TEFL your ticket to the world!


TEFL stands for teaching English as a foreign language. TEFL is most commonly used when speaking about teaching English to learners who live outside a native English speaking country. TEFL is sometimes used in place of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) or TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language)

Teachers of English are increasingly sought after particularly in our globalized world whereby success in a language that has millions of speakers is crucial. English is spoken by more than 300 million native speakers, and between 400 and 800 million foreign users. There are estimated to be around 1 billion people learning English throughout the world. It is the official language of air transport and shipping; the prominent language of science, technology, computers, and commerce; and a large medium of education, publishing, and international negotiation. All these factors make English very desirable to learn. Hence scholars commonly refer to its latest phase as ‘ World English’. 

Additionally as Declan pointed out in his week one blog, encouraging bilingualism in our education system is very important.  Learning languages increases mobility, communication and employability (Language, Linguistics and Area Studies, 2005). As Declan rightly said the more languages you speak the more job markets are open to you. Sandra also highlighted some of the benefits of Bilingualism in her week two blog.

Influential research by Pearl and Lambert (1962) has advanced the area of the advantages of bilingualism and shown how it can improve ones intellect by giving one ‘superiority in concept formation, and a more diversified set of mental abilities’ (Pearl and Lambert, 1962, p.20). Specifically bilingualism can improved ones metalinguistic knowledge, theory of mind and pronunciation L2 (Myers-Scotton, 2006). Flege et al. (2002) among other factors.

Pearl and Lamberts positive findings have been mirrored in many other studies into bilingualism ever since especially in Western Ontario and areas of Canada (Liedtke and Nelson 1986; Bain, 1974; Cummins and Gulutsan, 1974), Switzerland (Balkan, 1970), Israel (Ben-Zeev, 1977a), South Africa (Ianco-Worrall, 1972), and the United States (Ben-Zeev, 1977b; Duncan and De Avila, 1979).

Metalinguistic knowledge and the mental flexibility linked with this form of knowledge is also enhanced in bilinguals (Myers-Scotton, 2006). Research is emerging to indicate that bilingual children who experience two languages from birth demonstrate superior performance on TOM false belief tasks  in comparison to their monolingual equivalents (Goetz, 2003; Kovacs, 2009).

Also bilinguals are at an advantage when it comes to finding the alternative meaning of stimuli in particular at reversing ambiguous figures. Bilingual children were more successful than monolinguals in seeing the other meaning in the images (Bialystok and Shaper, 2005). 

There are places throughout the UK to get qualified and if not courses can be taken online. One can get qualified with i-to-i that carry out courses throughout the UK and online and there is also the British council that adminsiters standardized qualifications. Many of the official institutions that administer TEFL certificates also provide information on finding a job and a list of current vacancies.

The RSA/Cambridge CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) and the Trinity TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificates are the most widely known and respected qualifications. Both involve a four-week training programme. A lot of entry-level teaching positions ask for one out of two of these qualifications. If you don’t have them you will usually earn less or, in certain countries, it may be challenging to find a teaching position.  

International House (IH) in particular is a well-respected, world-wide organisation that provides CELTA teacher training in centres in countries around the world.

If you are flexible about the money you earn and want to work in a beautiful country Thailand, Ecuador, or Indonesia are good places to teach. But if you require more income Eastern Europe, Turkey, or Taiwan are good options. Teaching English in South Korea or Japan is also good for earning money. But if you are looking for the cream of the crop in terms of income and are ok with a very hot climate, the absolute best-paying jobs are mostly found in the Middle East. But obviously how much you earn within these countries varies greatly depending on the institution you are working at. Generally Universities and private educational institutions will pay better than independent smaller schools. But a lot of TEFL teachers supplement what they earn by giving private tuitoring.

So……the world is your oyster!




Bain, B. (1974). Bilingualism and cognition: Toward a general theory. In Bilingualism, biculturalism, and education: Proceedings from the conference at College Universitaire Saint Jean, ed. S. T. Carey. Edmonton: University of Alberta Printing Department.

Balkan, L. (1970). Les effets du bilinguisme francais-anglais sur les aptitudes intellectuelles. Bruxelles: Aimav.

Ben Zeev, S. (1977a). Mechanisms by which child-hood bilingualism affects understanding of language and cognitive structures. In P. A. Hornby (Ed.), Bilingualism: Psychological, social, and educational implications (pp. 29-55). New York: Academic Press.

Cummins, J., and M. Gulutsan. (1974). Bilingual education and cognition. Alberta Journal of Educational Research 20: 259-69.

Duncan, S. E., and E. A. De Avila. (1979). Bilingualism and cognition: Some recent findings. NABE Journal 4: 15-50.

Flege, J. E., Mackay, I. R., and Piske, T. (2002). Assessing bilingual dominance. Applied Psycholinguistics 23: 567-98.

Goetz, P. J. (2003). The effects of bilingualism on Theory of Mind development. Bilingualism: Language and Congition, 6, 1-15.

Ianco-Worrall, A. (1972). Bilingualism and cognitive development. Child Development. 43: 1390-1400

 Kovacs, A. M. (2009). Early bilingualism enhances mechanisms of false belief reasoning. Developmental Science, 12, 48-54

Liedtke, W. W., and  Nelson., L. D. (1986). Concept formation and bilingualism. Alberta Journal of Educational Research 14: 225-32.

Myers-Scotton, C. (2006). Multiple Voices An Introduction to Bilingualism. Blackwell Publishing Australia. 

Pearl, E., & Lambert, W. E. (1962). The relation of bilingualism to intelligence. Psychological Monographs, 76, 1-23.











6 responses »

  1. Eliza, I totally agree with you! I hope to do TESOL myself, and feel it will be a great eye opener as well as providing transferrable job skills.
    Some research you may be interested in considering is Takallou’s (2011) investigation of the use of reading strategies in TEFL. Awareness of metacognitive processes is key in developing reading (Chamot, 2005), especially second language learners (Anderson, 2002). Involving the learners in how and what they learn is also key in the process (Takallou,2011) . This is especially pertinent as Takallou (2011) found that meaningful material-i.e material more commonly read by speakers of the language- is more easily understood by learners of English.
    Perhaps we have some lessons to learn from TEFL research in teaching our own children??

    Anderson (2002) http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCMQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Ftetereauraki.tki.org.nz%2Fcontent%2Fdownload%2F274%2F1269%2Ffile%2FAnderson%2520on%2520metacogntiion.pdf&ei=Abk_T5XCNIXU8gOC1IGnCA&usg=AFQjCNHuuywNpLApalOoKaGhEKurbvAzxQ&sig2=-NpBm6Z9g1577Nr_X4nw_Q
    Chamot (2005)
    Takallou (2011)www.asian-efl-journal.com/PDF/March-2011-ft.pdf

    • Thank you Amy for providing that thought provoking research. I agree with your notion of incorporating TEFL research into teaching in mainstream schools. From taking a module in TEFL last semester and analysing the methodologies it is clear that there is positivity to many of the ideals of EFL teaching. Namely decreasing TTT (teacher talking time) and increasing STT (student talking time). Which is supposed to keep the student engaged http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=977283 and enhance their learning.
      As you mentioned the students having control over what they are learning is also important, obviously this is particularly important to language learners at the beginning to have the correct pace etc. but there are areas of mainsteam schooling where these factors also need to be taken into consideration in particular in lower set classes.

  2. Wow! A great blog Eliza!

    Like Amy, I’d quite like to do TEFL as well, as the opportunities it seems to provide are endless. I find it interesting how Teaching English as a Second Language/ Foreign language now no longer seems to be the only ‘second language course’ out there. Courses in teaching Spanish as a second language, French as well as other courses in Chinese, Japanese and Korean have also popped up, some of which are detailed here (http://goo.gl/5qhtw) on this Canadian Website. I couldn’t find information about whether such courses exist within the UK to any significant extent (Goldsmiths seem to offer a Spanish Teaching certificate), but it would be great to see more of these courses popping up, as more and more people are speaking more and more languages, so it would be great to have the teachers to teach our children more languages so they are able to keep up in the modern world. I especially feel this now that the cognitive benefits of bilingualism are beginning to be more widely understood, some of them are discussed in this article (http://goo.gl/Ghp6u).

  3. Pingback: Blog 5: Teacher knows best? « elizanica

  4. Cheers Lucy. Thats a very good point one can get caught up in our own English speaking bubble and forget that there are other prominent languages in the world. For example mandarin Chinese with 1100 million speakers or 20.7% of the worlds population speaking it as a first language. Whereas there are around 350 million English speakers that take up 6.2% of the worlds population and roughly 300 million Speakers of Spanish as a first language that take up 5.6% of the total population of first language speakers.


    Aside from the benefits learning a second language has in terms of bilingualism as highlighted above there is also the broadening of horizons and cultural understanding “A different language is a different vision of life.” – Federico Fellini, Italian film director http://www.vistawide.com/languages/why_languages.htm. In addition to countless other advantages in terms of social, academic, psychological among other benefits http://www.early-advantage.com/articles/topten.aspx
    Without a doubt allowing our children and future generations to be exposed to these languages will ensure they are more successful in an increasingly globalized world.

  5. Another good blog Eliza. The evidence seems heavily stacked in favour of bilingualism, with calls to make it compulsory for those ages 7-11 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/jan/20/languages-become-twilight-subjects?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487). However, one thing that I was thinking about is not whether a child should learn a second language, but how this should be chosen. When a child comes from a bilingual background, they will often opt to study their family language at school (this article mentions the rise in popularity of Mandarin and Urdu at GCSE: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2007/aug/20/schools.gcses?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487). However, if a child comes from a family with no recent history of bilingualism, the parents may have little way of telling which languages will be most beneficial, or most straightforward, or most interesting to learn. I think a lot of parents want their children to have the advantages of bilingualism, but if they are monolingual themselves then this can be a difficult process to kick start.

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