How to TEFL without a TEFL (/CELTA)

Introduction – So you want a TEFL certificate and can’t afford it or you have one are looking for experience but your TEFL certificate is not accepted in your country of residence because it is not a CELTA, Trinity TESOL, etc. So how can you earn money in the TEFL world or build up experience for your C.V. (resumeé if you are American).
Here are 7 ways to get experience in the TEFL world without a recoginsed TEFL certificate:

1 – Summer Camps
There are hundreds of English Summer Camps across the UK and Ireland (I am sure this is the same across the US, Canada, Australia and New Zeland). Yes you need a CELTA or Trinity to be a teacher but not for other positions. There is a need for leading other activities and trips, plus pastoral care or even office work. Some need experience working with children and some just require A-levels.
The best part is it pays well. For example I did my CELTA which my parents paid for and I promised to pay back. I did so… in less than 2 months as an Activity Leader. Also you meet teachers who taught around the world who can give you good advice, stories and connections. Plus you can observe lessons and help in activities (so teach via other means). Warning the hours are long and tiring but it is a lot of fun.
The best way to do this is go to look at the adverts for the teachers, go to the websites and see what other positions are available.

2 – Combined TEFL Courses and Work
Although I haven’t tried them myself I have seen many ads on which are jobs and a course combined. Not sure of the credibility of all but if you can’t afford the TEFL certificate and really want to teach then this could be a good alternative. There several of these on if you look hard enough.

3 – Volunteer
Either volunteer at a local language school in your city (they seem to be everywhere) or tutor. You could advertise free lessons. You will find that living in a country where most people are native English speakers you might not be able to get custom if you charge with no recognised qualifications (by this I mean CELTA or Trinity TESOL as they are the only accepted qualifications in the UK). However at least this would get you more experience for your C.V.

4 – Join penpal/ international community websites
I didn’t know how useful this was until I put it on my own C.V. Before I started TEFL teaching I joined and started chatting to people around the world just correcting their English. It was interesting as I chose people with similar interests. I added into my C.V. under hobbies 4 years ago, even now I get comments from employers about it. In fact it has even got me part time work on the side correcting websites based from this. I know this because they tell me in the interview.
Also this has proven to be a good way to find common mistakes and how to deal with them before even stepping into a classroom.

5 – Become a Teaching Assistant
Without a CELTA, Trinity TESOL or similar it is very difficult to get a job in Europe. However there seem to be a lot of Teaching Assistant jobs in Spain and Germany at the moment. The roles seem similar and could be a good stepping stone especially if you have you have your heart set on Europe but can’t find work due to qualifications.

6 – Teach in Asia
Parts of Asia seem to be not all fussy especially China and often South Korea, Thaliand and Japan too where the want of native English EFL teachers is so high. For many a Weekend or online certificate is enough and sometimes even just a degree is enough. Plus some schools who want a CELTA sometimes will let this slide if you have plenty of experience elsewhere. My original plan too was to work in Asia for a year to save up the money for my CELTA. (In the end my parents lent me the money which like I mentioned I paid back within 2 months of finishing the course thanks to summer camps).

7 – Teach in another way
If you are just looking for experience in a similar field in order to stand out from other newly qualified teachers, you can just teach another way. This can include Summer Camps but also sports coaching, other residencial jobs such as Camp America, being involved in a local guides/scouts groups, being a teaching assistant at a local school, etc. All is relevent experience even if not EFL teaching.

If you are looking for more help related to anything in this post and want to hear from those who have done it before please join our Facebook GroupMore information about the group here

To Add:
If you are looking for a job at the moment please feel free to use my list of TEFL jobs sites. Or if you are looking for a course at the moment you might find my Top 10 Tips for Prospective TEFL useful. If it is just a case that there are so many courses and this is the confusing part I have tried to explain the differences between TEFL courses. Please note that when looking for these courses they do tend to tell you a few lies so I have compiled a list of 8 of these lies so others don’t fall into this trap.
I also have various other posts on this blog and a Blog Diary as a TEFL teacher in Portugal if you are interested. If you can’t find what you need please feel free to e-mail me at my personal e-mail address:

7 thoughts on “How to TEFL without a TEFL (/CELTA)

  1. Pingback: My Top 10 Tips for Prospective TEFL Teachers | The New Me - Life After Uni

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