Not only are TESOL courses offered in various study lengths, you will also find them presented in different formats. In-class TESOL courses are often considered to provide the most rounded training package as they include several hours of real classroom practice. This hands-on approach to TESOL training typically runs for a 4 week period in areas where the demand for teachers is particularly high. Thanks to the extensive teaching practice included with this option and the local knowledge of the staff at the training center, most graduates of in-class TESOL courses have no problems finding a suitable teaching job upon the conclusion of the course. The only real drawback of this type of course is the overall cost which can be an issue for some trainees. For further information take a look at our in-class TESOL course pages.

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If the 4-week time commitment or the cost of an in-class TESOL course puts this option out of reach, then you should take a close look at our online TESOL courses. Despite the lack of practical teaching practice, an online qualification is still accepted by a large number of employers throughout the TESOL world. In recent years the demand for distance learning courses has rocketed, which has also led to an increase in the overall quality of the courses on offer. Whatever your budget or time commitments, you should find there is an online TESOL course option that will suit your needs and give you the qualification you require to get your overseas teaching adventure under way. For more information take a look at our online TESOL course pages.

What's the difference between online courses, in-class courses and combined courses?

Finding a Teaching Job

With a TESOL certificate on your CV/resume you will be able to confidently apply for English language teaching jobs in countries all over the world. As the demand for TESOL qualified teachers is so high in many regions, you will have the choice of living and working in a wide range of destinations, including major cities, coastal resorts, and areas that are less travelled. The location you choose for your first teaching adventure can depend on a range of factors, such as your academic qualifications, previous teaching experience, the time of year, your available finances, and simple preference. For an insight into the opportunities on offer in different parts of the world, take a look at our jobs page.

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Although there are job opportunities for TESOL qualified teachers in the majority of countries across the globe, most first-time teachers choose to work in a country that has a long history of providing plenty of job options, competitive salaries, good working conditions, and a safe and friendly environment. Many countries that fit into this bracket are located in Asia, which is without doubt the hottest region for TESOL related jobs right now. If you want to be all but guaranteed a teaching position, then China is where to start your job search. However, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan are also very popular destinations as they have all the points stated above well and truly covered.

Requirements for Teaching English in Asia

Although Asia is home to many of the most prominent teaching destinations, there is also a strong demand for TESOL qualified teachers in Europe, Latin America and parts of the Middle East. Certain countries in Europe have been very popular with foreign teachers for many years, including Spain, Italy and France. However, as the cost of living in these countries can be high, several countries in Central and Eastern Europe have become increasingly attractive in recent times. The most popular of these are Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, and Slovakia as they have plenty of job options and a good balance between salaries and the cost of living. Whether you prefer to live and work in one of the more traditional destinations or would like to head somewhere a little off the beaten path, Europe has no shortage of options in a relatively compact and accessible region. One reason why so many people choose Europe for their teaching adventure is that you can be in a classroom in Rome on Friday and exploring the back streets of Paris on Saturday!

Requirements for Teaching English in Europe

With a population of around 640 million and over 20 countries to choose from, Latin America is another region that has plenty of great opportunities for TESOL qualified teachers. Although the average salary is not particularly high in many areas, Latin America remains popular with teachers as jobs are generally easy to secure. The region is also well known for its culture, wildlife, exotic landscapes, and a sense of adventure. Job opportunities are available in most countries across the region, however, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico are all home to a particularly strong demand. Another aspect of teaching English in Latin America is its close proximity to the USA, which makes it a real favorite among American based TESOL teachers.

Requirements for Teaching English in Latin America

One of the major attractions of teaching English in the Middle East is the potential to earn big. The demand for TESOL qualified teachers across the region is very high in many different environments, such as private language schools, international schools, colleges, and universities. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the two biggest employers and you can routinely expect to earn a generous, tax-free salary in both. Most jobs in these countries also include significant extra benefits including free accommodation and paid flights in and out of the country. Elsewhere in the region you will find significant job opportunities in countries such as Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar. If this sounds like the right region for you, you should be aware that many employers will expect their job applicants to possess a four-year degree and to have some previous classroom experience.

The Recruitment Process

When it comes to securing a job in your country of choice, there is no one method that is the most effective in every situation. In many of the top teaching destinations, including China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E., it is common practice for employers to recruit their teachers from within their home countries by using recruitment companies or online job adverts. If you follow this route, you can expect to complete the application process by email and have interviews over a webcam or even telephone. Elsewhere, particularly in Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia, employers typically favor face-to-face interviews on their own premises. In this situation, it is necessary to head to your chosen destination before you start the interview process.

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Why Choose ITTT

At ITTT we can provide everything you need to get your teaching adventure underway as we are one of the most experienced course providers in the field of TESOL certification. We can help you choose the right course to suit your individual situation and help you find a suitable job once you have graduated. Once you have started work in your own classroom we will still be there to help as every graduate has access to our lifetime job support service. As long as you continue working in the TESOL field we will be there to assist you with job applications, CV/resume construction, interview preparation, contract analysis, and unique job leads from around the world.

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If you are serious about starting a new chapter in your life by heading overseas to teach English, you probably have a few questions you would like answering. A good place to start is by downloading our free brochure and free e-guide to TESOL. These should give you a good insight into ITTT, the courses we offer, and the general world of teaching English abroad. Our informative FAQ page is also a great place to visit if you have any questions regarding TESOL courses, teaching jobs, expected salaries, and a whole lot more. If none of these options provide the answers you are looking for, you can contact us using several different methods, including our contact form, telephone, WhatsApp Chat, or Facebook Messenger.

As soon as your questions have been answered and you have all the information you need to get started on your TESOL journey, you can sign-up for the course of your choice by clicking on the link below.

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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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