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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" TEFL certification is just a vague term that basically panders to your desires for security.

I mentioned this in a previous post about whether online TEFL 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 employers in Asia were dumb?

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 or that online course that you finished in a couple of days 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 usually far less official or required compared to degrees.

internationally recognized tefl certificate reddit comment

Meaningless fluff.


Does it matter where you get your TEFL certification from?

The truth is 'most of the time' it doesn't matter where you get it from as far as getting a job goes, BUT...

The quality of the course and what you learn from it is a different story.

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 probably 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.

Here are the things "they say" that matters when it comes to TEFL courses.

And 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"

Are you wondering? 

Is a TEFL course recognised internationally?

They all are.


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.

Does it matter where I get my TEFL certification?

Not usually. Sure, some schools may have heard of a few brands (more likely with foreign owned schools), but you are going to a different country where they speak a different language. Any TEFL certificate whether you got it from a university, bought the cheapest you can get 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 as far as learning goes. 

Are there more "reputable" courses out there?

"Reputable" is in the eye of the beholder.

Maybe you are wondering...

What is the most recognized TEFL certification?

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".

So basically even the most "recognized" TEFL certification isn't recognized somewhere.

Lastly, I think the whole "internationally recognized" claim may have come from CELTA along with the "120 hour" course.  While CELTA is more known because of it's affiliation with a university I think other courses just try to copy CELTA it at least on the surface.

If you ask me this is an industry of...


What do employers want in Asia?

Most of your research into TEFL is being provided by middle men with self interests. I see lies by TEFL courses saying that a certificate is needed or you need "our" certificate or "ours" is more recognized. But since I've lived in Asia for 8 years I wanted to show what employers in Asia actually want in a teacher. 

So I did some research, collected some data (from thousands of job advertisements) and put it on this page.