There are various options to get started in this field; which option you choose will depend on what your longer-term plans are. If you wish to travel and would like to teach for a while before returning to the UK to undertake a job in a different sector, then you may decide not to invest in in-depth formal training. Try looking at the range of year-long job opportunities in places such as Hong Kong or China, some of which do not require teaching qualifications. If you would feel more comfortable with some formal training, or would value such a training opportunity, then perhaps a short language-teaching course is for you. If you see TEFL as potentially a long-term career, then consider undertaking a longer language-teaching course such as the CELTA or TESOL.
Finally, if you know this is for you and have plans to run your own language school in the future, you may wish to consider a Masters course, DELTA or even longer language-teaching course. This will help you to develop the right skills and qualifications to eventually apply for the limited number of permanent, full-time opportunities available. If you’re looking for permanent TEFL work in the UK it is almost impossible without a formal teaching qualification and experience – check requirements by browsing advertisements for these roles.
It is not essential to have a degree in English or a modern language, although this may help. Training in TEFL is available at different levels, with full-time courses lasting anything from a few days to five weeks. Some courses are offered over the internet, but do consider whether they will offer real value for money if it’s classroom experience you lack. Courses are generally offered by language training schools and other such centres in the UK and abroad. The Cactus TEFL website (link below) has a comprehensive overview of different qualifications. Typically the more reputable employers will look for relevant qualifications.
Look for the Cambridge Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) qualification or the Trinity College Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (Trinity Cert TESOL). Both qualifications are designed for those with little prior experience and each has recognition from the British Council as an initial international qualification for teaching English to adults. Both courses are available at over 200 centres across the UK (and elsewhere) with fees varying from about £900 to £1,500, possibly more.
Some providers offer ‘taster’ courses, which may be useful if you are not sure if TEFL is for you. International House in London is now offering a “blended” CELTA course of online training combined with face-to-face teaching practice.
Part-time courses can be cheaper than full-time courses. A list of CELTA course providers is available from the Cambridge English website (see External Resources below).
Cactus TEFL provide a central admissions service for some Cambridge CELTA and Trinity Cert TESOL courses. They also administer the Suzanne Furstner Scholarship for a CELTA course in Spain (see the ‘Win a course’ tab on the web pages) and run regular open events in London, where you can find out more about TEFL.
If you plan to teach abroad and already have a destination country in mind, consider looking for a CELTA or TESOL course in that country. This would give you a head start in making contacts and finding out about local opportunities. The Cambridge English website’s list of CELTA courses includes international providers.