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The Best TEFL Online Courses: The Definitive Buying Guide

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You are looking for a legit TEFL online course, which is worth the money and perfectly prepares you to teach English abroad?

Online courses are an excellent option for people who are motivated and excited about getting TEFL certified, but can’t make the time commitment or afford the high cost of in-person programs.

The right course will help you feel qualified and supported as you prepare to move abroad, while the wrong course will force you to spend money on a useless certification that hinders you from landing a job.

How can you make the best decision?

This article will walk you through the process of researching and selecting the online course that best suits you, which is vital to successfully pass your TEFL certification online.

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The Difference Between TEFL, TESL, and TESOL

If you’ve already looked into getting an English teaching certification, you’ll undoubtedly have come across the three acronyms: TEFL, TESL, and TESOL. While very similar, they each have slight variations in meaning.

TEFL stands for “teaching English as a foreign language,” and primarily describes teaching English in countries where the native language is different.

If your plan is to get your certification and move abroad to teach, then you’re interested in TEFL.

TESL, or “teaching English as a secondary language,” describes teaching English to non-native speakers within an English-speaking country. TESL applies to you if you live in an English-speaking country, and are planning to remain there to teach.

Lastly, TESOL stands for “teaching English to speakers of other languages,” which is a broad description that covers both TEFL and TESL.

Knowing the difference between the three acronyms will allow you to see an online course title and immediately know what style of teaching it encompasses.

For more basic info about TEFL certification, read our comprehensive starter guide.

What to Look for in an Online TEFL Course

While TEFL courses are a dime a dozen, quality ones are much harder to come by.

Plenty of people have paid for spam courses that either did not exist or did not deliver on stated promises, which is why it’s crucial to do your research and ensure that your TEFL certification online is legitimate.

The course must check off a number of boxes in order to simplify your learning process and enable you to teach internationally.

Must-Haves of an Online TEFL Course

  • 120-hours of training
  • Accreditation
  • Personal tutor support
  • (Lifetime) job guidance
  • Hard copy certificate

120-hours Training

First and foremost, your course must have 120 (or more) hours of study. Most employers will only accept certifications that have at least 100 hours of content.

After all, teaching students a foreign language is a complicated process. Although English may come easily to you and other native speakers, it contains a vast network of rules and regulations beneath the surface.

Studying for at least 120 hours shows prospective employers that you devoted time and energy to the process, and that you’ll arrive equipped with the proper tools to teach their students.

Courses with less than 120 hours are not accepted by employers and thus are a complete waste of time and money!

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Accreditation

Second, your TEFL certification should be from a reputable provider. Although there is no single governing body that monitors and evaluates TEFL courses, plenty of legitimate organizations and universities fill the gap.

Some of the most common accrediting organizations include Training Qualifications UK (“TQUK”) and the Online TESOL and TEFL Standards Agency (“OTTSA”).

Accreditors check course materials, learning and examination methods, tutor experience, business registration details, admissions policies, and code of conduct to ensure that course providers meet their standards.

Accreditation badge from “WTEFLAC” (letstefl.com)

You can also opt for a university course such as those offered by Cambridge University or the University of California, Berkeley.

All the online TEFL courses listed below are accredited by a legit organization.

Keep in mind that accreditation alone does not guarantee quality – be sure to do your research and choose a provider with qualified instructors and great reviews.

Support from Experienced Tutors

To ensure that you have a pleasant experience with your TEFL course and program, look for one that offers support from either experienced tutors or advisors throughout the process.

Lifetime support is ideal since you never know how long you’ll teach English. Whether you stay in the field for six months or 12 years – it’s best to get certified by a program that will always be there for you.

They’re there to help you whenever you have questions with the course materials, and can also provide guidance on wider issues – what it’s like to live and teach overseas, how can you find apartments, what to do with visas, additional career guidance and more.

You’ll have peace of mind knowing that you can access up-to-date advice and guidelines about teaching in various countries, regardless of when you completed the course.

Job Guidance

Similarly, programs that offer job search assistance are especially useful.

The assistance may be in the form of country guides, online job boards, or partnerships with job recruiting agencies or language schools – all of which will help you start working sooner upon completing your TEFL Online Course.

Digital and Hard Copy Certificates

It’s important to have a hard copy of your original stamped and signed TEFL certificate so that it can be easily used for visa and job applications. Turning up to a job with a home-printed copy of your certificate is a big no-no!

TEFL certificates should come with a reference number to verify authenticity, and information about the course and range of modules covered.

Free hard copy certificates are a must-have for any legit online TEFL course. (letstefl.com)

There should also be no additional fees or charges for having your certificate shipped around the world.

After completing the course you usually receive a digital copy of your certificate immediately, and a hard copy will be sent to you via recorded delivery.

Optional: Teaching Practicum

One thing to consider is whether or not you would like a program with a practicum-teaching component. You may feel that in-class experience will prepare you to manage classrooms better and more confidently.

While it is undoubtedly a beneficial component of TEFL training, a practicum is not a requirement at all for obtaining a TEFL certification or when applying for TEFL jobs.

Don’t worry if you don’t have the time to take one. You can also train your skills on the job, maybe consider doing an internship after certification.

In our list of the best TEFL courses below, we’ll highlight whether a course includes a teaching practicum or not.

Read Alumni Reviews

Once you’ve found programs that are internationally recognized or accredited, and come with specific benefits – you may still be unsure of which to choose.

A great way to dig deeper into a program is through online reviews from past students. Ensure that these reviews are positive and that the students were able to find desirable teaching jobs abroad.

Review Summary for Let’s TEFL on GoAbroad.com (Summer 2019)

You’ll also discover which learning environments you prefer based on descriptions in the reviews.

Whether you’re looking for a course that is “engaging and upbeat” or “focused and thorough,” the reviews are often the best way to analyze them from the perspective of past students.

Recommendable TEFL Online Courses

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – online TEFL courses are a dime a dozen. Even if you narrow them down to just the recognized and accredited ones with benefits, there are still plenty out there.

This is good news for you as a consumer who wants choices, and bad news for you as a human with a limited amount of time.

To save you hours of research, we’ve compiled a list of the best TEFL courses online.

These programs vary in terms of TEFL course cost, time commitment, and benefits. No matter your situation, you should be able to find a course that suits you and your individual needs.

The list below should serve as a starting point and help you avoid courses that are fake or illegitimate.

Once you explore the options below, plan to dig deeper by reading reviews, talking with advisors and tutors, and delving into each of the benefits.

Cambridge CELTA

  • Time commitment: 10 weeks minimum
  • Practicum: 6-8 hours
  • Requirements: must be above the age of 18
  • Cost: about $2,500 – dependent on the training center where you choose to do your practicum hours
  • Accreditation/Approval: Cambridge University
  • Benefits: considered the “gold standard” of all TEFL courses online; widely known and highly respected program for teaching English; personalized support (trainees have a designated trainer who works with them throughout the course)
  • Rating on Go Overseas: 94%

TEFL from International House UC Berkeley

  • Time commitment: 120 hours
  • Practicum: None
  • Requirements: None
  • Cost: $1,095
  • Accreditation/Approval: UC Berkeley
  • Benefits: 100% online and self-paced course, students have one year to complete the course; TEFL certification from the Centre for Intercultural Leadership at International House and the #1 public university in the US, specialized curriculum prepares you for living and teaching abroad; free lifetime job search assistance from Teach Away, the international teacher recruitment agency.
  • Rating on Go Overseas: n/a

International TEFL TESOL Training (“ITTT”)

  • Time commitment: various course options from 60 to 470 hours
  • Practicum: None
  • Requirements: None
  • Cost: courses and packages vary from $199 to $799 (10% off discount with this link)
  • Accreditation: Online TESOL and TEFL Standards Agency
  • Benefits: Job support comes with all courses and packages (although lifetime job support only comes with the “master” packages); option to combine various packages and add tutor support if desired; specialized course options for methods like Business English and Teaching English to Young Learners
  • Rating on Go Overseas: 89%

TEFLPros

  • Time commitment: 120 hours
  • Practicum: None
  • Requirements: English fluency, 18+ years of age
  • Cost: $349
  • Accreditation: Accreditat (UK Registered List of Learning Providers)
  • Benefits: Lifetime job assistance, one-on-one certified teacher trainers available for support and feedback with 5+ years of teacher training experience, free interview and resume guide, free worldwide certificate shipping and certificate notarization (upon request), free trial of a full course module, graduates finish the course with a full portfolio of graded lesson plans to show on interviews, course has 40+ hours of video observation, Supported by the Thai Ministry of Education to train foreign English teachers
  • Rating on Go Overseas: 99%

The OISE University of Toronto TEFL Course

  • Time commitment: various course options from 100 to 150 hours
  • Practicum: None
  • Requirements: None
  • Cost: between $995 to $1,495
  • Accreditation/Approval: University of Toronto
  • Benefits: Courses are 100% online and self-paced, students have one year to complete the course; TEFL certificate from the education faculty at a top-20 university; ability to customize your course with two elective specializations in subjects such as Teaching Business English and Teaching Mandarin Speakers; free lifetime job search assistance from Teach Away, the international teacher recruitment agency.
  • Rating on Go Overseas: 84%

myTEFL

  • Time commitment: various course options from 40 hours to 120 hours
  • Practicum: None
  • Requirements: None
  • Cost: between $139 and $299
  • Accreditation: Online TESOL and TEFL Standards Agency
  • Benefits: Tutor and tech support, as well as job placement assistance for life; charitable donation made for each new course enrollee; online resources for teaching jobs online and in Asia
  • Rating on Go Overseas: 98%

i-to-i LoveTEFL

  • Time commitment: various course options from 60 to 320 hours
  • Practicum: 20 hours (in combined courses)
  • Requirements: None
  • Costs: courses and packages vary from €149 to €770
  • Accreditation: Ofqual (British government regulated) and The Open & Distance Learning Quality Council
  • Benefits: Internationally recognized professional TEFL certificate; choose between various packages, online and combined courses including classroom training; specialized, in-depth courses available to train your skills at getting higher-paid jobs; dedicated expert tutor support; supported TEFL jobs and paid internships for beginners
  • Rating on Go Overseas: 86%

Key Takeaways

As you can see, your options for choosing a TEFL course are diverse. 

Regardless of the course you choose, remember that it must be internationally recognized, accredited, and offer benefits to support you as both a student and teacher.

All mentioned TEFL online course providers are reputable companies and excellent options, although, some may be more suitable for you than others. The decision is up to you.

If you’re looking for a TEFL certification online that is really worth it and highest in quality and marketability, Cambridge CELTA and International TEFL Academy are top-notch.

Cambridge is one of the longest standing TEFL course providers, and it is still a leader in the industry. ITA bases out of the United States, although it received its accreditation from a highly regarded British organization. 

Choose whether you want to have a practicum component, which helps to prepare you to stand up and lead a classroom, or rather prefer the flexibility of fully-online classes.

If your priority is to take your TEFL course on a budget, choose the Let’s TEFL course — you can’t go wrong.

All mentioned companies receive excellent reviews, will support you throughout your job search and offer a bunch of extras.

How to choose a TEFL online course

  1. Consider your goals and preferences
  2. Research the online TFEL courses and read alumni reviews
  3. Talk to an advisor of the TEFL course providers you’ve shortlisted
  4. Make your decision
  5. Enroll in the course

The decision to begin a TEFL online course is an exciting one since it is the first step of many that will help you realize your dream of moving abroad and teaching English.

Enjoy the process, learn as much as you can, and prepare yourself for one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.

1 Comment

  1. Mia Williams on May 16, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    Lovely, thorough article!
    We also agree that finding a TEFL course which offers international job guidance is very important if you want to maximize your potential after you graduate. Try to avoid placements though as these are often paid well below the going rate.

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