How long does it take to complete a TEFL course?

How long does it take to complete a TEFL course?

One of the most frequent questions we get asked is how long does it take to complete a TEFL course?

Most TEFL courses are named according to the number of hours they take to complete. So, the answer might seem obvious to some – as long as the course name suggests, surely? A 120-hour TEFL course will take 120 hours to complete… but how many weeks or months of study does that actually involve? Do you have to study at specific times, or can you work through the course at your own pace?

In this post, we've put together some helpful information to answer everything you need to know about TEFL courses and how long it takes to complete them.


Before getting into how long it takes to complete a TEFL course, let's quickly look at the reasons why you might want to sign up for one in the first place.

TEFL - which stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language - is an internationally recognised qualification that allows you to teach English to non-native speakers abroad and online. The vast majority of reputable employers worldwide will require a 120-hour TEFL qualification from a properly accredited TEFL course provider. While a TEFL qualification is enough to get you started teaching English, make sure to research visa requirements as some countries can require teachers to have a bachelor’s degree and/or hold a passport from specific English-speaking countries. For more information, see here if you don’t have a degree , and here if you’re not a native speaker

A TEFL course not only gives you the qualification these employers look for, but also the practical skills and training to become a great teacher. You'll have the chance to brush up on your grammar knowledge and learn the specifics of teaching non-native speakers. A good TEFL course will also cover essential skills like lesson planning and classroom management. We'll look into exactly what you can expect to learn during a TEFL course later in this article.

Are there any requirements for TEFL?

One of the best things about TEFL is that you don't need to have any experience or qualifications to sign up for a course. A lot of people mistakenly believe that you need a degree, teaching experience or some form of teaching qualification before you can TEFL… but this isn't the case at all!

And for anyone who is wondering if there is an age limit, we're happy to tell you that you're never too old to TEFL ! People can begin their teaching journey at any age or stage in their life.

All you need to sign up for a TEFL course is fluency in English, the course fee and time to study. Unsure if you have the time to get qualified? Don't worry, that's exactly what this article can help you to find out!

A woman in a cafe studying

How do The TEFL Org courses work?

Next up, let's take a little look at how TEFL courses work. Here at The TEFL Org, we offer both online and classroom TEFL courses. Our classroom TEFL courses are held in the UK and Ireland over a single weekend, or three consecutive weekdays. If you're based elsewhere, or the dates don't suit, then our virtual classroom courses are a great option and follow the same syllabus. And, as our online TEFL courses are entirely self-paced, you can study in your own time and at a pace that suits you.

One of our aims as a TEFL course provider is to make getting TEFL certified as accessible as possible, which is why our courses have been designed to be flexible so you can fit studying in around work and other commitments. You can study from anywhere in the world using your laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Once you've completed your course, we'll even ship your certificate to you wherever you are, at no additional cost.

How long does it take most people to complete a TEFL course?

Now for the most important question! How long does it actually take to complete a TEFL course? There are different courses with different hours but, on average, our students take between 10 to 12 weeks to complete our most popular 120-hour online TEFL course . Depending on your other commitments it can take you more or less time.

Because our online TEFL courses are self-paced the length of time it takes to complete varies due to a number of factors. With full-time study, one person could complete the course in under a month, while someone with less time to devote to studying each week might take several months.

Be wary of courses that claim you can get a 120-hour qualification in under a week – this means it won't actually be a 120-hour qualification. These courses will not be accredited by reputable bodies, which is an important process that gives both you and employers confidence that a course does what it says on the tin.

How long are you given to complete the course?

Worried you won't have enough time to finish the course? No need! With our courses you get 6 months to complete our 120-hour online course and 7 months for our Level 5 courses. We know that sometimes life gets in the way and the unexpected happens, so if you do need more than the allocated time you can always purchase an extension.

Different course providers will give you different time frames and it's important to check this out before you sign up. Some providers will give you a short amount of time so it's more likely you'll have to pay to extend the course, which can significantly increase the cost of getting TEFL qualified.

We've had students with completely clear schedules finish the course in a matter of weeks. While it's possible to complete the course this quickly if you have enough time to devote to it, it's not something we recommend. There are a couple of reasons for this.

To get the most out of your TEFL course it's important to take your time with it. There's a lot of information to take in and if you're rushing through it, you're unlikely to really absorb it. As with any course, you get as much out of it as you're willing to put in.

At the end of the day, you want to come away with not only a qualification but also confidence in your teaching skills and ability.

How many TEFL hours do you need?

Based on what we see come in through the TEFL Jobs Centre , the majority of employers ask for a 120-hour TEFL qualification, which is the industry standard. Taking a course with fewer hours will put you at a disadvantage and make it much more difficult than it needs to be to secure work.

What about doing more than 120 hours? Depending on your background and previous experience, it can make sense to do more training to strengthen your CV. A Level 5 TEFL course is more comprehensive and Advanced TEFL courses can be added to your initial TEFL qualification to further your training in specific areas. But more isn't always better – or necessary. Courses that offer hundreds and hundreds of hours can take a long time to complete, cover a lot of content that might not be relevant to your goals, and we have yet to see an employer specify that teachers must have more than 120 hours.

See our post explaining TEFL hours and levels to find out more! And take our quick quiz , which will tell you what course is most suitable for you. 

A woman studying in a library

Will it really take me 120 hours to complete the 120-hour course?

Most people won't take exactly 120 hours to complete a course – this is simply an estimate of how long it takes the average person to complete. Some people will take more or less time. It all depends on the individual.

While 120 hours might sound like quite a lot, broken down over the average of 10-12 weeks that most of our students take to complete a course, it's just 10-12 hours per week. When you look at it like this, you can see how easy it can be to fit a 120-hour course in around your other commitments.

Unlike Groupon TEFL courses , however, it's certainly not possible to complete a course from The TEFL Org in under 10 hours! These courses advertise themselves as being 120-hour courses simply because this is what customers and employers are searching for. In reality, these courses won't take you anywhere near that amount of time to complete because they lack course material and assignments. Many employers are aware of this, which is why they're often not accepted.

What can I expect to learn on a TEFL course?

A good TEFL course will cover all of the essentials you need to become a skilled English teacher; from English grammar to classroom management, lesson planning and much more.

For example, our best-selling 120-hour Premier Online TEFL Course is broken down into five different modules - let's take a look at them in more detail below:

50-hour Online TEFL Course

The largest part of our 120-hour Premier Online TEFL Course is the 50-hour online TEFL section. This covers classroom management, teaching styles, how to teach specific parts of the English language, as well as approaches to teaching various types of learners.

30-hour Online Grammar Course

Considering teaching English but worried that your grasp of grammar is a little rusty? That's where the grammar course comes in! Don't worry if you don’t feel confident explaining what auxiliary verbs or conjunctions are – this section of the TEFL course will brush up your basic grammar and teach you how to effectively communicate that knowledge to learners.

20-hour Online Video Course

This part of the course allows you to watch a real English teacher in action, with videos that bring all of the theory you've learnt so far to life! As well as learning from an already qualified teacher, you can use the lessons in these videos as inspiration for your own future classes.

Two 10-hour specialist mini-modules

Finally, the last 20 hours of your TEFL course will cover two mini-modules designed to give you specific experience in teaching over the telephone and teaching large classes. Having this as part of your course can really help your CV to stand out when it lands in front of potential employers.

What's the best way for me to study?

Not everyone learns in the same way, which is why the key to successful study is figuring out what works best for you. But there are a few tried and tested tips we recommend to our students to help them get the most from their course.

First, setting time aside to work through the course is important. This could be dedicating a certain amount of time daily or allocating hours on a weekly basis. With an online TEFL course one of the advantages is being able to schedule studying around your other commitments like work, study and family.

Another tip we give our students is to set a goal. You'll have six months from the day you begin the course to finish it, but what's your personal goal for a completion date? Maybe you're doing the course so you can apply for a specific job, or perhaps you have a rough idea of when you'd like to start teaching online. Whatever your reason, setting a deadline can really help you to stay motivated and on track with your studying.

Read more of our useful study tips here.

How quickly can I find a job?

You can start applying for jobs before you've completed your TEFL course. Many employers will be happy to consider applicants currently working towards their qualification.

We've had students jet off to start a teaching job abroad almost immediately after getting qualified. In fact, 80% of TEFL Org students who look for work after completing the course find a job within just 3 months!

Keep in mind that some countries are more competitive than others – if you're looking for work in countries where there are fewer jobs then it will likely take you longer to secure a position. There's a huge demand for teachers in countries like Japan, Spain, Thailand, Vietnam, and South Korea, and the market for teaching English online is booming.

Start your TEFL journey today

Now that you know how long it takes to complete a TEFL course, there's just one last piece of information to pass on. As obvious as it sounds, the sooner you start your TEFL course, the sooner you'll finish it!

So, what are you waiting for? Take a look at our most popular courses now! 

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