How long does it take to complete a TEFL course?

Deciding to take up a TEFL certification course is no doubt exciting, but how much time do you need to dedicate to it?

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

Most TEFL certificate programs 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 certification 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 teaching English yourself.


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 recognized 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.

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. During a TEFL certification course, you'll have the chance to brush up on your grammar knowledge and learn the specifics of teaching English language learners. A good TEFL course will also cover essential skills like lesson planning and classroom management. Essentially, 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 gaining TEFL certification online 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 teach English - 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!

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 different types of qualifications, with different hours and levels 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 certification.

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.

Download our teaching English online guide

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. 

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.

We are the world's most accredited TEFL course provider

TEFL Org is an internationally accredited and market leading TEFL course provider

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 qualifications.

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.

Find out more if you want to become an ESL Teacher.

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! 

Frequently Asked Questions

    Still unsure about some of the key tenets of online TEFL courses? Not to worry - here are some of the most frequently asked questions about gaining a TEFL certificate through online TEFL training.

  • Q. How fast can I get a TEFL certification?

    We hear you, you're raring to start teaching abroad. An industry standard TEFL certificate takes 120 hours to earn, with the average completion time being about 10-12 weeks. That's whether you're completing an online course, or you're learning about English language teaching in person.

    Most courses will have parameters based on hours, whether it's 120, 200 or more hours. However, a TEFL certification program worth its salt will let you complete the online course at your own pace. Additionally, extensions can be granted if needs be - life can get in the way, after all!

  • Q. Is getting a TEFL certification hard?

    You want to be an English language teacher, and work at home or teach English abroad, but you're not sure you can do it? We bet that you can.

    Online courses, via any reputable TEFL provider, should give you adequate tutor support, enabling you to ask questions about anything you find particularly difficult. If you don't have any prior teaching experience, you may find the teaching practice tricky at first, but don't be intimidated. The beauty of a TEFL program is that you don't need prior teaching experience or a degree to get started.

    Of course, it's a challenge - not everyone has a TESOL certificate, after all. However, it's very much worth it if you're looking to land TEFL jobs and start teaching English abroad.

  • Q. How many modules are in a 120-hour TEFL course?

    Obviously, we can't speak to TEFL programs that we don't provide. However, The TEFL Org's 120-hour course includes the following: an English Language Teaching Methodology module, a Grammar and Language Awareness module, a Video Observation module, a Telephone Teaching module, and a Teaching Large Classes module.

  • Q. How many hours are required for TEFL certification?

    The industry standard for TEFL certification is 120 hours. However, there are Advanced TEFL programs that might be of use following the initial certification. A specific Advanced TEFL certificate for teaching young learners, teaching Business English, online English teaching or another specific qualification can definitely provide an advantage when it comes to landing a teaching position.