tefl certification

TEFL Certification

Want to learn more about TEFL certification and teaching English abroad or online? You’ve come to the right place!

Explore TEFL Courses

Confused about TEFL (that’s Teaching English as a Foreign Language for you newbies)? That’s not exactly a shocker. We just jumped onto Google and did a quick search for “TEFL” and what did we see? Over 7 million hits...and then some!

If TEFL info overload is currently making your head explode, we don’t blame you. But there’s no need to panic. At Teach Away, we happen to know a thing or two about qualifying for awesome teaching jobs abroad. Not only do we offer online TEFL courses alongside University of Toronto OISE and International House Berkeley, but we’ve spent over 10 years training and placing thousands of teachers across more than 50 countries.

It’s safe to say we’ve picked up some nuggets of TEFL-related wisdom along the way. That’s why, with a little help from hiring experts and real teachers who’ve taught abroad, we’ve created The Ultimate Guide to TEFL Certification.

This handy guide runs through everything you need to know about TEFL, the qualifications you need to land that dream job teaching English abroad.

We’ve tackled four major TEFL topics below that you can explore in any particular order:

Table of Contents

What is TEFL

Part 1

Is all about the fundamentals of TEFL certification, i.e. what it is, why it matters and what it’s needed for - as well as the different alternatives to TEFL that are out there.

What are the requirements to enroll in TEFL?

Part 2

Dives deep into what you can do and where you can teach with your TEFL, in addition to the requirements you’ll need to meet in order to enroll in a TEFL course.

How much does TEFL certification cost?

Part 3

Covers common FAQs about TEFL accreditation, costs and some killer advice on choosing the right TEFL course to fit your needs.

Should I get TEFL certified online?

Part 4

Gives key insight into all the things you need to know about getting your TEFL certificate online - one of the most popular and flexible options available (we may be a little biased, but it’s also our favorite TEFL course option for college graduates AND qualified teachers!). It also gives you a heads up about what life after TEFL is like!


Whew, lots to get through! But don’t worry - you can choose to scroll through the entire guide at your leisure or jump forward to the section that’s most useful for you. If you like what you read, feel free to go ahead and share it with a friend or colleague.

So, let’s get right to it. Where would you like to start?

Everything you need to know about Teaching English as a Foreign Language

Lost in a jumble of TEFL and ESL-related jargon? We’ve got you covered!

  1. TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

  2. Whether you’re a college graduate or qualified education professional, a TEFL certification is the qualification you need to teach English abroad.

What does TEFL certification mean?

TEFL is a four-letter acronym, short for Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

You’ve probably seen TEFL pop up a time or two when researching teaching abroad, along with other popular in-person and online ESL certifications like TESL, TESOL and CELTA.

When it comes to researching the different requirements and qualifications for teaching jobs abroad, you might see all of these terms used interchangeably. That’s a big no-no, though.

They’re really quite different from each other.

Let’s get into how and why they’re not one and the same:

A beginner’s guide to TEFL (and other common ESL acronyms)

Before we dive in any further, it’s probably helpful to review some of the common acronyms that are tied to TEFL and teaching English abroad. Here’s what each one stands for:

ESLEnglish as a Second Language
EFLEnglish as a Foreign Language
TEFLTeaching English as a Foreign Language
TEFL Certification An internationally-recognized qualification to teach English abroad, that can be online or classroom-based
TESLTeaching English as a Second Language
TESL Certification TESL is the qualification you need to teach English to foreign-language speakers living in a native-English speaking country.
TESOLTeaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
TESOL Certification  A TESOL certification is for anyone looking to teach in both non-native and English speaking countries.
CELTACertificate in English Language Teaching to Adults
what is tefl

ESL and EFL teaching: What’s the difference?

English as a Second Language (ESL) is English taught to non-native speakers who live in an English-speaking country.

A Chinese student studying English in Canada.

English as a Foreign Language (EFL) is English taught to non-native speakers who live in a non-English-speaking country.

A Brazilian student taking business English classes in their home country.

esl and efl meaning

Alternative ESL certifications

TEFL, TESL, TESOL: How they’re different

Despite what you might have read online, TESOL and TESL are not equivalent qualifications to TEFL for anyone looking to teach English abroad.

Depending on where in the world you want to teach, one type of ESL certification may be a better fit than another.


A TEFL (English as a Foreign Language) certification is the globally accepted qualification to teach English abroad to students (both children and adults) whose first language isn't English.

A TEFL is what most hiring schools are looking for on a teach abroad application. That’s why you’ll see it crop up time and time again as a requirement on most overseas teaching job posts.

tefl tesl tesol difference

If your goal is to teach English abroad, TEFL is the most widely accepted (and highly regarded) of the four main ESL certification options.


what is tefl certification

PS: Don’t forget to check out our TEFL FAQs and articles, which feature tons of advice about TEFL certification and teaching English abroad and numerous firsthand accounts of teaching English in dozens of countries around the world!

Teach Away logo

Be the first to hear about special offers, including discounts on TEFL courses from University of Toronto OISE and International House Berkeley.



TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) certification is primarily geared towards those who are looking to teach English to non-native English speakers living in native English speaking countries.

Let’s break that down a little. Are you from the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia or South Africa? Thinking of pursuing a career teaching English language learners in your home country?

Awesome! In that case, TESL is the most commonly recognized ESL certification you need in order to qualify to teach ESL students domestically.

TESL Certification

If your goal is to teach English in your home country, look no further than TESL.


A TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification is what you need if you’re looking to teach English to non-native speakers in your home country as well as abroad.

For anyone who’s unsure whether they want to teach abroad or at home, TESOL might be a great option. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that TESOL is a newer qualification and isn’t as highly regarded by overseas employers as TEFL.

TESOL is also far more intensive and usually offered as a graduate degree program, in contrast to 100 to 150-hour professional certifications like TEFL.


CELTA (Certificate in Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages) is an easy one to remember - think of it as the branded version of a generic TESOL course! For all intents and purposes, the two terms are interchangeable - it just means that any CELTA is specifically affiliated with Cambridge University.

TESOL Certificate
If you’re looking for an advanced degree that gives you the option to teach English both at home and abroad, then a TESOL or CELTA course could be your best bet.

Which ESL certification is right for me?

esl certification

Why you should get TEFL certified

Well for starters, the international job market for teaching English abroad has never been stronger, with new jobs cropping up on a daily basis, from China and Spain to Japan and Costa Rica.

Fueled by the high demand for English language learning around the world, TEFL teaching is one of the fastest growing education industries around the world:

2 billion English language learners by 2020? You know what that means - a whole heap of native speaking English teachers are needed.

Teaching English abroad provides thousands of opportunities for native English speakers from all walks of life and all backgrounds to live, work and travel abroad - anywhere where English isn’t the official first language.

For example, right now, 24 million people are studying English in Mexico. Living the good life in a Mexican beach town while teaching English on the side - sign me up!☝️

Read this: Why millenials should teach English abroad

university of toronto tefl

Here’s why you need a TEFL if you’ve got a bachelor's degree:


You need it to teach abroad

A TEFL and your bachelor's degree (any major!) is all you need.


You’ll land a teaching job abroad quicker.

ESL and language schools all over the world are looking for English-speaking university graduates with a TEFL.


A TEFL gives you the skills to actually teach in the first place.

You’ll learn essential stuff like how to teach English grammar, plan lessons and manage a classroom!


And here’s why getting a TEFL certificate is still worth the investment, even if you’re a certified teacher:


You’ll beat out the competition.

Top international schools are looking for certified teachers who are also TEFL qualified.


You’ll earn a higher salary.

With your teaching background and TEFL in hand, you’ll qualify for the best paying teaching jobs abroad.


You’ll learn must-have skills for teaching English language learners (ELLs).

You’ll learn strategies for tailoring your lessons more effectively for ESL students in your classroom!


I didn’t have the knowledge to properly get my ideas and lessons across to foreign language learners. A TEFL certificate would have helped me learn strategies for teaching normal subjects, like math and social studies to ESL learners.

Katie, taught high school students in India

Learn more about Katie’s experience teaching English in India


Who is TEFL for?


All college graduates looking to teach abroad

If you’re a recent or soon-to-be graduate, you’re probably sick of being asked about your plans for the future. Before starting out in their long-term careers, more and more college graduates are looking to spend some time living and traveling abroad after finishing their studies.

Not only does getting TEFL certified and teaching English abroad help fund your travels, it’s also a great way to pay down student debt and avoid having to move back in with your parents after graduation.

Along with the team at OISE University of Toronto TEFL, we produced Beyond Magazine - a publication with everything new college and university graduates need to know about fueling their wanderlust by teaching English abroad!

Grab your free copy


New (and experienced) teachers

Faced with teaching job shortages in their home countries, more and more recent teacher graduates and experienced educators are getting the urge to take off and explore the world by teaching English abroad.


Career changers

If you’re officially over the 9-to-5 grind, you’re in luck. Hiring schools around the world are clambering to hire TEFL-qualified English teachers with life and professional work experience!

Some other lingering TEFL questions you might have:

Looking to teach English abroad? Our ESL job abroad has
new English teaching jobs posted daily!

Do I need a TEFL to teach abroad?

Are you really serious about teaching English abroad? If you are, then you need to invest in a TEFL certificate. You might find select ESL jobs abroad out there that state they’re just looking for a bachelor’s degree but most will require you to have taken a TEFL course, too.

While demand for English teachers abroad is on the up and up, requirements are getting stricter and the competition is getting tougher, especially at reputable, great-paying schools abroad, making TEFL a crucial component of your job application.

Teaching English is a specialized skill that requires specialized training in the form of an internationally recognized TEFL certification, such as one from University of Toronto OISE or International House Berkeley . Any school worth its salt won’t consider you for the job without it.

Read this: Why you can’t teach English abroad without certification

Here’s a quick rundown of some specific instances where you need a TEFL certificate in order to land a job:

esl jobs

A 6-step plan for teaching English abroad


how to teach english abroad
Remember: If you have any questions, just talk to one of our teach abroad experts. They’re here to answer your questions, explain your options and describe how the process of getting certified and hired to teach English abroad actually works!

I’m a native English speaker, surely I don’t really need a TEFL certificate?

Not so fast - speaking English doesn’t automatically mean that you’re qualified or indeed able to teach it. Hiring schools and language institutes require candidates to have relevant training on how to teach English as a foreign language.

For teaching jobs abroad, you'll typically see ESL schools and recruiters require applicants to be fluent in English, hold a bachelor's degree and have a TEFL certificate. Even if having a TEFL certificate isn't a requirement for the job you’ve honed in on, you might still want to consider it as a worthy investment.

Simply put, A TEFL certification is your key to traveling and working all around the world as an English teacher.

With your TEFL certificate in hand, you’ll be eligible for teaching jobs in non-English speaking countries across Europe, Asia and Central and South America.



I’m a non-native English speaker. Can I still teach abroad with a TEFL certificate?

Affirmative! Once you have native-level English proficiency and a TEFL certificate to showcase your English teaching chops, you’ll encounter little difficulty finding a teaching job abroad as a non-native speaker.

What will I learn in a TEFL course?

In brief, you’ll learn the skills you need to confidently plan English lessons and effectively manage a foreign-language classroom, including how to:

  • Plan effective ESL lessons that meet required learning objectives.

  • Manage a classroom and cultivate a strong and positive learning environment for your English language learners.

  • Teach English language skills, including reading, writing, speaking, listening, pronunciation and grammar.

  • Adapt your lessons to different learning styles.

  • Find, adapt and personalize materials to build your own toolbox of teaching resources.


what do you learn in a tefl course


For more insight into what you could learn in a TEFL course, check out our University of Toronto OISE TEFL course curriculum and International House Berkeley TEFL course curriculum.

Where can I find work with a TEFL certification?

Anywhere where English isn’t the native language - there are great teaching positions spanning most continents in the world, including Asia, Europe, Central and South America and the Middle East.

Skip ahead to learn more about where you can teach with your TEFL or check out our TEFL country comparison chart.


What kinds of teaching jobs can I qualify for with a TEFL certification?

Within the global ESL industry there are a lot of options for teaching jobs, so you will have to put some thought into the type of job you want and the age group you’d like to teach. There are opportunities to teach young learners, elementary and high school students - even adults!

There are also pros and cons to each - it’s really down to your personal preference!


How do I get a TEFL certificate?

This part’s really up to you! There are plenty of TEFL certification programs to suit your unique preferences and finances, ranging from:

  • Online TEFL courses

  • In-person TEFL courses

  • TEFL courses abroad

To help you figure out the best option for you, we’ve dug deeper into the differences and pros and cons of each option, below.


How much money can I make with my TEFL?

That really depends where you want to teach abroad. In Europe, most English teaching jobs for TEFL graduates can be as high as $1,950 USD a month, depending on the country as well as how many hours you teach in a given week.

In South America, you could expect to earn as much as $1,500 USD a month teaching English.

And in Asia, where TEFL certification job opportunities are most plentiful, you can earn as much as $3,170 USD a month!

Top countries to earn big bucks teaching English abroad

Here’s a taster of what to expect when teaching English in countries around the world, including the average monthly salary, start-up costs, cost of living and the best cities to find teaching jobs.

CountryESL teaching salaryJob benefitsStart-up costsCost of livingBest cities for English teaching jobs
China10,000 - 13,000 RMB (approx. $1,500 - 2,500 USD)Airfare, housing allowance, vacation time, health insuranceTEFL certificate, initial daily expensesLowBeijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen
Japan¥250,000 - ¥300,000 (approx. $2,200 - 2,625 USD)Airfare, health insurance, end-of-contract bonusTEFL certificate, initial daily expensesLow in rural areasTokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, as well as rural areas
Spain€700 - 1,800 (approx. $750 - 1,950 USD)Paid vacationTEFL certificate, Airfare, initial daily expenses, travel insuranceLower in rural areasBarcelona, Bilbao, Madrid
Czech Republic18,000 - 24,000 KCHousing allowanceTEFL certificate, Airfare, initial daily expenses, travel insuranceVery lowPrague
Mexico12,000 MXNHousing allowance, health insuranceTEFL certificate, airfare, initial daily expenses, housingVery lowMexico City
Argentina2,600 - 10,400 ARSAssistance with finding housingTEFL certificate, airfare, housing, initial daily expensesVery lowBuenos Aires, Cordoba, Rosario, Mendoza, Mar de Plata, as well as rural areas
UAE (United Arab Emirates)$2,400 - 5,500 USDAirfare, health insurance, housing, tuition, end of contract bonusNoneHousing costs are highAbu Dhabi, Dubai
Qatar9,000 - 14,000 QR (approx. $2,400 to 3,700 USD) tax freeAirfare, housing allowance, health insuranceNoneHigh in urban areasDoha and other rural areas


Short on time? To make your research easier, we’ve scoped out some popular ESL teaching destinations and compiled a handy calculator to help you figure out how much you can earn teaching English abroad:

Calculate my salary!


Teaching English online with your TEFL certificate

Honorable mention to one of the best place to teach English: your couch!

You don’t have to physically relocate overseas to land a job teaching English language learners abroad. Right now, there’s a shortage of English teachers in China, meaning thousands of Chinese students are now taking English lessons online on a daily basis.

And, as luck would have it, plenty of ELLs are looking to learn English from English speaking college graduates with a TEFL certificate. If you’re looking for a home-based job, part or full-time, teaching English online could be just the gig for you!

Get paid to teach English online with your TEFL certificate!

How long does it take to get TEFL certified?

That really depends on:

  1. How soon you want to teach abroad

  2. Whether you choose to take an online or in-person TEFL course (skip ahead for advice on choosing the right TEFL program for you)

As a general rule, though, online, self-paced TEFL courses are usually the quickest (and most affordable) route to getting your teach abroad qualification.

Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll want to look for an online or onsite TEFL course that is a minimum of 100 hours. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that in many countries, a 120-hour TEFL is considered the industry standard. That’s why it just so happens to be the length of our most popular TEFL courses!

An online TEFL course can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete, depending on your current work, school or personal schedule. While many learners complete their TEFL course in as little as three weeks, the average duration hovers in or around 6–12 weeks for all of our Teach Away TEFL courses.

There are also more intensive onsite TEFL courses that may be completed in around four weeks on a full-time basis.

How long is a TEFL certificate valid for?

For forever! TEFL certificates don’t expire. With your TEFL certification. You can finish up one teaching contract and travel to another country and teach English. If a country requires a TEFL certification, you will always be able to teach English there. That’s a pretty good return on your investment if you ask us!

Are TEFL courses hard?

This really depends on the course provider. It’s really rare for one our students to fail their TEFL course. You do need to be willing to commit the time to complete your coursework - that (almost) goes without saying. For example, as our TEFL course is self-paced, we have students who work or study full-time who are able to work through the course with ease.

What’s harder than a TEFL course, is trying to teach abroad without any TEFL training.


I didn’t prepare for teaching at all! I thought the week of training provided by my school would adequately prepare me, but I greatly underestimated the challenges of teaching.

Jen, taught English in Korea


Learn more about Jen’s experience teaching English in South Korea


Why the huge variety in prices for TEFL courses?

You noticed that, huh? TEFL course costs do vary greatly - as do their standards. While we do recommend you resist the urge to buy the course that comes up as the cheapest on Groupon, it’s also important not to assume that the more expensive TEFL courses are the best of the bunch.

For example, while some might assume that in-person TEFL classes are seen as more valid by employers, this really isn’t the case. So long as you choose a TEFL course that meets international industry standards (is at least 100 hours in length), from a reputable provider, it really doesn’t matter whether you choose to take in online or in person.

In fact, there are many onsite TEFL courses that don’t actually meet the criteria required for you to qualify for English teaching jobs abroad - like those weekend TEFL courses you may have seen advertised in your city. And equally, not all online TEFL courses are created equal.

Let’s quickly break down the cost of TEFL certification by course type.

  • Online TEFL courses: As low as $199 for a 40-hour TEFL course. A 100-hour TEFL course (the minimum requirement for reputable teaching jobs abroad) start at around $1,000.

  • Four-week, full-time, in-person TEFL courses: Cost upwards of $2,000, plus travel and food expenses.

  • TEFL courses abroad: Cost up to $1,700, plus travel (including flights), food and accommodation expenses.

Now that we’ve tackled some frequently asked questions around TEFL, it’s time to get to the fun part! Wondering what you can do (and where you can go) with your TEFL certificate? Keep reading to find out!

How can I use my TEFL?

There are different reasons for getting TEFL certified and more than a few ways to use your TEFL certification!

Here are a few of the most popular ways you can use a TEFL certification:


You can use your TEFL certification to travel the world.

Ding, ding, ding! The most popular way to use your TEFL certification is to teach English abroad. In fact, slap a TEFL certificate on your resume alongside your bachelor’s degree and you’ll qualify for entry-level ESL teaching jobs in countries all over the world.

how do i get a tefl certificate
Beyond just qualifying you for teaching jobs overseas, your TEFL will help you:
  • Meet visa requirements. Use your TEFL to meet mandatory requirements that allow you to obtain a work visa where you want to teach (check out why you need a TEFL certification to teach English in China).

  • Stand out in your job applications. Use your TEFL certification to make your resume stand out from a crowd of other job seekers.

  • Be an in-demand teacher in your dream destination. Use your TEFL to increase your chances of landing a job in popular English teaching locations where competition is stiff, like Japan!

  • Ace your interview. Use your stellar knowledge of ESL teaching strategies from your TEFL course to wow employers...and be prepared for when they test your English grammar!

With the international ESL teaching certification of choice in your hands, you’ve never been more ready to make one of the 100,000+ English teaching jobs expected to open this year yours.

Start browsing TEFL certification job opportunities today.

Next up...


You can use a TEFL certificate to teach English online.

Jump on the online English teaching bandwagon and start earning extra money from the comfort of your home!

Using your TEFL certification to land an online English teaching job is one of the easiest, most flexible ways to teach English without leaving the country, or why not leave the country? After all, all you need to become an online ESL teacher is a computer and a reliable internet connection (and your TEFL).

With the online English teaching job market booming (heads up, the online ESL job market in China alone is projected to grow by around 50% every year over the next several years), experience teaching English to students online is a competitive addition to any teaching resume, domestic or international.

Disclaimer: Teaching online is not just for English teachers!

So, for all you licensed teachers out there, teaching English online is not only a great way to supplement your income, it’s an opportunity to dip your toes into a potential new career path - teaching your subjects online at a K12 virtual school!

Feeling inspired, but not sure how to get started? Find out exactly how to teach English online in our helpful articles.

North America school market


If you’re ready to explore your options in the world of online TEFL teaching, start browsing our online English teaching jobs today!


You can use it to launch a long-term career at home.

If after a stint teaching abroad, or teaching online, you decide you want to put your TEFL experience to good use in your home country,  you aren’t alone! Many first-time TEFL teachers end up in long-term teaching careers after they return home.


A TEFL certificate is not just for teachers looking to teach English abroad. A TEFL can be used to teach English online and launch a long-term teaching career at home.

What are the requirments to enroll in TEFL?

What do I need to get a TEFL certificate?

As far as most TEFL certification courses go there are very few (if any) prerequisites to enroll and starting a TEFL course can be as easy as a few clicks.

With that said, though, TEFL course entry requirements do vary from course to course so it’s important to do your research very carefully!


Requirements for in-person and online TEFL courses

You can elect to get TEFL certified in person, online or a combination of both! The majority (if not all) the steps to enroll in a TEFL course can be completed online.

Select TEFL courses could also require you to:

  • Speak with a course advisor and answer a few TEFL course interview questions.

  • Meet minimum educational requirements - such as having a high school diploma.

  • Prove English language proficiency. This typically entails completing a written assignment, having a telephone conversation or providing an English language proficiency test score such as an IELTS score.

Enrolling in an in-person TEFL course is likely to include one or more of these extra steps, whereas online courses have little to no prerequisites.

Things to keep in mind before you apply:

  • It’s unlikely that you’ll need to have your bachelor’s degree before enrolling in a TEFL course. TESOL and TESL courses, on the other hand, do require a degree.

  • Prerequisites (or lack thereof) are not an indication of a course’s legitimacy or reputation. Choosing a TEFL course from a reputable provider is the only way to ensure that your certificate will be internationally recognized.

  • Being able to complete your TEFL enrollment online, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to start your TEFL course right away. Read up on course start dates to get an idea of when you can expect to finish your TEFL course.
tefl course requirements

Do I need a college degree to get TEFL certified?

Nope! A college degree is not required to enroll in a TEFL course.

Although a college/university degree is not required to enroll in TEFL, the golden ticket to teaching abroad is a TEFL certificate and a bachelor’s degree in any area.

If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, and investing four years to get one just isn’t in the cards, don’t be discouraged. Many teachers are still able to find employment teaching English abroad as fluent English speakers with a TEFL certificate.


Top tips for landing a teaching job abroad without a college degree:

Find out exactly how adding a TEFL certificate to your (degree-less) resume will increase your chances of landing a teaching job abroad.


TEFL enrollment requirements for non-native speakers

If you’re not a native English speaker and want to teach English abroad, here’s exactly what you need to know:

  • Being a non-native English speaker will not affect your TEFL certification eligibility (for the majority of TEFL courses).

  • You should expect to experience some difficulty landing a teaching job (competition can be stiff when up against fluent English speakers with a comparable level of teaching experience).

Feel discouraged? Don’t be! As a non-native English speaker, you’ll want to make yourself stand out in your teaching job applications. Here are a few essential tips for building your best resume:

  1. List your TEFL certification front and center

  2. Highlight previous teaching and teaching-related experience

  3. Showcase a high English proficiency score (such as IELTS)

If you’re a non-native English speaker on a quest to landing your dream English teaching job, we’ve got you covered with more info on:


How do enrollment requirements differ across ESL certifications?

Although there are generally no prerequisites to enroll in a TEFL certification course, the same doesn’t ring true for ESL certification requirements for other courses like TESL, TESOL and CELTA.


What are the requirements for TESL and CELTA?

Courses that grant a diploma, like accredited TESL and CELTA courses, will require you to have completed a bachelor’s degree before applying.

Additional requirements could include a short interview or written application.


Enrollment timeline: Acceptance into legitimate TESL and CELTA courses could be as short as a few days with the right prerequisites. As these courses are usually offered in person, or at the very least have an in-person component, there will be scheduled start dates, which can affect how soon you can start your ESL certification.


What are the requirements to enroll in TESOL?

University TESOL programs that award postgraduate credit on completion will require a bachelor’s degree. Admission and intake for TESOL programs will align with the academic calendar, which can mean pretty strict start dates.

Tip: While TEFL and TESOL courses are different, be prepared to find these terms used interchangeably when you’re researching courses on the interwebs. Verify exactly what type of qualification you will receive after you finish - will it be a postgraduate certification in TESOL or a professional certificate, as with TEFL?

Reminder: A TEFL certification is the preferred qualification of schools abroad for teaching English overseas.

Where can I teach with my TEFL?

When you're done, head on over to our ESL job board, where you can find your dream job teaching English abroad.

We won’t go into the nuts and bolts of the best places to teach English for TEFL certified peeps here. For that info, we’ll direct you to the following posts and resources:

Teach Away logo

Be the first to hear about special offers, including discounts on TEFL courses from University of Toronto OISE and International House Berkeley.


How much does a TEFL certification cost?

TEFL certification courses vary widely in cost with online and onsite TEFL courses ranging in price (and quality) from $150 to $2,000 USD. Some quick math brings the average cost of a TEFL certificate at $1,075 USD.

Surprised at the dramatic price range of TEFL courses? We can explain!

While TEFL certification is the ESL qualification of choice of schools abroad, there is:

  • No single global accrediting body for TEFL courses to govern course standards or regulate their quality.

  • A wide range of organizations (and individuals) that create and sell TEFL courses. You could even make a TEFL course!

  • A boatload of TEFL courses floating around on the market, that range dramatically in price and quality.

If you’re looking to enroll in a reputable TEFL course that:

  • Provides high-quality training

  • Is recognized by schools abroad

Then it’s worth considering TEFL courses that cost in (or around) the $1,000 USD mark.

tefl certification cost
A note on getting financial aid for your TEFL certification: Most TEFL courses do not offer financial aid, with very few offering a handful of scholarships or free promotional courses per year. It’s best to inquire directly with a TEFL course provider to verify opportunities for financial aid.

A word of warning on cheap (or even free!) TEFL certification courses

Trust us, we get it! TEFL certification can really bite into your travel savings.

While the best things about teaching English abroad are free, the butterflies you get when your✈️ takes off from your home country, watching the from a sandy beach in Thailand, the bright of your foreign students...TEFL certification is not one of them.

Reality check: You’re moving abroad for a job - a teaching job. Would you go skydiving without a parachute? We hope not!

An investment in a TEFL certification is an investment in a smooth (and rewarding) teach abroad experience. A great TEFL certification course will set you up with all the basics you need to succeed as an English teacher overseas.


Before it was a requirement for the JET Program, I went to Japan without any TEFL training or experience, nothing. I remember having a moment of panic on the plane when I realized I was going to do a job that I had no basis for.

Angelina, taught English with the JET Program in Japan

Learn more about Angelina’s experience teaching with the JET Program in Japan


Still can’t give up the dream of free TEFL certification? If you’re set on getting TEFL certified for free, your only hope of receiving reputable training are international teaching programs that offer their teachers a free (or discounted) TEFL certification course - such as Teach Away’s Explore Program - as part of their benefits package.

Still concerned about the price tag? Even the most reputable TEFL courses can go on sale. So just keep your eyes peeled for TEFL course discounts, coupon and promo codes online.

DisclaimerBe wary of steep sitewide discounts on TEFL courses. If a TEFL course is willing to discount their course significantly (think: above 40%), that could be a sign of a low-quality course.


What about those Groupon TEFL courses - yay or nay?

A single Google search reveals hundreds of results for different TEFL courses, including courses listed on Groupon for as little as $49.

Enticing, right? Wrong, and here’s why:

The cons of enrolling in a TEFL course listen on Groupon outweigh the pros. Every. Time.

TEFL Pillar page pros&cons

Straight talk: If you want to give yourself the best chance at landing a teaching job abroad, avoid Groupon TEFL courses like the plague!

What’s the deal with TEFL accreditation?

With all the options out there, how can you be sure whether any given TEFL certification course you’ve stumbled across will give you the right training and qualification you need to land a great job teaching English abroad?

You might assume that once you see a TEFL course claiming some sort of accreditation, that that automatically means that it will have the golden seal of approval by the thousands of employers hiring English teachers from overseas. But that assumption is incorrect.

Are TEFL courses accredited?

While this might come as a bit of a surprise to you, there is no one recognized accrediting body for TEFL certification anywhere in the world. As of yet, anyway.

TEFL accreditation is a bit of a misnomer - to put it mildly, the whole TEFL industry is rife with empty claims of accreditation. And, due to the large demand for TEFL training, course providers of questionable origin. In theory, you could even set up a TEFL course in the morning and start handing out your very own TEFL “certifications” (not that we recommend you do that!)

There is, however, one key internationally recognized standard, as agreed upon by international employers worldwide, that your chosen TEFL course should meet:

At least 100 hours of TEFL coursework

And that’s it, really! A teaching practicum, while sometimes touted as a critical component of any TEFL course, is not actually required as it doesn’t count as actual teaching experience by hiring schools abroad.

Aside from that non-negotiable 100-hour minimum requirement, employers will also typically look for TEFL training delivered by an educational organization with global recognition, such as a university that specializes in English language instruction.

TEFL courses created by university faculty with specific expertise in foreign language instruction are fairly safe bets in the eyes of most, if not all, hiring schools overseas.

 tefl accreditation

A handy list of TEFL course accrediting bodies

Some select independent accrediting bodies in the world of TEFL include the following:

  • WTEFLAC  (The World TEFL Accrediting Commission)

  • ALTE  (Association of Language Testers in Europe)

  • British Council

  • OFQUAL  (The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation)

  • ACCET  (Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training)

  • ODLQC  (Open and Distance Learning Quality Council)

  • ACTDEC  (Accreditation Council for TESOL Distance Education Courses)

You can confirm the accreditation status of any TEFL course provider claiming to be accredited TEFL courses directly through the above accrediting bodies.

While an accredited TEFL course offers some level of quality assurance and external validation, the most reputable TEFL certification programs - online or otherwise - are always designed and delivered by a university with international name recognition in the eyes of established, well-paying schools abroad.

For any TEFL courses claiming accreditation outside of these, do your homework on what exactly that accrediting body is before you make the purchase. They might have some official-sounding name but they could be a totally bogus organization - or will accredit any TEFL course for a fee.

Technically speaking, you can buy a so-called "accredited" course on Groupon for as little as $69, but that won’t get you very far in your job application.

Read this: Are online TEFL courses recognized or accredited?


Tips for weeding out fake TEFL course accreditations

If you see a TEFL course claiming to be externally accredited, it’s time to put your detective hat on (we know you all have one!)

  • First stop - and kind of an obvious one - is to check that the accreditation’s website link isn’t broken.

  • Secondly, while a professional-looking website doesn't automatically mean it's legitimate, a really unprofessional website is a strong warning sign that it could be a scam.

  • Lastly, we sometimes see TEFL course providers claiming an external accreditation that, on further investigation, appears to be owned by themselves. Needless to say, this a huge red flag.

How do I choose the right TEFL course for me?

Choosing the right TEFL certification will play a critical role in providing you with the training and qualification you need to get hired to teach English abroad.

Currently trying to decide which TEFL course best fits your goals? Feeling lost after reading a ton of TEFL course reviews?

Let us step in and help out - we've outlined some major tips on choosing the right TEFL for you on this handy infographic, which summarizes everything you need to know about picking the right TEFL course at a glance.

And for even more explanation watch this brief video.

which tefl course to choose

Find a TEFL option that works with your personal schedule.

Which TEFL course option you want to go for really depends on you! Quite honestly, the best TEFL course is the one that fits your current schedule, location and budget. Any reputable online or in-person TEFL course will teach the same quality core curriculum that meets international ESL industry standards.

The main difference really boils down to this: online courses are more affordable and flexible and can let you learn at your own pace, whereas onsite courses are more time intensive and can be quite cost prohibitive. Online TEFL courses make it easier for aspiring ESL teachers from all backgrounds, locations and working situations to qualify for teaching jobs abroad.


Online vs. in-person TEFL certification

Onsite TEFL courses
Online TEFL courses
Reputable onsite TEFL courses start at $2,500+Reputable online TEFL courses start at $900+
Accommodation and living expenses are extraNo travel/accommodation expenses
Often full timeCan be completed at your own pace
Usually offer job search guidanceUsually offer job search guidance


Thinking about taking your TEFL course abroad? Read this first:

If you’re really hell-bent on teaching in one particular country, there are destination TEFL courses you can opt for to get acclimatized to teaching English language learners in that location, build connections and network for jobs.

Destination TEFL courses will often have connections with language schools in the region that can help you land a job.


Know what matters to hiring schools abroad.

Onsite (and some online) TEFL courses will often have a teaching practicum component. While this is a nice introduction to the classroom for newbie teachers, it’s worth bearing in mind that a teaching practicum doesn’t count as actual teaching experience on your teach abroad resume.


Choose your TEFL course provider.

As we already mentioned, no official accrediting body for TEFL courses exists as of the time of writing. This means anyone can create and sell a TEFL course!

Accreditation can really only be applied to an educational institution - not a TEFL course. The reputation of your TEFL course provider is what matters.

If an international employer doesn’t know a TEFL course provider from a hole in the ground, it’s not going to be of much use to you in your application for teaching jobs abroad.

While TEFL certification is the most highly regarded ESL teaching qualification, not all course providers are created equal. Choose a TEFL course that has a strong reputation in the international education community, ideally from a leading institution with expertise in the area of ESL education, such as University of Toronto OISE or International House Berkeley.


A reputable higher education institution with international recognition is your best bet!

Register for our live TEFL webinar!

  • Ask your TEFL and teach abroad questions in a live Q & A period

  • Get advice from teach abroad experts

  • Receive an exclusive discount only for info session attendees

Pay special attention to the price tag

Remember, not all online TEFL courses are created equal. A good rule of thumb: If the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is! Those 20-hour TEFL courses on Groupon for $69 are that cheap for a reason. Reputable TEFL course providers don’t advertise on deal sites. You can thank us for this pro tip later when you’re standing in front of your first classroom of English students!


Watch out for TEFL courses with guaranteed job placement:

We strongly advise you to tread carefully with TEFL courses that guarantee you a teaching job abroad.

Always choose a TEFL course that prioritizes quality ESL teacher training over guaranteed job placement. It can mean you have limited control over really important factors like where you can teach, what type of English teaching job you’ll be doing, all the way down to stuff like your pay and benefits.

But don’t stress - with a reputable TEFL certification, you’ll be able to hit the ground running in your search for a top ESL teaching job right away. There’s no shortage of jobs out there for TEFL-qualified, native English speaking candidates with a bachelor’s degree. You won’t need any promises of guaranteed job placement!

There are many TEFL courses, however, that will offer job search guidance to graduates. This could include advice on the types of jobs you qualify for, hiring seasons, job requirements, salaries and more. We recommend you double check that this guidance is totally free.

As a Teach Away TEFL graduate, for example, you are eligible to apply for jobs with some of the most reputable ESL schools abroad through Teach Away’s extensive network of partner schools worldwide. A Teach Away Placement Coordinator (who has experience teaching abroad) reaches out to qualified candidates to provide advice and support throughout the hiring process.


Great schools overseas - with the highest-paying teaching positions - are committed to hiring capable ESL teachers. This means they’ll need to interview you first!


Select your TEFL course length

How many hours should your TEFL training encompass? Great question!

The industry standard is at least 100 hours.

You’ll see a myriad of different TEFL course levels ranging from as low as 20 hours to 150 hours. While a 20 or even 40-hour TEFL course might seem like a sweet prospect because they happen to be quick (and cheap), most employers won’t give these so much as the time of day.

However, a 100-hour TEFL is the minimum requirement for reputable teaching jobs abroad. A 120-hour TEFL is the most widely recognized because it can be required to meet mandatory visa and job requirements. That’s why we’ve partnered with University of Toronto OISE and International House Berkeley to offer 120-hour online TEFL courses. OISE also offers 100-hour and 150-hour course options. Although TEFL training over 150 hours is rarely required, OISE’s 150-hour TEFL course will give you some extra useful skills to best prepare you for teaching abroad

If you have a specific destination in mind, check out some Teach Away job listings in the area. That should give you a pretty good indication of how many hours your TEFL certification needs to be.


Look for unbiased TEFL course reviews online

When you’re making a big investment like TEFL, we recommend you do your research on what are other people online are saying about the course.


Speak with a course advisor

Even if you a TEFL course provider has all of the answers you’ve been looking for on their website, we still recommend you, reach out for a chat about the course content and structure before you enroll.


Some recommended TEFL courses to help get you started:

As we’ve talked about earlier, the right TEFL course will:

  1. Prepare you for the challenges of teaching abroad
  2. Qualify you for the teaching jobs abroad you want

But with so many TEFL courses out there, how can you be sure you’re choosing the right one? Look no further! Our handy comparison chart has everything you need to know to choose the TEFL course that’s right for you.

 OISE University of Toronto TEFLInternational House Berkeley TEFLInternational TEFL AcademyOxford SeminarsI-to-i TEFL
Meets minimum requirements to teach abroad
Course Length100, 120 or 150-hour120-hour170, 190 or 200-hour100-hour120 or 180-hour
Course Format100% online100% onlineIn-person (with online components)In-person100% online or Combined (in-person with online components)
Self-paced✘ *In-person work required on scheduled dates & times✘ *In-person work required 3 consecutive weekends✘ *In-person work required on scheduled dates & times
Start dateAnytimeAnytime2x per month(limited spots available)Depends on regionAnytime
LocationAll countriesAll countriesAll countries(practicum restrictions apply)US/CanadaAll countries
Price$995 - 1,495$1095$1,395 - 2,795$995$499 - $1,995
Designed by university faculty


Have questions about which TEFL course is right for you? Book a time to chat with Teach Away TEFL course advisor today!




Tight on time for a chat? Shoot us an email instead!

Should I get TEFL certified online?

With the convenience and flexibility of online study, it’s no wonder that with so many online ESL certification programs out there, more and more teachers are opting to complete their TEFL certification online.

Who is online TEFL certification for?

Online TEFL courses are suitable for teachers of all experience levels, from inexperienced teachers preparing to teach for the first time to experienced educators looking for a refresher on ESL teaching strategies.

Choose to take your TEFL course online if you are:

  • Looking for maximum flexibility

  • Want to save time

  • Need to get your TEFL certificate in a hurry!
tefl certified online

What’s the best online TEFL course for a graduate?

If you’re a soon-to-be (or recent) university graduate researching TEFL courses, you’re not alone. Teaching English abroad is a popular choice among university students looking to travel after graduation, and for good reason: travel the world while earning a paycheck? Sign me up!

The best online TEFL course for recent university graduates with very little (if any) teaching experience is a 120-hour TEFL, like the one you can get from Teach Away. A 120-hour TEFL certificate will qualify you for most teaching jobs. While 100 hours is the minimum requirement, it can be 20 hours shy of the TEFL training desired by hiring schools internationally.

Are you an adventurous recent grad who's short on cash and looking for a way to fuel your wanderlust? Grab your free copy of Beyond magazine. It’s jam-packed with everything you need to know to land your first teaching job abroad.

Are online TEFL courses recognized?

Online TEFL courses teach pretty similar (if not the exact same) curriculum as in-person TEFL courses, but adopt a more theoretical approach to teaching ESL. This does not, however, make online TEFL courses less reputable than their in-person counterparts.


Are online TEFL courses authentic?

Whether you choose to get certified in person or online, you will end up with the same qualification on the other side: a TEFL.

That being said, not all online TEFL courses are created equal. For this reason, it’s paramount to do your research to understand the credibility of online TEFL course providers.

Feeling suspicious of a fake TEFL course or suspected scam? You should be able to confidently provide these answer to the following questions:


How to choose a legitimate online TEFL course:

Q: Can you find online reviews for the course?
A: Yes, I’ve read 10+ positive reviews from course alumni.

Q: Is the course provided by an internationally-recognized institution or university/college?
A: Yes.

Q: Is the price to good to be true?
A: No, it’s around $1,000.

Q: Have you been able to successfully contact a representative of the course? Were they genuinely helpful without being pushy?
A: Yes and yes!

Note: The majority of online courses issues certificates online in pdf format which you can print out if required. While receiving your certificate digitally online isn’t an indication of a fake TEFL course or scam, some courses may still mail you a physical copy.

Additional tips:

  • Choose a course that fits how you learn best. After all, getting TEFL certified is an investment in you.

  • Find out how online credentials are viewed in the country where you’re likely to teach. Completing your training online vs. in person is most often only a concern for higher degrees (bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, PhD) rather than professional certificates like TEFL, but do your research.
internationally recognized tefl certification online

Weighing up the pros and cons of taking your TEFL certificate online? Check out the difference between onsite and online TEFL courses to help you make your mind up!


Course format is rarely specified for professional certifications like TEFL. It's the reputation of the course provider that counts!

What's the best online TEFL certification program?

Choosing to complete your TEFL certification online has many benefits, including being able to complete your course from anywhere in the world, setting your own study schedule (meaning you can complete your certification faster than most on-site alternatives!) and a lower course price tag.

Read this: How quickly can I get TEFL certified?

A quick Google search reveals heaps of different online TEFL courses out there. So, how do you begin to choose a reputable online TEFL course that ticks all the right boxes? Here’s what to keep in mind when shopping around for an online TEFL course:

A quick guide to choosing the best online TEFL course


Quality matters.

The quality of instruction and the quality of your online TEFL course provider are paramount. Be wary of the TEFL course provider.

As there is no global accrediting body for TEFL courses, anyone can design and sell a TEFL course and sell it.

Choose a TEFL course from a reputable provider like a university or college or a provider with a longstanding international reputation and global name recognition.


The lowest price isn’t necessarily the best price.

You can enroll in an online TEFL course for as little at $69 on Groupon, but no matter how you slice it, reputable TEFL courses typically recognized by employers abroad hover around the $1,000 USD mark.

Use your own judgment and keep in mind that if an online TEFL course has a too-good-to-be-true price tag, it normally is.


There’s a minimum course length required.

Online courses vary in length from as few as 40 hours to 200+ hours. If you’re counting on your TEFL certification to qualify you to teach abroad, you will need to ensure your TEFL course is comprised of the minimum amount of training schools are looking for.

A minimum of 100 hours of TEFL training is recommended, however, 120 hours of TEFL training will qualify you for the greatest number of teaching jobs because it can be required to meet mandatory visa and job requirements.

TEFL training over 150 hours is rarely required, but a 150-hour course may be for you if you want some additional specialized training to best prepare you for teaching abroad .


It’s all about the practical takeaways.

With no in-class teaching component, you will want to make sure that your online course gives you the practical takeaways you can implement in your classroom right away.

How exactly can you be sure the online course you choose will give you the practical skills to teach? Pay attention to the types of assessments. You’re on the right track if you can answer “yes” to most of the following:

  • Will you be required to create a lesson plan?

  • Are there short assignments/reflections in addition to assessments such as multiple choice quizzes that test your knowledge?

  • Will you receive feedback on your work?

A mix of the right types of assessments and feedback will help you build a portfolio of ESL lesson plans, class notes and handy resources you can use starting on your first day in your new classroom.

In summary, the best online TEFL courses worth your money will have:

  1. A reputable provider

  2. A price that hovers around the $1,000 USD mark

  3. A minimum of 100 hours (and no more than 150 hours) of training

  4. Plenty of useful takeaways

Earning your TEFL certification online from a university

Earning your TEFL certificate from a university is a surefire way to guarantee you’re getting top-notch TEFL training. There are very few TEFL courses that have been designed by universities or offered at the university level - and even fewer available online.


But this doesn’t mean they’re not out there. An online university-level TEFL course is for you if you’re looking for:

  • High-quality training, developed by academic experts in second language acquisition.

  • 100% flexibility to complete your studies anytime, anywhere.

Got your bank balance on your mind?

Earning your TEFL certificate from a university will set you back around $1,000 USD, which, if you’re a recent university graduate, can be a good chunk of cash. Although designed and/or offered by a university, university TEFL courses do not typically qualify for financial aid. Like any investment, you’ll want to start saving before you decide to pull the trigger.

TEFL certification from Teach Away

If you’re on the hunt for an online university-level TEFL course that helps you stand out in your job applications AND earn your TEFL certification faster, look no further than a Teach Away TEFL certification from the University of Toronto Faculty of Education (OISE) or International House Berkeley.

Both courses are 100% online and give graduates a university-level TEFL certificate. These online TEFL courses provides distinct advantages for English teachers including:

u of t tefl

International recognition

With a TEFL certification from University of Toronto OISE or International House Berkeley, schools around the world will recognize your TEFL certification.


100% online and self-paced

You can complete the OISE or International House Berkeley TEFL course 100% online at your own pace. All aspects of the courses are done online, so you can finish your TEFL certification from anywhere in the world, and you can enroll at anytime – seriously, you can start today!


Job access

Since Teach Away helps schools around the world recruit teachers, we have incredible insight into what hiring schools want and access to countless job opportunities available to our TEFL graduates. At no extra cost, you’ll be able to create a Teach Away profile and apply to open positions on our job board.

Your OISE TEFL course options:

The TEFL course from the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) comes in three customizable course options, which range from 100–150 hours of online study. Teachers in the 120- and 150-hour OISE TEFL courses can customize their course with specializations like Teaching English to Young Learners and Teaching English to Arabic Speakers.

Check out the OISE TEFL specializations and course curriculum >>

how long does it take to get a tefl certificate

Get your free TEFL course brochure

How to get started with OISE TEFL:

To enroll in the course, visit the OISE TEFL website and hit the enroll button (yes, it’s that easy!) Once you’ve enrolled in the course, you can get started on the first course module whenever you like.

Think the OISE TEFL could be right for you, but have a few questions?


The International House Berkeley TEFL

We developed this 120-hour, online and self-paced course in partnership with International House Berkeley.

The core curriculum is made up of 13 modules, which cover such topics as English teaching fundamentals and classroom management skills. This is followed by a six-module extended curriculum on International Teaching and Global Effectiveness.

This course is the best option for anyone planning to teach English abroad who wants a TEFL certification from an internationally recognized provider.


How to get started with I-House Berkeley TEFL

To enroll in the course, visit the International House Berkeley TEFL page and hit the enroll now button. (Yes, it’s that easy!) Once you’ve enrolled in the course, you can get started on the first course module whenever you like.

Think the International House Berkeley TEFL could be right for you, but have a few questions?


I’m TEFL certified, so what’s next?

Congrats! You’ve put in your 100+ hours of TEFL and you’re ready to break into the international teaching job scene to change lives and travel the world!

Before you know it, it’ll be time to apply what you’ve used in your TEFL course in the classroom abroad.

Nervous? Don’t be.

To complement what you’ve learned in your TEFL course, we’ve got you covered with a collection of articles, designed to help you started on the right foot from day one as a newly-minted English teacher overseas.


688 ESL vacancies live right now for TEFL graduates.

Qualify to teach English abroad

Stand out to international employers with an industry-leading TEFL certification.