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Getting TEFL Certified: What you need to know before committing


Okay, so you’ve decided you’re ready to get certified. Picking a course is the next step and it’s going to require some thought. Here are your first five steps to committing to the course that is best for you:  

Online or in-person?

Decide if you prefer an on-site or online course. This will be based on your learning environment preferences, finances, or work schedule. An in-person class will typically be more expensive (expect to pay $1,500 - $2,500 for a quality course) and requires time and travel commitments. The plus side is that you’re getting an immersive, collaborative classroom experience. If you’re motivated by face time with an instructor, collaboration with classmates, old-school pen to paper note-taking, then an in-person class is a great option for you.

If you can’t spare the time for an immersive in-person course, go for the online course. You’ll be able to schedule your coursework around existing commitments, and the tuition will typically cost $500 - $1,000 less than an on-site course. Some online courses even have live tutors to instruct you throughout—so you can have the in-person feeling without the in-person price tag.

Check accreditation

Don’t let them fool you! You are in the driver’s seat of your TEFL experience, so make sure you are getting the best one possible. A quality TEFL course should be reviewed and accredited by a scholarly or non-affiliated organization. Make sure the TEFL provider can provide a means for you to confirm the accreditation from the relevant entity.

Verify that the course meets international standards

The TESOL Press has identified 100-120 hours of coursework combined with a minimum of 20 hours of practice teaching as the international standard for TEFL certification classes. If a school requires a certificate, it will recognize these standards and expect applicants to meet them.

Make sure you get in the classroom

Double check that the course has a practicum, i.e. it requires you to spend time in the classroom with English language learners (ELLs). The practice teaching is a crucial part of your development as a teacher and will give you work experience to present to future employers. Furthermore, it’s the very best way to truly experience how teaching works.

Beware discounts and deals

Avoid courses offering coupons or special deals on websites like Groupon. An accredited course with valuable content, personal instruction, and over 100 hours of coursework is going to have a corresponding tuition for the value. Just like university courses that are a few thousand a pop, a quality TEFL course is going to require an investment.

How To Make Money And Travel


It's the burning question many millennials are asking..how can I make money and travel? Well, we know of one option: teach English online. Sound simple? It is! CIEE TEFL recently interviewed Kristin M., a registered nurse in the U.S. who moved to Italy with her husband who plays professional basketball. We asked her all about her experience in Italy and what led her to teaching English online. WARNING: at the end of this blog, you'll be applying to teach English online. 

Tell us about yourself! Where do you live,where are you from, and what's something interesting about you?

I currently live in Pistoia,Italy, but I am originally from upstate New York! I am recently married (July 2017) and moved full time overseas to be with my husband who plays professional basketball. I would say the most interesting thing about me is that I am able to live overseas and travel the world with my husband while still working!

What led you to start teaching English online?

I learned about teaching online through a group of women who are in the same situation I am (overseas with their boyfriends, husbands) . I left my job as pediatric Register Nurse and I was in search of a job where I could work from anywhere and I can do that teaching English. What a great opportunity!



What are some common challenges associated with teaching English online and how do you address them?

One of the biggest challenges associated with teaching online is making learning English fun while teaching through a computer screen. There is also the language barrier, and depending on the age of the student you have tailor your teaching style to that student. Behavioral issues can be challenging too! While challenging, there a ton of resources and teaching workshops available on how to deal with these issues.

What are the biggest pros and cons of teaching English online?

One of the biggest pros of teaching English online is the ability to make a difference in a students life from anywhere in the world. It gives you freedom to teach wherever and whenever you want. One of biggest cons would be internet issues! It is not uncommon to have unstable internet connection when teaching. If there is an unstable connection it can make it difficult to teach the class. 


Who do you think would be a good candidate to teach English online? 

I would recommend this job to anyone, and everyone! As long as you have some sort of background in teaching, this job could be for you. If you don't have teaching experience, a TEFL certification would be a good step to getting a job like this. It is such an advantage for individuals who want to travel or have the freedom from a "desk job."Also I would recommend this to students fresh out of college who want to make some extra money paying off those student loans =)

What are your students like?

My students are amazing. I am going on month 3 of teaching and I have gained steady "regulars". They are between the ages of 5-13, all with different levels of English. They love to interact with me and see my dog =)

What is your favorite thing about teaching English online?

My favorite thing about teaching online is the ability to have a job that I can take with me overseas and back in the states and how rewarding it is.


How much do you work each week?

My hours vary from week-to-week, but I usually teach anywhere from 5-8 classes per day. That is what works best for me at this point. I am able to work more or less depending on what I have planned for the week - I make my own schedule (yet another perk!).

Do you find teaching English online rewarding? What have you learned from your experience?

This is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I am lucky enough to have found two careers where I am able to make a difference in peoples lives . There is nothing better than when your student who was struggling with a sound, word, or sentence pattern, finally gets it! It's amazing to watch them progress over the weeks,and to know I am the one helping them along this journey is a wonderful feeling. I have learned so much from this experience. You engage with a student from a different country, culture and language and learn all about them. It opens your eyes to the world and you really do gain a new perspective! 


Thank you, Kristin for sharing your story! 

Destination TEFL Thailand - What life is really like

 This week we spoke with Matt B., a Destination TEFL Thailand alumni turned full time teacher! Matt is currently teaching in Thailand at a school in Khon Kaen. Read more about his experience in Thailand!


Q: Can you tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you got TEFL certified with CIEE?

A: I studied finance in college and had worked for two years in Connecticut and then Maine. Thinking back on my experience studying abroad in Spain during college, I realized I wanted to have the experience of living abroad again sooner rather than later. I wanted to see more of the world before I settled down in a long-term career in the United States.

Q: What inspired you to get TEFL Certified, then teach abroad?

A: My time studying in Spain definitely had an influence, and made me want to spend more time abroad. I also worked as a camp counselor when I was younger, and I loved working with kids. I’ve always loved anything involving languages—so teaching English abroad really made sense for me.

Q: What drew you to Thailand specifically?

A: I had done some research and Thailand kept coming up. I saw that my transition after completing my two week practicum on Destination TEFL would be easier in Thailand—there were a plethora of teaching jobs available and a large expat community to use as a resource and eventually join.

Q: What pieces of advice would you give to someone considering teaching abroad?

A: I would definitely say to make sure you have a passion for teaching, and that your idea of the experience isn’t all about travelling. Traveling is a huge bonus, and of course living in a new culture and experiencing new things is part of the draw of the job, but at the end of the day, it is a job, and you can’t leave your teaching responsibilities on the backburner. If you just want to see the world, there are definitely other ways to achieve that goal.

Q: What are the biggest challenges you face as a foreigner living and working in Thailand?

The biggest one is definitely “Thai Time.” In America, we are very accustomed to timeliness and efficiency, but here, those things are not as important culturally. The best thing to do is to go with the flow and not get frustrated. There are a lot of cultural differences, and they can be pretty vast and sometimes hard to navigate, but the best thing to do is to be present and accept them as part of the overall experience.

Q: What is your experience of budgeting and money management living abroad?

A: Definitely make sure you set yourself up well before you leave. Most teachers go over budget in their first month as they familiarize themselves with their new location, income, etc. You probably won’t end up saving as much as you think you will, and sending money home can be difficult due to work permit requirements to open bank accounts and other restrictions. Doing things like getting your student loans adjusted for your income as a teacher can make a huge difference in the financial outlook for teach abroad.

Q: How are you finding the people in Thailand? Your students?

A: Thailand is truly the land of smiles. Everyone is so friendly and polite. Being in a new culture and learning so much every day is really incredible. My students are amazing, and while dealing with them requires a lot of energy, they make all the effort worthwhile. It’s definitely a humbling and awesome experience overall.

Q: Do you find it difficult to socialize? Who do you hang out with outside of work?

A: I have a pretty robust social life with plenty of friends, both Thai and foreign. If you’re the least bit social and outgoing then you’ll meet people that you can connect with. That said, I live in a large city of 300,000-400,000 people that has many schools, and two big universities so there’s no shortage of young people and nightlife etc. If you’re in a very small, very rural area, then you might need to go out and really actively try to meet new people. Sort of like you would if you moved to a small town in the US, it won’t just fall into your lap.

Q: What do you do in your free time?

Exercise is a great way to use your time and maintain a good mental state. Planning trips and learning the language will also go a long way in helping you make the most of your time abroad. A lot of people like to play soccer, or tennis, and going out and finding cool restaurants as always fun as well. Keeping in touch with people at home is also very important, and can help when you’re feeling homesick.

Q: What was the biggest advantage of doing Destination TEFL before you started your job?

The actual journey to Thailand was much more doable. I was going with a group, and spending two weeks being guided through my practicum experience and being introduced to Thai culture. I also felt so much more confident and prepared for the job on day one, having gotten TEFL certified.

Q: What made you choose Khon Kaen over a larger city like Bangkok?

A: It’s really the ideal balance of urban and rural Thailand. Bangkok is bigger and has more going on, but it’s also much more hectic and expensive. Khon Kaen has less tourists, which I prefer, and living there makes me feel more like I’m more purely immersed in Thai culture.

Q: What advice would you give to newly-arrived teachers in their first couple of weeks or months on the job?

A: All you can do is try your best for the kids you’re responsible for. There will be flaws in any system, so be easy-going and try not to let frustrations get to you. You probably won’t change the entire system as one person, so the important thing is to focus on what’s in front of you—your kids and your classroom.

Q: What are your plans for the near-future?

I’m teaching for one more semester here and then returning the U.S. to further pursue my education in finance. If it weren’t for my desire to go back to school, I’d probably either stay here in Thailand or try to teach somewhere else.

Q: Any final words of wisdom for those considering teaching abroad?

A: A few things!

  1. I’d say, it’s important to make sure you’re OK with living on your own/out of your comfort zone. Living alone, especially in a distinctly foreign environment, can present challenges that might be new to you: don’t be afraid to consider the possibility that you’ll run into scenarios you haven’t encountered before!
  2. Do it for the right reasons. Don’t just sign up for Teach Abroad as a quick way to get cash while you travel. You are there for the kids first and your travel goals second, so always remember that when you consider teaching abroad.
  3. Don’t get too wound up over the education system. It’s not your job to fix everything and there’s only so much you can do. That said, do your best so that your students get the most of what you can give them.

Thanks again to Matt for taking the time to share his experience with us!!

3 Ways Anyone can Make Money While Traveling


Guest post written by Raj Shah at TakeLessons

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” -Bill Bryson


The three most powerful objections that deter us all from traveling and taking longer trips are language barriers, time, and costs. Some of us get nervous about conversing with the locals, some of us are limited by our (lack of) paid time off from work, and some of us worry we don’t have enough money for it to be a worthwhile trip. If you could overcome these concerns, would you book a flight and pack your bags?


If we felt more assured that we’d have enough time and money to make each trip in any part of the world be as rewarding and meaningful, we’d all channel our inner globetrotter more regularly.


All you need to know is that it’s possible.


How? If time and money are holding you back, a practical solution is to make money while you’re traveling, so that you can buy yourself more time for the trip. In addition, working overseas gives you the opportunity to truly immerse and forge meaningful relationships with locals. Here are 3 ways to make money:


1) Teach English Overseas


Get a TEFL Certification, and tap into the thousands of available opportunities around the world. As the great Trevor Noah writes in his book, Born a Crime, “English is the language of money.”


The ability to speak fluent English is not only a commodity, but a tool you can use to empower people all over the world.


Countries in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, for example, not only pay you handsomely, but they also provide free temporary housing and transportation. That covers two of the biggest travel expenses that deter people from exploring the world.


Another option - teach English online from anywhere in the world with a computer and internet access and earn money to live your nomadic lifestyle! (TakeLessons gives you a chance to teach English online.)


Learn more about getting TEFL certified with CIEE!


2) Start a Travel Blog


You might not attract thousands of visitors overnight, but if you diligently write good content and share it with other fellow travel bloggers, you could earn enough exposure and leverage to earn yourself sponsored opportunities to travel.


Follow and learn from established food and travel bloggers who document their experiences, and think about how you can offer a different perspective. If you reach out to them for help, be super precise with your questions, and make sure it’s not a topic they’ve already covered on their blog, in order to increase your chances of getting a helpful response.


Check out these blogs for inspiration: Dukes and Duchesses, Nomadic Matt, Where’s Sharon?


Start with digital advertising and/or sponsored content. As you establish yourself and write more interesting and helpful topics on your blog, you can monetize with additional or alternative sources of income, such as affiliate programs and e-commerce.

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta


3) Sign up for Gig Platforms


As a digital nomad, you can travel indefinitely by using your acquired job skills to find readily available opportunities as a freelancer. You can do microtasks on Fiverr.com, for example, in your spare time while traveling. You can sign up as an expert on Clarity.FM, set your own hourly rates, and offer consulting services for a wide variety of technical, creative, and business skills. You can privately tutor students online on academics, music or foreign languages, and get paid by the lesson on Takelessons. If you can get independent work, check out And.co, which offers you free access to freelance service contracts, the ability to create invoices/expenses, and to bill clients by Paypal or credit card.


Final Words


All you need to know is that it’s possible.


In today’s world, a good laptop, a good phone, and your basic travel luggage are all you need to find work and keep money coming in every week, but of course, there’s always part-time work you can dabble in while overseas that can help prolong your trip. When it’s all said and done, you’re there for the experience, the stories, and the profound impact that the world has to offer.


A life of routine back home in the US constraints us from travelling beyond the typical 7-day, 14-day, and 30-day trip lengths. Unfortunately, that’s not always enough time to immerse yourself in the local culture, to learn the local language, and to do meaningful work. Yet, there are plenty of Americans, just like you and I, who have been able to make enough money and carve more time, and maximize their experience. Some, like TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie, even uncover business opportunities in their sabbatical because they were there long enough to spot them. Others discover their life’s calling is to perform service for others by doing volunteer work, or founding non-profit organizations to solve local problems.


Worst case scenario: you bring back a renewed and broader perspective, and some great stories, and pick back up where you left off on life. Make it happen.


Raj Shah is a senior marketing manager at TakeLessons Live, a new and affordable way for anyone to learn music and languages.  

Teacher Feature: Shannon, TEFL Alumni and Teacher in Spain


This week we took some time to catch up with Shannon, who took our TEFL certification and went on to teach in Barcelona Spain for a year. She had some great insights about her experience teaching abroad, and valuable advice for anyone considering getting a TEFL certification and starting their teaching abroad journey! Have a question that you’d like one of our alums to answer? Let us know!


        1. When and where did you complete your TEFL practicum (i.e. which school, language center, etc.)?

I taught at a school that had both middle school and high school students, called Escola Pia de Nostra Senyora. It was a really impressive school. Courses at this school were taught based on vocation. The classes I taught were not only students of all different ages and levels, but they were also very specific. This really challenged me to work hard in order to meet the needs of my students. It was awesome to witness how a high school could prepare these students for the university (let alone, their careers) by organizing classes based on their vocational dreams and goals. A majority of the students also went to English language schools where they would be taught nothing but English. I was very impressed! 

        2. What made you decide to do Destination TEFL Barcelona?

2When I returned from a semester in Seville, Spain, I had a better idea as to what I wanted to do with my future. I had the chance to volunteer in an EFL classroom in Seville and tutor my host sisters English weekly, which helped me realize how much I enjoyed teaching English. When I returned from Seville, I applied to graduate school to get my Masters in TESL. While waiting to hear back if I was accepted or not, I learned about Destination TEFL Spain. While I knew I was going to get my Master’s in TESL, I realized the benefits of this program were two-fold. First, being TEFL certified would look good on my resume and confirm (or not!) if getting a MA in the field was really what I wanted. Secondly, this program would give me the chance to go abroad over the summer and teach ESL. I thought to myself, “Why not give it a try? I need to get my feet wet in this field in order to see if I really want to pursue this as a career.” I’m so happy I did this program! Although it was extremely challenging, I learned so much from it and it definitely confirmed my passion for TESL/TEFL. I have the opportunity to travel the world, and most importantly, form relationships with people while teaching them the lingua franca and see them reach their potential to the fullest. 

        3. What makes Barcelona special?

3Barcelona has a special place in my heart. I lived in El Raval - it was artsy, multicultural, had vegetarian and vegan restaurants (since I’m vegetarian trying to be vegan again), and so much more. Barcelona itself is simply beautiful. It’s clean, and it’s unique because Gaudi and other artists designed this city unlike any other city. There’s shopping, food, people from all over the world. Simply put, you’ll never get bored of this city. I will never get sick of Spanish culture: they actually stop to smell the roses, they emphasize the importance of family, and so much more.

        4. Where were you able to visit during your two week practicum?

4I arrived to Barcelona a few days prior to my practicum to recover from jet lag and explore the city a little. I had the chance to walk around the city and explore La Rambla and the Passeig de Gràcia: two of the main streets. I also visited La Pedrera and Parc Güell, two of Gaudi’s many creations.

        5. What advice do you have for future TEFL students?

5I would advise them to take the online class seriously, but not too seriously. Let me give you my reason quickly before CIEE doesn’t let me follow through with this survey, haha! I took this online class too seriously as I had never taught English before and wanted to know everything! But guess what - I didn’t know everything, despite how much extra time and effort I put into this online class. Being put in a classroom is a totally different environment. During my practicum observation, my tutor explained to me what TTT is – Teacher Talk Time. Turns out I was making my class very teacher-centered and not so student-centered. I always told myself that it would be about the students and not me! With this being said, of course,  take the class seriously, but focus on your experience while teaching- and eventually all of the pieces will come together from what you’ve learned from the online class.

Another piece of advice I would give is don’t be afraid to ask questions! If it weren’t for my TEFL tutor and his willingness to help and guide me during my practicum, I would’ve fallen on my face 10 times as opposed to 5 (I say this because yes - you will make mistakes! But we learn from them :-) ). Pay attention during those classes when the TEFL tutor shares his/her experiences with you, because they will most definitely help you in the end!

        6. What will you do next with your TEFL certification?


I’m really not sure yet! I might go to Spain next summer to teach English or be a tutor. I really don’t know! What I do know is that I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world, and now I am confident that I can go out in this world and teach English because of the amazing opportunity CIEE offered me! I start my Masters in a few weeks, so that will be my focus for now. The future is big and is full of endless possibilities. I always wanted to go to Chile…hmmmm… we’ll see. :-)