What is TEFL

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. Special TESL or TEFL courses prepare prospective English teachers to Teach English to non-native speakers.

Abbreviations TESL relationship TEFL stand for Teaching English as a Second Language respectively for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. The small but subtle difference lies in the respective target group.

  • TESL: Here, students are provided with didactic knowledge in order 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

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If you want to teach English to other people, you should have studied TEFL / TESL.

In Germany, TESL / TEFL is mostly used as part of a teacher training course offered in English studies. But there is also the possibility of taking TESL / TEFL courses at private English schools or other institutions. These are usually several weeks Crash courses, 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 are about that TEFL / TESOL Certificate of Trinity College London or that CELTA (Certificate in English Language Training to Adults) from Cambridge University.

Studying TEFL / TESL: content

In the university seminars and crash courses from the TESL and TEFL area, the aim is to help the course participants relevant didactic skills to convey. 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, is the Teaching practice at extracurricular institutions in the context 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.


The prerequisites for attending TESL / TEFL courses are 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 from teacher training courses usually apply their didactic knowledge to basic and advanced courses schools to bring the English language closer to children and young people. A TESL / TEFL certificate enables you to Language schools, adult education institutions and similar institutions to teach English. 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 do them accordingly during the semester break or during a semester abroad or year. 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 fields. In contrast to a course completed in Germany, students have the opportunity to perfect their own language skills at the same time intercultural teaching skills to acquire. 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.