How to choose the best TEFL course

With so many options available, choosing the best TEFL course can feel like a challenge. There are so many different types of courses and course providers out there, so how do you choose?

Not all TEFL course providers or courses are equal. You want to know that what you sign up for is going to properly prepare you for teaching English as a foreign language, and will be recognised by employers worldwide.

How to choose the best TEFL course

In order to choose the best TEFL course for you there are a few important areas you need to get clued up about. We’re going to go into detail about five key points you need to research before you buy a TEFL course below. These are:

Accreditation
Support
TEFL hours
Practicum or no practicum?
Hidden fees

What accreditation should a course provider have?

Accreditation is arguably the most important area to look into when choosing the best TEFL course. But in the world of TEFL it can be a bit… complicated. Let’s try to clear it up for you.

There is no single over-arching accrediting body for TEFL courses. What this means is that anyone can create a course and sell it as a ‘TEFL course’. TEFL course providers who understand the importance of accreditation – whether superficially or not (bear with us) – will seek it out from a number of external bodies. So, if a TEFL course is accredited by an external body you can be confident of the course’s quality, right? Unfortunately, no.

Not all accrediting bodies are equal. In fact, it’s not unheard of for TEFL companies to set up their own body in order to accredit themselves and advertise that they’re ‘fully accredited’ (a meaningless phrase to use in the context of TEFL courses, so watch out for that). Additionally, it’s important to note that membership is not accreditation – there is a big difference between the two.

Good accreditation comes from established and widely-recognised bodies with high standards. They should have rigorous guidelines and regularly inspect the course provider, ensuring a high level of quality is maintained. As one of the most accredited TEFL course providers in the world, our courses and procedures have been thoroughly examined by accrediting bodies such as TQUK (an Ofqual-awarding body), the SQA, BAC, and more.

To choose the best TEFL course the first thing you want to look for on a course provider’s website is details about their accreditation. And don’t take what they say at face value, do your own research!

A man looking at a globe and pointing at a country

What support is offered?

A good TEFL course provider will offer support during and after your course. This can come in the form of a personal tutor and assistance with finding a job once you’re qualified.

When you sign up for a course with The TEFL Org you’ll be assigned a personal tutor who is a highly experienced and qualified EFL teacher. We think it’s important to have a single point of contact at this stage in your TEFL journey. Someone who’s able to answer your questions from a place of experience, and who can give you helpful feedback on your assignments because they know exactly what it takes to teach English.

Support doesn’t mean a guaranteed job at the end of the course – in fact, there are a number of reasons to be wary of this. You want to look at what the course provider can offer to help you secure a great position once you’re TEFL certified. All of our course graduates get lifetime access to our TEFL Jobs Centre, as well as advice whenever they need it from our TEFL advisers. And we’re updating our blog every single week with helpful advice and information to help our students and graduates be in the best position possible to secure work.

Some budget TEFL courses can be just a one-man operation, which can make it very difficult to get in touch with someone if you have tech issues or need other assistance. Can you contact the provider by phone, email, live chat or other means? Do they have listed opening hours?

How many TEFL hours should a course have?

120 hours is the industry standard. If you take a course with fewer hours you put yourself at a disadvantage, if you take one with way more you’re potentially wasting your time and money. 

A 120-hour TEFL qualification will give you the foundation you need to start teaching English for the first time. The majority of the learning you will do as a teacher will be on the job, but to get started you need to have an understanding of TEFL methodology and lesson planning, as well as the confidence to stand in front of a class and teach. That’s where your TEFL qualification comes in.

When choosing a TEFL course it’s important to take a look at what modules are included. Within a 120-hour course you want to make sure both grammar and TEFL methodology are covered. Most native English speakers won’t have studied their own grammar in any great depth, so it really is crucial to ensure the course includes a good grammar component. Given that the number one fear most EFL teachers have when stepping into the classroom for the first time concerns grammar we can’t stress enough how important it is!

If you’re going to go over 120 hours make sure the additional hours are tailored to your goals. Want to teach business English? Add on a specific course focused on this. The same with teaching English online. It really isn’t necessary to do hundreds and hundreds of hours of training to get started teaching English!

Is a practicum/teaching assessment necessary?

TEFL providers that offer courses with a practicum will often perpetuate the myth that a teaching practice or assessment that involves working with real students is a necessity. Without it, they claim, employers won’t look at you.

This is simply not true. How do we know? We’ve been training EFL teachers since 2008 and if the courses we offer were, as is implied, unsuitable for finding work we’re pretty sure our graduates would have a thing or two to say about it. We’d be getting a a lot of negative reviews!

Simply put, a practicum isn’t necessary – but that’s not to say it can’t be beneficial! What you need to ask yourself is if it’s your intention to make teaching a career. If so, it may well be worth the initial investment. The cost of a course like the CELTA – the most renowned and established intensive course that includes a teaching assessment – is around £1,200. It also typically involves a month of full-time study. Compared to a TEFL course, which can be around £150-£500, it’s pretty pricey.

Taking an online TEFL course, or one that’s combined with a short classroom course, from a reputable course provider is enough to get you started in the TEFL industry. No practicum required.

A pair of binoculars held up against a pink background

Read the fine print and avoid hidden fees

A good TEFL course provider is going to give you plenty of time to complete your course and won’t surprise you with hidden fees. If you can’t easily find out things like how long you’re given to complete a course, or if the cost of the certificate (both hard copy and PDF) are included, then get in touch with them to ask. Groupon TEFL courses are notorious for hidden fees, but they aren’t exclusive to budget courses!

If you signed up for our 120-hour Premier Online TEFL course you would have 6 months to complete it. Given that the majority of our students complete this within 10-12 weeks this is plenty of time for most, but for those that need longer they can purchase an extension. Some TEFL course providers will deliberately give you a tight deadline to finish your studies to increase the likelihood of you having to pay extension fees.  

Another way TEFL course providers get more money out of you is by charging for a hard copy of your certificate. If your aim is to teach English abroad then you must have hard copy of your certificate, so this really should be included in the price of your course. And if it isn’t then find out first how much it’ll set you back. When you’re comparing the cost of TEFL courses one might look cheaper, but when you factor in these hidden fees it can work out a good bit more. Do your research and avoid nasty surprises!

The best TEFL courses for teaching online and abroad

120-hour TEFL course

120 hours is the industry standard. This is the minimum you should have if you want to teach English abroad or online. If you’re a native English speaker, have a degree and/or some previous teaching experience then this should be sufficient for securing work.

A 120-hour course can be completed entirely online or, if the provider offers it, include some in person classroom training.

Level 5 TEFL course

A Level 5 TEFL course is one that is Ofqual-regulated and has been assessed to be a level 5 qualification according to their framework. These courses are typically more than 120 hours and, like a 120-hour course, can be taken entirely online or combined with classroom training.

Level 5 training can help give you a slight edge when applying for jobs, particularly for those without a degree, previous teaching experience, and those who aren’t native English speakers. As a more comprehensive course it’s a great option for those who don’t feel very confident about teaching. It’s important to note that it won’t get you a better paid job – salaries in the TEFL industry depend on experience – but it can make it easier to secure work by making your CV stronger.

CELTA

The CELTA is one of the most well-known and established courses for teaching English as a foreign language. It focuses specifically on teaching adult learners.

CELTA courses are run through approved centres and typically involve a month of full-time in-person study and includes 6 hours of observed teaching practice. This course costs upwards of £1,200 so is considerably more expensive than a TEFL course, but can be a good investment for teachers who are serious about making TEFL a career and working their way up the ladder. It’s common for teachers to do a TEFL course first and a CELTA at a later date once they’re sure teaching is for them.

Trinity CertTESOL

The Trinity CertTESOL is very similar to the CELTA in how it’s delivered. Like the CELTA, it’s an intensive 4-week course that includes observed teaching practice. Choosing between the CELTA and Trinity CertTESOL can come down to what is held in a more convenient location for you and price – the Trinity CertTESOL can be slightly cheaper.

Advanced courses

Advanced TEFL courses focus on specific areas of TEFL. These courses can be added on after completing your initial qualification, whether that’s a 120-hour course, Level 5, or CELTA.

Common advanced TEFL courses focus on areas such as Business English, teaching English Online, teaching young learners, and exam preparation. Developing a niche in the TEFL industry can be key to success and higher wages, so an advanced course is a good place to start.

TEFL course providers compared

See for yourself how we compare to other TEFL course providers.

i-to-i TEFL Academy Premier TEFL UK TEFL Groupon TEFL Courses
Price £169.50 - £509 £245 - £1,125 £390 - £590 £165 - £815 £120 - £140 £19 - £49
Ofqual regulation*
DEAC AQC approved
Owned and run by experienced TEFL teachers
Dedicated tutor support**
Number of accreditors/regulators 8 3 2 3 1 Often not accredited
Time given to complete 120-hour online course Six months Ten weeks Six months*** Six months 90 days Varies depending on provider
Certificate (hard + PDF copy) included in course fee Both included eCertificate only. From £29.95 for hard copy (plus international shipping) Both included Hard copy from £20 PDF certificate included. Hardcopy TEFL certificate £10 Not included

*Regulated by an Ofqual-awarding body, such as TQUK. Endorsement is not the same as regulation.
**Support from the same tutor who is assigned to you for the duration of the course
*** 168-hour course
Information accurate as of September 2021

As one of the most experienced and accredited TEFL course providers in the world, we’ve trained over 140,000 EFL teachers since 2008. Find out about our courses and read our student stories to find out where our course graduates have gone on to teach.

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