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I understand that one of your requirements for TEFL courses is that students complete a course with a certain number of "hours". If I understand correctly that is "120 hours" or more.

Now I receive some messages from students applying to your program that they need a certain number of "hours".

Well, if you weren't aware I'd like to let you know that these TEFL course "hours" are often largely inaccurate and misleading.

There are 2 types of online courses

  1. Asychronous means there are no set class times and students can work on courses as they need.
  2. Sychronous means that classes are held at certain times much like normal classroom times.

I have only seen or heard of asynchronous online TEFL courses. So if there are no set class times then how can they accurately state the "hours"?


Good question right?

I started teaching back in 2004 and have since taught in Korea, China and Taiwan.

I would like to let you know that I wanted to compare the courses that I have created to others. So about a year or so agao I took a fairly popular course on Groupon by TEFL Full Circle. 

It was called a "120 hour" course, but I completed it in about "8 hours"

That is not unsual either.

Take a look at all of these quotes.

"I finished a 150 hour course in about 20ish hours. And I actually read/did most of the stuff. If you just rushed through one it might take you 10 hours, maybe less." - Zoidburg747

"That's exactly why I doubt it has any relevance... it took me, maybe, 10 hours! I got in on a wowchr deal as well. Almost not even worth mentioning here I would imagine..." - atmospheric_slug

"I did an online Groupon tefl course for a teaching job in China. Was mad easy. Gave me a 120 hour certificate for maybe 5 hours of work." - Fuckjer

"Even though it said it was a 120 hour certification I managed to finish it in less than 25 hours. Now of course that is a testament to the poor quality of the course that I could fly through it that quickly but thing is, it didn't matter.- Guyforbes

That's not it either. You can read more quotes like that here.

A "120 hour" course online is just a name without much relevance

And even some in-class courses (like the one I took) are like that too.

So I decided not to name the courses I created like this. 

But how can you measure the quality of an online course?

First off I am going to speak from experience and say that the easiest way for me to learn how to teach English was by watching other teachers teach.

So you may assume that an in-class course would be better for this.

That's possible, but the in-class course that I took involved a lot of sitting around and listening to the teacher talk about teaching theory and uninteresting facts about TEFL.

Not much time was devoted to doing teaching activities.

Most in-class TEFL courses actually devote little time (commonly 6 hours in a 120 hour course) to the actual teaching.


Like I said the easiest way for me to learn was by watching other teachers teach. 

You can do this online too with video as instructional videos basically mimic being in the classroom.

I didn't learn much by reading and neither do other people as you will see below.

What does the research on online learning say?

I wrote an article that is a collection of various studies that examines the elements of a good online course.

Here are a few points:

  • People tend to only read 20-28% of a page online
  • Video-based instruction is superior to text
  • Visuals and audio enhance memory
  • Visuals are a large part of "teaching" English too
  • Writing improves your memory
  • Feedback helps

You can read more about these points and learn more about the research behind them here:

Most online courses are TEXT based

Most of those online courses that claim to be "120-160 hours" are text based and as you just learned above most people don't actually read or retain what they read.

Here's an example:

" kind of made me nervous to teach there. All I have is an online TEFL that I forget most of." - thedan633

And another...

"I finished the entire program in 3 days and retained like 5% of the information." - woobv


So if you assume that someone is prepared to teach English or not because they have completed a 120 or more "hour" online course then consider the fact that this is just a very superficial and misleading way to determine the quality of a course.

Quality can be determined by factors like video:

  • Were there many classroom instructional videos in the course?
  • If so what kind of videos?
  • What sort of classrooms were they in?
  • What were the students like in these videos?
  • What did you learn from these videos?


  • What did you have to do in the course?
  • Were there writing assigments? Were they graded? Did you get personal feedback on them?

I think all of those questions can help determine the quality of the course. Many online courses may be poor quality, but they all are not.

What about ESLinsider's courses?


Well, ESLinsider's advanced course...

  • includes a lot of "instructional" videos shot in the classrooms (public schools and hagwons) of South Korea. You can see many of those videos here.
  • feedback on 4 lesson planning assignments
  • students learn about 17 different topics in regards to teaching which ranges from classroom management, teaching with activites, teaching writing, reading, etc.
  • students need to maintain an 80% or higher through the course
  • uses not only video, but pictures, games and humor to keep the student's attention because if they do not pay attention they will not remember much

And if they don't remember much then they won't do a good job teaching English abroad in Korea or anywhere else.