How to Get a TESOL Qualification

About to graduate from university and not sure what you want to do? Or maybe you’ve been working for a few years and are already tired of the 9-to-5 grind. You’re feeling restless and longing for adventure. Somebody suggests you get a job teaching English overseas, and you’re intrigued. What do you need to do?

Not too long ago, just about anybody with a college degree could get a job teaching English overseas. Over the last several years, however, a number of countries have tightened their entry requirements so that you can’t even get a visa to teach English without a TESOL in addition to your college degree.

What is a TESOL certificate?

TESOL stands for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. It’s an internationally recognized and respected qualification in teaching English to people who didn’t learn it as their first language. While some schools offer bachelor’s or even master’s degrees in TESOL, it’s more common for people to who already have a degree to study for and obtain a TESOL certification.

Why do I need a TESOL certification if I already have a degree in English?

Being an expert in English doesn’t mean you know how to teach it. A TESOL certification will give you the teaching skills you need to transfer your knowledge to others. In addition, English is more than spelling, punctuation, and grammar. It’s about listening, responding, syntax, idioms, pronunciation, etc. A TESOL certificate will broaden your understanding of English beyond rules and syntax.

Where do I get one?

Since TESOL is a globally-recognized certification, there are plenty of both classroom and online courses available. These are just a few:

These are just a few: There are too many options to list when it comes to getting a TESOL certification. And, since location doesn’t matter if you’re choosing online courses, you can choose the school whose program best meets your needs. Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Is the program accredited? If not, your certificate may not be accepted by many prospective employers.
  • Are the breadth and depth of the program adequate? Some courses promise that you can earn a certificate in just a weekend or two. These programs just cover the bare minimum topics. The most highly respected programs – the ones most employers look for – include about 130 hours of training.
  • How much practice teaching does the course involve? "Book learning" is one thing; stepping into a room to reach real people who don’t speak English is another matter entirely – especially if you don’t speak their language. The best courses include around six hours of classroom practice.

A TESOL certificate can open the door to almost limitless opportunities. If picking up and moving to another country sounds a little too exciting, there are countless opportunities to teach right at home, as communities try to be more welcoming to immigrants who work and live in those communities. It’s a great opportunity to meet some wonderful people from all around the world and to gain experience few other jobs offer.


 image: flickr via tflheaven, 2010