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Five ways a TEFL certification can help any career

60-hour course

We think there are endless reasons why you should get TEFL certified, but what benefits can it give you if you're not sure about teaching? At least five! 

Better understanding of English, whether you’re a native speaker or not

It is no secret that English is the global language. Chances are a Frenchman and Japanese native will use English to communicate. So, whether you speak another language or not, getting TEFL certified will give you a deeper understanding of the language you are likely using with most friends, family, and colleagues, regardless of your chosen profession.

Intercultural training

Remember that Frenchman and Japanese native we just talked about? Surprise! Their cultures are very different from each other. How do they have a professional conversation and ensure they are respecting each other’s culture? Intercultural competence and understanding, your best friend when talking to people from other cultures or backgrounds. A good TEFL certification will talk about intercultural training, as it’s so important when teaching English to non-native speakers. Use this training in any field you go in – if you’re working with other people, you’ll need it.

Gain management skills

Okay, you won’t be managing people directly while getting TEFL certified, but you’re going to learn about classroom management and how to manage your students while teaching them. How can this help in other fields you ask? Well, management is management. Once you have the skills to manage a classroom, or students, you’ll be able to transfer this expertise to any job where you manage people.  

Options to volunteer in your community

Wherever you are in your career, adding a line to your resume about volunteering will always be a good thing. Get TEFL certified and teach English in your own backyard to immigrants or refugees. Use your intercultural skills to help them acclimate to life in a new country. Great for your resume, and for your conscience. Who doesn’t love helping people?!

Shows employers dedication and respect

Whether you’re teaching abroad, at home, or online – a TEFL certification will show future employers you took your work seriously. There is a common misconception that speaking English means you can teach it..every English teacher on the planet can tell you with certainty that’s not true. A TEFL certification teaches you how to teach something that comes so naturally to you. By getting certified (whether it’s required or not), your future employers will see you take your work and job seriously, and that goes a long way in any field!

Chiang Mai

Loi Krathong
First day in Chiang Mai! Orientation is over and now onto real life. We took an overnight bus to get here. The busses are so different from the U.S. *ahem, unlike Greyhound in particular* There is much more space between the seats, the seats recline far back for comfortable sleep, a hostess serves food and drink throughout the night, and the bus stops once at a rest stop for food/beverage/bathrooms. Although I wasn’t exactly looking for another long ride, these bus perks certainly made the ride less painful! We got in at 6am and it’s 3:12PM as write this… I am TIRED. 

Our school coordinator, Waree, rode the bus with us overnight and arranged for a car to pick us up at the bus station in the city. From there we drove to Sanpatong - my new home for the next 5 months.

Sanpatong is much more bustling than I’d imagined. The photos looked rather quiet, but there are actually a lot of little shops, restaurants and food stands around the area as well as several bright and colorful primary schools! Waree took us to the school we’ll be teaching at - it’s in a really beautiful area. The campus is definitely something I could get used to… I think! We met April, another foreign teacher from North Carolina who arrived here just a week ago. She told us not to be nervous about teaching and that it’s already fun and interesting for her. That puts me a bit at ease although I am definitely still a bit anxious! I just hope my TEFL practice and theory pay off :) I definitely feel a bit more prepared than others going into this without any training. We’ll see though as I have 6 classes on Monday! Diving right in!

My apartment complex is quite nice as well. The two other CIEE teachers, Claire and Nicole, are living here right across the hall and April is on the 2nd floor. We all have studios with queen size beds, a bathroom, dresser and mini-fridge. The heat is still an adjustment so I do feel better with the AC on at this point, but hopefully I’ll require it a little less as time goes on. Disclaimer about Thai beds - they are HARD. I have to buy a mattress topper. I just can’t do it. I'm not sure sleeping on the floor would feel much different...!

Tonight is the Loi Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai city so we’re going to try and partake in the festivities. From the pictures we’ve all seen, it should be pretty magical… see pic above!


How I learned Chinese while teaching English in China

-China 1

It is no secret that most travelers crave the ability to speak multiple languages. Being able to communicate with people outside your mother tongue is no small task. Since I started traveling abroad when I was in High School, I have always wanted to be bilingual. When I graduated college, I was ready to move abroad again and knew it was a chance for me to reach a goal I’ve been wanting to accomplish for a long time: to learn Mandarin, Chinese.

When you tell people you can speak Chinese, their first reaction is “wow, isn’t learning Chinese really hard?” – of course it is! Studying any foreign language is not easy; otherwise we would all be able to do it! It takes a lot of dedication, persistence, and hard work to reach a point where conversation comes somewhat naturally in a foreign language. So – how did I do it?

1. Find a language buddy

Teaching at the university level in China definitely gave me an extra hand in learning Chinese. I had many students who wanted to meet with me outside of class to practice their English. As their teacher, I was happy to meet with them whenever they wanted to – but I quickly realized they were just as willing and happy to teach me Chinese, as I was to teach them English. One hour per week with several students – 30 minutes was spent speaking English and 30 minutes spent learning Chinese.

2. Get a tutor/enroll in a class

This is a give-in! It is fairly inexpensive in China to enroll in a local university or get a private tutor to learn the language. You can find a tutor or class to cater to your level, and get more professional instruction. This is the way for you to learn how to read and write if you want to – that is not something that comes without practice, practice, practice.

3. Go shopping, even if you don’t need anything

This is personally my favorite way to study! While living in China, I would go to the wet market (where you buy your fresh vegetables every week), and the same fruit stand every week to practice my Chinese. The benefit of this is two-fold. I could practice my skills in an every day setting, which was incredible, but I also got to know some of the locals, and they got to know me! When you buy apples and oranges from the same woman each week (and you are a white girl speaking Chinese), she definitely remembers you every time you go!  

4. Involve your students

You have to be careful with this, but if you do it the right way, it can be really beneficial! Always remember, Teaching English is the reason you are living abroad, so that is your main priority. To make your students feel more comfortable, there is no harm in throwing in a little of their language here and there, as long as it is done properly! If they are having a hard time with a word, sentence, or topic  - ask one of your star students to translate for you. This way, the students that are struggling a little can understand, and you can learn some new vocabulary. 

5. Speak every chance you get

Taxi drivers, nail techs, waiters, baristas, or even the person standing next to you on the bus are all your teachers – they might need a little push, but there is always an opportunity to speak the native language when you are living abroad. Start a conversation with every local you can, and don’t be afraid to be wrong, as you will make mistakes. Ask people to correct you (whether they do or not is up in the air), but practice every chance you get.

After two years of studying Mandarin in China full time, I am still not fluent in the language, and I truly don’t know if I will ever be. I am very proud of how far I have come so far, and my studies have not stopped just because I am living back in the United States now. There are Chinese TV shows I watch, people I can talk to in the U.S., and books I can read to keep my skills up. Learning a language is not easy to do, but there are opportunities to learn around every corner, you just have to know where to look! Good luck, 加油!

- Ally Sobol, TEFL Manager



I arrived in Bangkok two days ago. What a crazy city. So different from what I’m used to that is for sure! I’m loving being able to explore the city, try new foods and take authentic transportation here. What a different way of living it is here. Visited my first authentic Thai temple -what a peaceful experience. I look forward to seeing many many more. All the gold is really beautiful. 

 First thoughts? The rumors are true - it is a full blown sauna here on the regular. But, it’s not that bad! You aren’t really struggling in the heat, but the humidity makes it so you are constantly sweating. Picture a really hot day at Disney world and you’re in Bangkok. ;)

 No stomach sickness yet - so far, so good. Although I’m sure I’ll pay the price tonight for saying that!

 It’s such an interesting time to be here right now because Thailand is celebrating their deceased King all week. The cremation ceremony was Thursday (the day I arrived), which means everyone was wearing black around the streets and most places were closed throughout the city. Some new friends and I walked the streets a bit and luckily found a river taxi service that was open for the day. Everything around the city was free, the river taxi included. Once we made it to the other side of the river we came across lots of huge tents serving free food, again to honor the King. Free bottled water everywhere and Thai iced tea. All was delicious!

 Today is the start of orientation. First up, learning some Thai! I know about three phrases at this point - how are you, hello, and thank you. Need to learn some survival Thai 101 for sure.

 We might try and visit the Chatuchak weekend market. It’s supposed to offer and sell about anything you can imagine! Sounds like my kind of place! I want Thai pants. Tons and tons of Thai parachute pants.


Ta ta for now

Giving Back in ACK



Hey everyone! My name is Ellen and I am a member of CIEE’s TEFL team here in Portland, Maine. After receiving my degree in Elementary Education from Elon University, I immediately headed to Tanzania to volunteer and teach. Fast forward a few years, and here I am, working at CIEE and getting to share my love of teaching and travel with incredible people every day. I’d like to tell you a little bit about what a special community is doing through TEFL...

Nantucket is a place full of memories for me. I grew up visiting Nantucket almost every year as a kid, and now as an adult, it is a weekend trip spent with my mother and sister that I look forward to every summer. A tiny, isolated island off the coast of Massachusetts, Nantucket is known for being an exclusive summer destination with its cobblestoned streets, beautiful beaches, and high-end boutiques.

Although I’ve  spent so much time on the island, hearing CIEE TEFL was partnering with Nantucket Community School was a complete surprise. “Who needs to learn English over there?” I thought to myself. Turns out, a lot of people.

In recent years there has been an influx of immigrant families flocking to Nantucket seeking jobs. Over 50 percent of the students in Nantucket schools are English Language Learners and there are currently twelve identified languages spoken in the public school system. For every child in the schools who is struggling with English, there is likely a mother, father, or grandparent at home whose language skills are even less developed.

So, this is where CIEE’s TEFL program comes in! Our team was lucky enough to be approached by the Nantucket Community School- a community organization that offers educational and enrichment activities to Nantucket islanders of all ages. NCS was awarded a grant that allowed them to enroll 8 adults from the island in our 150-hour online TEFL course. These community members come from all walks of life, some are ESL learners themselves. They see getting TEFL certified as a way to give back to the community and enrich the lives of others. Silvia, a native Bulgarian who is taking the course said “We all want to be able to give back and help our community. It is a lot of work but it feels so good when you know you can make a difference in someone’s life. Learning English is very beneficial to many language learners and gives them an opportunity to improve their lives.” How amazing is that?! I love that Silvia understands the power of the English language and the opportunities that it can provide an individual.

This may be one of my favorite TEFL stories yet. I know that getting certified and traveling to a new and exotic country is appealing. Heck, I did it right after college! But there is something so incredible about people using their TEFL skills in their own communities. Knowledge is power, and our teachers are sharing that power with people in their own neighborhoods.

So whether you’re a TEFL alum or someone thinking about getting TEFL certified- I hope that the Nantucket Community School gives you something to think about. My TEFL course starts on October 30th and I’m already starting to daydream about teaching my own ESL class in Portland…

Have questions about getting TEFL certified and/or teaching English as a foreign language? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at eberube@ciee.org!

Heading to Thailand!


Ah, my first post of many.

I leave for Thailand on Tuesday. Today is Wednesday. So, if you ask me how I'm feeling about leaving the list of emotions is pretty long: excited, nervous, scared, happy, sad, anxious, thankful, nostalgic... all the things.

Life is about to be very different in just one, short week. That's crazy. I keep comparing my departure to the feelings I felt when I studied abroad in college. The feelings are very different though! I suppose the difference amounts to Thailand being much further away, not speaking a lick of Thai, the climate being hot/humid and the fact that I'll be TEACHING English to students! These things both excite and terrify me. Alas, these things are exactly why I'm going: to LIVE. After 3 years post-grad doing the corporate job life routine, it's time for a change-up. A new, unforgettable adventure to inundate my friends and family with for the rest of time, most likely.

I look forward to putting my TEFL practice and theory to the test when I'm finally in Sanpatong, Chiang Mai. But first, orientation in Bangkok with the rest of the Thai Teachers squad. Until then...

Use your TEFL certification in more ways than one.


23175_Study Abroad_Khon Kaen_TH_KhonKaen_SA_FB_20150430_volunteer-khaenthong-childrens-home-jenna


The rumors are true. A TEFL certification can be your one-way ticket to a lifetime of travel. That’s right. You can be paid to travel the world teaching English.

Now, if you’ve ever heard of a TEFL certification or teaching abroad, this is not new information. What might be new (and awesome) to learn is what other opportunities a TEFL certification can offer you.

Teach English Abroad

This is too good to ignore. Getting paid to travel the world - what more can you ask for? There are three ways you can teach English abroad and we're going to tell you about all three. Just remember, every one of these options starts with a TEFL certification!

Option 1: Go on your own

This is very independent -kudos to anyone who goes this route. You can find your own teaching position abroad via third party websites (esl101.com and justesljobs.com are a few of our favorites), apply, get hired, and jet off. With this option, you're finding your own job, going through the interview process on your own, getting your visa without support, and navigating any issues you may face abroad. The pros with this route are twofold. It's free - you're not paying anyone to help because you're doing all the work, and the payout is huge. You're definitely an independent traveler if you navigate all that is teaching abroad alone!

Option 2: Find a recruiter 

This option is half independent, half supported. A recruiter (very popular in South Korea and China) works for the schools abroad, and are paid by the schools abroad. That means, you're not dishing out any $$ to find a job, but that might be the only support you get. Recruiters are not required to help you with the visa, or be there to help if you run into problems once overseas. Pros here - you don't have to find your own job - let the recruiter do that for you! 

Option 3: Program provider 

Definitely the most supported option out there. Program providers (like CIEE Teach Abroad) will not only find you a job abroad in one of their 11 locations worldwide, they'll help you get a visa, provide complete pre-departure support, give you an orientation in-country, international insurance, and be there 24/7 while in country to help with any problems. You'll pay program providers a fee for these services, but you'll also embark on a worry-free adventure teaching abroad. 



Teach English Online 

Yes, this is a thing. In fact, its a growing thing. ELL's (English Language Learners) all over the world need trained EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teachers to teach them English. The demand exceedingly outweighs supply, so the industry has turned to the one thing all millennials have in common - the internet. 

Earn some extra money teaching outside of normal business hours (which is easy, as most students will be in China!). You can earn some serious dough doing this. Fund your travels, buy that new car, splurge on an overpriced dinner - all by teaching English from the comfort of your own couch. 



Teach English At Home

This is a big one - especially today. Did you know that the immigrant population in the United States has doubled since 1990? On top of that, the number of kids being born in the U.S. but growing up in a non-native English speaking household continues to increase year after year. Despite the growing need for qualified English teachers right here in the U.S., there is little to nothing being done to train teachers to successfully teach this population. 

How can you get involved?

Contact your local refugee community 

Chances are, you live somewhere with a refugee population. Want to get involved? Get TEFL certified, teach ESL classes, and help refugees in your community integrate into American society. 

Continuing education schools 

It is more than likely there are schools or locations near you where ESL learners can go to learn English at night or on the weekends (when they're not at work). Sometimes these are paid positions - you can get involved in your community and earn some money? Win win!


Questions about getting TEFL certified and/or teaching English as a foreign language? Contact CIEE TEFL at tefl@ciee.org

Teacher Spotlight: Michelle Carter

Meet Michelle, an alumni of our pilot Destination TEFL program in Vietnam. Below, Michelle discusses her experience in the impressionable city of Ho Chi Minh and touches on many of the reasons why we chose Vietnam to kick off the careers of some of our best TEFL teachers. Thanks, Michelle!


When and where did you complete your TEFL practicum?

I did my practicum in November 2016 in Ho Chi Minh City at YOLA. I was working with an instructor who also taught at the college level. The classes were students aged from 12 to 18.

What made you decide to do Destination TEFL Vietnam?

The opportunity arose when I was about half-way through the course. I was going to work with an ESL teacher in her classroom in August however I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get real-world experience in Asia. I had a vacation planned to Morocco but was able to rebook a different tour in Cambodia and Vietnam that ended two days before the practicum. It felt like it was a sign that I should do it.

For me, working in a different country with students was the best way to prepare me for whatever teaching position I would choose after completing the course. I was also excited about getting the extra hours and thought it would be a difference maker when seeking employment. There were a few hiccups in the pilot program (I provided detailed feedback when it was completed) but I would recommend it to anyone. I know out of the five of us that went, two stayed in Vietnam (1 accepted a position at YOLA). The best practice is in real world scenarios so you got the benefit of knowing what it would be like to live in another country and teach. 


What makes Vietnam special? What was your favorite place in Vietnam?

I choose Vietnam because it had been on my list for a while. I have traveled all over the world and lived in Australia for two years. Because I am older and was looking to do something different, I had the ability to take some time off and check this off my bucket list. I was fortunate to be able to travel in South Korea, Cambodia and Vietnam before I started. I loved Ha Long Bay and Hanoi the most. Partly because the weather was a bit cooler but just the scenery of Ha Long Bay and the vibe I got in Hanoi was special.

What advice do you have for future TEFL students?

It is a great experience. It is a lot of work but it is very rewarding and a wonderful opportunity to live in another country and make a difference in someone's life. Learning English is very beneficial to many language learners and gives them an opportunity to improve their lives.

What will you do next with your TEFL certification?

I'm hoping that I can do some things stateside that will help me get experience using my TEFL certification so when I'm ready, I can teach outside the country.


Benvenuti a Italia!


Nothing-but-une-rve_17185550929_oRome at dusk. Photo by Emmy Ham. 

There are three things that typically come to mind when thinking about Rome: gelato, pizza, and cappuccinos. While there's no denying just how amazing the Italian cuisine is, this city goes way beyond its scrumptious treats!

Rome is characterized by ancient architecture, breathtaking skylines, welcoming, boisterous locals and so much more. Most of all, Rome is a city of unparalleled history. From the Roman Forum, to the Pantheon and all the tiny treasures in between, discovering the story behind its old walls and cobblestoned streets will never fail to amaze you.

CIEE’s Craig Deforest recently spent a month in Rome and brought back sweet tales and ancient anecdotes to share with us all. While he certainly got around to all the famous sites, Craig remembers Rome for something a bit more off the beaten path: its greenspaces.

Greenery around RomeGreen spaces around Rome.

It might come as a surprise to some that despite its size and metropolitan vibes, Rome is home to all kinds of green spaces! You could spend a whole day in the Roman forum, exploring the ancient nooks and crannies, picnicking with a friend, or just soaking up the sun. Sometimes an afterthought, but always a worthwhile is a venture to the Vatican City gardens. Touring these peaceful and gorgeous walkways is a perfect way to spend the afternoon and see the country within a country from the inside out.

If you want to dig even deeper into the city, jump on the metro and head to Villa Torlonia, an estate constructed in the early 1800’s and stands today as a peace and relaxation space for locals and tourists alike. This was by far Craig’s favorite spot in the city, a welcomed reprise from the bustling streets of Rome.  There you can explore the old mansions, little ponds, and beautiful walking grounds.


Perhaps his favorite thing about Rome was something that for some would seem small—the Roman coffee ritual. Every day, he and the CIEE team would leave the office and walk around the corner to a local cafe and stand around the coffee bar. The owners would hand them plates of treats as they sipped espresso and savored the morning. It was a simple, five-minute ritual that encouraged everyone to take a step back from life and what experience what it’s like to live like a Roman.

In addition to the traditional sites and hidden gems within the city, you can easily access just about any part of Italy from Rome. Craig was able to visit Florence, Venice, Bologna, and the Sicily region, the last of which was one of his favorites. Smaller cities like this are what makes Italy so unique—mismatched architecture from centuries of regime change, an ancient volcano, as well as more contemporary features like their balmy beaches and swaying palm trees.

Craig RomeCraig takes Italy! 

 If Craig could offer one piece of advice to anyone visiting or living in Rome, it would be this: don’t try to do everything at once. This is generally a good rule no matter where you are traveling, but really applies well to Rome. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when there’s so much to do, places to see, and treats to eat! His suggestion is to pick a few key things you’d like to see and let the day unfold. The city is very walkable and you’ll likely stumble upon quaint, culture-filled neighborhoods that you normally would not have found if your nose was stuck in a guidebook. So when in Rome, slow down and savor the day.

Oh and eat gelato at least once a day. Maybe twice.

Arrivederci !

Alumni Guest Post: Priscilla Palavicini

Priscilla Palavicini Costa Rica 2917

As a bilingual native Costa Rican, I have always been interested in the idea of language as a tool for understanding. Learning a new language opens up a whole new world of possibilities for travel, work, and education. I know from my own personal experience the opportunities that a new language can afford, particularly if that language is English. I was lucky enough to learn English during my childhood schooling, but I know that many people are not so lucky; when I heard about CIEE’S TEFL certification program, I realized that this was the perfect way to help interested students reach their full potential with fluency in English as a second language.

I greatly appreciated the online format of the TEFL course. As a working professional, I was able to complete the course without taking time away from my full time job; while the course was absorbing at times, I was never too overburdened. Additionally, I think that the online course was a good learning experience for me on an empathetic level; many TEFL students hoping to learn English will be doing so online as well, all while balancing family life and full-time jobs. The online format and structure of the certification course allowed me a glimpse into the experiences of online students, allowing me to better understand their needs and learning styles. Furthermore, I found the interactions with my peers and classmates to be extraordinarily insightful and helpful. The ability to gain multiple points of view and ideas on a range of subjects and methods was invaluable, and it encouraged me to take constructive criticism and to synthesize information in a helpful and enlightening way.

I am very excited to put my TEFL certification to good use and to work with students who are enthusiastic about learning and ambitious about improving themselves. I have already talked to a few different organizations and institutions about joining them as an English teacher and I could not be more enthusiastic about applying what I have learned during this course to the classroom. I would not hesitate to recommend CIEE’s TEFL certification course to other interested educators; I believe it provides the foundation to foster invaluable skills, methods, and experience in teachers and their students alike.

TEFL Priscilla Palavicini 1