The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best TEFL Course for You

Warning: don’t choose a TEFL certification course until you read this.


I’m guessing you’re a little lost on how to get started teaching English abroad. You’re probably emailing multiple program providers and following them on Facebook. Maybe you’ve even talked to a few on the phone, and you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the different offerings out there.

I get you.

I was in your shoes once, too.

And that’s why I started globalU — to make it easier to help people like you get started on their teach abroad program.

Something I’ve learned in the process of my own trial and error is that choosing a training course (commonly referred to as a TEFL certification course) can be one of the biggest challenges to getting started.

Do you study online or onsite? What are the things to look out for? Are all courses accredited? Will they help you find a job?

So I wrote this handy guide to help you navigate the process and ultimately find the best TEFL course for YOU!
Perhaps the best place to start is which learning environment you prefer…

Is online or onsite better?

I’m often asked which is better; to take an online course or one onsite, and the answer really depends on you. Ask yourself if you’re a self-driven learner, or if you learn best in a classroom environment surrounded by others who are learning the same thing.

Perhaps you don’t have the time to devote to a three- or four-week course abroad, and instead would like to get TEFL certified while you work and figure out what’s next, or while you finish up your studies.

Maybe you’re not yet sure where you want to teach English abroad, but you’re ready to get the certification underway. If this sounds familiar, an online course can be the most convenient and cost-effective option for you.

However, if you know you want to teach in a specific country — say Thailand or Costa Rica or Prague, — you’d be smart to look into local course offerings and participate onsite, which will give you — along with all the usual TEFL course tools — an introduction to the local culture, language and food while allowing you to gain hands-on experience teaching students who more closely resemble those you’ll work with once you find a job.

Not only does it give you a head start on understanding the culture, but also most onsite courses are well connected to schools in the area, and you’ll be the first to find out about jobs (or perhaps they’ll even place you in one, like ours do!).

But once you’ve decided if you want to study online or onsite, what else should you look for?

What should I look for in a course?

Regardless of if you choose to do a TEFL course onsite or online, you’ll want to make sure that either course option has all the components you’re looking for. Here are just a few questions you might want to ask before committing:

  1. Is it internationally accredited, meaning it’s recognized by schools/governments as a quality certificate, allowing you to teach English around the world?
  2. Does it require a teaching practicum, so you can gain hands-on experience? If so, how many hours? If it’s an online course, how will this work? (Note: many online courses do not require a practicum, so you might want to find somewhere to volunteer, or find a course that does.)
  3. Does the curriculum cover all the things you’ll want to be better prepared for (ie lesson planning, grammar guides, classroom management, etc.)?
  4. Does the curriculum focus on a specific age group?
  5. Who will my instructors be?
  6. Are there any hidden costs (like book fees, lodging, application fees, etc)?
  7. Does the course come with job assistance/placement? After all, you’re getting certified to make you a more competitive candidate on the job market, so shouldn’t the agency you study with take pride in their highly qualified graduates and thus help guide them into the marketplace?

All of the answers to these questions will likely factor into the price of your course, which leads us to our next question…

Can I get the best TEFL course at a bargain?

tefl certification course
These teachers became close friends during their TEFL course in Thailand

That age-old phrase, “you get what you pay for,” couldn’t be truer when it comes to choosing a TEFL certification course, like most things in life.

While it’s true you can find Groupon deals for ridiculously cheap online courses, you’ll want to make sure you know what you’re getting in return. Most of these courses do not require a practicum, have no job placement assistance, and the course material consists of a packet of PDFs, which you read through and answer questions about (yep, I’m speaking from experience). Then a tutor, who is not a qualified TEFL instructor, “grades” your homework for accuracy. Ask yourself if you’ll actually be learning from this, and if not, then even the cheapest course is money wasted. It pays to do your research before you commit to anything.

Most quality TEFL courses will cost between $1,000 and $3,000 USD. It’s best to look at it as an investment into your education, and perhaps your future career. Your return on investment will be worth it if you decide to teach English abroad for a year or more.

Getting started with teaching English abroad can be an overwhelming experience, but choosing the best TEFL course for you could help eliminate some of that hesitation and fear so common to starting out on this journey. If you choose wisely, you won’t be left stranded along the way.

I’ve personally scoured the globe to find the best TEFL courses in Thailand, Costa Rica, Peru, Guatemala, Czech Republic and online. Contact me today! 

4 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best TEFL Course for You

  1. Good point about the self-directed learner. If you need a lot of help and assistance then the online option is probably not for you. In my experience teaching in Asia the whole accreditation thing is kind of a misnomer. There is no certificate that is accepted everywhere.

    It depends on the school. For example just because you have a CELTA doesn’t mean you are guaranteed the best job. It’s almost just like a job in your country. The schools have preferences which can be for personality, looks, youth, race, etc. And yes most schools prefer experienced teachers. And the experience that they want is usually in that country.

    But if you don’t have experience then a TEFL course is a way to give you an edge over the person who doesn’t have one or experience. More importantly it should help you teach too.

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