Studying a TEFL course online is becoming a more and more popular option these days. There are many newly-qualified TEFL teachers who have studied this way. When you invest time, effort and money into a TEFL course, you want to make sure that it will be worth it. You want to make sure you can get a job with the certification that you’ve worked so hard for. After all, the aim of studying a TEFL course is to be able to get a job in this area!

There is a common assumption that online learning isn’t the same as face-to-face learning. Some feel that studying online won’t get you the same qualification or mean the same as a traditional classroom course. Others worry about how potential employers perceive this online qualification.  However, this is a complete myth and every year, hundreds and hundreds of online TEFL graduates go on to secure a teaching job without any problems.

Why study an online TEFL certification?

Online learning offers you the flexibility you need to fit your TEFL course in with your lifestyle. If you already have other commitments that keep you busy (work, family, other studies), then learning online can help you achieve your TEFL dreams. Courses are usually self-study which allow you to access them at your own pace, when you have time. That means you can study at any time of the day. You can also access the courses from anywhere in the world. If you want to do a particular course which isn’t available in your country, then you can now take this! If you want to keep studying whilst on holiday, then it’s easy to do so!

Studying online also brings you into the 21st century of TEFL! Studying English online has grown in popularity recently. Many teachers now teach online or do a mixture of this (hybrid teaching). If you learn online yourself, you will understand how your students feel. You will get used to using different platforms and technologies, which can be useful for you when you want to progress into teaching TEFL online.

Is an online TEFL course valid?

The answer is, of course! Online TEFL certifications are recognised all over the world. As long as you have chosen a valid, accredited course, then the employer can see that it is a recognised course. There are a lot of courses out there and not all might have been verified. It can be difficult to find out this information, more on this below!

The other condition to watch out for is that the course is a minimum of 120 hours, which is the industry standard. It doesn’t matter whether the 120 hours have been studied in the classroom or online. Anything less than this and it won’t be seen as comprehensive training for a TEFL job. The last thing you want to do is have to pay again elsewhere as your original choice wasn’t enough to get you a job. This can be easily avoided by checking out the number of hours the course awards!

An important note to be aware of, is that an online TEFL certificate can get you a job in many areas of the world in local language schools, as a teaching assistant abroad or as a teacher of a local school in some countries (Thailand for example!). However, if you want to be a teacher in an international school, you might need more experience. TEFL, online or not, might not suffice for these types of roles.

Online TEFL courses

How to choose an online TEFL course

Make sure an official body has accredited the course

By this, we mean that you need to make sure that the course is registered with an official awarding body which has verified the course. This means that the quality of the course has been assured too. This information should be easily available on the TEFL school’s website, along with where you can go to check if this is true and usually, an accreditation number. Non-accredited companies won’t have this information on their website. Why else would they not advertise openly that they are legit? Non-accredited companies won’t have this information on their website.

Since the pandemic, there are more and more TEFL courses online but not all might be valid for your job search. If you’re unsure, enquire about accreditation to the company and they should provide you with the details you need to double check this. If they don’t, or they just insist they are and provide you with nowhere to verify the accreditation, their courses will probably not be recognised. 

Reviews from other students 

To know whether the provider is a reputable company, then you can check the reviews on google and other review sites. There should be testimonials from previous students at least on their website. The more they have, the better! If they don’t have any, then you should be careful. Any legit company will also have social media pages where you can also look for more information. 

Former students’ experience 

You can often find stories by former students who have completed their training with the company and who have successfully gone on to find positions with their online TEFL qualification. This might be through the website itself or online. You can also ask in Facebook groups about students’ previous experience with the company and what their post-TEFL experience has been like. You can also look at partnerships that the company has developed. If they advertise working with other companies or schools, then you can check these out too.

Where do you want to work and how will this course help you to do that?

Before taking an online TEFL course think about what you want to do with it. You might not know exactly or you might want to wait for that perfect spontaneous opportunity, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few ideas. Check out some options and some general requirements for these options. For example, if you want to teach in South America, have a look at some job offers from this area. Certain jobs have certain specifics of which course their teachers have. When looking for your course, it is important to be prepared. This will help you choose the right course for you and what you need for your TEFL career.  

Do I need a teaching practicum for my course to be valid?

Simply put, the answer is no. There is no requirement for an accredited TEFL course to have a teaching component included. A lot of employers will take a newly-qualified teacher as just that, and expect that their first lessons will be when they join the team. You might join a teaching practicum for some confidence which doesn’t hurt and will look good on your CV, but it won’t stop you from getting a job.

Courses which include extended teaching practice can cost over $1000 and don’t necessarily mean anything different from your 120 or 180-hour course. You might look at this type of course if you want to work in specific countries which might value this more (South Korea for example) or if you want to get into a senior teaching job. However, it’s not necessary in a lot of cases and you can save yourself the expense.

Are online TEFL courses recognised by employers

How to recognise non-accredited courses?

Accreditation of the course is important. A $20 online TEFL course which you can do in a weekend might seem tempting. After all, why not? You can spend a few hours on a Saturday and end up with a TEFL certificate. However, a potential employer will not hire someone that doesn’t have an accredited certificate.  The courses won’t provide you with the training and validity you need to impress an employer. A potential employer will not hire someone that doesn’t have an accredited certificate.

TEFL unfortunately is a world where there are many scams – for both courses and job offers. If the website is lacking a lot of detail and lacks that accrediting information, then it’s best to not use them. It can be tempting to go for something just because it’s the cheapest. But if the course isn’t going to get you anywhere, then you will end up paying to do a legitimate one anyway!

Studying an online TEFL course might work out as the best option for you. There are many high-quality courses out there now as the world has turned to online learning. This increases the quantity of choices available which can be overwhelming! You need to think about which course is best for you and your future TEFL career.

Remember, ensure that the course is accredited by an awarding body, that it is the minimal amount of hours and that the reviews are good. Reputable companies have a solid digital footprint – their website, google reviews, Instagram, Facebook and even more. The more there is available on these sites, the more reputable the company is. Consider all of these options and this way, you’ll pick the right online TEFL course for you.

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