How much does an online TEFL course cost? What's the price? Are there any other fees? This post is going to offer a detailed cost comparison of some of the top course certification providers.

The short answer is that online TEFL courses can range in price from $0-1200+. 

Free courses

That's right there are some free courses out there that can be found although they typically have some limitations such as time or they don't include certification.

  • English First offers a free course to those who work for them. They offer positions in China, Russia and Indonesia.
  • Londen Teacher Training College claims to offer a free course that doesn't include certification.
  • ESLinsider used to offer a time limited free course without certification. 

Some other sites claim to offer free courses however, what they actually offer was unclear to me.

Groupon courses are currently the cheapest

Groupon attracts many bargain hunters and so-called "bottom-feeders". 

  • International Open Academy 120 hour course = $5 (review)
  • TEFL Full Circle 160 hour course = $39 (review)
  • TEFL Graduate 150 hour course = $45
  • TEFL Express 160 hour course = $69

Common tactics to sell on Groupon are statements like this:

Get an accredited internationally recognized TEFL certificate valued at $499 for $5. Pretty much all of them imply big savings, but why would anybody sell a $499 course for $5?

Actually such statements are commonly used by many TEFL courses, the difference is that on Groupon they are cheaper.

But...

What you don't typically get with free or cheap courses

Cheap and free courses are typically lower quality. Here is what they "often" lack:

  • Engaging materials. They are usually just text that you read online and then answer questions about.
  • Feedback. If there are assignments in the course there typically isn't a human there to actually check your work and give you feedback.
  • Time. You typically have less time to complete the course, yet even some popular and more expensive providers like i-to-i only offer 2-3 months.

What happens when you go with a cheap online TEFL course?

The result of that is that you will not likely retain much of what you learn.

Read why most online TEFL courses are not any good.

What should you get with more expensive courses?

  • Videos. The best way to learn is by watching other teachers. That was the easiest way to learn for me. A good online course will include many instructional videos.
  • Feedback. Lesson planning is a big part of preparation for teaching abroad and a good online course will provide that.
  • Writing. Writing (especially by hand) is a good way to help commit things to your memory.
  • Time. Having extended access to a course is beneficial for a few reasons. First you have more time to complete it and you aren't rushed. Secondly you will be able to access the course when you start teaching abroad and that will be when you need it most.

Learn more about these benefits.

Courses less than $100

  • ESLinsider's Basic online TEFL course = $89

Courses over $100

  • ESLinsider's Advanced online TEFL course = $209. It focuses more on teaching children in Asia.
  • Premier TEFL 120 hour course = $179
  • i-to-i's 120 hour course = $249
  • ITTT 120 hour course = $199
  • MyTEFL 120 hour course = $299
  • CIEE 60 hour course = $300

The most expensive

  • Bridge TEFL 120 hour master course = $497
  • ITTT Diploma course = $500
  • OnTESOL 250 hour course = $995
  • University of Toronto's course = $950-1200 (reviews)
  • International TEFL Academy 170 hour (includes 20 hour practicum) = $1395

Are there any other online TEFL course fees?

There can be. It's going to depend on the course. 

Common fees:

  • faster access to the certificate may cost more
  • hard copy of the certificate may cost more
  • extended access to the course may cost more

I tried out a Groupon course (TEFL Full Circle) and if you wanted your certificate faster then you have to pay for that which was an additional $20 or so. I have heard the same for i-to-i and the U of T's online TEFL course.

I had to wait 10 business days before I could download my certificate from TEFL Full Circle. One guy said he had to wait 4-6 weeks for his certificate from the U of T course.

An actual physical certificate may cost more too. Most courses also offer limited access (3-6 months) to courses.

ESLinsider's advanced course allows an immediate download of its certificate upon successful completion of the course. There is also unlimited access to that course.

How many hours do I need?

I see 60, 120, 150 and 250 hour courses that vary considerably in price. How many do I need? The meaning of online TEFL course hours is largely for show. As far as I know there is no such thing as actual "hours" with online courses. These are open courses meaning the benefit is that you can take them when you want. 

There are no class times. A course like CELTA is actually 120 scheduled hours in a classroom. I think most online courses just try to look more official by naming their courses with "hours". A course with say 250 hours is probably more extensive, but it won't take you that long.

Now if you start searching the web you may find that some people say you need 120 or more hours. But this is mostly the work of a TEFL course provider telling you that you need a 120 hour course because they will make more money.

In my experience teaching in Asia I can say that there is no typical requirement in regards to TEFL courses. The hours, the name brand, etc. are largely irrelevant - at least for most schools. I could have taught in Taiwan, Korea, China and in Japan without the TESOL certification that I had.

Learn more about TEFL course hours.

What about the university of Toronto's TEFL course?

It may be good, yet it doesn't sound that good to me. I was assuming that maybe they would have more official online course hours, but they don't. Here is a thread on Reddit about U of T's course and another review on Youtube.

Do you get what you pay for with online TEFL courses?

I wish it was easy to say yes, but I do know from experience that it isn't always the case. For example, I took a course that cost me $1000 and I found it to be definitely not worth it. I didn't really learn that many practical tools to help me teach in Taiwan.

There was a grammar focus and I don't remember much except for learning 2 classroom activities. But these activities that I learned were just miscellaneous time filler activities for the most part.

The best activities can be used to teach vocab, sentences, etc.

After I learned that theory and grammar rules don't matter much I started to create a course that was built from practical how-to videos.

Does a more expensive/reputable course guarantee a better job?

I don't think so. As far as jobs go a TEFL course is better than no experience, but 95% of the time schools care more about experience than they do about the name brand of the course you took. 

I applied to a lot of schools (like hundreds) in Asia and only like 2 ever asked any questions about the TEFL course that I took.

Read more about whether your TEFL course will be accepted or not.

So then what's the difference between a cheapo course and an expensive course?

It's hard to make that generalization. But I'd say that the difference is going to be in the quality of the course and what you learn.

Some of the more expensive courses may offer job assistance. I took a course that offered "guaranteed jobs", but they had very few where I wanted to teach.

In that case they are basically acting like a recruiter. A recruiter never has all the jobs. A recruiter works within a certain region.

You'll find more jobs on your own if you look. After realizing that they had only a few jobs I decided to go there and look. So I flew to Taiwan to look for a job.

Recap

  • For $0-100 you'll probably get something fairly basic and there probably wouldn't be much feedback. The quality "could" be questionable. See the Groupon TEFL course reviews.
  • For $100-300 you'll probably get something of pretty good quality and it might include more extensive feedback.
  • For $400-1200 you'll hopefully get a high quality course, with feedback and more.

These are just generalizations. Be sure to closely look at their syllabus and course content.