How to become a TEFL teacher

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TEFL is the blanket term for the field of Teaching English as a Foreign Language. There are a whole bunch of other acronyms which refer to the different types of students involved and their purposes for learning, so it's probably best to start with a brief trot through the rest.

EFL stands for English as a Foreign Language. If you are teaching EFL your students are generally assumed to be literate in their own language and educated to at least school leaving age - unless you are teaching kids. While they may be learning English in a country where English is the native tongue, they are not learning with the idea of living in that country full time in mind. Instad they are more likely to be looking to use English for work, study or travel with both native and non-native speakers around the globe utilising the position English now occupies as the premier intenational language. Courses are usually pitched at the different subdivisions of this large group, with courses available in Conversational and 'holiday' English; general Business English and English for Specific Purposes (ESP) - which includes such esoteric sunjects as English for lawyers, English for secretaries and English for nuclear scientists; English for Academic Purposes (EAP - preparation courses for students wishing to study at university in a native English speaking country) and General English (also known in the business as ENPP - English for No Particular Purpose). There are also courses which specialise in preparing students for exams in English as a foreign language (For exmple TOEFL, KET, PET, FCE, CAE CPE, IELTS, BEC Vantage and Higher - no I can't be bothered to explain what those stand for). Courses in this are offered by a wide range of both public institutions and private schools in native English speaking countries and abroad.

ESOL stands for something different. Here, the students are learning English because they now find themselves living in a country where English is the native tongue, and they need to learn enough of the language to at least get by. In other words the students are immigrants of all descriptions, including refugees and aslym seekers. These students are not neessarily assumed to have had any schooling or indeed be in any way literate in their own language, although an added twist to teaching such classes is that you may have illiterate, uneducated students in the same group as students who hold PhDs from universities in their own country. There is also a further subdivision here of EAL (English as an Additional Language) which is used by the state school system in the UK to refer to pupils whose native tongue is not English and who may therefore need additional help with English in order to complete their school career successfully. With the introduction of an English language test as part of the requirements for citizenship applications courses in the UK tend to be governement-funded and run by Further Education colledges and the like.

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