For various historical and economic reasons, English has become the dominant language of the world in the twenty-first century. English is the language of science, air traffic control, tourism, the internet and to a very large extent of trade and export. According to the British Council at least one billion people speak or are trying to speak English at the present time and of those about 300 million people are actively studying the English language. These statistics help to explain the emergence and explosion of the TEFL industry, exclusively preparing people for international teaching. This is bad news for those without a command of the English language, but very good news for English speakers, who find themselves in possession of a commodity that is in much demand throughout most of the world.
TEFL (sometimes also referred to as TESOL), means Teaching English abroad as a Foreign Language and a TEFL certificate is the major qualification required for international teaching. There is a huge demand for teachers around the world with opportunities in almost every country.
Taking a TEFL certificate course provides the opportunity to travel and work around the world, to gain knowledge and experience of foreign cultures and languages and to embark upon a career in international teaching. No previous teaching experience or specialist qualifications are required. The only requirement is fluency in English.
As an example, the International TEFL Corporation works with some of the world's largest TESOL/TEFL certificate course providers (including TEFL International and International TEFL Teacher Training) to offer the opportunity to take an internationally recognized certificate program in an interesting and exotic location abroad or online.
Taking a course with TEFL for international teaching and TITC provides the best possible TEFL training and access to the full range of support services.
TEFL International and TITC welcome all applications, regardless of sex, age, race or nationality.
So, what are TEFL/TESOL more precisely?
The use of these acronyms can be rather confusing, especially as they are frequently used interchangeably. Below there is a list of definitions which, hopefully, should clarify their meanings:
TEFL - Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This term is predominantly used when English is being taught in a country where it isn't the native language (for example, teaching English to Spanish people in Spain).
TESL - Teaching English as a Second Language. This is where English is being taught to non-native speakers of English in a country where it is the native language (for example teaching immigrants to the UK/USA).
TESOL - Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. This term theoretically encompasses both of the above.
ELT - This stands for English Language Teaching and is mainly used by institutions in the UK.
Whilst there are slight differences in theory, these terms are often used interchangeably and it should not make any real difference to your future career meaning international teaching and job prospects whether you receive a TEFL or a TESOL certificate.