What is TESOL certification?

TESOL certification means that you’ve successfully completed an accredited course in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). It is virtually identical to TEFL certification – in fact the terms TESOL and TEFL tend to be used interchangeably across much of the world.

If you want to be paid to teach English abroad you’ll normally need TEFL or TESOL certification – it’s your proof that you’ve been trained in TESOL and will know what to do when you stand up in front of a class of students on day 1 of your first TESOL job!

However, it’s worth knowing that TESOL is not the name of a specific qualification or certification. Rather TESOL (and, come to that, TEFL) is a generic terms for teaching English to non-native English speakers. This means that it’s important you check what’s actually included in any TESOL course you’re considering as both a short TESOL taster session <link to > and an in-depth TESOL certification program could be labelled as a TESOL course.


To give yourself the best possible chance of finding paid work around the world as a TESOL teacher, make sure you pick an accredited TESOL certification course that:

  • Lasts a minimum of 120 hours
  • Is delivered by a reputable provider
  • Is regulated by an official body, such as the UK’s Ofqual
  • Gets good reviews
  • Offers ongoing support with job searches and career development.

As well as traditional classroom options, you can study for your TESOL certification online – or through a combined course that offers a blend of classroom and online teaching.

Read our article Which TEFL course is right for me? to learn more about the different options for TESOL and TEFL courses.

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