What does "Internationally recognized" TEFL certification mean to you?

I am going to assume that you think it means the following...

It's a certification that will be accepted wherever you go.

Is that what you mean?

The term "internationally recognized" doesn't actually mean much. It's just a vague term that basically panders to your desires for security.

But the fact is that it doesn't exist.

I mentioned this in a previous post about whether online courses are recognized or not. In that post I not only talked about online courses, but TEFL courses in general.

And one of the things that I said was...

There is no course or certificate that is accepted at every school. But it usually goes deeper than that.

Think of it like this...

Did your degree guarantee you a job wherever you wanted? 

Probably not. It didn't for me. 

Employers in Asia are not much different

In Asia employers have preferences or requirements like anywhere else. The basic qualifications are a degree and to be a native speaker and after that there are preferences that can vary from school to school for:

  • Experience. In-country experience is often preferred.
  • Age. Many will prefer that you are young.
  • Sex. Some schools prefer female teachers.
  • TEFL certification. Some schools prefer it.
  • Race. Some schools prefer caucasian teachers.
  • Likeability. They want to like you.
  • Master's degrees, teaching licenses, etc. (see below)

Some of those are discriminatory, but that's the way it is in Asia. I think the same preferences can exist in the USA too, but they are not as openly advertised as there are laws against some of those.

You can read more about employer preferences.

Getting a job teaching English in Asia is similar.

Many schools and employers don't know anything about TEFL courses

Chances are that the employer you will apply to won't know the name of your course or any other course. Most bosses out there (abroad) can't actually speak English.

Sure a relative few may be somewhat familiar with courses, but these are a really small percentage of schools. These are often foreign owned private institutes, international schools or maybe more "reputable" schools. 

So then maybe you can get a job at a more "reputable" school if you have an "internationally recognized" certificate?

Probably not.

If you are a first time teacher you aren't going to be working in a "high end" school regardless of whatever TEFL, TESOL or CELTA course you took.

The bottom line...

There's too many brands and too many TEFL courses. Nobody knows them. It just doesn't matter most of the time. 

More importantly...

There's no stamp for "internationally recognized" TEFL courses

Did you think there was? There's no one organization for TEFL accreditation that goes around and inspects courses and stamps them, "Internationally Recognized!" There is no international accreditation for TEFL.

Each country may have different requirements to teach English there. These requirements are usually for visa purposes.

More often the fact is that different schools can have their own preferences and requirements (listed above).

That's what it really comes down to, the school.

All TEFL certificates are "internationally recognized"


TEFL certification by it's very nature is internationally recognized. Why is that? Well, the "F" in TEFL stands for "foreign". The word foreign relates to different countries.

Any TEFL certificate whether you got it from a university, or made it with photoshop looks the same on paper to most schools.

It doesn't mean you'll get the same out of it, but again it's like a degree. Schools don't know all the names of universities out there.

Are there more "reputable" courses out there?

"Reputable" is in the eye of the beholder. I could tell you that courses like CELTA or Trinity TESOL or maybe even a university based course are the most reputable or recognized, but I wouldn't want to mislead you.

What I mean to say is that to some schools those courses are, but to many others they don't look any different. See what this girl who took a CELTA course had to say about that.

Or check out this post on a CELTA that wasn't "recognized".

It's not you it's them

And they are telling you a story. You've been misguided and I get it. It happened to me to. I was told lies too. There's all kinds of bias and misinformation out there. You don't know all the answers.

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