FAQ – TEFL/TESOL Certification Program

Why do I need a TEFL/TESOL Certification?

Language teaching is a challenging job that not everyone can pick up naturally. It requires creativity, patience, and knowledge of language-learning theory and language-teaching techniques. Increasingly, simply knowing English is insufficient if you plan to teach English in South America, Asia, Europe, or anywhere else in the world. Schools and institutes are demanding qualifications, experience, and practical training in the methodology of teaching English. An accredited TEFL/TESOL certificate is now a prerequisite to teach at the best English schools.

What will I learn?

Máximo Nivel’s TEFL/TESOL Certification program will show you how to effectively teach English to non-native speakers, and will equip you with the tools and experience needed to be successful in the ESL classroom.  You will come away from the TEFL/TESOL training with a thorough grounding in both the theoretical and practical concepts required to teach real-life language skills, including: Speaking, Reading, Writing, Listening, Grammar, Vocabulary, and Pronunciation.

The TEFL/TESOL Certification program is a 12-Module course that provides you with an important set of competencies required to effectively teach English in foreign countries.


Module 1 Learning and Teaching Theory
Module 2 Lesson Planning
Module 3 Class Management
Module 4 Critical ESL Teaching Techniques
Module 5 English Grammar Review, Part 1
Module 6 English Grammar Review, Part 2
Module 7 Teaching Grammar
Module 8 Teaching Vocabulary
Module 9 Teaching Productive Skills (Speaking and Writing)
Module 10 Teaching Receptive Skills (Reading and Listening)
Module 11 Assessing & Testing Learners
Module 12 Using Games, Drama, and Role Play to Teach English
PLUS Special introduction to international English exams: TOEFL, Cambridge, Michigan, and IELTS.

The most important and defining factor of the Máximo Nivel TEFL/TESOL Certification program is that it provides you with a full 25 hours of practical teaching experience – more than any other TEFL/TESOL program in the world.  This is critical to making you a better teacher and will be looked upon very favorably by prospective employers.

How will I be assessed?

Participants in the TEFL/TESOL course are continually assessed. There are no written examinations, but there are 3 required academic papers and a portfolio. Class attendance is required. Final assessment is based on the following:

Class Participation – 30%

Student Teaching – 40%

2 Papers and portfolio – 20%

Lesson Plans – 10%

On completion of the course, successful candidates are awarded grades as follows:





What pass rate do you have?

Even though it is an intensive and challenging course, the majority of our participants (around 95%) pass the TEFL/TESOL course. Overall, 60% are awarded a grade of Pass/Good, 5% receive a grade of Pass/Excellent, and 30% receive a grade of Pass/Satisfactory.

Does the TEFL/TESOL Certificate qualify me to teach English?

Yes.  Your training will give you a major advantage over untrained teachers because you have declared your commitment to the field and to being a professional ESL teacher. Whether you want to work in South America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, or anywhere else in the world, Máximo Nivel’s TEFL/TESOL Certification will open doors to rewarding employment opportunities.

Are there really teaching jobs?

Yes, there are. The whole world wants to learn English. People everywhere, especially young people, are convinced that speaking English is their passport to a successful career. Worldwide, there are many more ESL jobs than there are native-speaking ESL teachers to fill them.  Native English-speaking teachers are in high demand in every part of the world.

English teaching jobs can be found in every country and in virtually every region of the world – South America, Central America, Asia, Eastern/Central Europe, and Western Europe.  There is also high demand for professional instructors in English-speaking countries such as the U.S., UK, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Can I be considered for a teaching position with Máximo Nivel?

Yes. Máximo Nivel is a rapidly growing organization and we give preference to the top-performing participants in our TEFL/TESOL Certification program for employment at our executive language centers in Peru, Guatemala and Costa Rica. Every month we make 3-5 employment offers to our TEFL/TESOL graduates.

Can I make a real career out of TEFL/TESOL?

Yes. There are many opportunities for long-term permanent positions and even for advancement to Director of Studies and other administrative and executive positions. Other possibilities are teacher training and materials and curriculum development.

Is it necessary to speak a foreign language?

Máximo Nivel does not require a second language to study for the TEFL/TESOL Certification, or to teach English at our executive language center.  And most other employers do not require you to speak any other language other than English.  That said, some experience learning and speaking a foreign language will help you understand language in general and how people learn it.  If you are teaching in a foreign country, a basic knowledge of that country’s language and culture will also, without a doubt, make your life easier and make the overall experience much more rewarding.

Are there any age limits for TEFL/TESOL training?

You must be at least 18 years old to study for the TEFL/TESOL Certification at Máximo Nivel. You must be at least 21 years old to teach at Máximo Nivel. Generally speaking, ESL teachers range in age from 18 to 80, although it is more difficult to find employment if you are under 21 and over 50. Preferred age depends very much on the country, the culture, the school, and the type of students the school has; and legal requirements may also play a part. Some schools prefer more mature teachers, especially if their students are primarily business people. Others feel that younger teachers are more “dynamic” and “modern” in their approach. While still other countries are so desperate for teachers that age is irrelevant. Also, some countries will not issue a work visa for teachers over 45 years of age. The above all said, do not let the question of age put you off. With the Máximo Nivel TEFL/TESOL Certificate, you can definitely find employment.

What if English is not my native language?

Máximo Nivel DOES permit non-native English speakers to enter the TEFL/TESOL course.  However, you must provide proof of proficiency in English (i.e. TOEFL, IELTS, Michigan exams) before being accepted on to the course, or complete an interview with a qualified member of our staff that can assess your English level.

Generally speaking, if you have a good TEFL/TESOL certificate, not being a native speaker should not be a major problem. However, non-native speakers may not be accepted in some countries – for example Korea requires that your passport be from a native English-speaking country.  But in many other countries, your English fluency and TEFL/TESOL certification will be welcome additions to the teaching staff.

How quickly can I get the TEFL/TESOL certificate?

The Máximo Nivel TEFL/TESOL Certification program is 4 weeks long (150 total hours). Your certificate is awarded to you immediately following the course.

Maximo Nivel also offers an online TEFL certification program that can take betwen 2 and 8 weeks, depending on how quickly you move through the material.  This course is considered to contain approximately 80-100 hours of work, and can be completed on your time schedule.

Do I need a university degree?

Máximo Nivel does not require a college degree to enter our TEFL/TESOL Certification program. In most countries, the most important qualification is the TEFL/TESOL certificate itself. However, you might find some resistance by employers if you do not have at least a 2-year college degree. As well, especially in Asia and the Middle East, a work permit will not be granted if you do not have at least a bachelors degree. That said, with a TEFL/TESOL certificate, it is certainly possible to find work without a university degree, especially in South America and other developing regions.  A high school degree, however, is important when pursuing a career in teaching English as a foreign language.

Can my family come with me?

Máximo Nivel is happy to welcome you and your entire family to Antigua, Guatemala, Cusco, Peru and/or San Jose, Costa Rica. While you study, your family can enjoy the tours and sightseeing that the country you are visiting has to offer. We are also happy to arrange special accommodations for families.

Do I have to get a work permit and residence visa?

A valid passport is required to enter and depart Peru, Costa Rica or Guatemala. Tourists must also provide evidence of return or onward travel. U.S. and European citizens do not need a visa for a tourist stay of up to 90 days or less.

When entering the country, you should specifically ask for a 90 day stamp in your passport. This will be sufficient to cover your time while you study for your TEFL/TESOL Certificate at Máximo Nivel and to do a little traveling and job-searching afterward.

To work legally in a foreign country you need a work permit, with which you can then get a resident’s visa. That said, it is common practice for ESL teachers to work illegally in many parts of the world. Máximo Nivel’s executive team will help you understand and navigate all the ins-and-outs and considerations in terms of work visas.

What about medical insurance?

Before you travel, make sure that you are covered by medical insurance, and that you are well-covered in case of accidents or emergencies while traveling outside of your home country. There are a number of companies specializing in international travel insurance. Multinational Underwriters is one such company, and can be contacted via their website www.mnui.com. Note: Máximo Nivel is in no way affiliated with Multinational Underwriters, nor do we receive commissions or any kind of referral fee.


The world of English language teaching, like most specialized fields, has a bewildering array of acronyms.

ELT stands for “English Language Teaching” (or English Language Training).  This is an overall term that refers to all forms of English language instruction.

EFL stands for “English as a Foreign Language” and refers to the acquisition of English by non-native speakers.

ESL stands for “English as a Second Language” and is essentially interchangeable with EFL.

ESOL stands for “English for Speakers of Other Languages” and again, like EFL and ESL, refers to the acquisition of English by non-native speakers.

EAL stands for “English as an Additional Language” and is probably an attempt at being politically correct – it also refers to the acquisition of English by non-native speakers.

TEFL stands for “Teaching English as a Foreign Language” and refers to teaching English to non-native speakers.

TESL stands for “Teaching English as a Second Language” and is essentially interchangeable with TEFL/TESOL.

TEAL stands for “Teaching English as an Additional Language” and, once again, is the politically correct version of TESL and TEFL/TESOL.  

TESOL stands for “Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages” and refers to teaching English to non-native speakers.  The acronym TESOL is also used by an American teachers’ association – Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.

FAQ – Native Spanish Program

Why should I study at Máximo Nivel?

Founded, owned and operated by Giovanna and Ken Jones, Máximo Nivel is not just an average Spanish school – it is an executive language center offering the NATIVE SPANISH PROGRAM, as well as TEFL/TESOL Certification, and the NATIVE ENGLISH PROGRAM. In addition to our national and international accreditations, Máximo Nivel is also closely partnered with the following international organizations: BridgeLinguatec, LanguageCourses.Net, Global Crossroad, and Volunteer Adventures.  Máximo Nivel is also a member of ALTO – Association of Language Travel Organizations.

How long are your programs? When can I start?

Máximo Nivel is unique in offering flexible programs in order to accommodate your travel and trekking schedule while you are in Peru, Guatemala or Costa Rica.  We offer 3-day, 4-day, and 5-day programs; and clients can choose to study 2 hours, 3 hours, or more each day.  Most programs are 1 to 4 weeks long.  However, Máximo Nivel also offers long-stay programs of 3+ months for people who wish to build full Spanish proficiency.   Clients enrolling in private clascan begin any day of the week.

How many hours of instruction do you recommend?

That depends on your individual goals for learning Spanish. You may study for as little as one week; however, we recommend a minimum study period of two weeks. We normally do not recommend more than 3 hours per day of study; for clients wanting super-intensive, or immersion courses, we are happy to program Spanish classes for 6 to 8 hours per day. On request, we also team-up our Spanish clients and our English clients for free conversation practice outside of regular class hours.

Who typically attends Máximo Nivel?

People of all ages come to Máximo Nivel, from young adults to retirees. The majority of our clients are travelers ranging in age from 20 to 55. Máximo Nivel attracts people from many different backgrounds and parts of the world, including the U.S., Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, and Canada.

What levels of Spanish are offered?

Máximo Nivel offers 8 levels of Spanish: Basic, High-Basic, Pre-Intermediate I, Pre-Intermediate II, Intermediate I, Intermediate II, Advanced I, and Advanced II.

Do I have the same teacher every week?

Yes.  In our short-term classes () are encouraged to change teachers after 2 months, as the change in teaching style and accent are also important components to building Spanish proficiency.

Can children study Spanish?

Yes.  Máximo Nivel offers a family friendly learning environment for parents traveling to Latin America with their children. We are happy to provide classes for your children or for the whole family together.   However, for younger children, a different schedule may be recommended depending on the child’s maturity level. Máximo Nivel has experience teaching children as young as five years old.  Babysitting service during class time hours can also be arranged at an additional cost.

FAQ – Volunteer & Internship Program

Do I need to speak a foreign language in order to enroll in the program?

It is NOT necessary to speak Spanish before you arrive to start your program, although it is always helpful. Máximo Nivel is available to help you with anything and everything you need. For some specialized placements, such as certain medical and health related projects, volunteers may be required to have at least an intermediate level of Spanish, but most projects do not require prior knowledge of the language.  We strongly recommend Spanish classes for volunteers staying longer than 4 or 5 weeks.

Is there an orientation program?

When you arrive in Peru, Guatemala or Costa Rica, you will be met at the airport.

You will receive a full orientation when you arrive. If your project is not near the Máximo Nivel office or you are based in another city, you will spend a few days close to our central office (Cusco, Antigua or San Jose) to undergo orientation and learn about your project before heading off-site.

Does the program provide insurance for volunteers?

Volunteers are usually covered by their medical insurance in their home country. However, this is not always the case, and volunteers should check with their insurance company.  There are many travel insurance providers that can arrange short-term coverage during an international trip.

Can I change my volunteer placement if I am dissatisfied?

Máximo Nivel will, of course, make every effort to change a volunteer placement if the reasons for the request are genuine. Volunteers should note that it is only possible to change a project based on availability. When making a change, we will make every effort to find a similar type of project for you. Cancellations are NOT possible.

Can I schedule my own volunteer service for the dates that interest me?

Spanish language classes begin every Monday. Volunteer projects begin every Monday of each week and end each Friday; Volunteers should plan to arrive on Sunday and leave on a Saturday.  Volunteers arriving early will need to pay for additional nights of accommodation. We suggest that volunteers adjust their flight schedule according to their project/program itinerary.

Can I come with a friend, or can I be placed with other volunteers?

Máximo Nivel allows volunteers to come with a friend or even with a large group. You may be placed in the same or nearby homes, lodges, and projects. It is important to inform us in advance, so that complete arrangements can be made for all of you.

What should I expect with regard to living conditions?

Depending on your project destination, volunteers are provided housing in either volunteer residences or with host families. Various accommodations offer different amenities, but all are comfortably furnished with 24-hour hot water, and excellent security. Depending on availability, rooms may be shared or private, and bathrooms are generally shared. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided seven days a week. Laundry services are offered for an additional fee.

Many volunteers in Peru stay in The Family House – a very comfortable bed and breakfast owned and operated by Máximo Nivel, whereas most volunteers in Guatemala and Costa Rica stay with host families.

How many people will I be living with?

Depending on your volunteer project you may be the only person living with a family of 3 to 5 people, or you may be in a residence with up to 20 other volunteers.  Most host families can host between 2 and 6 volunteers at a time.

How long do volunteers usually stay? Is there a minimum stay required?

Máximo Nivel allows volunteers to stay 1 week or more; 1 week is the minimum length of stay. This allows sufficient time to get accustomed to the living conditions and then time to implement and assist with volunteer projects in a productive way.

FAQ – General Information

What Should I Bring?

When traveling anywhere, it is best to leave behind your preconceptions and what you’re used to – and enjoy the differences. After all, that’s why you’re traveling.

†Please note that all TEFL/TESOL program participants MUST bring clothes for teaching classes. Whereas dress code is casual during the TEFL/TESOL course, during the last two weeks while you are teaching live English classes you must dress like a teacher – this means well pressed slacks, nice collar shirt or sweater, belt, and dress shoes.

The key to packing for a trip to Peru is to pack for a variety of conditions. The best way to deal with the extremes that Peru has to offer – the intense sun during the day, the cold mountain nights, and the heat and humidity of the Amazon Basin – is to dress using several layers.

The key to packing for Costa Rica and Guatemala is to prepare for a warm and often humid climate. The coastal areas are steamy and hot with lots of sunshine; and the San Jose (Central Valley) region is warm by day and cool by night with intermittent sunshine and light rain.

NOTE: All three countries are quite conservative, and if you are volunteering your project many require you to cover your knees and shoulders while working.  Be sure to bring enough long pants and tee-shirts to comply with this if needed.  Short skirts or shorts, small tank tops or otherwise showy clothing may attract more attention than you are used to.


  • Teaching clothes
  • Day pack
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Hiking boots
  • 2 pairs of pants (lightweight)
  • 2 T-shirts
  • 1 short-sleeved shirt
  • 2 long-sleeved shirt
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • Thermal underwear
  • Fleece jacket
  • Hat or cap
  • Towel and personal bath kit
  • Sun block, lip balm, sun glasses
  • Camera


  • Teaching clothes
  • Day pack
  • Comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots
  • Sandals
  • 2 pairs of pants (lightweight)
  • 3 T-shirts
  • 2 short-sleeved shirts
  • 1 long-sleeved shirt
  • 3 pairs of shorts and bathing suit
  • Hat or cap
  • Towel and personal bath kit
  • Sun block, sun glasses
  • Camera


  • Teaching clothes
  • Day pack
  • Comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots
  • Sandals
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • 2 T-shirts
  • 3 short-sleeved shirts
  • 1 long-sleeved shirt
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • Fleece jacket or sweatshirt
  • Hat or cap
  • Towel and personal bath kit
  • Sun block, sun glasses
  • Camera


  • Laptop computer (optional)
  • Notebook and pen
  • Spanish-English dictionary

How much extra money should I bring?

Carrying extra money depends on your personal spending habits, and you may want some extra money for personal expenses, sight-seeing, souvenirs, etc. Generally speaking, we recommend bringing about $ 250.00 (USD), or just bring your credit card. Note, travelers checks in Peru tend to be problematic to use and are NOT recommended.

The best method for getting money is to simply use ATMs. Most banks in Peru, Guatemala and Costa Rica offer 24-hour ATM access.

Do I need a Visa to enter Peru, Guatemala or Costa Rica?

Depending on where you are from you may or may not need a special visa to enter Peru, Guatemala or Costa Rica. Most people, including those from the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Europe, automatically receive a 90-day tourist visa upon entering Peru and Costa Rica. If you are unsure in your particular case, please consult with the country’s local embassy for confirmation.

Will I have phone and Internet access?

Máximo Nivel’s offices have international phone and Fax service. As well, our clients and students have free access to our computer centers with high speed internet and WiFi connections; and all the computers run Windows XP and MS-Office 2003; access is provided Monday – Friday 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Projects based in the rainforest or in rural settings will not have the same phone and Internet service as Cusco, Antigua, and San Jose. Volunteers must be prepared for intermittent service or no service in these areas. In the most rural projects the only communication available is by shortwave radio or cell phone.

What should I do in case of an emergency?

If you experience an emergency while you are in working with us, please contact Máximo Nivel immediately. If your family needs to reach you they can do so via the following numbers:

  • Máximo Nivel (Cusco Office): +51 84 58 1800
  • Máximo Nivel (San Jose Office): +506 2253 9220
  • Máximo Nivel (Antigua Office): +502 7932 1500
  • Máximo Nivel (USA toll free number): +1 800 866 6358

Is the water safe to drink?

Tap water in Peru and Guatemala is NOT safe for drinking, BUT water straight from the tap in Costa Rica is excellent. Tap water can be purified by boiling it or adding purification tablets, such as Micropur, which can be purchased at most pharmacies. Generally speaking, bottled water is easy to buy in stores. Showering and brushing your teeth with water is rarely a problem, and at your housing you will be provided with safe driving water.

Do I need vaccinations?

It is recommended that travelers to Peru, Guatemala and Costa Rica have vaccinations for Hepatitis A and Tetanus. Typhoid Fever and a malaria prophylactic are sometimes recommended, but not necessary. Other immunizations may be necessary depending upon the circumstances of your project and personal medical history. Anti-malaria medication and a Yellow Fever vaccine are NOT required, but are recommended if you are planning to visit the jungle or lower-altitude regions of Peru. You should visit a travel-health clinic or your physician at least four weeks before traveling.

Should I bring any medicine?

It is recommended that you bring medications for travelers’ diarrhea and altitude sickness. The best way to prevent traveler’s diarrhea is to be careful of the food and water that you eat and drink. Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) orLevofloxacin (Levaquin) are good choices for treatment of traveler’s diarrhea.

In Peru, Acetazolamide is the drug most often used to prevent altitude sickness. The usual dosage is 125 milligrams or 250 milligrams two or three times daily starting 24 hours before ascent, and continuing for 48 hours after reaching altitude.

If you are on regular medication at home, it is a good idea to bring enough supplies to last through the end of your visit.  Though you can easily visit a pharmacy in Peru, Guatemala or Costa Rica, the same brands and specific medications as at home may not be available to you.

See your physician for specific recommendations.

Are Peru, Guatemala and Costa Rica safe countries?

Yes, and you can relax while you are here.

That said, it’s still important to use common sense and protect yourself.

  • Be careful if traveling on buses, as petty theft is common.
  • Ask for a receipt when you store your backpack or luggage.
  • Do NOT carry your passport or any credit cards and cash that you will not need.
  • Use only registered taxis.
  • Do not walk by yourself at night.
  • Avoid any contact with drugs, as laws are very strict in Latin America.
  • We will discuss the safety risks with you thoroughly in your orientation program, and offer you more rules and tools to prevent any problems.

International travel presents risks, especially with the threat of international terrorism. The U.S. State Department has issued travel warnings and advisories in many countries for U.S. travelers. These travel advisories and warnings change frequently as situations in each country change. We suggest that all volunteers consult their own governments before participating in a Máximo Nivel program. These links provide travel information: