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Should I get TEFL certified before I go abroad?

Have you always wanted to teach and travel? Preferably in that order. Or do you have a sort of half-made plan that you definitely want to travel and then maybe qualify as a teacher once you get back? If so, then there’s some good news – that by getting a TEFL certbefore you go you can teach English as a foreign language as you make your way around the world.  You can also take help from a foreign language translation company to gain expertise.

Teaching abroad is a concept that’s on a wide spectrum, and if you’re contemplating tapping into this market then you’ve probably done a fair amount of research into the possibilities open to you. And if you’ve done this then you will also have come across the acronym ‘TEFL’, (or ‘teaching English as a modern language’ as its full name would be). 

You have a lot of options about how to move forward and make this dream a reality, but sometimes it can be difficult to see the wood from the trees when there’s so much in front of you. The courses are priced differently, some more than others, does this matter? Or is it all the same thing? And should I even be spending money on this at all? There are teaching jobs across the world which don’t need a TEFL cert. It might be an attractive idea to save money, go travelling and find a position where you can learn as you go along, so to speak. To learn on the job. The only – but huge – problem with this is that decent potential employers will take a dim view of this and you might find yourself locked out of the best of the market. 

So ask yourself this: have you really explored the TEFL concept in full? Because there’s a lot more to it than initially meets the eye.

So much choice!

If your dream is to travel the world and earn money along the way then learn how to make that happen – and you can start here. Lots of people have pre-made plans about where they want to go, when and how, whereas others might a little more free-spirited and not really know what they want to do or where to go. There’s nothing wrong with either of those, but if you are struggling to pick your travel plans then getting a TEFL cert. might actually help you with that. Say that you’re stuck between choosing a glorious six months in Spain, or a year long trip to Japan, doing a TEFL course can help to narrow down your choices. 

Have a think about what aspects of teaching you like best – are you keen to teach children the basics of English or would you prefer to teach adults the more methodical approach in the theory of the language? Or perhaps a more conversation-based role? You can speak to your tutors about their experiences, or sound out others about their travelling plans. Or think about the different cultures you’ve been exposed to in your studies and whether you’d like to delve deeper into any of them. There’s lots of decisions to be made, but having a TEFL cert. will make all of them easier. The important thing is that you make a balanced decision – and an informed one – so you end up feeling confident about your choice, which is always an excellent attribute in a teacher! 

Teaching skills.

If you’re new to teaching English then getting your certificate pre-travel will give you a valuable boost in terms of your classroom skill level. Things like helping with education theory (language, methodology and acquisitions, etc.), as well as the details of English grammar and even lesson planning. You are definitely going to want to have skills safely under your belt before you stand up on your own in a classroom full of students! 


If you’re not sure about the commitment aspect of this then it’s worth bearing in mind that you can learn at your own pace, pretty much. There are options for courses so make sure that you select one which suits your timeframe, budget AND your personal and professional aims. Have all of this sorted before you book any flights or accommodation.  

You’re going to get good mileage out of your TEFL certification so make sure that the course content covers everything you need it to. You can then gain your qualification in a low stress and familiar environment, leaving you time to get all of your travel prep. done, earning extra money maybe and just getting all the loose ends tied up before you set out across the world. 

Finding a job.

Now to the crucial part! There’s obviously a process to follow, but you should think about some factors that are personal to you:

If you’re thinking that this kind of TEFL role is the right one for you, then you MUST have got your teaching certificate before you arrive. Lots of organisations prefer you to start the hiring process in your own country so that they have time to sort out things like flights and visas in good time. 

If you’re after a decent teaching job abroad then having a TEFL certificate is an absolute must. It will give you a head start when you arrive – instead of studying like mad in an unfamiliar place, you’ll be free to focus on having fun and making new friends!

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