Can you teach with just a TEFL? What you should know…

It really depends on who ‘you’ are and if you can teach English. In this article, I will go through some requirements you must meet to teach with a TEFL certificate.

So the answer is yes, not only can you teach with just a TEFL certificate but you can also teach without a degree and teaching experience. You will be allowed to teach English abroad and online to ESL students in most countries. You cannot apply for jobs in your local high school or university with just a TEFL.

TEFL is an amazing opportunity for many people who dream of teaching or travelling, or both!

Many people do not have the luxury of attending college or university to get a degree in teaching. It can be a very costly few years, and if you’re in the US, you would be paying back your student loans until you’re hair is grey!

What if your dream is to teach, but you cannot get the degree for whatever reason?

Teaching English as a foreign language, or TEFL for short is an opportunity for those who want to teach but cannot in their home country. Once you are fluent in English to a native level and have TEFL certification, you can easily find a teaching job in most countries around the world and online. You will get to do what it is you love!

Can you teach English with just a TEFL certification English teacher in Africa being hugged by three of her students
Can you teach English abroad with just a TEFL certificate? This teacher did!

Who else is TEFL for?

I’m glad someone asked! Teaching English abroad isn’t just for people without degrees who dream of teaching!

Many people with degrees also do TEFL courses to move abroad and teach kids and adults the English language. It is a chance to try a new career, travel while making money and learn very useful skills while helping others.

If you are travel obsessed or a ‘wanderluster’ and you want a way to see the world and not have to go home to your boring job after 2 weeks… do a TEFL course and get certified.

Once you are TEFL certified, you can go to any non-native English speaking country to work and earn a salary and also stay long-term for your contract. Many people remain abroad for up to 5 years, and some stay forever. If you find the right place, why not call it home?

A TEFL certificate is a requirement to teach English abroad and online, and schools will usually only hire a teacher with one! So degree or no degree… you usually cannot teach English without TEFL as most schools require it.

Another reason people do TEFL courses is to become qualified to work on online teaching platforms. Most do it as a side job in the evenings, but many people have made it their full-time job. They can choose the hours they wish to work and can often set their own salary.

One huge benefit of teaching English online is that you can do it from anywhere, like a digital nomad, so you can travel through Asia, Europe or South America while earning an income teaching a couple of hours every few days.

three TEFL teachers sitting on the steps talking
TEFL teachers acting naturally

Teaching Experience – Required or not?

Teaching experience is not a requirement to teach English with a TEFL certificate. Some schools may require it, but most do not. Having no teaching experience is seen as a good thing. Most schools prefer having a blank canvas to train the teacher with their own methods.

Teaching English as a foreign language abroad is different from most regular teaching jobs. For example, a university-level history teacher will not have the teaching experience required to teach kindergarten to children that can’t speak a word of English!

The history teacher would most likely be set in their ways and be so used to standing at the board talking to their students. In contrast, TEFL teachers are much more active and involved in their lessons. You play games together and sing, and you try to make the students enjoy learning English. Not only is it better for the students but it makes your day go by much quicker also!

Can you teach with just a TEFL TESOL certificate an English teacher in Africa taking a group photo with all his happy students

Which countries can you teach with just a TEFL?

You can teach in all Central and South American countries, all European countries and all African countries with just a TEFL certificate and not a degree or teaching experience.

Asia and the Middle East require English teachers to hold some form of third level degree.

The only Asian country that does not require a degree to teach is Cambodia. But if you think you can teach English without TEFL in Cambodia you are wrong. Even though a degree is not required, a TEFL certificate is needed.

Cambodia has only been open to the world for a little over 20 years, and they are developing rapidly. They understand English is a massive factor in their people and country moving forward and therefore have scrapped their neighbouring country’s rules of needing a degree to work as a TEFL teacher.

So for those of you reading who dream of teaching English in Asia and do not currently possess a degree, then you are in luck as Cambodia wants you, and it is such an incredible country to work and live in.

Each school in every country has their own requirements. So do not get disheartened if you see a couple that requires a degree. There are so many schools out there that are in need of English teachers that there aren’t enough TEFL teachers to fill them all!

Teaching English with just a tefl certificate happy kids in English class giving a thumbs up for the camera
A TEFL teacher’s dream…. happy students!

Can you teach abroad without TEFL certification?

Without the TEFL certificate, you could lose out on a teaching position to someone who has the certificate. Almost all English language schools and public schools abroad require you to be TEFL certified and many will not reply to you if you do not have that box checked.

It is not impossible to teach abroad without TEFL however you will most likely need to be an experienced English teacher with a teaching degree. Another possible way is if you are currently living in the area you wish to teach and can apply in person and show that you are deserving of the job.

Alternatively, if the area you plan on working in does not have many English speaking people there, then you could potentially fill that demand, however, they could ask you to complete a TEFL course beforehand.

If you plan to teach English without TEFL certification you should know it may take you quite some time to find a school that does not require it.

students in Thailand sitting on the steps smiling before English class begins
English students in Thailand

There is a vast demand for TEFL certified teachers. The money is good. You get to see the world. You meet lovely people. It beats being at home, and it’s an adventure.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or 60. As long as you are a native English speaker, you can become TEFL certified and teach English abroad!

What are you waiting for? If you’re reading this far, you know you want to do it, so if you want to check out our course in some of the most amazing places on Earth, follow this link or check the menu above!