Will this TEFL course be accepted or recognized?

Wondering whether a certain TEFL/TESOL course will be accepted or recognized when you go abroad? You don't want to spend your hard earned money on a dud right?

The truth is that there is no TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate that is accepted or recognized at every school. There is a vast number of schools out there and each school can have their own individual preferences and qualifications aside from what is legally required to teach English in that country. Just because you have a CELTA certificate (a reputable TEFL certificate) doesn't guarantee anything. There are schools out there that will require you to be a licensed teacher in your home country.

Some examples of these schools are public schools in Taiwan, UAE, Dubai and most international schools across the globe. To teach English in these schools you need to be a licensed teacher. Aside from that each school has it's own requirements. To legally teach (get a work visa) in Taiwan, China, Korea and Japan you do not need a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate. That being said some schools can require them and some employers can prefer them and almost all schools prefer experience.

Now back to the question. Who will accept my TEFL course? Will it be recognized? As mentioned above there is no guarantee because you are talking about such a large pool of schools and employers. There are thousands of private language schools and public schools just in Eastern Asia. And there is only a small percentage of schools that will care about the TEFL/TESOL/CELTA course that you took.

What's a factor and how much they care about it

Now out of that small percentage here are some things that they will care about. This is based on my experience living and teaching in Eastern Asia. This refers to employers and ESL schools in China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan:

  • The hours - More hours are more valuable. My estimate in the big picture is that 10% of the total job pool will care about this factor.
  • Was it in-class or online? A few employers will not accept online courses. Those are usually some universities or more prestigious language schools. Again very small numbers and to work in these schools you'll need experience anyways, so that won't matter. My estimate in the big picture is that these are 5% of the total job pool.
  • Who did you take it with? This is about which company you used to take the course. A few schools will prefer more reputable names like CELTA, DELTA, or Trinity TESOL. My estimated number is 3% of the total job pool. A lot of the schools in Asia will not know the difference between TEFL/TESOL/CELTA. The ones that care about this so much as to reject you because of the course provider that you took it with are a very small number.

Again these are small numbers in a land where TEFL/TESOL qualifications are not legally required to teach and reside in those countries. Between 2004 and 2013 I have applied for hundreds of jobs in China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan. I have worked in more than 20 schools in those countries and have personally interviewed with an estimate of 50 or more. I have spent a lot of time online over the years looking at jobs in these countries.

I haven't personally ran any statistics on this yet. But my own personal experience is sizable. Most people take a look at a few jobs and then decide on one, but that wasn't the case for me. I am a digger and a dreamer. I spent a lot of time looking for a particular job. But you don't have to take my word for it.

The chances are

The chances are whatever TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certificate that you are going to get will be accepted. Most schools in China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan will accept whatever certificate you are going to get. Sure you may find a school that may not accept your "weekend course" or that may want you to have 120 hours, or may want you to have a CELTA, but most schools in Eastern Asia will accept online TEFL courses, "weekend courses" or accept you without any TEFL certification. And if some school doesn't then carry on to the next school.

Employers will look at the whole package. A CELTA doesn't guarantee you the best job. In fact you could get a CELTA and be working a pretty mediocre job. TEFL courses are usually preferences, but experience goes a lot further.

If you are still concerned about whether your TEFL/TESOL certificate will be recognized then I would like to ask you a question. What caused you to be concerned about it being accepted and recognized in the first place? Was it a TEFL course provider? An opinion? Some TEFL course providers have some poor tactics that they use to market their courses. I would be leery as I see some tell lies on a regular basis on Yahoo Answers and on other sites.

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Resources for ESL teachers

Online TEFL Course Get certified to teach English abroad

Starters Guide A guide to get started teaching ESL in Asia

The Ebook An all inclusive how-to guide for teaching English in Asia

The Summary A summary of Jeremy Harmers "How to Teach English"

101 Teaching Tips A 101 essential teaching tips for the ESL teacher

How-to Videos A 100+ how to teach English videos: lesson planning, teaching tips, games & activities, classroom management, etc.