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illustration of teacher asking for advice on if a tefl is needed

“Dear Teach Away,

I have a teaching license from my home country, but now I wish to move abroad to countries like Spain and teach English there. Do I need a TEFL certificate in addition to my teaching license in order to teach English abroad?”


Congratulations on your decision to explore teaching opportunities abroad. It’s definitely an exciting step in your career!

The requirement for a TEFL certificate as a licensed teacher will depend on the specific teaching job and the school you’re applying to.

If your goal is to teach a specific subject at international K-12 schools, your existing teaching license may meet the requirements. For example, if you’re interested in becoming an English subject teacher at an international K-12 school in the Middle East or China, a TEFL certificate may not be mandatory.

However, if you aim to teach English to non-native speakers at an ESL learning center in countries where English is not a first language, it’s likely that a TEFL certificate will be required. It’s important to note that your current teaching license doesn’t automatically qualify you to teach English abroad since the two qualifications serve different purposes.

Regardless of the positions you are pursuing, obtaining a TEFL certificate can provide significant value by preparing you for teaching abroad. Here are a few benefits of acquiring a TEFL certification as a licensed teacher who wishes to teach English abroad:

  • Enhance your teaching skills in foreign settings: Teaching in a foreign classroom comes with its own set of challenges, even if you have teaching experience in your home country. A TEFL certification course can equip you with valuable classroom skills to proficiently teach students who speak English as a second or additional language. It will open up a great way to effectively communicate with your students.
  • Adapt to different cultures and create inclusive classrooms: Teaching abroad exposes you to new cultures. Getting a TEFL certification not only helps you navigate these cultural differences but also enables you to create an engaging and inclusive learning environment. By understanding cultural nuances and adapting your teaching approach accordingly, you can make a positive impact on your students’ language learning journey.
  • Lifelong validity and global recognition: One of the key advantages of earning a TEFL certificate is that it never expires. It is a lifetime certification allowing you to explore teaching opportunities across the globe. Whether you decide to teach abroad immediately or in the future, your TEFL certification remains valuable and widely recognized in countries with a high demand for ESL teachers.

While the requirement for a TEFL certificate as a licensed teacher varies depending on the position and institution, obtaining one can significantly enhance your teaching skills, cultural adaptability, and overall marketability as an English teacher abroad.

Wishing you all the best in your future endeavors!

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