TEFL accreditation: what you need to know and why it matters

TEFL accreditation is important. In fact, it’s so important that it’s the first thing you should look into when choosing a TEFL course.

But the truth is there’s a lack of regulation in the TEFL industry, which means there’s nothing stopping anyone – regardless of qualifications and experience – from creating a course and selling it. There are so many TEFL courses out there and you need to be able to spot the good from the bad – which is where accreditation comes in.

Understanding how accreditation works in the TEFL industry is key to choosing the best TEFL course for you. It can be a tricky topic at first to get your head around as there are a lot of misleading claims and obfuscation out there regarding accreditation, so we’re going to try and make it as clear as possible in this article!

Here’s everything you need to know about TEFL accreditation.

What is accreditation?

First things first: what exactly is accreditation? Simply put, accreditation is about quality control.

An external body assesses a course provider and, if their standards have been met, they will award accreditation. Good accrediting bodies will continue to monitor a provider to ensure that these standards continue to be upheld.

What’s really important to note about TEFL accreditation specifically is that there is no overarching accrediting body for TEFL courses and providers. You do not have to have accreditation from one particular body in order to create and sell TEFL courses, which is why there’s a lack of regulation within the industry.

Reputable TEFL course providers will seek out accreditation from established bodies that have high standards and a rigorous assessment process. Less reputable providers will either have no accreditation, mislead you about their accreditation status, or hold accreditation from organisations whose standards are lacking. This might be starting to sound like a bit of a minefield, but keep reading and we’ll help you navigate it!

Before we move on, accreditation is not:

  •  Membership of an organisation.
  • A guarantee of quality – this is only true of accreditation from reputable, established bodies, so tread carefully.
  • A guarantee that your qualification will be internationally recognised – again, it all depends on the accrediting body.
  • A one-time only assessment – reputable accrediting bodies will continue to periodically assess a provider to ensure that standards don’t dip.

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Accredited provider or accredited course?

Another thing to be aware of is that course providers are accredited, not specific courses. Individual courses can be regulated, such as our Level 5 course, which is regulated by TQUK, an Ofqual-awarding body. Ofqual regulates qualifications, not providers, so be wary of providers that inaccurately claim to be Ofqual accredited/regulated.

It might all just sound like semantics, but it matters! TEFL accreditation is a bit of a murky topic because of the lack of regulation, which has made it very easy for dodgy providers to mislead. The aim of this article is to help you understand exactly what accreditation is, why it matters, and what you need to look out for when choosing a course.  

Why you should care about accreditation

When choosing a TEFL course your priorities will likely include learning how to effectively teach and being able to secure a job once qualified. We can’t stress enough just how important accreditation is when it comes to both these areas.

Firstly, you want to make sure that a TEFL course prepares you for teaching English. Good accreditation is your guarantee that the course offered will do just that. By thoroughly assessing the provider, an accrediting body will determine whether or not they are able to deliver quality courses that deliver on this promise.

Secondly, you want to be sure that your TEFL qualification is going to get you a job. One of our esteemed TEFL tutors, Carl, has extensive experience teaching English across the globe and has also recruited and hired teachers. The first thing he would look at when an application came through was accreditation.

Why? Because not only is accreditation an indicator of quality for you as a customer, it also demonstrates to employers that you’ve undertaken training that is sufficient for the job. If you’ve taken a TEFL course from a provider that isn’t accredited, or their accreditation doesn’t check out, then you can be at a serious disadvantage when it comes to trying to secure work.

In fact, we’ve had a number of students complete a course with us because they initially signed up for a Groupon TEFL course, or other budget course, only to find that employers don’t recognise it. What might seem like a great deal can just end up costing you time and money – and, realistically, can you really expect to learn how to teach English and get a job with a £20 course?

“Good” vs “bad” TEFL accreditation: how do you tell the difference?

When a provider says they’re accredited you can’t just take that claim at face value. You need to check out where that accreditation comes from because, as we’ve already touched on, not all accrediting bodies are equal.

Some course providers actually even set up their own accrediting bodies to accredit themselves and create the veneer of quality. Thankfully, these are easy to spot with a little digging. If you look up the accrediting body you should be able to find out information about the other providers they accredit, as well as their processes and standards. If you can’t find a list of accredited providers or information about their processes then you should avoid. Reputable bodies will always list the courses they accredit. If you can find a list then have a look at the other providers listed to see if they look reputable.

Remember, there is no overarching accrediting body for TEFL courses – if you come across one that claims to specialise in accrediting only TEFL courses then proceed with caution.

So, how do you spot good TEFL accreditation? Here’s what to look out for:

  • The accrediting body is established and well recognised.
  • They list all the providers they accredit.
  • You can easily find out information about their processes and how they grant accreditation status.
  • They accredit other reputable course providers.

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The TEFL Org’s accreditation

The lack of regulation in the TEFL industry is undoubtedly a problem. We recognised this early on, which is why The TEFL Org has always prioritised accreditation so that our students can be confident that the training they receive is of the highest quality.

We’re the most accredited TEFL course provider in the UK, which means we hold accreditation from a number of different established bodies.

The British Accreditation Council (BAC)

The BAC has been accrediting colleges and learning providers in the UK and overseas for over 30 years. As an accrediting body, the BAC is rigorous in its standards, and providers are regularly assessed and reassessed. Over the years we’ve held BAC accreditation we’ve had a number of inspections and gone through their reaccreditation process, which all providers must do after a number of years in order to maintain their accreditation status. All of their inspection reports are published on their website.

Ofqual 

Our Level 5 TEFL courses are Ofqual regulated. Ofqual, a non-ministerial English government department, does not accredit providers, rather it regulates individual courses and this is done via an Ofqual-approved awarding body. Our Level 5 courses have been developed with TQUK, who carry out annual quality checks and verify assessments. Graduates of our Level 5 courses receive a certificate from both us and TQUK.

Open and Distance Learning Quality Council (ODLQC)

In 1968 the ODLQC was set up by the British government in order to monitor the quality of open and distance learning courses and providers. It is now a non-governmental organisation and continues to assess the quality of training and education providers. You can see our profile on the ODLQC website.

Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)

The SQA is an executive non-departmental Scottish government body, which is responsible for accreditation and awarding qualifications in Scotland. The TEFL Org is an SQA-approved centre, and we have been approved by them to deliver the first part (Language and Learning in ESOL F43X 33) of Unit 1 (PDA Introduction to tutoring ESOL); which is an SQA accredited course.

Find out more details about our accreditation over on our accreditation page

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