Those interested in teaching English to non-English speakers, whether in the United States or abroad, should look into the basic qualifications and certifications that are required. The kind of qualifications needed may depend on what kind of students will be the recipients of the lessons. There are many differences and similarities between TESOL vs. TEFL and other options.

TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)

TESOL generally means teaching in a non-native English-speaking country or setting. In TESOL, the person teaching does not necessarily need to know the language native to the place where they’re working. However, a basic, if not fluent, knowledge of the language is encouraged in order to make teaching more effective and successful. TESOL instruction focuses on research, second language acquisition, linguistics, pedagogy, assessment and legislation.

TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language)

Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a method of teaching English in a foreign language-speaking environment. TEFL is a widely recognized and highly regarded qualification. Like TESOL, this certification focuses on the teaching skills needed to teach English in a non-native English-speaking place.

TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language)

TESL focuses on the skills and knowledge needed to teach non-English speakers who are already living in an English-speaking place. This can include exchange students, temporary workers and recent immigrants. TESL teachers may work in a school system as a language support teacher or as a private instructor for a language school.

CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults)

CELTA was one of the first English teaching certifications. It is one of the most recognized English teaching programs. The CELTA program emphasizes hands-on and practical teaching experience that requires the prospective teachers to work with English language learners. CELTA is regulated by Cambridge University.

The benefits of earning a Master of Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) are varied. Because of the ever-changing demographics of the United States, there is a growing need for individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to teach those who speak other languages how to communicate in English. Because TESOL focuses on equipping teachers with the skills and knowledge needed to impart language and cultural lessons to their students, TESOL teachers are able to better prepare their students to thrive in an English-speaking environment.