how to get ESL certified

How To Get ESL Certified: Personal Experience, Practicum, ESL Career, & Freelance ESL Teacher

This article about how to get ESL certified may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see my disclaimer here.

Have you been thinking about becoming an ESL teacher? Are you wondering how to get ESL certified? Which course should you take for your qualification? This article will answer all your questions and change your doubts about ESL career and qualifications into a great feeling, so keep reading. It’s packed with information about how to get ESL certified, which course you should take, what a good course includes, information about practicum, and tips for what you should do after you get your qualification as an ESL teacher.



What Is ESL?

In case you are new to the ESL world, and you’re wondering, what an ‘h.’ are you talking about, Nicoletta… ESL stands for English as a Second Language. So if you want to be an ESL teacher and get ESL certified, you basically want to start your career as an English teacher, with English being your second language.

Now, the first thing you need to do is to get qualified to teach the language. Many companies require you to have at least a Bachelor’s degree in linguistics or related fields. Luckily, many of them also accept ESL teachers, who only have a course.

Don’t get me wrong, the ‘only’ course also takes a lot of your effort to get. But you know, Bachelor’s degree takes 3 years to complete, whereas getting ESL certified is a matter of 1 to 3 months. So in case, you don’t have a Bachelor’s degree and want to become an ESL teacher, you’ll have to get qualified and take one of the courses.



How To Become ESL Teacher Without A Degree?

There are many courses out there, so it might be difficult to know which one is good and which one to choose. I feel you. I was at the same stage, confused about all the qualifications and not knowing which one was worth the money. At least one thing you should remember for now is that you’ll be looking for the so-called ‘TEFL’ certificate. TEFL means ‘ Teaching English as a foreign language’.

This article will reveal to you everything you need to become an ESL teacher, credits that the qualification has to have to be fully accepted by companies on the market, my personal experience with International TEFL Academy, tips for doing your practicum, and what to do after you get your qualification as an ESL teacher.

If that sounds interesting, keep reading.

languages Practice speaking online



What Should A Good TEFL Course Include?

1. A Good Number Of Hours

One of the top requirements to be fully recognized as an English language teacher is to complete a course with a minimum of 120 hours. It is the minimum, and if you have more hours, it generally gives you a higher chance to get employed.

Some companies also accept students with a course that only has 100 hours. Still, you’ll have fewer opportunities on the job market later on. So don’t choose a course with only 100 hours. Instead, look for those who have more than 120 hours (e.g., 150 or 170 hours). The course consists of 2 parts. The major part is the course itself (theoretical part), and the last 20 hours are the practicum. But we’ll talk about it later in this article, so keep reading.


2. Internationally Recognized & Accredited

When choosing your course, another important thing to bear in mind is that it should be internationally accredited and recognized. Many companies offer these courses, but some aren’t even known on the job market. So make sure you choose one well-known worldwide, or at least in the country you want to work in afterwards.

Some of the well-known businesses offering TEFL qualification are, for example, The TEFL Academy, International TEFL and TESOL Training, World TESOL Academy, and International TEFL Academy.


3. Must Include Practicum

The third important thing that a great TEFL course has to include is the practicum. As I mentioned above, the courses usually consist of 2 parts. The first one is theoretical, meaning that you’ll do many projects, study vocabulary or grammar structures, and do tests.

The second part needs to be a practicum. You have to practice in a classroom or in an online class what you’ve learned during the theoretical part. So you’ll be finally teaching students, which will be part of your course.

Make sure your certificate includes the practicum as companies look for it when hiring TEFL employees.


Now that you know what a professional TEFL qualification includes, let’s head right to one of the best businesses offering the course.



One Of The Best Courses To Get ESL Certified

I did my TEFL course with International TEFL Academy. As I said, it was quite challenging to choose a good one and the right one among all these courses on the internet. International TEFL Academy appeared to be the right one for me.

They are internationally recognized and accredited, have a great network worldwide, and offer 170 hours, including 20 hours of practicum. So it met all the requirements that every TEFL teacher should have at the beginning of his career. For me, it was also important that they provide support before, during, and even after the course.

They have a very personal approach, talk to every student before the course, making sure the student knows what the course is about and that it is the right thing to do.

The course itself has everything you need to know as an English language teacher


I’ve searched a lot on the internet, and the other courses are cheaper, but with a lot less content. International TEFL Academy has a full pack of everything. You’ll have the main course to complete.

In addition, you can study another full course with English rules, grammar, lexis (vocabulary), and other things that will be relevant for your teaching. In addition, they have a student forum, where you’ll discuss topics, questions, and your opinion with other students.

After the course, they provide you with charts and tables that state every single country where you can teach English, costs of living, the salary you’ll earn as an ESL teacher, contract length, interview procedure, housing, visa info, and peak hiring hours.

how to travel and teach online languages & skills
How to get ESL certified


What You’ll Get With International TEFL Academy

Each company offers a completely different course. They vary in the content, things you’ll learn, how strict they are, the number of tests and projects you’ll have to do, etc. I have to say that Internation TEFL Academy prepared me for my ESL career in every single way. In their course, you’ll:

  • learn how to create activities and plan lessons integrating all 4 language skills (reading, listening, speaking, and writing)
  • learn about different language teaching methods
  • gain a practical approach to teaching English
  • find out about the ways to use technology and visual aids when teaching
  • learn how to deal with cultural diversity
  • understand how to create a student-centered classroom


In addition, you’ll get many resources and materials in their Moodle (online interface). Besides, you can study grammar and lexis (words and vocabulary) separately. You’ll learn about the following terms and how to explain them to students. These modules are extra, and you can learn them in your free time:

  • conditionals
  • modal verbs
  • types of sentences
  • passive voice
  • all types of lexis


Practicum At International TEFL Academy

To get ESL certified with International TEFL Academy, you’ll have to complete your practicum, too. With International TEFL Academy, you’ll have to have a total of 20 hours. The good thing is that you can have 12 hours of teaching and 8 hours of observations. Observations are optional.

If you want, you can do all 20 hours as teaching hours. It is up to you. But you have to have at least 12 teaching hours. If you want to do observation hours, check out My Culture Connect. Mr. Luke Lin offers and organizes observation hours for free. Just write him an email and participate in the lesson when he schedules one for you to observe.

The staff from International TEFL Academy will guide you on how to find students to complete your practicum hours or find you a spot in a school to teach. Follow their guidelines.

how to get ESL certified International TEFL Academy certification
How to get ESL certified: Me with my certificate from the International TEFL Academy



Typical Questions About ESL Certification: All Answered

Getting into ESL teaching takes time, and I am sure you still have many questions. Let me answer some of the most important ones for you.


How Long Does It Take To Get ESL Certified?

Usually, it takes between 1 to 2 months to complete your theoretical part of the ESL qualification. I said theoretical part because you still have to complete your practicum hours. Unlike the theoretical part, you’ll have more flexibility to complete your practicum.

Each qualification has its own rules, but they’ll give you at least 3 months to complete your practicum. With International TEFL Academy, you’ll have 3 months to complete your practicum. The theoretical part itself takes 8 weeks to complete. So altogether, it’ll take you a maximum of 5 months to get ESL certified.

If you are fast and manage to make your practicum in a month, it will take you 3 months to get ESL certified. After, you’ll wait around a month to actually get the certificate.


How Much Does It Cost To Get ESL Certified?

It’s said that good things cost money. TEFL certificate isn’t an exception. You’ll see many businesses online offering the course for as low as 100$. Believe me, the course normally costs a lot more than that. Don’t get scammed.

Always check for yourself what kind of company it sells the qualification, what kind of background they have, and whether there is someone you can talk to before paying for it.

But most importantly, check what is included in the course. Keep in mind that a good TEFL course should have at least the 3 main things I mentioned at the beginning of this article. If it doesn’t, it is not a good course.

So a good course with instant help from the business, job search help, books, materials, information about your ESL career, and practicum hours can cost between 800$ and 1200$. Be prepared to spend this amount and be sure it will return to you once you have the certificate. If you are really sure about your ESL career, you’ll make it, and it will pay off.

Get your Free Brochure that contains information about salary in each country from the International TEFL Academy. You can earn twice as much as your qualification in the first month of teaching. So it will pay off right at the beginning.


Get A Free Brochure With ESL Salary Info


Is It Hard To Be An ESL Teacher?

Each job requires something. With some, you have to give your physical power, with others you have to travel a lot, which might be boring. Being an ESL teacher requires preparation for your lessons, patients, creativity, and often courage. Especially if you want to find your own students. But as with any other job, if you really want to do it and have a passion for it, all the struggles are worth it.

So my answer to this question is, yes, sometimes it is challenging. But if you’re passionate about being an ESL teacher, meeting new people and students, learning about other cultures, and traveling to foreign countries while earning a good amount of money, the hard work pays off for sure.

Perhaps the most challenging part comes right at the beginning when you’re starting your ESL career. You’ll have to decide whether you want to get employed somewhere, teach online, or if you want to have your own ESL business and find your own students. To make it easier for you, I’ve put together all the information for you below, so keep reading.



What To Do After You Get ESL Certified?

So now you’ve got your TEFL certificate, and what’s next? This section will explain how you can find a job as an ESL teacher, how it looks like to be employed, and what to do if you want to be self-employed and find your own students.

A good course will always include guidelines and a lifetime help from the company when it comes to a job search. This is another reason why I chose to get ESL certified with International TEFL Academy. They offer lifetime job support. Whenever you need it, they’ll help you to find ESL job offers. It is especially beneficial at the beginning of your career when you need to make the first step forward as an ESL teacher.

So if you want to move abroad, travel, and be employed as an ESL teacher for some time in a foreign country, check out the tables in their free brochure they provide you on their website. It states information about every country, salary, Visa info, housing, costs per month, interview process, and so much more.

Keep in mind that the company you chose to do the TEFL course should guide you in your job search. And it should be included in the course rate.


Get A Free Brochure With Countries & ESL Salaries



How To Become A Self-Employed ESL Teacher?

Maybe you’re a bit more adventurous and want to step into a bigger challenge of finding your own students. Not relying on anyone to find the job for you. Instead, you want to go your own way. And I highly encourage you to take this step.

It might be challenging to do so if you’ve never taught English before and don’t have any experience, except the practicum. But don’t be afraid. Everybody had to start at some point in their life. You can start with small steps and find some students online on forums. Find a community of people who want to learn English in your own country.

You can contact them and offer them your online classes. Your rate doesn’t have to be too high. It is crucial to start somehow, and this is an excellent chance to gain more experience.

how to get ESL certified and find your own students to teach
How to get ESL certified and find your own students to teach in person or online


Starting As Self-Employed Without Experience

This is how I started teaching English with my TEFL certificate in Prague. I searched online for a forum where students asked for help with various subjects. I contacted them and started teaching. Either online or I was going to their home and taught them personally.

The student forum in the Czech Republic (Prague) is called: ‘’. I am sure there is a similar one in your country as well. Just search on Google, where students post their needs and get in touch with some.


Starting As Self-Employed With Prior Experience

If you already have some students and you have at least some experience teaching as an ESL teacher. I have something for you here as well.

If you feel like going completely self-employed as a full-time ESL teacher, I recommend starting your own website. It is the best place to market yourself, and you’ll be in full control of it. Bluehost provides one of the best web hosting services. It is also one of the cheapest providers to get you started.

Youtube has many videos about how to create your own website, design it, and which theme to choose, so check it out. I personally recommend starting with either Astra or Ocean WP theme. Then install the ‘Elementor’ plugin, with which you can create a customized design for free for your website.


How To Earn More Money As A Freelance ESL Teacher

You’ve done all that hard work and want to see some results. Unfortunately, some ESL teachers are really underpaid. As you know, being an ESL teacher requires some time and hard work to prepare for the lesson. In addition, you have to often deal with cultural diversity or find different and fun ways for topic explanations.

And for all that, you deserve to be paid well. Also, it should cover at least your travel costs to make some road trips.

What if I told you that there is a way to earn even 100$ per hour with your students as a freelancer? What if I told you that you don’t have to spend too much time preparing every single lesson?

Instead, you can create a full program once and attract students who are interested in it. Yes, it is all possible. If that sounds like a great idea for you, I would love to introduce you to the Teacher-Entrepreneur Network & Challenge.


Teacher-Entrepreneur Network & Challenge

Honestly, I am not a partner with Mr. Liu (founder of this program), nor do I receive any commission from recommending it. I took the challenge myself, and it was a game-changer for me. Ever since, I have always recommended it to other ESL teachers.

The Teacher-Entrepreneur Challenge will teach you everything you need to know to set your rates as an ESL Teacher, market yourself, create your super program, and find students online.

It’ll give you the courage to charge what you’re worth as an ESL teacher. You don’t have to prepare different lessons for every student and spend hours looking for the material. Instead, students will come to you and be interested in your program, which will be fixed. You don’t have to earn only 15$ an hour anymore. Instead, you’ll charge what you’re worth, even up to 100$.

If you are interested in pursuing an exciting career as a freelance ESL teacher, I highly recommend you check out the Teacher-Entrepreneur Challenge created by Mr. Liu. See his website and sign up for the 21-day challenge. During the challenge, you’ll learn how to market yourself as an ESL teacher online, find your perfect niche, create your own program, and start implementing the strategy.


Check Out Teacher-Entrepreneur Challenge



My Personal Experience Being An ESL Teacher

As I mentioned above, I took the TEFL course with the International TEFL Academy. I wanted to teach English in China for the first time and even got an offer from one Chinese University in Shanghai. But then Covid hit, and I changed my plans. I couldn’t wait until the entire Covid situation was a bit more clear. So I decided to find my own students online. As I said before, I looked for the students online on the forums, contacted them, and started gaining more experience.

Later on, I found out about the Teacher-Entrepreneur Challenge and got into it. Just after 21 days, I learned so much about being a freelance ESL teacher online. I created my own program, started marketing myself, and also did online coaching.

Now, I can teach students online, not only English but also Spanish and German. It keeps me on the road, and I can explore new destinations with my own schedule. Then I started this travel and language website to encourage others to live their dreams; travel, learn languages in a fun way and make money online.



Final Word For You

Being an ESL teacher is one of the best ways to make money online while traveling. Now, you know how to get ESL certified, what it takes, which company to choose for your course, and how to start your ESL career.

Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or doubts. I encourage you to start whatever feels right to you. Don’t make too many plans, and don’t overthink it. Just start doing it and see how it goes.

As you can see, one of the best companies that provide TEFL certificates is the International TEFL Academy. Check out their program and enroll now. You can also get discounts from time to time. The course is either online or in person. Their online course gives you so much flexibility, so you can do it from anywhere you are (as I did).


Get ESL Certified With International TEFL Academy


Then, choose one of the ways to start your ESL career and make money online with the job you like.
If you already are an ESL teacher, let me know how your journey has been, where you taught English and how you found your students. I am curious.

In case you feel like teaching another language, check out my article about how to travel and teach online foreign languages and your skills.

Wishing you all the luck to get ESL certified. Don’t forget: You Can Make It. Just Be Brave and Keep Going!