Should I get TEFL/TESOL?


Can anybody tell me if they feel that getting a TEFL/TESL certification benefited them in any way when doing their job? I have a four year degree and I’m quite confident in my writing skills, but I fear that the kids are going to be testing me and laughing at me for my lack of knowledge in grammer. Should I fork out the extra bucks and spend an extra month to get certified?


I used to think it did not matter much, but as it appears, in order to do testing such as IELTS, BULETS, UCLES, etc, you will need some kind of certificate such as RSA, DELTA, CELTA or TESOL.
Unfortunately, you cannot do these courses in Taiwan if you’re foreign (somebody prove me wrong). I’ve tried to get information from the British Council about this to no avail. As I know, the nearest (and perhaps cheapest) place to Taiwan to get certified is Thailand. They run TESOL, CELTAs and DELTAs every month or so in Bangkok. It’s not necessary to have one in Taiwan to do general teaching, but you never know when it may just come in handy.
Although I’m doing a Masters,I don’t understand why I cannot do these testings which my friends do to earn extra money, because I’ve loads of experience.
Think it’s another case of how a little piece of paper (no matter how attained), can actually be quite beneficial.
I also heard recently that some of the big kiddie schools pay more to those who’ve completed a course. One friend told me she was actually able to get ‘back pay’–imagine that–when she told her school she had one after having worked there for a year. From then on she got $20 more per hour, and they handed her a big packet of cash adding up to all the hours worked previously in which she should have earned that much more due to the Cert.
So, yes, I would get one if I were you.


For Taiwan or South Korea, I wouldn’t bother as the money and time is wasted.

If you want a Masters Degree in TESOL, while living in Taiwan. You can consider the accredited nonresidency programs of Australian universities.
For various reasons, I do strongly endorse these over most of the US programs.

If you have RSA accreditations, check out University of Wallongong. Your RSA credits are potentially transferable and can be integrated into the core program. A very unique Masters in Eduction (TESOL).

The other external program is the Master of Arts in Applied Linguistic (TESOL) from a far more prestigious Macquerie University. The program has ten units and then you will be finished. The basic equivalent of one academic year.

“Applied Linguists” are the cream of the crop in TESOL fields and are quite highly compensated in the Middle East. Try starting with $30,000 annually plus vacation, house, and perks. The degree is solid and is not a piece of cake for the faint of heart. Get past the first course, and it will get easier. Price is about USD 7000 total. Pricey and initially challenging. The rewards are worth it, if you are going to be an expatriate indefinitely.


Now you’re talking my talk!! I did loads of research before taking on the Aston MSc, and I found this one to be more up my alley than traditional “lockstep” Applied Linguistics programmes. In fact, I mainly examined the British programmes and didn’t even look at the US ones as they’re very often more concerned with ESL rather than EFL and they’re done in the US, where I wanted to do distance learning. The Aussie ones looked alright too though.
However, I chose the Aston one because some of my professors are actually bigcheese men and women in the field, and we get lots of support --even being in Taiwan–(we have a local centre with all the core books and yearly, soon to be bi-yearly visits from the profs). This programme is cool because you can choose your own pathway and concentrate in the area which you desire. I desire a strong linguistics background myself and have chosen modules to reflect this, so far. This makes it a bit different from the other programmes since we have more leeway. More like a PHD prep course in some ways as it’s highly contextual and theoretical. It’s bottom up, rather than top down.
I don’t know if I’d like teaching in the MidEast as I’m a woman, and will probably end up in Mexico next, and not for the bucks!


Now this is very interesting. I am on the verge of giving Queen’s University Belfast a thousand quid to do their CELTA program. The staff all appear to be very experienced and they run a lot of courses at their TEFL Centre. I am doing it mainly because I want to teach English properly with some idea of methodology and efficient lesson planning etc. I used to teach in Taiwan but it was six years ago.

I have been told by friends still in Taiwan that it makes not a jot of difference to pay, and if that is the case, so be it. I am under the impression that this is a serious course run by a serious university and that it is a good foundation for becoming a career teacher, and if I don’t do it now before I go I’ll find it very hard to do in the future. Am I wasting my money ?!



An old workmate of mine was once teaching illegally here in Taipei, becuase he didn’t have a degree. he wanted to be legal, so he was taking a couple of weeks off to do a TESL (or TOEFL or something - I don’t know the distinction). It was local and not too expensive. He was under the impression that academically speaking it was a pile of shite course that would give him the certificate he needed.

Sorry, this isn’t very helpful, because I don’t have details, but just to let you know that I’, sure there is something available.



Do it hexuan. It’s a recognised degree and may prove useful to you in the future for various reasons. Like I said, testing, and higher pay, for one.
But there are other good reasons to go for a top notch cert. such as the one you’re talking about.
You may get noticed in whatever orginization you work at for having this kind of training since it’s not overly common in Taiwan and therefore be more qualified to get promotions, do teacher training, etc etc.
Also, to teach in Europe or Japan you pretty much need one. Taiwan will probably go this route in the future.
You also say you’re interested in becoming a career teacher and this will give you a good foundation as to what that really means. You’ll also be taking a strong methodological/theoretical background into the classroom which will help you to approach numerous issues with some insight you wouldn’t have without one.
I do think in the long run it will prove useful even if you may not reap the benefits straight away.


Thanks for the advice Alien.



Shiro, if your main motivation for aiming at accreditation is the “fear that the kids are going to be testing [you] and laughing at [you] for [your] lack of knowledge in grammer,” you might want to consider that most new teachers with four-year degrees here begin with very young children and move their way up through the age ladder, adding to their Tholean Web of grammar knowledge little by little as they go. You’ll have time to prepare, class by class, day by day, and a lot of what you’ll need to know will be in the teacher’s manuals for the coursebooks you use. Regardless, you should never have to feel backed into a corner by a grammar question. Chances are that if a student asks you for a rule regarding structure that you can’t furnish right away, then that sought-after rule is likely fraught with exceptions. Even what you think is the most basic ‘rule’ can make a liar out of you. You know to correct “Dog’s hungry” with “The dog’s hungry” because that’s just what people say when there’s a specific, commonly understood subject… hey, or do they? Hmmm, people do say “Dog’s hungry, gotta feed it, be right back,” and “Car won’t start.” These statements are entirely acceptable in spoken and literary discourse. If a student asks you an incisive question, tell her what you’ve heard, read and/or used. If she hypothesizes usage that’s ‘grammatically correct’ but sounds like it came through a wormhole from the Delta Quadrant, just say it could be right but you’ve never heard it before. You’ll have more than enough time to check out real instances of use from a language database (or get input from the thousands and thousands of other English teachers online) and come back next class with enough information to make you look majorly impressive.

I surmise a bigger challenge than grammar for you coming out of the gate might be that of classroom management. The debate rages over how much and what kind of control and structure you should impose on your students and your classes, but my feeling is that, at least in the beginning, a lot beats not enough. Now, I’m not the edumacated type (as is obvious, everything I needed to know about life I learned from Star Trek), so I can’t tell you how much or how little you can learn about managing students and classes by going to school. Perhaps some of the others here in this forum have some experience and/or knowledge about this?

Also, if you get ESL/EFL education, you’ll become acquainted immediately with issues relating to methodology, phonetics, etc., which may or may not save you trial-and-error time on the job. A lot of people have gone right from an undergrad program into teaching, and of these many have never felt the need to return to school. Others have saved up their quatloos for accreditation by teaching, and I dare say these folks know much more of what they’re talking about than those going into such courses cold.

Keep your options open, but if you’re serious about getting certification for language teaching, you should probably get at least a Master’s Degree. That way (should you ever want) you could even get a full-time post at a college. I forget exactly on which Star Date those Universal Language Translators are due to be developed, but I think it’s safe to say it won’t be in our lifetimes, so it seems likely that, at least somewhere in the world, you’ll always have English teaching to fall back on. You could do worse than get credentials saying you can do something for which there’ll always be a demand…


I need you and your vast Andorian intellect and cannot contact you privately as you haven’t listed your email here. This is illogical…Will we have to deactivate the doomsday machine without your fine guidance on this assignment?
Please contact for a clue to another deep space voyage.
Btw, good advice on teaching the lingua franca of the federation.


I’m currently enrolled in a TESOL distance learning masters program via the University of Edinburg, Scotland. I’ll never have to go to Scotland and have 5 years to complete the 8 courses and a disertation. They want three years work experience in teaching.

Sometimes it is hard, but I have learned a lot. It cost $300,000NT and you get a Masters of Education from a good solid university.

Professional development is a reality. If you hang out in Taiwan for five years, you may go home to a dead-end job. If you develop,you might find a pleasant and surprising network of friends and travel world-wide.

My philosophy is [1] do your job, [2] keep your job, [3] prepare for the next job. It is a life without a dead-end…