How do I become a TESOL Teacher?

This was a question asked by a lovely friend who has taught children for many years. Well, it’s a good question. To answer it, you need to consider what, who and where you would like to teach. There are many contexts for the profession….

You might consider Teaching English to adults or children (Teaching Young Learners) on short or extended courses at home, abroad or online. Many TESOL Teachers (including me!) work with students of different ages and with different goals both face to face and online.

Some learners want to communicate in English with people from all around the world. This is sometimes referred to as General English, or English for International Communication. Others need English language skills and qualifications to survive or thrive in their academic lives – (English for Academic Purposes) and careers – (English for Business). Many learners – and their parents- regard achieving a good command of English as being essential in life.

There is a variety of formal English Language Examinations which teachers can help students to prepare for. Students can use the results to demonstrate their English level to employers and academic institutions. Some examples of common exams are: IELTS, TOEIC, TOEFL and Oxford, Trinity and Cambridge Certificates at different levels. There are also specialist tests and qualifications to support specific professions and vocations, residency and citizenship in countries where English is spoken as the official first language. There are also suites of exams aimed specifically at young learners. There are so many ways for teachers to make a difference as they support learners in defining and achieving their goals.

The opportunities to make a difference to people’s lives through teaching really are major. Whilst low earnings can be an issue in this kind of teaching, the day to day variety and enjoyment of the work and the real impact of knowing I am helping other people keep me coming back for more.

To explore online teaching opportunities – search online as the situation changes daily. At the moment there are many organisations operating, most of them offering lessons to children. Some examples include DadaABC and iTutor Group. Teachers tend to work part time for different ones according to demand.

Requirements and conditions vary, but many provide lessons for teachers to use and most offer initial training. In addition, most will pay a higher hourly rate to teachers with qualifications and experience.

There is an excellent introduction course on Futurelearn – ‘Teaching English Online’.  It is run by Cambridge Assessment. The course is free, with a fee for people who want to get a certificate.

If you are aiming to work with adults in UK private colleges and  have an accurate native speaker level of English, you need a Bachelor’s degree and the Cambridge CELTA, Trinity Cert TESOL or another initial TESOL quaification with 6 hours of observed teaching practice. You can see CELTA Information at

Or ask me – I have designed and delivered 120 CELTA Courses and am a Cambridge ESOL Assessor.

A really handy book for teaching adults is ‘Learning Teaching’:

Learning Teaching: A guidebook for English language teachers … › Learning-Te…

If you are aiming to work with young learners in UK or international private colleges you need a Bachelor’s degree and the Cambridge CELTA, Trinity Cert TESOL or another initial TESOL quaification with 6 hours of observed teaching practice. You will need additional training, much of which tends to happen on the job. You will also need police checks and training in sadeguarding and other issues as legally required for working with young learners.

Some really handy books for teaching young learners are ‘English for Primary Teachers’ and ‘500 Primary Classroom Activities’:

For online resources check out BBC Learning English to start you off.

If you would like to see some examples of language presentations, I am building a set of videos on my TESOLFran Youtube Channel:

I also regularly share TESOL related info on my Facebook page:

Please feel free to like my page and you will see the info as I add it.

All the best with whatever you decide – and I hope to meet you in a staffroom somewhere one day –

In the meantime, please feel free to email me if you have questions that I don’t answer here at –

Fran Traynor


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With an MA, specialist qualifications from Cambridge University English and 25 years' teaching experience in Europe, Australia, Asia and the USA, I am here to help. My students study with me for exams - IELTS, FCE, CAE or simply conversation. I also help teachers preparing for online and face to face TEFL careers or CELTA.