If you’re new to the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) game, then you probably don’t know the importance of completing a TEFL course. What is a TEFL course? It’s a globally recognized standard when it comes to teaching English to non-native speakers. Sometimes, it’s called TEFL; other times it’s called TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). With TEFL, you teach English to students in a non-English speaking country. With TESOL, you teach English to non-native speakers in an English speaking country. Both are often used interchangeably and generally mean the same thing. But, it can be tough to know which TEFL course to take.
What’s the big deal TEFL/TESOL anyway?
Well, for starters, TEFL courses are essential if you want to teach abroad. It’s no longer the case of “Oh! You speak English so you must know how to teach it!” Any experienced TEFL teacher will tell you that teaching English to non-native speakers is no picnic. Sometimes, it can be nails-on-a-chalkboard difficult.
That’s where TEFL courses come in. Instead of you heading abroad and reinventing the wheel, why not learn from the experts? TEFL courses will prep you on the essentials before you hit the classroom IRL: the structure of the English language, lesson planning, second language acquisition, phonics, classroom management, and curriculum development.
[An Online Advisor will help you figure out which TEFL course to take]
What’s the payoff? Well, your students will definitely benefit. With TEFL certification, you won’t be a crazy, headless chicken in your first week, making a bad first impression with your students and staff. Students respect teachers who take their job seriously and will love you if you seem organized, confident, and passionate the subject.
You will benefit because you won’t be spending extra hours trying to figure out how to plan a lesson or how to choose an appropriate learning activity. You’ll know what to do when a student dozes off or acts up. In other words, a TEFL course can prepare you for the best and worst of the classroom experience.
SERIOUSLY 'doe, which TEFL course should I take?
If you’ve already started researching TEFL courses, you know it’s a confusing world out there with hundreds, even thousands of providers! How can you choose the one that suits you? Here are a few things to look for when choosing which TEFL course is right for you.
Choosing the right TEFL course for you
One of the first things you should look for is whether the TEFL course is properly accredited. Of course, a TEFL provider can technically vouch for itself but that’s just savvy marketing. Look for external validation. Although there isn’t one global standard for TEFL accreditation, do some background checks on each course to find out whether reputable and external education bodies recognize it.
Don’t stop there. Head to the accrediting body’s website to learn more their standards and whether they line up with yours. Also, check out program reviews and the educational background and professional experience of the course instructors.
[Save and compare TEFL courses with MyGoAbroad]
Balancing cost with convenience
Next, how much does it cost? Often, in-class courses are a lot more expensive than online courses. If you choose to do an in-class course overseas, you have to dedicate at least a month abroad and foot the bill for flights, accommodation, and other living expenses. Even if you do the course in your home country, the fees can be killer and the schedule may clash with your day job. Online TEFL courses are not only more affordable but tend to be more convenient because you can learn from the comfort of your home or wherever you’re based, 24/7.
However, there’s a big trade-off. Although many of these online courses give you a good foundation of TEFL knowledge, they lack the practical classroom teaching component. Why is this so important? Believe it or not, but TEFL employers prefer individuals who have had some kind of assessed classroom experience than someone who has none. Although they may hurt your wallet more, in the end, in-class courses are the clear winner. What getting the best of both worlds? Some providers will offer TEFL courses that are partly online and partly in person so you get all the benefits!
Knowing how many hours do you want/need?
Another important thing to consider when choosing which TEFL course to sign up for is the length of the course. TEFL courses can run from 20 hours and up. Although the 20 hour option may seem attractive because it’s short and cheap, many employers won’t even glance at it. If you’ve never taught before, don’t do it! It’s a total waste of time and money! This is because the TEFL industry standard is at least 120 hours. If you’re serious getting a solid English teaching job abroad with good pay, then you have to put in the time.
If you’re a more experienced TEFL teacher, there are advanced courses that can help you ramp up those professional skills or specialize. For example, you can get certified in teaching business English or teaching young children. You can even invest time in getting an advanced TEFL/TESOL diploma to get ahead of the pack! These courses can run from 65 hours and up.
Figuring out your preferred class format. Online? In-Class? In-Country?
TEFL courses come in many shapes and sizes. As we mentioned earlier, you can choose from online courses, in-class courses, and a combination of both. Online courses are cheaper, flexible, and allow you to learn at your own pace. However, many don’t offer the practical teaching element; not recommended for newbie teachers. Online courses can also get a bit boring and lonely if all you’re doing is reading the material and taking online quizzes. Try to look for online courses that offer live tutor support that can offer you real feedback and advice.
On the other hand, in-class courses are for specific periods (usually 4 weeks) and can be expensive and intense. Teachers will push you hard and you’ll probably have to do more than a couple all-nighters to prep for next-day assignments. You will also have to prove that you’re learning by actually teaching students! Although this may seem scary for first-timers, it’s better to learn from your mistakes in a guided environment rather than in the jungle out there.
If you’re bent on teaching in a particular country or region, in-country courses are perfect. You’ll be able to practice teaching students who will be similar to your actual students and better acclimatize to the country or region’s educational culture.
5 great TEFL courses to choose from
If you’re still feeling kerfuffled, no pressure. We’ve done the legwork for you and chosen 5 of the best TEFL courses you can take. Take your time and read each one carefully. It’s totally up to you which TEFL course you eventually sign up for.
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!
- Related: Read International TEFL Academy reviews |
2. UNI-Prep Institute
This Canadian program provider is accredited by the Professional Education Accreditation Council. It offers two solid online TEFL courses: a TESOL Certificate (120 hours) and an advanced TESOL Diploma (250 hours).
- Related: Read UNI-Prep Institute reviews |
ITTT (International TEFL and TESOL Training) offers internationally accredited online courses (with personal tutor support) and in-class courses in 18 international locations. It also offers specialist courses like a certificate in teaching young learners (50 hours) and a certificate in teaching Business English (50 hours).
- Related: Read ITTT reviews |
4. Ibero TEFL
Ibero TEFL Institute Buenos Aires is based in Argentina and guarantees jobs for all graduates. It offers an intensive TEFL program in the heart of the city as well as Spanish immersion classes and accommodation.
- Related: Read Ibero TEFL reviews |
5. Maximo Nivel
Get TEFL certified after four intensive weeks in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru! The program also includes 15+ hours of practical teaching and observation, lifetime job assistance, and add-on certificates.
Still struggling to choose which TEFL course to take? Check out these resources:
Still figuring out which TEFL course is just right for you? Channel your inner Goldilocks and explore these resources to find the right fit!
- Get customized meaningful travel advice from our OnlineAdvisor.
- Compare teach English abroad programs side by side with MyGoAbroad.
- Here are 5 things to look for in an online TEFL course.
- Thinking of heading overseas? Here’s 10 reasons to take TEFL courses abroad.
- How far in advance should I get TEFL certified?
Now that you know which TEFL course is right for you, there’s only one thing left to do…
After you’ve trawled through TEFL websites, TEFL program specs, course reviews, accreditations, and other background checks, choose the one that best suits your needs and sign up with the click of a mouse! Getting TEFL certified is the first step to a whole new world of international job opps. Get out there ASAP!