How to choose the right TEFL course for you

How do you choose the right TEFL course when there are so many options? With so many different providers and types of courses it can easily get a bit confusing.

In this article we’re going to take a look at hours, levels, accreditation, the different ways you can get qualified, as well as do a bit of myth-busting! By the end of it you should have a clearer understanding of what course is the best fit for you.

TEFL hours: how many?

TEFL courses are measured in hours. It’s really important that you take a course consisting of at least 120 hours, otherwise you’ll find it hard to secure a job. If you have a look at positions advertised online you’ll quickly notice that many specify the requirement for a 120-hour TEFL qualification.

If you’re a native English speaker, have a degree and some teaching experience under your belt then a 120-hour qualification will be sufficient. If this doesn’t describe you then it’s a good idea to do more hours to ensure your CV is as strong as possible. A Level 5 course (more on that in the next section) and/or advanced training are great options to up your training hours.

Some providers offer courses with hundreds and hundreds of hours of training. This can suit those who enjoy the learning process and feel they’d benefit from as much study as possible. For most, however, this is overkill and it can mean it takes you a very long time to get TEFL qualified. For example, most people complete our 120-hour TEFL course within 10 to 12 weeks, so if you’re doing 3, 4, or even 5 times the number of hours… well, you do the maths!

The bottom line: a 120-hour qualification is suitable for most people to get started in TEFL, but doing more hours can make it easier to secure work for some.

A 120 hour or Level 5 course?

A Level 5 TEFL course is an Ofqual-regulated qualification and consists of more than 120 hours. Our Level 5 course totals 168 hours. Employers almost never specifically ask you to have a Level 5 qualification but, depending on your circumstances, it can be more beneficial than a 120-hour course.

If you don’t have any teaching experience, have no degree and/or aren’t a native English speaker then a Level 5 course can be a better option. That’s not to say a 120-hour qualification won’t get you a job but, like in any industry, the better your CV looks the easier you’ll find it to get a job.

For a more in-depth look at the 120-hour vs. Level 5 course see our post explaining everything you need to know about TEFL hours and levels.

TEFL accreditation

Accreditation is paramount when choosing a TEFL course. Quality control conducted by a reputable external body means you can be confident that the course does what it says on the tin. Not only that, but it’s one of the first things employers will look at when recruiting because they need to make sure that teachers have received proper training for the job.

If you take a budget course that lacks adequate accreditation then you may find that some employers won’t accept it and you’ll struggle to compete against applicants with a more recognised qualification. It’s true that you get what you pay for. We have a whole post about why accreditation is important, so make sure to read that to learn more.

Online, classroom and combined TEFL courses

There are three main ways you can get TEFL qualified: online, in a classroom setting, or with a combination of both. What’s best for you can largely depend on budget and time.

To complete your training entirely in a classroom setting you would need to do a course such as the CELTA. This course normally costs around £1,200 and you’ll need to clear your schedule for a month as it involves full-time study over the course of four weeks. The CELTA is offered at approved centres around the world, so you can do it locally or abroad.

Online study offers a significantly cheaper and more flexible approach to getting qualified to teach English. A good-quality online TEFL course can range from around £150 to £500 and will typically involve self-paced study, so you can fit studying in around work and other commitments. You want to make sure that an online course comes with the support of an experienced tutor, has been developed by EFL professionals, and doesn’t involve any nasty hidden fees!

Some course providers offer short classroom-based courses that can be taken in combination with online study to ensure you complete the required 120 hours of training. These short courses are usually held over two or three days. Incorporating some classroom training is a great option for anyone who doesn’t have any previous teaching experience as it’ll give you a real sense of what teaching involves.

See our post about online vs. classroom TEFL courses for more information.

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Assessed teaching practice: necessary or not?  

You’ll find a lot of outdated information online about six hours of assessed teaching practice being an essential requirement, despite that simply not being the case. That’s a very specific number of hours, so where does it come from?

There was a time, before the internet is what we’re familiar with today, when the CELTA was one of the only reputable qualifications on the market for teaching English. The CELTA is an intensive, classroom-based course that includes six hours of assessed teaching practice with English language learners.

While the CELTA is still a highly-regarded qualification, it’s far from being the only course on the market that will qualify you to teach English. The quality of online TEFL courses has come a long way in the last couple of decades and these days most employers ask for a 120-hour TEFL qualification – no teaching practice necessary. If it were still the case then our 140,000 course graduates wouldn’t have been able to use their TEFL Org qualification to find work across the globe!

To summarise: it’s no longer true that employers will only accept a TEFL course that includes six hours of assessed teaching practice. Online TEFL courses from accredited providers are widely accepted.

Hopefully this post has helped to clear some things up and you have more of an understanding about what TEFL course is right for you. If you want more information or assistance with choosing a course you can talk to our helpful TEFL advisers through livechat, by emailing advice@tefl.org or by calling us on 01349 800 600!

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