Teach English as a foreign language in the UK
A guide to TEFL training and teaching opportunities
Are you looking for a rewarding teaching career with global job opportunities?
There is currently high demand for newly-qualified English language teachers in the UK. Part-time, full-time, seasonal and flexible teaching roles are available.
As a TEFL teacher in the UK, you can teach groups of teenagers on holiday courses, young adults planning to go to university in the UK, or professionals who need English for their careers. There are around 400 British Council accredited English language teaching centres across the country.
You don't need to be an English language expert: initial training will give you the teaching skills and language knowledge you need to enter the classroom in as little as one month.
Want to live and work abroad? Get qualified and gain teaching experience in the UK first: you'll build the skills and confidence you need to have an amazing experience teaching around the world.
What does TEFL stand for?
You'll often see the acronym TEFL used, which stands for teaching English as a foreign language.
Other terms you will come across include:
- ELT - English Language Teaching
- EFL - English as a Foreign Language
- ESOL - English for Speakers of Other Languages
- EAL - English as an Additional Language
5 reasons to teach English as a foreign language
There are great reasons to train as an English language teacher:
1. Support students to succeed
You'll be helping people from all over the world to learn English - be it to fulfil education or career ambitions, or simply because they want to speak a global language.
Watching students progress as they learn to communicate in English is hugely satisfying. And you'll find that students are motivated and enthusiastic to learn from you.
2. Not your usual desk job
English language teachers get to be creative and interactive in the classroom, using games and activities to get students communicating in English.
You'll teach students from different countries and with different language levels, so no two lessons will be the same. Expect variety and fresh challenges with each class.
3. Flexible hours
In addition to full-time roles, there are many part-time, seasonal, or flexible teaching opportunities in the UK, which means you can teach English around other career or personal commitments.
4. Work around the world
Many people become English language teachers so that they can live and work abroad. Getting your training and first teaching position in the UK is a great way to build confidence and gain experience, which makes it easier to find work in another country.
5. Transferable skills
You'll develop an ability to communicate effectively with people from all over the world, gain confidence presenting and develop strong leadership skills.
Back to the top
Get started with the right TEFL qualification
Getting a TEFL qualification will give you the best start as a new teacher and allow you to apply for jobs at high-quality teaching centres in the UK and abroad. Choose an intensive, full-time course and you could start your first paid teaching role in as little as one month.
English language teaching qualifications differ in terms of the depth of content and how many hours of observed teaching practice you'll have during the course.
CELTA and CertTESOL are recognised worldwide as the gold standard in entry-level qualifications, suitable for people with no teaching experience.
To work in the UK at a British Council accredited centre you'll need a CELTA, CertTESOL or equivalent university qualification that includes at least 6 hours of supervised teaching practice with real students.
These courses will prepare you for your first teaching role: you'll learn how to teach language rules and plan effective lessons. You'll be assessed through observed teaching practice and a series of written assignments.
CELTA and CertTESOL courses take four weeks when you take an intensive, full-time course.
Part-time, face-to-face, blended and online courses are available, depending on the course provider.
To join a CELTA or CertTESOL course:
- You need to be at least 18 years old
- You will need a qualification equivalent to those required to get into university (eg. A levels or Scottish Highers)
- You must have an advanced level of English, equivalent to C1 level or above
Do you need a qualification to work abroad?
Teaching positions in other countries do not always require a TEFL qualification. But if you want to be able to apply for the best jobs, or work in a country with more job competition, a CELTA or CertTESOL certification will give you a strong advantage.
Find a CELTA or CertTESOL training course in the UK
There are training centres across the country that offer CELTA and CertTESOL courses. Visit the Cambridge England and Trinity websites to find a course to suit you:
Where can I teach English as a TEFL teacher?
Teach English in the UK
There are different types of English language teaching (ELT) centres in the UK that need teachers: schools, colleges, universities and junior summer centres.
English language schools are found in major cities and tourist destinations around the UK. They often run courses for adults throughout the year and may offer programmes for teenagers during school holidays.
Residential junior centres open during school holiday periods, offering programmes which include English lessons and activities. These are often based at boarding school premises and teachers may have the option to live onsite.
Universities and further education colleges also employ teachers to help international students to improve their English language skills for academic purposes.
The opportunity to work around the world is what motivates many teachers to do TEFL training.
You might work in a state-run school working as a language assistant, or for a private language school.
Roles often ask for previous teaching experience, which you can build in the UK before you travel. Many teachers work in the UK during the busy summer season and teach in other countries at other times of the year.
Find a TEFL job in the UK or abroad
To find a TEFL job in the UK near you, you can use our language centre directory, which lists accredited teaching centres across the country. Visit the centre's website to see current job vacancies.
Other places to find TEFL job opportunities in the UK and around the world:
Back to the top
What career progression is there for TEFL teachers?
Experienced teachers have career path options within the English language teaching sector.
Teachers who want to stay in the classroom can specialise in a specific teaching area like Business English.
Teachers can also progress to become a director of studies, managing and supporting other teachers, overseeing the curriculum and developing new courses.
Teachers can also move into other management and leadership roles within the sector, including centre operations and student services. Marketing and sales roles are also available that offer travel opportunities to meet potential students and clients around the world.
More information about starting a career in TEFL
Back to the top