How to choose the best TEFL course
With so many options available, choosing the best online TEFL certification to get you on the road to English language teaching 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 recognized by employers worldwide. Sadly, this isn’t always the case with course providers or courses; there are a lot of flashy incentives for discount courses that promise the Earth, but do they actually deliver?
There are so many different factors to consider. Do you want to study in person, or remotely, using online software? What kind of time do you have available, and how many hours can you commit to? Do you need a practical element to the course, for it to be “legitimate”? What kind of tutor support is available?
To choose the best TEFL course for you to get started in your teaching career, there are a few critical areas you need to get clued up about.
The best TEFL courses for teaching online and abroad
120-hour TEFL course
120 hours is the industry standard when it comes to TEFL training. This is the minimum you should have if you want to teach English either online or in person. If you’re a native-level English speaker, this is likely the course for you. Especially so if you have either a degree or some experience in teaching.
A 120-hour course can be completed entirely online or, if the provider offers it, combined with some in-person classroom training. Either way, this is a route plenty of people choose to become TEFL certified and start teaching English. If you’re looking for a TEFL certification program that does what it promises, an 120-hour TEFL program should do the trick, and get you the teaching job you want.
Do employers recognize online TEFL certification?
Nowadays, especially in the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic, options have opened up in terms of study and gaining qualifications. TEFL online courses have long been a legitimate pursuit, recognised by employers. Now, TEFL certification programs based online are just as common as in-person learning and have the potential to supersede its more traditional counterpart.
Employers are aware of the constraints that everyone has been under since early 2020, including TEFL students. During that time, a lot of people reassessed their careers or their career prospects and decided they wanted to travel, teach or set up their own online businesses. TEFL, and the desire to teach English to young learners or adult students alike, fits perfectly into that lifestyle choice.
Also, with the number of online businesses that teach English, it’d be more than a bit strange if online employers weren’t keen on online TEFL certification! So, yes – online TEFL courses are just as valid a route to TEFL certification as a TEFL certification program that relies on in-person teaching. Online teaching businesses barring graduates of online courses would be bizarre.
How to choose the best TEFL course
So, now we know the types of courses that are available for aspiring teachers, from a 120-hour course to Trinity CertTESOL. We know that doing TEFL courses online doesn’t put you at a disadvantage, compared to the more traditional route. Doing an online TEFL program opens doors to teach English online, or teach abroad. However, how do we pinpoint what makes a good course great, and what makes a suspect course so suspicious?
There are a range of factors, from accreditation (which is crucial) to hidden fees, the argument over a practical assessment and tutor support. Choosing the right online TEFL course really is vital for landing a teaching job and making the most of a career in teaching English – start as you mean to go on!
What accreditation should a course provider have?
Whether it’s an online TEFL certification course or in-person teaching, accreditation is arguably the most important area to look into when choosing the best TEFL certificate. However, in the world of TEFL, it can be more than a bit complicated. Let’s try to clear it up.
There is no single over-arching accrediting body for TEFL certification. 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 online TEFL and more all-encompassing 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 DEAC (USA), 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!
It’s also important to know that “accredited TEFL courses” aren’t really a thing; it’s the provider who’s accredited for high standards of TEFL certification, not the individual courses. As for employers? They’ll know the difference between bogus TEFL certification programs and the real deal, so accreditation really does matter when it comes to getting your first teaching job.
What tutor 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 for teaching English abroad.
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, whether it’s online TEFL learning or a more traditional route. 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-person 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? It’s highly unlikely you’ll get tutor support worth anything in a TEFL program that’s manned by a solo member of staff, or if they’re a dodgy-looking TEFL provider.
Support goes beyond the best online TEFL courses, or speaking to a tutor during combined TEFL courses. It’s about the entire company, too. Before you start, a good TEFL program provider should be able to talk you through the process and find the best online TEFL courses online for your needs.
Additionally, support should ideally come from peers, especially in the context of TEFL certification online. The TEFL Org, for example, has an online forum which allows English teachers of the future to speak to each other, give advice, discuss teaching methods and share resources for online classes. This isn’t necessarily a prerequisite, but TEFL certification programs these days ought to have some kind of social function!
Regarding support, it also helps to choose a TEFL program provider that includes former or current TEFL teachers. Gaining a TEFL certificate online or on any of the hybrid TEFL courses available can still be tough work. Learning from someone with teaching experience who’s done the qualification themselves is a great bonus. English teachers tend to have the best advice when it comes to forging a teaching career abroad, classroom management and TEFL certification in general!
How many TEFL hours should a course have?
120 hours is the industry standard for TEFL courses. If you take a TEFL certification course with fewer hours you put yourself at a disadvantage for teaching English, 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 for teaching English 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 what route to take to get TEFL certified, 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 teaching English for the first time concerns grammar, we can’t stress enough how important it is!
If you’re going to go over 120 hours for a TEFL certificate, 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 course. Additionally, there are TEFL training courses geared specifically to teaching young learners. 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 for teaching English or being TEFL certified in the first place. Without it, they claim, employers won’t look at you. That’s part of the reason why there’s been an odd snobbery towards online TEFL certifications in the past.
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 TEFL jobs, we’re pretty sure our graduates would have a thing or two to say about it. We’d be getting a lot of negative reviews!
Simply put, a practicum isn’t necessary in TEFL programs – 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 is required for teaching abroad, or teaching English online.
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. When it comes to TEFL certification cost, a TEFL course provider should be honest and up-front, so customers know exactly how much they’ll be spending. Hardly rocket science!
If you can’t easily find out 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. It’s the kind of trick that some providers insert into their TEFL programs, unfortunately.
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.
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!
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|
|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
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Which is the best TEFL course online?
Judging something as being the “best” is subjective, but from our work with employers on the TEFL Org Job Centre, we can tell you this: 120 hours is what you need to get a job.
Yes, employers are looking for at least 120 hours of comprehensive TEFL training. Within that time-frame, you should have been taught a range of exciting modules, including the likes of English language lessons (obviously!), Video Observation, Grammar and Language Awarenss, Telephone Teaching and Teaching Large Classes.
If you want to study for longer, and cover a broader range of topics, that’s your choice. And, of course, it’s an individual opinion as to what the “best” TEFL online course is, but new TEFL teachers you ask will tell you that a good 120 hour course more than amply does the trick.
Q. Are online TEFL certificates recognized?
Generally speaking, yes – online TEFL certificates are recognized by employers. With so many more people opting to study online or use distance learning tools, it would be questionable from an employer’s point of view to ignore TEFL certificates that are completed online.
Consider also that, in the TEFL world, the internet is the best place to find jobs and is, for many, the venue for jobs. Online English teaching is a major industry, with recruitment done almost solely through the world wide web. Therefore, it’d be very strange if high quality courses completed online were ignored or looked past by TEFL employers.
The key, though, is quality. As we’ve covered, not all online TEFL courses are born the same, and sadly, there are many scammers out there. Ensuring you use a TEFL course provider with excellent accreditation, fantastic teaching tools and a solid reputation is a major part of getting a TEFL job.
Q. How much is an online TEFL course?
The cost of a TEFL course varies depending on who it’s through, the number of hours and the type of certificate you get at the end. Typically, Level 5 or 120-hour TEFL qualifications are more than enough to get your career started. The TEFL Org, for example, offer a Level 5 TEFL course for £250-550/US$288-635, while 120-hour online courses normally fall between £180-370/US$207-427.
If you fancy the more “academic route”, a CELTA course might be what you’re after, as it’s taught like a postgraduate degree. Typically, the price range for these is US$2,785/£1,365, and can be taught either part or full-time. DELTA courses cost more, normally setting back students £1,500/US$3,000.
If you want to do extra TEFL training, you’ll find the price point dips, but the value doesn’t. Once you’ve achieved your industry-standard TEFL certification (120 hours+), you can add to your qualifications with Advanced TEFL courses, which tend to cost under £150/US$173.
Now we’ve gone into some depth about the best online TEFL certification, but it’d be understandable if you were wanting just a little more information. After all, a TEFL course is a commitment, and you want to be sure you’ve done everything right!
So, with that in mind, we’ve answered the most frequently asked questions we get about TEFL certification.