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Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) refers to teaching English to students whose first language is not English. TEFL usually occurs in the student's own country, either within the state school system, or privately, e.g., in an after-hours language school or with a tutor. TEFL teachers may be native or non-native speakers of English.

This article describes English teaching by native Anglophones working outside their own country, a small subset of English taught worldwide. To learn about other aspects of English teaching, see English language learning and teaching, which explains methodology and context, and explains abbreviations (e.g., the difference between ESL and EFL, or TESOL as a subject and an organization). For information on foreign language teaching in general, see language education and second language acquisition.

Teaching techniques used today

See also: Language education


TEFL that uses literature aimed at children and teenagers is rising in popularity. Youth-oriented literature offers simpler material ("simplified readers" are produced by major publishers), and often provides a more conversational style than literature for adults. Children's literature in particular sometimes provides subtle cues to pronunciation, through rhyming and other wordplay. One method for using these books is the multiple-pass technique. The instructor reads the book, pausing often to explain certain words and concepts. On the second pass, the instructor reads the book completely through without stopping.

Communicative language teaching

Communicative language teaching (CLT) emphasizes interaction as both the means and the ultimate goal of learning a language. Despite a number of criticisms,[1] it continues to be popular, particularly in Japan, Taiwan,[2] and Europe.

The task-based language learning (TBLL) approach to CLT has gained ground in recent years. Proponents believe CLT is important for developing and improving speaking, writing, listening, and reading skills, and that it prevents students' merely listening passively to the teacher without interaction. Dogme language teaching shares a philosophy with TBL, although differs in approach.[3] Dogme is a communicative approach to language teaching and encourages teaching without published textbooks and instead focusing on conversational communication among the learners and the teacher.[4]

Blended learning

Blended learning is a combination of face-to-face teaching and online interactions (also known as CALL or computer-assisted language learning), achieved through a [[virtual learning environment] (VLE).

VLEs have been a major growth point in the ELT industry over the last five years. There are two types:

  • Externally-hosted platforms that a school or institution exports content to (e.g., the proprietary Web Course Tools, or the open source Moodle)
  • Content-supplied, course-managed learning platforms (e.g. the Macmillan English Campus)

The former provides pre-designed structures and tools, while the latter supports course-building by the language school—teachers can blend existing courses with games, activities, listening exercises, and grammar reference units contained online. This supports classroom, self-study or remote practice (for example in an internet café).

Qualifications for TEFL teachers

Teachers can earn English teaching certifications through an intensive 4-week program, or a longer part-time program, either of which provide an internationally-recognized qualification. Please look for courses that meet the following content:

--At least 100 hours of training

--At least 6 hours of Observed Teaching Practice (teaching real students as an experienced teacher observes and critiques you)

There are four courses that are generally considered to be internationally recognized. CELTA and TEFL International have a worldwide scope and graduate thousands of teachers annually. Trinity, mostly UK based, and the SIT course, while significantly smaller than the other two, are also highly regarded.

Both the CertTESOL and CELTA certifications are internationally-recognized and accredited in the UK on the National Qualifications Framework. Both qualifications are externally assessed and accepted by the British Council in their accredited teaching organizations worldwide in over a 100 countries. Of course, the fact that the British Council is funded by the British government and exists to support British Culture, Language and Businesses must be considered as there is clearly a conflict of interest. For instance, the British Council operate CELTA courses in nearly 20 locations. The same can be said of the National Qualifications Framework--these organizations consistently accredit and support each other at the expense of courses based outside of the UK. This is in no way an attack on the quality of their courses, which are considered to be excellent. But one must question the impartiality of organizations with these overlapping relationships.

Internet-based TEFL courses often claim to be internationally recognized, but recognition varies along with price and content of the programs. Private institutions often desire that course be face-to-face, or at least include an element of observed teaching.[5]

Schools around the world run international certificate programs. Qualification requirements vary considerably, from country to country and among employers within the same country. In some cases, it's possible to teach without a BA degree or without a teaching certificate. However, private language schools in some countries are likely to require a certificate based on successful completion of a course consisting of a minimum of 100 hours, usually including about 6 hours of observed teaching practice.

Many language schools accept any certificate that fulfills these criteria, while others look for teachers with specific certificates. It's also possible to gain certificates by completing shorter courses, or online courses, but these certificates do not always satisfy employer requirements due to lack of teaching practice. Also, some private language schools require teachers to complete in-house training programs even if they have a certification from elsewhere. Where there is a high demand for teachers and no statutory requirements, employers may accept otherwise unqualified candidates. Each country is different, and acceptance depends on demand for English teachers and the teacher's previous teaching and life experiences. Another aspect that should be addressed is the age/gender issue when qualifying as a TEFL teacher. Generally speaking there is no upper age limit when it comes to finding TEFL employment, although schools outside of Europe and America sometimes hire only teachers in a certain age range; usually between 20 and 40 years of age. Anyone under 19 may be able to teach TEFL, but usually only in a volunteer situation, such as a refugee camp. The same goes for gender; generally speaking schools, both public & private, will hire either sex. But again, schools outside of Europe and America will sometimes specify either a male or female teacher for a TEFL position. This is especially true in the Middle East.

Pay and conditions worldwide

As in most fields, the pay depends greatly on education, training, experience, seniority, and expertise. As with much expatriate work, employment conditions vary among countries, depending on the level of economic development and how much people want to live there. In relatively poor countries, even a low wage may equate to a comfortable middle class lifestyle.

There is a danger of exploitation by employers. This increases in countries with labor laws that may not apply to foreign employees, or which may be unenforced. An employer might ignore contract provisions, especially regarding working hours, working days, and end-of-contract payments. Difficulties faced by foreign teachers regarding language, culture, or simply limited time can make it difficult to demand pay and conditions that their contracts stipulate. Some disputes arise from cross-cultural misunderstandings. Teachers who can't adapt to living and working in a foreign country often leave after a few months. Quoting from the Cactus TEFL website, out of the United Kingdom: "There does however seem to be a basic TEFL LAW, which states that if you're on a full-time contract of 24-26 teaching hours per week, you will have enough money to pay rent in a modest, possibly shared apartment, pay for food, get out and about to explore at weekends, have the odd beer or glass of wine of an evening, and, over the period of your contract, get some money put aside for flights home at Christmas.

Generally speaking, you tend to live fairly basically, and what you earn is not usually enough to support partners, family back home or pay back debts or mortgage instalments. In many ways, TEFL can be a bit of a return to your student days, where there is less emphasis on material 'stuff' and more in being absorbed into the culture of the experience."

TEFL region and country locations


Opportunities vary considerably across Europe.

Western Europe

Most cities in Western Europe have established language schools. These can be on-site, or operated as agencies that send teachers to various locations. September is the peak recruiting month, and many annual contracts last October through June. Employers prefer those with graduate-level academic qualifications, experience in Business English, or experience with younger learners.

Instructors from the United Kingdom and Ireland, countries within the European Union, do not need work visas to work in the EU, which reduces demand for teachers from outside. Immigration laws require that non-EU job applicants submit documents from their home countries in person after the European employer files an officially documented job offer. If the worker has traveled to Europe to find the job, this means they must return home and wait for some time. Even if they follow the process correctly, visa rejection rates are high. Many private-sector employers don't sponsor them at all, because they can meet staffing needs more easily from nearby countries.

International schools hire some non-EU teachers. These are more desirable positions that require significant experience and qualifications. Various countries' education ministries, such as those of France and Spain, offer opportunities for assistant language instructors in public schools. Part-time employment is usually allowed under an education visa, but this visa also requires proper attendance at an accredited EU college or university, institute, or other educational program. Other teachers work illegally under tourist visas, since the "don't ask, don't tell" method is the only viable solution to avoiding impossible bureaucracy and eventual job rejection.

Eastern Europe, Northern Europe, and Scandinavia

Demand for TEFL is stronger in certain Eastern European countries because of the expansion of the European Union. Such locations also tend to have lower costs of living. Non-EU teachers usually find legal work here with less difficulty. The Balkan former Yugoslav countries have seen recent growth in TEFL—private schools have recruited Anglophone teachers there for several years.

Far fewer instructors work in Scandinavia, which has stricter immigration laws and a policy of relying on bilingual local teachers.



Demand for English teachers in Cambodia has grown over the past decade, though the country has a small population and is dependent on foreign aid for much of its economic development, limiting growth.


Many opportunities exist within the People's Republic of China, including preschool, university, private schools and institutes, companies, and tutoring. The provinces and the Ministry of Education in Beijing tightly govern public schools, while private schools have more freedom to set work schedules, pay, and requirements. Outside of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, salaries range between 3800 to 6000 yuan per month with an average of 4500 yuan.[6] Public schools tend to offer fewer hours per week (12 to 18) with low pay but free on-campus housing, while private schools usually require more than 22 hours a week and may offer higher pay without free housing. Preschool and elementary schools may ask the teacher to work more hours, just as the Chinese teacher would do.

Most schools pay for some travel expenses to and from Asia, and typically pay round-trip for a one-year contract (usually 10 months), and one-way for a six-month contract. Public schools usually pay during vacations, but not for summer break unless the teacher renews the contract,[7] while many private schools have shortened vacation schedules and may pay for whatever short number of days is allowed for vacation. Private schools may also require that teachers work weekends and evenings, which public schools seldom do. Both may have off-campus classes that require extra transportation time. Public schools provide an apartment with some extras. Most, but not all, private schools outside Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou also provide housing.

Company jobs vary, depending on the number of employees they want to train. They may employ a teacher for one or two classes, or a complete set of 14 to 16 hours a week. Tutoring also varies, as in some cases a whole family of students or just one family member.

Some teachers work successfully on an independent basis with several contracts for tutoring, individual college classes, and some company work. The majority of teachers accept contracts with schools. Public school contracts are fairly standard, while private schools set their own requirements. Schools try to hire teachers from Anglophone countries, but because of demand, others with good English language skills can find positions.

Hong Kong

Once a British Crown Colony, English language education in Hong Kong is taken seriously, as demonstrated by recent government-funded research.[citation needed]


In Japan, the JET Programme employs assistant language teachers to work in Japanese high schools and elementary schools. Other teachers work in private language schools, eikaiwa. The largest of these chains are Aeon, GEOS, and ECC. The industry is not well regulated. Nova, one of the largest chains with over 900 branches, collapsed in October 2007, leaving thousands of foreign teachers without income or for some, a place to live. Other teachers work in universities. Agencies are increasingly used to send English speakers into kindergartens, primary schools, and private companies whose employees need to improve their Business English. Agencies, known in Japan as haken, or dispatch companies, have recently been competing among themselves to get contracts from various Boards of Education for Elementary, Junior and Senior High Schools, so wages have decreased steadily in the last four years.[citation needed]


English language has been increasingly important in education, international trade and cooperation in Laos since 1990s. There were some factors on the rise of English in Laos. One of those was that because Laos was marked as a market economy country, and then the government started to open and promote foreign direct investment. The introduction of Laos as an observer in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1992 was also the factor increasing the necessity of English language in the country because among the ASEAN nations English had been considered a common language to communicate for exploring understanding and potential areas of cooperation. Laos was considered as a full member of ASEAN in 1997. During five years until 1997, the government had to prepare human resources to have English knowledge and skills and ability to use it. This was an obligation to Lao government in order to be able to work with other countries in the fields of cooperation effectively. Later, high-ranking officials, business people and shareholders, key persons in administrative level eagerly have started to upgrade their knowledge and skills in English. English have been a language of interest for Lao society ever since Laos opened the country to the world market economy and became a member of ASEAN. The trend of the interest will be increased as English is considered and developed in the field of education as well.

Middle East

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the main locations for instructors to work in this region. Positions in these countries have a reputation for often paying very high salaries but also require more qualifications and experience. Private academies and university programs are the main venues of instruction. More primary and secondary schools have begun to recruit foreign English instructors.

South Korea

There is great demand for native English speakers willing to teach in South Korea. The U.S. Embassy, however, reports that teachers have sometimes come to Korea under contracts that promised generous salaries and benefits, but found actual conditions drastically different, and in some cases ended up with insufficient funds to return home.[8] The expatriate English teachers in Korea have formed the Association for Teachers of English in Korea to provide support for teachers. As with Japan, Korea is also nurturing a government-run program for teacher placement called English Program in Korea (EPIK). In March 2009 EPIK reported that it recruited 3,377 foreign teachers into Korean public schools.

Institutions commonly provide round-trip airfare and a rent-free apartment for a one-year contract. Note that since March 15, 2008, visa rules have changed. Prospective teachers must now undergo a medical examination and a criminal background check, produce an original degree certificate, and provide sealed transcripts. On arriving in South Korea, teachers must undergo a further medical check before they receive an ARC card.

Though contracts usually include return flights, some schools offer cash instead. Severance pay equivalent to one month's salary is paid at the end of a contract as well. Citizens of the USA, Canada and Australia[9] also receive back their pension contributions and their employers' part of the pension contributions on leaving the country.

There are four main places to work in South Korea: universities, public schools, private language academies (known in South Korea as hagwon), and private company Business English classes. Recently, small private schools have been opening after-school programs.


In the Republic of China (Taiwan), most teachers work in cram schools, known locally as bushibans or buxibans. Some are part of chains, like Hess and Kojen. Others operate independently. Such schools pay around $2,000 USD a month. End-of-contract bonuses equivalent to an extra month's pay are not mandated by law as in South Korea, and are uncommon in Taiwan.


Thailand has a great demand for native English speakers, and has a ready-made workforce in the form of travelers and expatriates attracted by the local lifestyle despite relatively low salaries. Because Thailand prohibits foreigners from most non-skilled occupations a high percentage of foreign residents teach English for a living, and are able to stay in the country. There is also a growing demand for Filipino English teachers, as they are often hired for literally half the salary of a native-speaker.


There has been significant growth in TEFL within the wealthier non-Anglophone countries of North, Central, and South America as well as the Caribbean. In particular, many teachers work in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile.


TEFL in Africa has historically been linked to aid programs such as the US Peace Corps or the multinational Voluntary Service Overseas organization, as well as other aid programs. Most African countries employ bilingual local teachers. Poverty and instability in some African countries has made it difficult to attract foreign teachers. There has been increasing government investment in education and a growing private m

See also


Further reading

Teaching English Abroad, Susan Griffith, Vacation Work Press, Oxford. Many editions.

External links



Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to English as an Additional Language article)

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

This Wikibook is mostly for English beginners or pre-intermediate students. We also have a book for B2 (Upper Intermediate) students called English for B2 students


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