4 Steps for a Successful TEFL Career: Part 1 Getting Started – Taking a TEFL Course

By Eduardo Santos

You have decided to start teaching English as a career or as a part-time job but you’re not sure where to set about taking the first steps. Perhaps you want to work and travel during your gap year or go deeper into the career, but don’t know how to start. Do you feel you are ready to embark on this journey, even if it’s for a short period of time?

In this series of 4 posts, I will mention 4 essential steps anyone wanting to start their career in English teaching should take in order to achieve short-term and long-term success.

Perhaps you have lived in an English speaking country for some time and have developed your fluency in English and now want to start teaching. Or maybe you’re a native speaker and would like to travel for some time and get some money as an English teacher. Being fluent in English or a native speaker, doesn’t really guarantee a school will hire you. Many schools around the world are keen on hiring teachers with little or no experience, but for most schools, an initial qualification is indispensable.

Taking a TEFL Course is the first step to becoming an English teacher. A good teacher training course will give you a better idea of what schools expect from you as a teacher along with approaches and techniques you should apply in the classroom. Certified courses can be taken online or face to face, it’s up to you to decide the best way to get the most out of these courses.

If you have the chance to take a face-to-face course in your city, you’ll be able to answer all your questions with tutors in real time and also learn with other trainees. Getting the chance to teach and be observed on a course is also a plus for beginner teachers. In my opinion, it’s extremely important to learn by making mistakes and by being observed and getting feedback right
away. These courses usually last for 4 or 6 months, with sessions every week, or they can be done in 1 month on an intensive basis.

If you decide to take an online teacher training course, you’ll have the chance to study in your own time and, most of the time, at your own pace. Online courses have become quite popular and very attractive for trainees from all over the world since you get good-quality training with highly qualified tutors without having to leave your house. Online courses range from 20 to 140 hours and trainees are assessed through written assignments and/or a written exam in the end.

A good teacher training course will get you qualified to start teaching in other countries. Don’t panic if when you finish your course you still don’t feel prepared to make a grand entrance into the classroom. Getting good at teaching takes time and schools will usually have someone to mentor you during your first weeks and give you full support. Don’t fear classroom observation from experienced teachers or the school Director of Studies, this is actually how you’ll put into practice all you have covered on your training course.

Look out for the next article in the series on October 27th.


All the guest posts from the TEFL teachers working around the world that have provided articles for our blog.



  1. Thaís Loureiro Dias

    Hello Eduardo,

    Great post. Let me tell you my story in hope you can advice me:
    I’m upper intermadiate level. I taught English for basic level students in a social project and I really enjoyed that. So, I want this career!!!

    I’ve already graduated in journalism. I think I should take a course to improve my level and then get the TOEFL certificated. After that, I can start a TEFL course to get this certificated.
    Am I right?

    Another doubt… as I’m too busy with my current job, I’ll do the both courses online.

    The first one is in EnglishTown – I’m already testing for free and till now seems great.

    But the problem is how to choose the TEFL course. Could you help?

    I researched and there are thousand courses… I got some links to make a deep research as they seem interesting to me. Do you know any of those? Or another one that you have already known and can recomend.

    5. http://www.intesolinternational.com/index.shtml

    Thank you for the post
    Take care

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