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Do I Need a TESOL/TEFL Certificate to Teach English Online?

This is a question that has always been discussed and that has come up in online forums lately, following news of a policy by the Chinese government requiring a TESOL/TEFL certificate for all teachers working with Chinese students. We have written before about the employment requirements by English language schools and organizations in various locations. Typically, but not always, a college degree is required; experience is always preferred and in many cases required; and a TESOL/TEFL certificate is always preferred and with increasing regularity required. This is generally mandated by the national government with authority over the organization, and is also a sign of good repute for the students or for parents who entrust their children’s education to the organization.

However, for all that a degree, certificate, and experience represent to employers and policy-makers, they are of the greatest actual importance to the teachers themselves. This is because the degree and the certificate can get somebody hired, but it is the training and informed experience which prepare teachers to be responsible, effective, and fulfilled in their careers.

There are many with a college degree who are hired for teaching positions, with little to no training in pedagogy. Though they may care for their students and feel passionate about teaching, they often do not have a meaningful understanding of some important aspects of teaching. General teacher training provides experience with establishing and maintaining classroom expectations, planning and implementing lessons, practicing reflective teaching, using alternative strategies to help students learn material they struggle to understand, differentiating activities for learners with different needs and skill sets, and more. When even an experienced teacher encounters complex scenarios with struggling students, it can be very challenging and sometimes disheartening. An untrained teacher is at significantly more of a disadvantage without the toolbox of resources and strategies to interpret and address the needs of the student or class.

It is often just so for those with educational training and no training in language education, which calls for a nuanced skillset not covered in training for teaching any other subject. When the medium of communication is the subject being taught, teachers must have methods for helping students construct their language base well enough to communicate. TESOL/TEFL training provides these methods. Training also provides awareness of cues of student success in language development and ways of helping students notice these successes, which is of vital importance for students’ growth and motivation.

This extends to online teaching. Even those who have taught English for years in the in-person classroom can get stumped with situations in the online classroom. How do we develop a relationship with learners through a screen? How can we adapt, find, or create activities to be completed on an online whiteboard? How do we monitor multiple students’ language development when they are sharing a microphone and webcam? What computer hardware and software do we need, and what do we do when they don’t function as expected? How do we recruit and retain regular students, and how do we pay taxes as independent contractors?

All of this and more is explored in detail in the Promise Opens Doors TESOL/TEFL Certificate Program for Online Teaching. While many programs are simply a series of video lectures or narrated powerpoints, and completion of these programs will result in a certificate, they do not provide the individualized, meaningful training necessary for classroom preparation. Just as language students won’t learn English by watching sixty hours of English movies, language teachers will not be prepared by watching video lectures.

The Promise Opens Doors TESOL/TEFL Certificate Program for Online Teaching provides extensive and thorough training which calls for critical reflection from participants. This program ensures that the material is processed in a way that will keep the training at the forefront of teachers’ minds as they encounter relevant scenarios in the classroom. The Promise Opens Doors TESOL/TEFL Certificate Program for Online Teaching also guides the completion of a comprehensive Online Teaching Toolkit of resources, procedures, and strategies for establishing and ensuring success in an online teaching career. After the coursework, participants complete a teaching practicum, during which they use the resources they’ve collected to evaluate several recorded lessons and then put it all into practice in the actual online classroom with feedback and coaching from a master teacher.

We hope that all teachers will go into the classroom prepared to begin a career that is personally and professionally rewarding, and we invite you to begin here:

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