How to Choose the Best Online TEFL Course

In a world of seemingly endless options for online TEFL certification, how is one to ever choose? If you’re anything like me, you like to see all of your options laid out before you so you can weigh the pros and cons of each and make an educated decision. Unfortunately, there are many things in life we must choose without ever seeing all of our options. How else would we ever settle on one university, one person to marry, one perfect getaway? 

We do what research we can, and make the best decision with the tools we have. 

I’m here to arm you with some of those tools when it comes time to choose the best online tefl course for you. 

MYTH: All online TEFL courses are created equal. 


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Many people don’t understand that just because it’s called TEFL (or TESOL) that it’s the same as every other TEFL course out there, but this is inherently wrong. In fact, there are countless courses all differing by curriculum, length, requirements, instructor quality, format, timeline, extra benefits, and so much more. 

Here’s a quick guide of some things you’ll want to look for when comparing the best online tefl courses on the market.  

Does the curriculum cover everything you expect to learn? 

Think about it. You’re taking a TEFL certification course to learn how to teach English as a foreign language. You already speak English. What parts of teaching your native language do you feel unprepared for? Answering grammar questions? Dealing with cultural and language barriers in the classroom? How to manage an unruly class? 

Before you commit to any online TEFL course, make sure you see a copy of the curriculum and ask questions about anything you’re unsure about. 

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How many hours do I need? 

Good question. You’ll see courses all over the map, ranging from less than 100 hours to well over 200. So, what’s the difference? And how many hours is ideal? 

The short answer is that any course under 120 hours does not meet the requirements for international accreditation. It doesn’t mean it’s not a legitimate course; it just means it’s probably meant as a basic training if you plan to volunteer teach or simply as a refresher course. 

If you’re looking for an internationally accredited (ie recognized around the world as a legitimate certification) TEFL course (and you are, if you want to choose the best online TEFL course), you’ll want to look at courses that are 120 hours or more. Keep in mind the number of hours doesn’t automatically equal accreditation, so be sure to ask about that. There are a number of independent accrediting bodies, but the international standard requires at least 120 hours of training and at least 6 hours of student teaching. 

So, if all I need is 120 hours, why would I look at courses that are more than that? 

Again, you’ll want to refer to the curriculum and see what added benefits you’re gaining from more training hours. As with anything else, typically the more training you can get, the better prepared you’ll be in the classroom. 

I enrolled in globalU’s online TEFL course, and I’m so glad I did…I love my TEFL course — I ended up feeling it was the only affordable option available to me that didn’t sacrifice quality. 

~Eliza Pennell (USA)

What’s the format? Can I go at my own pace, or are there set dates? 

Some courses allow you to sign up and go completely at your own pace. If it takes you one month to finish or one year, it doesn’t matter to them. Other courses are more regimented, like our 11-week online training that starts and ends on a specified date, with assignments due on Fridays but the flexibility to do the week’s work when it works best for you.  

It’s important to pay attention to your learning style. Do you need deadlines in order to push yourself to complete a task? Or do you prefer the wide open flexibility of an infinite timeline? 

Who will be teaching the course? 

Back when I first started down this path, I signed up for one of those super cheap online courses with an endless timeline and no benefits. Some college student sent me a packet of PDFs, asked me to read through them and answer the questions at the end. They corrected them and sent them back. The entire course went this way, with no interaction, no practicum, no real learning on my part. 

I learned the hard way so you don’t have to. 

Make sure you ask who will be teaching your course. It should be someone with a master’s degree or higher in TEFL or something related, and years of experience in the industry. 

choose an online tefl course

Will I have access to my instructor/peers? 

Online learning already takes the face-to-face time out of the classroom and adds an additional challenge for learners who do best by asking questions.

Make sure you’ll have plenty of access to your instructor and your peers so you can ask questions as soon as they arise, and get all the support and help you need. 

If your course limits the number of students in each class, that’s even better because you’ll have a smaller student:teacher ratio, which means your instructor will have more time for your questions. Ask if they are available for live video lessons, phone, email, etc so you can make sure your preferred method of communication will be a viable option. 

Not sure where you want to teach abroad? Compare 60 popular countries with our free Country Comparison Chart!

Compare salaries, cost of living, benefits, contract length and more for 60 of the most popular countries to teach English abroad.

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Will it help me find a job teaching English online or abroad? 

While we believe every TEFL certification course should help its graduates find their first teaching job (and all nine of our courses do!), job support is a rarity in the industry. Think about how you’re going to feel when you finish an online TEFL course, receive your certification in the mail, jump for glee, and then realize you’re right back at square one, not knowing where to go or how to get a job there. It can be overwhelming, and it is a large part of the reason why many people with TEFL certifications never actually go abroad to teach. 

If you’re set on teaching English abroad, choose a TEFL course that will help you find a job.