Searching for a legitimate online TEFL course? Are you overwhelmed by all the options? Are you afraid of getting scammed? Well, this post will give you a better understanding of what a "legitimate" online TEFL course is.

Chances are you don't know much about TEFL. And what you need to keep in mind is that many people have self interests in TEFL. They are biased. You could say that about me too.

Later I'll tell you more about that. 

Anyways don't let a TEFL course provider tell you what to do or what you need to teach abroad. Similiarly don't ask a recruiter, "Which job should I take?" Or a real estate agent, "Which house should I buy?"

You can. They might help, but like I said chances are they have self interests. The point of this post is to make you more informed which you will be by the time you finish reading it.

First off I have to enlighten you.

The word "legitimate" implies something that is legal, so if it's not legal then it would be illegal. But that is a mistake as there aren't any TEFL courses out there that are illegal or illegitimate.

Here's why.

There is no TEFL law. TEFL spans many countries around the world. There are no rules or laws regarding these courses.

So what about accreditation isn't that required or isn't it a law?


It's not required in TEFL. As I said there is no international law and there is no international accreditation for TEFL courses.

"But wait I saw some courses that said they were accredited?"

Accredited by who?

Yes, they can be accredited. But the accrediting is done by a local or regional organization (business) who in most cases accredits other kinds of courses or institutions. 

There is no one overarching body for TEFL.

So before you assume that accreditation is really important consider a few things:

  1. Accreditation costs money.
  2. Accreditation is done privately.
  3. Sometimes accreditors and the course provider are the same people maybe with different names.

Learn more about TEFL accreditation.

So what about these courses that are internationally recognized?

They must be more legitimate right?

All TEFL courses are "internationally recognized" AND all of them are not. Here's why:

  1. The "F" in TEFL is for foreign. We are talking about a certificate for teaching abroad.
  2. There is no course or certificate that guarantees you a job at any school. Not even CELTA.

Learn more about "internationally recognized" TEFL courses.

What about these courses that are 120 or 150 hours?

Those are more reputable right? I would venture to say that the majority of online TEFL courses out there are not close. What I mean is that those hours are not accurate.

They are just pseudo hours. There is usually no set class time where you observe a lesson from your computer. These are open courses. Courses that you can do at anytime.

So where do the hours come from?

Probably from CELTA. CELTA is a course that is affiliated with the university of Cambridge. I think many courses model CELTA courses which I believe is actually 120 hours of in-class time.

So does that mean that in-class courses are better and more accurate?

It depends on the course. You can read more about my experience with an in-class course here.

Are there scams?

Not really. As I mentioned there is nothing illegal about having a TEFL course. There are certainly courses out there that are better than others. But if you are afraid of getting scammed then that could be a few things:

  1. You are just an afraid and uninformed newcomer. Save that skepticism for finding a good job. You're more likely to get cheated there.
  2. In your search for a TEFL course you have picked up on some of this stuff that I mentioned.

The lies

The lies can be in regards to the requirements for teaching abroad. Some might tell you that you legally need it when in fact you often don't. Or it could be that you'll make more money or find a better job.

Online TEFL courses are usually accepted at most schools in Asia. Each school is different though and as I said there isn't a certificate that guarantees you a job anywhere.

So how do you choose?

Well you could look at this guide for choosing a course, but I'd say that in my experience it would be best to choose a course focused on teaching the students you are going to teach. Many courses are just general courses that cater more towards teaching adults. 

That's the CELTA model.

But if you teach kids you are not going to prepared. That's what happened to me anyways.

If you really want a legit TEFL course...

Take a CELTA course, but just don't become a snob. And well they do have partly an online course it's not totally. If you think a "legit" course is going to get you a better position I'd say you're probably misinformed. On paper TEFL courses look the same to the majority of schools in Asia.

I am sure you will see some provider that will say their course is this or that and will help you get a better job at a reputable school. Blah, blah. 

If you are going to teach kids in Asia

Then I'd recommend this course if you want to learn useful and practical information, but if you want a "reputable" course that's supposedly going to get you a better job or make more money then go find somewhere else as there are plenty of courses out there that willl sell you that idea.

And after you get abroad and realize those things didn't matter then you can guess what I'll say.

My bias

Well, you can see that I have a course that's based around my experience teaching in Asia. If I had taken that course I would have been way better off. That's because it was more tailored to the teaching I actually did compared to the course I took.

I don't believe in the education system or value things like a "Harvard" degree. In the end those things are just trophies. What matters is what you learn and experience.