If you are searching for the "best online TEFL course" or best in-class TEFL course you can't trust anyone because everyone is either chasing an affiliate commission or they have a course to sell themselves like me;-).
And even if they aren't an affiliate or a direct marketer then they are still biased because everyone is biased (to varying degrees).
So what's the best online TEFL course?
The short answer is that it's the one that prepares you to do your job. So if I was you I would start thinking more about 'who' you are going to teach.
That's my most objective answer to that question and in this post I am going to go into detail on why that is.
Are you overwhelmed and stressed with all the options and things you may have read?
I understand, because I was there once.
I understand that the "best" is a question that newcomers ask as I found myself searching for the "best zombie contact lenses" the other day.
"Regardless of how you measure 'best' (elegance, deluxeness, impact, profitability, ROI, meaningfulness, memorability), it's almost never present in the thing that is the most popular."
"Best" is a subjective word.
"Best" according to who?
"Best" for what?
If you are searching for the "best" then you will probably find the more popular courses. And those courses may work for you - at least in the short term.
For example, McDonald's is popular, but would you consider it the best restaurant?
Before I went to Taiwan (my first country) I took a TESOL course not online, but in class which hardly prepared me to teach who I taught.
The best course for me would have...
- prepared me to teach kids (who I mostly taught & most of the jobs in Asia)
- shown me what the classrooms and students are like, which would of led to less of a shock
- shown me the kind of materials I would likely use
- shown me what to do when there were problems (you will have problems and difficult students - not trying to be a downer, but that's the reality of it)
- not made me memorize grammar rules and definitions, which I found to be useless
- shown me more activities (and ones that were more usable)
You may be thinking "I just want a job" or I want the most recognized course because that's the problem you are likely trying to solve now, but that will soon change...
So the bottom line was that the best course would have "shown me" what to do. The easiest way to learn how to teach is by watching other experienced teachers, but you are not going to get that in many online courses.
When I arrived in Taiwan I was in for a shock.
I remember standing in that first class feeling confused, unable to understand the Chinese that the students were speaking and feeling pretty helpless.
Anyways here are some factors that you can consider before I tell you what I think is really important.
If you just want a certificate the best course for you is the cheapest, BUT dollar signs don't say anything about quality
The cheapest courses are usually on Groupon. As mentioned elsewhere there are two reasons for taking a TEFL course.
- Getting a job
- Doing your job
A TEFL certification is something to put on your resume that may help you get a job. It shows that you are potentially "qualified", but...
Any TEFL course doesn't guarantee that you will do the job well or are actually qualified. Getting a job is just the beginning. The cheaper online courses are usually the lowest quality ones.
They'll lack, feedback, audio/video and writing assignments all of which make it more likely for you to remember what you are learning.
If you want "prestige" (although that's questionable) the best for you is CELTA, but it's not an online course
Although that may have changed recently with COVID.
What's the most reputable course?
If you want the most reputable TEFL certificate then choose CELTA, but it's not really an online TEFL course. They have only partly an online course. It's a hybrid course.
Most courses focus on teaching adults - like CELTA. Which is not "very" useful if you end up teaching children (young learners).
Learn more about whether a course will be accepted or recognized.
What TEFL certificate is best?
I'd say based on my experience teaching in Asia it doesn't matter. And that's going to be contrary to what many TEFL courses are telling you because they want to sell their accredited or "internationally recognized" certificate. And they are going to say theirs is more accepted or you'll get a better job, etc.
But a cheapo is most likely going to bring the same results as an expensive course would. I am not saying they would be equal in what you learn, but on paper they will look the same to most emloyers.
Most employers don't care that much about certificates.
Employers care more about other things.
It "might" be the course with the best reviews
The key word is "might".
Did you read that quote by Seth Godin above?
- online TEFL course reviews
The REALITY is..
You may think that the best course may be the most reputable, the most popular, have the best reviews or be the cheapest, but those are just external factors. They don't necessarily tell you much about the course and how it's going to prepare you.
Those things all sound good and one of those could be a good online TEFL course for you. But those things may only cover getting your foot in the door.
After you get a job then you have to teach.
The best online course will:
- prepare you to teach the students you are going to teach
- maximize the use of video for retention (because research shows that visuals like instructional videos are more more memorable)
- be interactive
- offer feedback on your work
Do you know who you are going to teach?
So the best online course for you really depends on who you are going to teach.
And maybe even where you want to teach.
Getting a job is just the beginning of your TEFL experience. It's not that hard to get a job either. The teaching is a lot harder.
If you don't know who you are going to teach then chances are that you will end up teaching kids, because that's where most of the jobs are.
Here's an uncommon quality...
The best online TEFL course will use a lot of VIDEO
Because the right videos will make learning easier, more fun and faster. Many of the cheaper online courses are mostly text-based.
What's wrong with that?
If you weren't aware people only read 20% or so of the text on the page. So how much of that do you think you'll remember?
The best online TEFL course is going to maximize the use of classroom based how-to videos. These videos will include real students like the ones you will be teaching, not pseudo students (like in many in-class courses) or actors in some online courses, but real students like the ones you'll be teaching.
I took a TESOL course in a classroom. I chose one that was close to where I was living although it was 3 hours away in Montreal, Canada.
It was a hybrid in-class/take home course from a popular provider, that I chose because it seemed like it might be good, but I didn't know anything.
I didn't really know who I wanted to teach. I kinda thought kids, but then maybe teenagers or adults. I didn't know.
I took a course that supposedly specialized in teaching adolescents, but I didn't really end up learning much about them for a few reasons. For one I really only did the in-class portion of the course which I guess was just general.
The second part of the course was take home and it was basically studying grammar and teaching theory from a book. It was INCREDIBLY BORING.
Luckily for you those boring materials inspired me to make more inspiring materials like how-to videos and interactive courses.
That course was so boring that I discontinued it.
I hopped on a plane bound for Taiwan. But when I got there I quickly learned that I didn't know anything about teaching English to kids.
My first 1.5 years or so was stressful. With time I got better. I found that the best way to learn was watching other teachers and NOT by reading text online. I wasted a ton of time searching and reading text online.
That poor TESOL course and my experience teaching in Asia inspired me to create...
- Engaging multi-media courses targeted more at teaching kids in Asia (Yes, you will learn about adults too, but they are more focused on teaching kids.)
- How-to videos that were filmed in public schools and private institutes in Asia
- A lesson planning section based on materials and books schools in Asia commonly use
- A comprehensive classroom management section. It includes little known tricks and tactics uncommon in TEFL for keeping the most disruptive students in-line.
- There is little study of grammar definitions, teaching theory and the focus is on action (what to do in the classroom)
- ESLinsider is loaded with classroom activities that are on VIDEO. Most of these games & activities are NOT just time fillers, but activities that you can integrate into the content of your lesson.
- Again the emphasis of ESLinsider is on what to do.
- Unlike most other courses that offer limited access for 2-6 months, ESLinsider's advanced course offers unlimited access. On top of that you can access the videos for FREE 24/7.
GET THE INSIDE SCOOP on teaching English in Asia
Here are some things that you will get when you log in to this course.
- Advice from 26 teachers in Korea, China, Japan and Taiwan on video.
- How to find your best place (city and country) teaching abroad.
- A comprehensive look at salaries for teachers in Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China.
- Learn about the kinds of school you will work in.
- Some fun quizzes to see if your English is good enough...
- And a whole lot more about the actual teaching.
The teaching is coming soon...
Do you feel confident in your ability to teach?
Instead of working for a sketchy employer, with horrible management, and off the wall children imagine working for a fantastic employer with great facilities, management that cares, and cute kids grinning from ear to ear. How amazing would that be?