internationally recognized TEFL certification

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.

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 guarantees you a job at every school. But it usually goes deeper than that.

Did you think...

Did you think you'd show up in ____ (insert country) and schools would be so impressed with that certificate that you earned in just 1-4 weeks that they would offer you pretty much any job that you wanted?

Employers in Asia aren't much different than employers in your country

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.

Did your degree guarantee you a job wherever you wanted? 

Probably not. It didn't for me. 

TEFL certificates aren't that different. In fact TEFL certificates are often far less official or required compared to degrees.

Many schools in Asia 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 some 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 if a course is highly accredited, a 120 "so-called" hours or claims to be "internationally recognized".

What really matters

You are probably in the introductory phase of teaching abroad. You are learning about different options and you are probably most concerned about getting a job. I understand, but getting a job is just the beginning.

Before you know it you will have a job and you will be teaching. So based on that I would look closer at who you are going to teach. If you are going to be teaching adults then take a course geared towards teaching them.

And if you are going to be teaching kids take a course focused on teaching kids.

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".

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