Many students who major in Linguistics with a focus on Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) are interested in teaching English outside of the United States, more appropriately called Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). There are so many variables involved that it is not possible to do more than provide general career advice here. Students are advised to meet with the Department Chair (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss their specific situations and interests.
In fact, there are no international standards for certification as an EFL teacher. Some schools will hire a native speaker of English with a bachelor's degree in virtually any subject matter. More reputable schools overseas require at least some kind of TEFL/TESL certificate as well as practical experience. Positions in more prestigious schools and in colleges and universities require a master's degree in TESL/TEFL. Salaries are keyed to one's qualifications, and schools that hire untrained native English speakers typically pay very poorly and require a minimum of 30 contact hours a week of teaching (which is a LOT of teaching). Such positions are, of course, appropriate for those new to teaching and primarily seeking overseas experience.
TESL Programs at CSUN
Students who earn the M.A. in TESL are positioned to apply for overseas jobs. Some schools will require a specific TESL certification for those without an M.A. in TESL. The TESL/TEFL Certificate Program at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) is specifically designed for those who intend to teach English to speakers of other languages—English as a Second/subsequent Language (TESL) in the U.S. or English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) abroad. It provides certification that the candidate has received advanced training in the theoretical and practical aspects of English instruction from CSUN through courses taught by CSUN faculty. Coursework deals with the specific approaches to teaching English to people whose native language is not English. The certificate is ideally suited for those teaching in private institutions and in colleges and universities abroad, as well as those working as teachers or tutors in Adult Education programs in California and elsewhere.
There is no universally recognized TESL/TEFL Certificate, and we cannot guarantee recognition of our TESL/TEFL Certificate in every teaching situation in every country.
Other Certification Routes
Of additional interest might be a route to earning a TESL certificate to secure teaching abroad through some kind of commercial program not affiliated to a college or university. You can check out several such programs at the website of Learn4Good.
Many European schools require a CELTA or other European-based credential. The closest location to the San Fernando Valley where CELTA-training is available in Santa Monica. Please be advised that CELTA training, while not lengthy, is relatively costly and is NOT equivalent to a master's degree.
Finding a Job Abroad
There are numerous websites listing EFL teaching opportunities around the world and additional detailed information about preparing to teach abroad. As you explore websites, consider the academic and educational credibility of the website owners and look for those which can link you to the type of teaching positions of personal appeal. To help you in your search, here is a small sampling of the many helpful websites that offer information and job postings in this area (no endorsements intended):
- Dave's ESL Cafe
- TEFL Professional Network
- Transitions Abroad
- CIEE offers teaching opportunities in many countries.
- Go Overseas
- Reach to Teach
Teaching Opportunities in Pacific Rim Countries
Because of their geographic proximity to California and the desire on the part of many Asian countries to attract EFL teachers who are native speakers of English, there are multiple opportunities to find employment in Pacific Rim Countries:
Teaching Abroad Information from Other Universities
Some university websites with documents similar to this one and offering a wider range of information, including multiple country-specific links, can be reviewed at:
In general, students interested in securing overseas employment should plan to do their own research to determine the teaching qualifications required in specific situations of interest to them. The best general advice is to search specific schools (or schools in a specific country) to learn what teaching credentials each is looking for and then to work to obtain the appropriate training and qualifications.