Why do they all want a TEFL?

Many people are confused as to why international teaching jobs are persistent on applicants having a TEFL certificate. Many ask the question of how is it that I have a B.ED degree or a PGCE which takes longer than 4 weeks to complete but still need the TEFL certificate.

The answer is quite simple. The B.ED and PGCE do not provide what a TEFL, CELTA or even a TESOL provides. These are specialized teacher certificates of international recognition. These teacher certificates prepare teachers to step into a classroom to teach confidently. They provide hands-on practical and theoretical training on how to conduct lessons. Teachers who possess these certificates are always made a priority with schools.

Many teachers believe that their honors degree is a credible degree yet we need to understand that the honors degree is not very recognized overseas as the understood qualifications are usually in the following order, Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. Anything in between becomes questionable, and if you have to explain your qualifications then its best to not go there. In regards to an honors degree, a British curriculum school would accept it as it is a commonwealth degree, and so if you are applying to work in a commonwealth country or a system that does recognize the commonwealth degrees then this is fine.

The same can be said about higher diplomas and advanced certificates which in South Africa, for example, equates to degrees and some higher than your degree. This is fine if you intend to remain to teach in South Africa, but if you are looking to go abroad, please just focus on the degree and a teaching certificate.
People also ask about the PGCE, and while some countries may look at it (Commonwealth countries and British curriculum schools), this does not apply to the majority.

We need to focus on what the international community wants! Too often we focus on what the university dictates, and this is wrong because universities’ don’t even know how the various industries are progressing. Many people don’t even know how to write a proper CV.
My advice to people is simple; research your industry before even studying towards entering the industry.

Here’s a fact, many teachers overseas don’t even have a B.ED or even a BA degree, all they have is a diploma and TEFL, CELTA or TESOL and sometimes not even a tertiary qualification. Just the fact that they are from an English speaking country and possess one of the mentioned teacher certificates, is all they need.
These are specialized certificates that teach things like English for special purposes, meaning, teaching business English, Medical English or Engineering English. These certificates not only allow you to work at schools but also at universities, language centers or even companies who are in need of a language teacher. Does your BA, B.ED, PGCE prepare you in the way a TEFL would??

What is IELTS?

IELTS is the International English Language Testing System which is governed by the British Council, University of Cambridge and IDP: IELTS Australia. The test is to assess English language proficiency and conforms to the highest standards. The IELTS is taken by those who wish to live and work where English in the main language of communication. 



IELTS is made up of four components:  

Speaking, listening, reading and writing. Each has a band score of their own which is totaled at the end. A candidate is required to meet a specific total according to their desired countries requirements. IELTS is also separated into two different modules that candidates may choose from according to their needs. These two modules are the academic module and the general training module. The Speaking test may even take place a day or two later at some centers. 

IELTS Listening test lasts for about 30 minutes. It consists of four sections, played on a CD, in order of increasing difficulty. Each section might be a dialogue or a monologue. The test is only played once, and the questions for each section must be answered while listening, Time is given for students to check their answers 

IELTS Reading test lasts for 60 minutes. Students are given an Academic Reading test, or a General Training Reading test. Both tests consist of three sections, and in both tests the sections are in order of increasing difficulty. 

IELTS Writing test also lasts for 60 minutes. Again, students take either an Academic Module, or a General Training Module. Students must perform two writing tasks, which require different styles of writing. There is no choice of question topics. 

IELTS Speaking test consists of a one-to-one interview with a specially trained examiner. The interview is recorded and has three separate parts: 

An introduction and interview, an individual long turn where the candidate speaks for one or two minutes on a particular topic, and a two-way discussion thematically linked to the individual long turn. This interview will last for approximately 11-14 minutes. 

How are IELTS band scores calculated?  

Each skill (listening, reading, writing and speaking) is awarded a band scores. These scores range from 0-9 and you can also score a .5 for example, 6.5 or 8.5. Aside from a band score for each skill, you will also receive an overall band score. 

Below is an example of how the scoring works:  
Listening: 8
Reading:  7.5
Writing: 7
Speaking 7.5
Overall: 7.5 

With band scores, your scores can also be rounded up or down to the nearest .5 or whole number, example:  

  • If you get an overall score of 5.25 you will the move to a 5.5 score 
  • If you get an overall score of 6.75 you will then move up to a score of 7 
  • If your overall score is 5.1 then you will receive a total of 5

Listening and reading scores:
In a listening and reading test with a total of 40 points you are only scored on what you have got correct. Wrong answers are not scored. 

Writing Assessment:
The two tasks of the written assessment are assessed on the following four criteria
Fluency, Lexical resource, Grammar range and accuracy,  

Speaking assessment:
Speaking, like writing is assessed on the following:
Fluency, Lexical resource, Grammar range and accuracy, pronunciation.

It is strongly advised that one reads through the band descriptors clearly and has a thorough understanding of them.

 IELTS Band Descriptor

Bandscore Skill level Description
Band 9 Expert user You have a full operational command of the language. Your use of English is appropriate, accurate and fluent, and you show complete understanding.
Band 8 Very good user You have a fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. You may misunderstand some things in unfamiliar situations. You handle complex detailed argumentation well.
Band 7 Good user You have an operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally you handle complex language well and understand detailed reasoning.
Band 6 Competent user Generally you have an effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings. You can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
Band 5 Modest user You have a partial command of the language, and cope with overall meaning in most situations, although you are likely to make many mistakes. You should be able to handle basic communication in your own field.
Band 4 Limited user Your basic competence is limited to familiar situations. You frequently show problems in understanding and expression. You are not able to use complex language.
Band 3 Extremely limited user You convey and understand only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.
Band 2 Intermittent user You have great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
Band 1 Non-user You have no ability to use the language except a few isolated words.
Band 0 Did not attempt the test You did not answer the questions.

CV for the 21st century

Keep your CV short

Keeping your CV short is the important part of writing a CV, Recruiters and HR managers do not have the time to go through a 10 page CV.An ideal length of the CV should be minimum 2 pages and max being  3 pages.It has been statistically proven that it takes a recruiter 30 seconds to scan through your CV. So think to yourself, if you only have 30 seconds to present, what do you want to get across quickly?

Make your CV look good

Your CV should be well structured, professional and error-free.Going the extra mile to make your CV visually presentable is always good, however, if it is not up to scratch it just will not work.

Take into consideration that in certain industries – usually creative, visual or advertising – your CV will form part of a broader portfolio, so presenting it to the best of your creative abilities will show that you know what you are doing.Add a profile picture!recuiters and HR managers want to see who they are dealing with.

Don’t count on the recruiter to read your cover letter

Recruiters are in the business of comparing CVs with CVs. Although it’s a good idea to have a polite cover letter, keep the useful information – where you highlight relevant skills and experience – for the CV itself rather than expecting the recruiter to use two documents to get the full picture.

While many companies still request covering letters, work on the assumption that the letter may not get read due to the volumes that recruiters have to deal with.

Adapt your CV to the job you are applying for

Recruiters expect you to have done the work to tell them why you are the ideal candidate for the job on offer – not for just any job.

List only the experience you have for the job you are applying for.If you are a teacher, and applying for a teaching post, just state your teaching experience.There is no need to list down voluntary work or that time you worked at a restaurant.

Don’t overdo the biography section

In the past, people used to include everything from their age and health to their religion and marital status in the biography section of their CVs. Now, it’s advisable to include as little of this kind of information as possible, especially if it could be used for discriminatory purposes.Information such as your passport number on a CV is not needed, add your D.O.B, but the passport number will be handed in when needed to make the visa.

Repeat the job’s skills requirements in your CV

If you are applying online, your CV could be processed by a computer before any human lays eyes on it. For this reason, it’s a good idea to list the set of skills you have using the same wording as the job ad’s skills required because the computer will select your application based on how well you match the requirements.

This isn’t a bad approach even if you know that you are dealing with a human being because it will help them to see what a good match you are without having to dig for information.

Include a career summary 

Personal descriptions or self-praise must be avoided as they are outdated. like saying you’re motivated or a team player – are dead and gone.

Reverse chronology still stands

Always show your latest job FIRST. List your most recent experience first, rather than showing them your first job first. give a description of your duties at the jobs.Be specific and make sure you state the time frame of which you worked at the listed jobs.

Don’t go overboard with online CVs

While it’s great to have an online CV – especially if you work in an industry that’s technologically focused – you should still apply for jobs by attaching or uploading a document-based CV. Recruiters may have specific processes for reading through or filing CVs, and you don’t want to make them go to the extra effort of clicking on a link, and copying and pasting your information into a document format.

Clean up your social media profiles 

Although this isn’t strictly a point for your CV, chances are that anyone considering you for a job in this day and age will google your name, and check out any social media profiles you have. Beat them to it and make sure that there isn’t any questionable content out there to turn them right off you.Professionals these days should have a LinkedIn profile.

Understand your industry

While there are certain standards that every applicant should be aware of,  it’s important to know how the recruitment models in your specific industry work.Try to adjust your energies and efforts to what you think will yield the best results. If networking is the most common way of getting a job in your industry, don’t spend all your time on online applications. Act in the way that’s most likely to get results.


What is TEFL

Many individuals seek to travel overseas to find work for various reasons. Most but not all have the required qualifications to easily find work in a new country, whilst others may not have what is needed which is when they would decide on a new career path. The desire to change careers prompted the huge business known as TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). Schools and companies in countries English is not the first language needed to now train their people to be able to have an acceptable level of English language.

English being the lingua franca in the world of business soon found many colleges and course providers offering courses known as the TEFL.The university of Cambridge has their own which is regarded as the “Gold standard” known as the CELTA course.

Cambridge is already a well-established university in the UK and has for years been the go-to for development as they have well-assured standards. Therefore a course done by Cambridge is well respected in the industry.The CELTA is an extensive course that would train candidates both practically and theoretically about teaching English. Many language centers around the globe offer CELTA, TEFL and TESOL courses, however, language centers or course providers who do offer the CELTA must be accredited by Cambridge as Cambridge would be the external moderators and will officially issue the final statement of results as well as the certificate.

The three acronyms within the industry commonly used are TEFL- Teaching English as a Foreign Language, TESOL- Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and CELTA – Certificate in English Language to Teaching to Adults. These acronyms are used very often and we find that the TEFL and TESOL both can be used interchangeably as they both may have different letters but can be achieved in the same way.Both the TEFL and TESOL can be done online or can be done in class; they can also have a combined course where a part is done in class and part online.

The CELTA course used to just be an extensive in-class 4-week program focusing on theory and practice, but in recent times even the CELTA now can be done with an online component.CELTA is geared more for those who wish to turn teaching into a lifelong career, it is more expensive and often has very many requirements needed before actually doing the course such as formal qualifications and being of a minimum age of 20.whereas with the TEFL and TESOL there are minimum requirements of age 16 and a native-level of English.

TEFL refers to the industry, many providers will offer a TEFL certificate and many course providers give the various options of the different type of TEFL courses. For example, you could do a TEFL course worth 20 hours, there’s an option of 60 hours and so on. The industry required amount of hours is a minimum of 120 hours. This ensures that the applicant has had the relevant training to ensure that they can handle themselves comfortably within a classroom. The 120 hours TEFL/TESOL course would include a practical component.

The common issue today with these courses is the accreditation. You will find course providers of TEFL or TESOL who when they market their courses would often state that their course is ‘internationally recognized” and on their certificates, you would see logos of accrediting companies who when doing a Google search do exist. The issue with these companies is that they often have a membership fee. What this means is that as long as you pay their fee you have permission to use their logo. These companies also are mainly based in the Uk and don’t accredit course providers who are based outside the UK.

Some of the providers of four-week equivalent courses also administer their own cross-checks, which help to ensure consistency. Others, however, in the attempt to come up with similar forms of approval and accreditation, make use of varyingly trustworthy yardsticks. Some of these will be genuinely reliable, others more spurious. One example of something being misleadingly used as proof of quality as mentioned above is corporate membership of teaching and training associations. While membership of these is beneficial, it’s a red herring in terms of any guarantee of quality.Beyond the pedagogical arguments for taking a quality course, most would-be teachers’ prime concern is the question: “Will my course land me a Tefl job in my chosen country?”

Employers will always look first for prior teaching experience. In the absence of this, the importance placed on a good Tefl course will depend on the employer’s general awareness of the courses available and his or her previous experience of teachers with such qualifications. Other factors besides qualifications and experience which are also taken into account in the selection process include personality, presentation, other work experience, and academic qualifications.



Guidelines for writing a CV  


  • Personal information (name, address, contact nos, email, skype id)
  • D.O.B required for visa purposes
  • Educational qualifications (secondary school/tertiary education) Specify the degree obtained and when
  • Employment history(previous and current) Include the exact dates
  • Ensure that the most recent employment is put first dating backward with no gaps in employment. If you have taken gaps to travel, stay-at-home or were unemployed, please state this clearly
  • Include the details and contact email addresses of at least two professional referees who are contactable – References from colleagues are NOT acceptable
  • TWO written references are required from different previous employers stating the dates of employment and position you held and this must be signed and on the school/company letterhead
  • NB!!!Employers want to know who they are dealing with and see what you look like. Ensure that you have a professional looking color jpeg photograph of yourself on the front page (women must have their shoulders covered) No tilted head and shoulder shots-please wear something professional and smile looking straight into the camera like you would when applying for a passport
  • The CV must be no longer than 2-3 pages long. If your CV is not concise and easy to read, professional and short it will be discarded by hiring managers without hesitation.
  • Check margins and that font sizes match