Study TESL / TEFL Abroad

“I have visited my friends yesterday.” “Who is the man on the picture?” “I look forward to see you.” English teachers stand up the hair on the back of their necks during these sentences. However, it is also not easy to teach students when to use which proposition or which tense in English. Dedicated TESL or TEFL courses prepare aspiring English teachers to teach English to non-native speakers .

The abbreviations TESL or TEFL stand for Teaching English as a Second Language and Teaching English as a Foreign Language . The small but subtle difference lies in the respective target group.

  • TESL: This is where students get didactic knowledge to teach English to non-native speakers living in an English-speaking country (e.g. migrants)
  • TEFL: This is about methods for teaching English to non-native speakers from non-English speaking countries (e.g. German students).

In practice, however, the two terms are often used synonymously. Another term that is often used in this context is TESOL : Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages . TESOL courses are less specific and take into account both cases. So they are broader, but also go less in depth.

TESL / TEFL courses

In Germany, TESL / TEFL is mostly offered as part of a teaching degree in English . But there is also the possibility of taking TESL / TEFL courses at private English schools or other institutions. These are mostly crash courses lasting several weeks , in which the students receive a certificate at the end.

Those interested should, however, make sure that the course they choose corresponds to international standards. Recognized certificates include the TEFL / TESOL Certificate from Trinity College London or the CELTA ( Certificate in English Language Training to Adults ) from Cambridge University.

Studying TEFL / TESL: content

The university seminars and crash courses in the TESL and TEFL areas are about imparting relevant didactic skills to the course participants . You will learn how students can best learn a language and which methods can be used to teach grammar and vocabulary skills effectively. They also get to know different textbooks and other media and reflect on their own role as teachers. Universities usually approach these topics on a scientific level. They prepare students specifically for teaching practice in primary and secondary levels in schools.

In the crash courses, on the other hand, the focus is on teaching practice at extracurricular institutions within the framework of adult education , for example at language schools . At universities, students also deal with topics such as literary theory or the assessment of performance. In the crash courses, on the other hand, there are usually several hours of teaching practice on the curriculum, in which the course participants apply what they have theoretically learned in practice.


A prerequisite for attending TESL / TEFL courses is usually very good knowledge of English . The internationally recognized certificate courses, in particular, sometimes require language skills that are almost at a native level. Some schools also expect a university degree or a similar qualification. In addition to language skills, students and course participants should also have a great interest in the cultures of English-speaking countries and be able to teach.

Occupational fields

The TESL / TEFL courses and university seminars prepare prospective English teachers for their future professional practice. Graduates of teacher training courses usually use their didactic knowledge in elementary and secondary schools to bring the English language closer to children and young people. A TESL / TEFL certificate enables you to work as an English teacher at language schools, adult education institutions and similar institutions. But it also represents a good additional qualification, for example for people who work in the field of mediation, personnel management or in-house training .

Acquiring certificates abroad: advantages

If you want to train yourself in TESL / TEFL, you should think about taking a corresponding course in English-speaking countries. Numerous universities in the USA , New Zealand and Canada offer the opportunity to acquire a TESL / TEFL certificate. The courses last between three weeks and a year and you can take them accordingly during the semester break or during a semester or year abroad . Some universities even offer master’s courses in TESL / TEFL.

The certificate acquired abroad is a valuable additional qualification for both teacher training students and students from other disciplines. In contrast to a course completed in Germany, students have the opportunity to further perfect their own language skills and to acquire intercultural teaching skills at the same time . In addition, participation in a TEFL / TESL course abroad offers the unique opportunity to get to know the Anglo-American culture better and to make international friendships.

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