9 essential tips to pick the best online TEFL certification

9 essential tips to pick the best online TEFL certification

At first glance, most online TEFL certification courses seem to have a lot in common. 

  • They're flexible and convenient. 
  • They cover similar topics. 
  • They come with the promise of finding a teaching job quickly in the booming global TEFL industry.

But look a little closer and you'll find quite a few differences between courses, from wildly contrasting course fees to the amount of time you'll spend studying. 

And then there's the added worry of making sure your online TEFL provider is internationally recognized and accepted by employers.

So with so many options out there, how do you pick the right one?

Here are 9 essential tips to help you choose the best online TEFL course for you:

  1. Choose a reputable course provider.
  2. Check out your course provider's online presence.
  3. Make sure your TEFL certification is at least 100 hours.
  4. Don't go for the cheapest TEFL certification.
  5. Research who your tutors will be.
  6. Read through the course curriculum.
  7. Decide whether you want to do a practicum.
  8. Consider doing specialization modules.
  9. Ask your TEFL course provider about past students.

1. Choose a reputable course provider.

Choosing an internationally recognized TEFL course is a way for you and your future employer to be sure that you've taken a good quality course, and that you're qualified to teach English as a foreign language.

The truth is that there is no one TEFL accreditation authority, and different courses might be accredited by various organizations, all of which have different standards.

So choosing the best provider is not as straightforward as it may sound. 

As a rule of thumb, when you find a course you like, first check their reviews, industry experience, and good teaching credentials.  

Photo of woman researching the best online TEFL courses.

2. Check out your course provider's online presence.

Next, check that the course provider is legitimate. While there are many great TEFL courses online, there are also some that mostly exist to make a profit. 

Your first sign that you've found a trustworthy course is that a reliable authority accredits it. But, beyond that, take a good look at your course provider's online presence. 

Some questions you can ask yourself are:

  • Is their website legit?
  • Are they associated with any trustworthy organizations like universities?
  • Do they provide detailed information about the course?
  • Do they have mostly good reviews? 

Look at all the information you can find to get a better picture of your course provider before you sign up for any TEFL certificate.

3. Make sure the TEFL certification is at least 100 hours.

You can find TEFL courses that promise to qualify you to teach in just one weekend. But this sounds too good to be true because, well, it is. 

Most employers require candidates to have 100-hour TEFL certificates as a minimum requirement. 

These normally take around three months to complete, although you can study at your own pace. 

This might sound like a big-time investment, but choosing a TEFL course with 100 hours of study is the best way to secure job opportunities after you finish studying. 

4. Don't go for the cheapest TEFL certification.

In the same vein, you can spend pretty much any amount you like on online TEFL courses. But courses that seem surprisingly cheap are probably priced low for a reason. 

Providing a good quality course, with engaged tutors that meet accreditation standards costs money. So expect to pay anything from $1000-1300 for a good quality TEFL course. 

5. Research who your course instructors will be.

If the information isn't available online, get in touch with course providers to find out who your TEFL instructors would be. And then research them to find out whether they're experts in TEFL. 

You might want to check out their experience level, qualifications, whether they've been in any publications, or even their social media accounts (if they're posting professional content). 

All of this can give you an idea of the kind of expertise you'll have access to on your TEFL course.

6. Read through the course curriculum.

Your TEFL course should give you a solid foundation of the expertise you'll need to work as a TEFL teacher. 

Good quality online TEFL certifications should have a curriculum available online or send you one if you ask. It's so important to do your research before committing to anything. 

As a guide, your course should cover topics like:

  • Preparation: lesson planning, learning objectives, teaching materials
  • Teaching: language acquisition theory, teaching different skills, teaching methods, self-assessment for professional development, 
  • Classroom management: multicultural classrooms, managing behavior, learning styles 

7. Decide whether you want to do a practicum.

Some TEFL courses provide real teaching experience in a classroom environment (known as a teaching practicum), and others don't.

Taking a TEFL course with a practicum can help raise your confidence and give you some practical experience before you start working as a teacher. 

But most practicums are only 20 hours long, so they won't put you that far ahead of other new teachers who haven't done it. 

In all honesty, it's nice to have, but not a requirement in finding a job as a TEFL teacher.

If you already have some teaching experience, you don't need a practicum.

Photo of young male TEFL teacher in front of class - best online TEFL courses.

8. Consider doing specialized modules.

Most TEFL courses will prepare you to teach learners from any country and or any age group. But if you want to teach in a specific destination or field, you might want to choose a TEFL certification that offers extension modules.

For example, the University of Toronto online TEFL certification offers specializations in fields like test preparation, teaching business English, teaching young learners or teaching English to Mandarin (Chinese) speakers.

Recruiters rarely request specialized TEFL certifications. But if you're sure about where or who you want to teach, doing a relevant extension module could boost your skills up and be an asset in interviews. 

9. Ask the TEFL course provider about past students.

One of the best ways to judge the quality of your TEFL course is by looking at how past course graduates have fared. 

Course providers should be able to give information about how many of their grads get hired and what kind of TEFL jobs they go into. 

They might even be able to put you in touch with former students who can tell you about their experiences on the course and after.

The choice is yours!

To quickly recap, here are nine tips for choosing online TEFL courses

  1. Choose a reputable course provider.
  2. Check out your course provider's online presence.
  3. Make sure your TEFL certification is at least 100 hours.
  4. Don't go for the cheapest TEFL certification.
  5. Research who your tutors will be. 
  6. Read through the course curriculum.
  7. Decide whether you want to do a practicum.
  8. Consider doing specialization modules.
  9. Ask your TEFL course provider about past students.

Of course, it's important to do enough research to ensure that the course you choose is legitimate and will be recognized by TEFL recruiters (look out for accreditation, minimum 100-hours, and a favorable online presence.)

But beyond that, it's a personal choice! 

And don't be afraid to be picky. The amount of available online TEFL courses might feel overwhelming at first. But one of them is sure to be the best online TEFL certification for you.