How to choose the best TEFL course

With so many options, selecting the best TEFL course can be difficult. How to choose the best TEFL course from so many different types of systems and course providers? All TEFL course providers and practices are not created equal. Whatever you sign up for will adequately prepare you to teach English as a foreign language and will be recognised by employers worldwide.

How to choose the best TEFL course

You should know a few critical areas before selecting the best TEFL course. Below, we’ll review five key points before purchasing a TEFL course. 

What accreditation should a course provider have?

Accreditation is the most crucial factor when looking for the best TEFL course. However, in TEFL, things can get complicated. Let us attempt to clear this up for you.

All accrediting bodies are not created equal. It is common for TEFL companies to establish their own accreditation body to accredit themselves and advertise that they are ‘fully accredited’ (a meaningless phrase to use in the context of TEFL courses, so watch out for that). Furthermore, membership differs from accreditation; the two have a significant difference. Accreditation from established and widely recognised bodies with high standards is preferred. They should have strict guidelines and inspect the course provider regularly to maintain a high-quality level.

The first thing you should look for on a course provider’s website to choose the best TEFL course is information about their accreditation. And don’t believe everything they say; do your research!

What support is offered?

A good TEFL course provider will assist both during and after your course. This can include a personal tutor and assistance finding work once qualified.

When you enrol in a course with The TEFL Institute, you will be assigned a personal tutor. Our tutors are highly qualified and experienced EFL teachers. Having a single point of contact at this stage in your TEFL journey is essential. Someone who can answer your questions from personal experience and provide helpful feedback on your assignments because they understand what it takes to teach English.

Support does not imply a guaranteed job at the end of the course; there are several reasons to be sceptical of this. Consider what the course provider can offer to help you land a great job once you’re TEFL certified. All of our course graduates have lifetime access to our TEFL Jobs Centre. They also have advice from our TEFL advisers whenever needed. And we update our weekly blog with helpful advice and information to put our students and graduates in the best possible position to find work.

Some low-cost TEFL courses may be run by a single person. This makes it difficult to contact someone if you have technical problems or require other assistance. Can you get the provider by phone, email, live chat, or another method? Do they have set hours of operation?

How many TEFL hours should a course have?

The industry standard is 120 hours. If you take a course with fewer hours, you will be at a disadvantage. If you take one with a lot more, you will waste your time and money.

A 120-hour TEFL qualification will provide you with the necessary foundation to begin teaching English for the first time. Most of your training as a teacher will be on the job. But to get started, you must understand TEFL methodology and lesson planning and be confident to stand in front of a class and teach. This is where your TEFL certification comes in handy.

When selecting a TEFL course, it is critical to consider the modules included. You want to cover grammar and TEFL methodology in 120 hours. Because most native English speakers will not thoroughly study their grammar, the course must have a good grammar component. Given that grammar is the number one fear that most EFL teachers have when they first enter the classroom, we can’t emphasise how important it is!

If you exceed 120 hours, ensure the extra hours are tailored to your goals. Would you like to teach business English? Include a course that focuses on this. The same is true for online English teaching. Completing hundreds of hours of training to begin teaching English is optional!

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Is a practicum/teaching assessment necessary?

TEFL providers who offer practicum courses will frequently perpetuate the myth that a teaching practice or assessment that involves working with real students is required. They claim that employers will not consider you if you do not have it.

Simply put, a practicum isn’t required – but it can still be beneficial! You need to consider whether you want to make a career out of teaching. If this is the case, the initial investment may be well worth it. A course like the CELTA, the most well-known and well-established intensive course with a teaching assessment, costs around £1,200. It also usually entails a month of full-time study. It’s pretty expensive compared to a TEFL course, which can cost between £150 and £500.

Taking a reputable course provider’s online TEFL course, or one combined with a short classroom course, is enough to get you started in the TEFL industry. There is no need for a practicum.

teacher with school kids in a classroom teaching

Read the fine print and avoid hidden fees.

A good TEFL course provider will give you plenty of time to complete your course and will not charge additional fees. If you need help finding out how long it takes to complete a course or if the cost of the certificate (both hard copy and PDF) is included, contact them. Hidden fees are notorious for Groupon TEFL courses but aren’t limited to low-cost methods!

You would have six months to complete our 120-hour Advanced Online TEFL course if you signed up for it. Given that most of our students finish in 6-8 weeks, this is plenty of time for most, but those requiring more time can purchase an extension. Some TEFL course providers will intentionally give you a short deadline to complete your studies to increase the likelihood that you will have to pay extension fees.

Another way for TEFL course providers to make more money is to charge you for a hard copy of your certificate. If you want to teach English in another country, you’ll need a hard copy of your diploma, which should be included in the cost of your course. And if it isn’t, find out how much it will cost first. When comparing the costs of TEFL courses, one may appear less expensive, but when these hidden fees are factored in, the final price can be significantly higher. Do your homework to avoid unpleasant surprises!

The best TEFL courses for teaching online and abroad

120-hour TEFL course

The industry standard is 120 hours. This is the bare minimum if you want to teach English abroad or online. If you are a native English speaker with a degree and previous teaching experience, you should have no trouble finding work.

A 120-hour course can be completed entirely online or, if offered by the provider, with some in-person classroom training.

Level 5 TEFL course

A Level 5 TEFL course is regulated by Ofqual and has been assessed as a Level 5 qualification under their framework. These courses are typically longer than 120 hours and, like a 120-hour course, can be completed entirely online or in conjunction with classroom instruction.

Level 5 training can give you a slight advantage when applying for jobs, especially if you don’t have a degree or previous teaching experience or aren’t a native English speaker. As a more comprehensive course, it’s an excellent choice for those unsure about teaching. 

It is important to note that it will not get you a better-paying job – salaries in the TEFL industry are determined by experience – but it will make it easier to secure work by strengthening your CV.


One of the most well-known and established courses for teaching English as a foreign language is the CELTA. It specialises in teaching adult learners.

CELTA courses are typically offered through approved centres. They include a month of full-time in-person study and 6 hours of observed teaching practice. This course can cost up to £1,200. Making it significantly more expensive than a TEFL course. It’s common for teachers to take a TEFL course first, followed by a CELTA once they’ve decided teaching is for them.

Trinity CertTESOL

Regarding delivery, the Trinity CertTESOL is very similar to the CELTA. It is a 4-week intensive course with observed teaching practice, identical to the CELTA. Choosing between the CELTA and the Trinity CertTESOL may come down to which class is held in a more convenient location for you and the price – the Trinity CertTESOL may be slightly less expensive.

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The TEFL course you choose all depends on your needs and goals. Look at the course content included on each course page and see if it aligns with who, where and how you want to teach. If you want to teach young learners in a classroom, for example, you’ll want to make sure the course covers that. 

An accredited 120 Hour TEFL course is the quickest route to becoming TEFL qualified. On the other hand, a Level 5 diploma is ideal if you want more in-depth training. It’s also important to choose a course from a reputable TEFL provider for quality training and support.

Still unsure? Complete The TEFL Institute’s free English Level Test, which has been designed to help you make this important decision. 

You do not need a degree to take a TEFL course. Anyone fluent in English can enrol in one of our courses to become a qualified and confident English teacher. However, a degree is required in some countries to get a work permit, like Japan and Korea. But there are many opportunities for those without a degree to be hired.

Even if you see an employer that has a preference for degree holders, we still recommend applying. They may not get their full quota, and you could have many additional skills that will appeal to hiring managers.

If you’re looking for a professional, globally recognised TEFL qualification, you should consider an online Level 5 TEFL course. These professional courses are Ofqual UK government regulated and assessed at the same level as the CELTA and Trinity Cert TESOL. 

Level 5 courses give you at least 180 hours of TEFL training – more than the minimum required. As it’s a higher-level course, you can access more competitive roles and salaries.

We recommend you are over 16 years old before starting a TEFL course. If you’re looking for jobs abroad, the age requirement is 18 years old or older. 

No – as a fully qualified TEFL teacher, you can teach students of any age. Our main TEFL courses cover all bases. If you would like to go into a certain niche, please check out our specialist courses to help you achieve your ambitions. 

The online courses are self-study, which means you can complete your studies in your own time and from wherever you are in the world. They’re broken into manageable modules, filled with course content, videos, podcasts, reflective tasks and tests.  

Some students prefer to learn in a classroom setting, while others are motivated enough to complete their TEFL training online. Online tuition is best suited to those in full-time employment. As you can learn online on your own time, it’s best to have other commitments. Online courses are great if you have a smaller budget and like learning when and where you want.

Classroom settings are better for learners who need teacher-led classes and prefer to practice with fellow learners before real-life teaching.

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