How to Choose a TEFL Course That’s Right for You

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Deciding which TEFL course is best

“It’s important that you don’t just settle on the first provider you come across; do your research into an array of different TEFL and TESOL programs to ensure that you land on the best fit for your own personalized learning experience.”

From: The Ultimate Guide to TEFL Certification for Americans Who Want to Teach Abroad

TEFL, schmefl, you may think. What’s the point of a certification to prove you can teach English when you’ve spent every waking hour of your life speaking the language? While once upon a time, teaching English abroad was a door wide open to any native English speaker, change is upon us. As teaching English as a foreign language has become an increasingly sought-after occupation, competition is up. To gain an edge in the applicant pool and to know what you’re doing in the classroom, the TEFL is more than just worth it.

The sheer number of accredited TEFL certification programs out there speaks volumes for how much the industry has risen in popularity. Programs have all sorts of cushy benefits and perks to woo aspiring ESL teachers’ hearts. If you still feel overwhelmed and lost after reading mountains of TEFL course reviews, let us step in and help out. We’ve compiled our sage wisdom to help you choose the right TEFL for YOU. Put on your thinking cap and get ready for some enlightenment!

taking notes

A good old-fashioned Pros and Cons list never hurt anybody.

GoAbroad’s comprehensive guide to finding accredited TEFL certification programs

1. Choose Your Class Location

Having just one option of how to take your TEFL course would be too easy, so instead you can choose to learn anywhere from South Africa to China to your own comfy bed. With all this flexibility, people from all backgrounds and employment situations can find a way to take recommended TEFL courses.


Online. Hanging on to that full-time job to save up for a wild teaching job abroad? When thinking what TEFL course is best for busy professionals, an online option is a beautiful thing. This route is typically the most affordable, flexible, and many times you can even work at your own pace. The best online TEFL courses will offer live tutors for real time feedback and have a teaching practice component. Taking modules and quizzes online can get repetitive and bland, so be sure you’re informed on the pros and cons before choosing a TEFL course online.


In-Person. In-person courses can take place entirely in a traditional classroom format, or be a combination of online theory and real life application. Because of the in-person component, courses may be intensive and scheduled to fit into specific time periods with little wiggle room. However, if your goal is to teach ESL in front of a classroom (not online), you may want to consider gaining those skills in the same way! In-person courses can range from an intensive one month program to one conducted over multiple weeks. It ultimately depends on the type of experience you are looking for.


In-Country. If you’re fully ready to take the plunge straight into your teaching destination, then register for accredited TEFL certification programs on-site! In-country courses are the ultimate bundle, offering courses in theory, cultural immersion, and teaching practice in the same cultural settings you’ll later be working in. Additionally, these country specific programs have ties to local language schools and tutoring companies to help you land a job the second you receive that TEFL certification.

[Which TEFL course is best? Read more the pros and cons of online vs. in-person formats!]

Pins in map

Ultimately, where you want to teach abroad might play into which TEFL course you choose.

2. Decide on a Time Commitment

The free time you have available to dedicate to a TEFL course goes straight back to what kind of class format fits your lifestyle. Another time factor to consider is how long you plan on teaching English abroad. Are you planning on spending a summer in Nepal? Do you want a career change and a two-year teaching contract? For shorter term programs, a TEFL certification may not even be a requirement to teach.

Warning! Don’t just opt for the course with the least amount of hours! Before jumping for the cheapest TEFL course you find, pay good attention to how many hours you’ll spend learning. Even if you have a jam-packed scheduled, it’s better to draw out your TEFL course over a longer period of time, than to choose a course with under 120 recommended hours. A 40-hour course sounds tempting, but you could greatly sabotage your chances of getting hired afterwards.

3. Review the Requirements

Different accredited TEFL certification programs require different base qualifications for applicants. For the most part, being over 18 years of age with a high school diploma is a given. A college degree isn’t always needed, but it will definitely boost your employability in the job market when competing with college graduates from all over the English-speaking world.

It may come as a surprise to some, but you don’t actually need to be a native English speaker to qualify! Having high proficiency in English is usually enough to get your foot in the door. After all, the purpose of a TEFL is to equip candidates with teaching methods and pedagogy, not to increase language fluency.

4. Consider Your Teaching Goals

What are your motivations for teaching English as a foreign language? Although teaching is an easy way to live abroad for a significant amount of time, you shouldn’t just consider teaching for that reason! Keep in mind that your role as an educator effects dozens of students and impacts their future education, as well. If your heart isn’t in it and you’d rather spend time traveling around, there are countless other ways to spend time abroad like through volunteering or adventure travel.

In which country do you want to teach? Your dream teaching destination is an important factor when choosing a TEFL course. Some programs have a stronger presence in certain countries, and as a result can guarantee better employment help or insights. Teaching culture can also influence your role in the classroom and your relationship with students. The kinds of learning institutions open to foreign teachers will vary by country.

Find out which TEFL course is best for teaching at a public school in Prague, or helping out at a private language center in China for business professionals.

time is precious neon sign on building

That’s right, so you have to decide how much time you can dedicate to a TEFL course.

Extra food for thought before choosing a TEFL course

1. Should you actually get a TESOL or TEFL?

So what’s the difference between TEFL, TESL, and TESOL? The English teaching world has a lot of similar easily confusable acronyms, but there are a few distinct characteristics that set all these certifications apart. Here’s the basic low-down of what defines each one:

  • TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Language. If you’re interested in teaching English abroad in a non-English speaking country, you’ve probably heard the name TEFL thrown around a lot more than the other two certifications. Employers abroad will more often than not require TEFL as proof that you know how to teach English in a non-English speaking context.
  • TESL: Teaching English as a Second Language. The TESL route is for aspiring English teachers in an English-speaking country. Instead of traveling elsewhere to spread the joys of English, you can do so in your own backyard.
  • TESOL: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Finally, the TESOL is a more recently created middle point between TEFL and TESL, covering a the whole ESL spectrum. Although not as respected as the TEFL is abroad, a TESOL certification is a good start if you’re still not completely sure where you want to teach.

For those looking to specifically teach English and not at home, the decision of which certification to get is simple! Accredited TEFL certification programs are your best bet, due to their long history and well-received reputation by employers around the world. A focused curriculum in teaching where English isn’t the native language will also help you adjust teaching methods to your students and surroundings.

2. Which TEFL course gives the best bang for your buck?

Reading TEFL course reviews by actual students, who have completed course curriculums and received certifications, can give immense insight into the effectiveness of the program. Was there any live feedback on the online course? How proactive is the program in job search help?

Price doesn’t always guarantee quality, so an affordable program from a small TEFL certification provider may actually be more beneficial than a pricey name brand. If you’re a hands-on learner, rather than a visual learner, you could get more out of an in-person course than online. As stated before, a general rule is to seek out programs that offer AT LEAST 120 hours of material to ensure your certificate will be respected and accepted by potential employers. 

3. How can you compare accredited TEFL certification programs?

Now that you know how to choose the right TEFL course for yourself, you’re ready to go out into the Internet and explore! As a pro, you’ll know exactly what to look for in your perfect TEFL match. How can you go doing that? Let’s look at a few stellar ways to get started.

  1. Seek customized program advice and help from our OnlineAdvisor.
  2. Get side by side comparisons of recommended TEFL courses and read real TEFL course reviews with MyGoAbroad.
  3. Visit program websites after comparing through GoAbroad to get even more comprehensive information.
  4. Chat with a company rep.
  5. Trust your gut & go!
class in session in Myanmar

What are your teaching goals? Better get them sorted!

3 recommended TEFL courses to get you started

As you continue to sift through the TEFL programs that are right for you, here are some hot options we think you should consider:

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1. International TEFL Academy

This program provider offers a TEFL/TESOL 170 hour combination online/in-class course that’s part time, running for a little over 11 weeks. This course is directed by a university professor and offers 150 hours of online training and 20 hours of in-person ESL classroom observation in your hometown!

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2. PremierTEFL

Premier TEFL offers fully accredited, easy-to-understand, and affordable courses online. You’ll be certified and ready to teach abroad in just three months! Plus, their staff is attentive and helpful in guiding you through the course.

  • TEFL course types: In-person, online, combination, internships, in-country
  • Job assistance: Brazil, Thailand, Argentina, Chile, Spain, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, South Korea, India, Taiwan, Romania, Colombia
  • Related: Read Premier TEFL Reviews |  
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3. i-to-i TEFL

I-to-i TEFL has been around for over two decades and has trained over 150,000 ESL teachers in that time. It has been one of the best TEFL certification course providers for many years running, and continues its trend of excellence with positive reviews across the board. Upon graduation, you can benefit from exclusive access to their jobs board featuring hundreds of listings for TEFL abroad employment.

  • TEFL course types: Online, combination, internships
  • Job assistance: Brazil, Thailand, Argentina, Chile, Spain, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, South Korea, India, Taiwan, Romania, Colombia
  • Related: Read Reviews of i-to-i TEFL Programs |
row of different, just washed apples

You work on choosing a TEFL course, your students will choose the apples.

Go forth and discover which TEFL program is best for YOU!

That’s it! It’s that simple and you don’t even have to leave your comfy couch, bed, or chair to look for programs. Decide where you want to teach, which course format best fits you, and fill in the blanks to make it happen. Your new career as a certified English teacher is just around the corner!

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