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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.

Are online TEFL courses legitimate?

Yes and no. The word "legitimate" implies something that is legal. But there is no TEFL law. TEFL spans many countries around the world. There are no rules or laws regarding these courses, however there are still scams and plenty of lies being told.

Based on my experience teaching in Asia online TEFL courses are accepted most of the time, but it can depend on the school. A TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate in-class or online is not a passport to any teaching job abroad. It's kind of like your degree. Did it guarantee you employment anywhere in your country?

But in TEFL certification generally carries much less weight than any degree since they are rarely required for visa purposes.

The problem with online TEFL courses is that they are often low quality which doesn't prepare you well.

How do you know if a TEFL course is legit? 

This is somewhat of a loaded question, but I would do extensive research on the program to see what it is like and see what they offer for free. Read through their site and research their course. If you find yourself with a lot of unanswered questions then maybe it's not for you.

TEFL courses range in quality and type. I think the best course is the course that's going to prepare you 'to do' your job. So I would consider who you are going to teach (age level, country, etc.).

And then look for a targeted course.

If you visit other sites and companies you will get some different opinions on this such as: search reviews and see if they are accredited, but you're just scratching the surface.

You have to be cautious because there are plenty of fake reviews out there and even totally fake review sites. And there is no one accreditation for TEFL. Most TEFL accreditors are private businesses (that nobody knows) and non-govermental.

Sometimes these accreditations can be fake too.


The truth is that I think that you will find out that employers abroad care less about where your certification came from than you think or are being told by companies.

At least that was my experience teaching in China, Korea and Taiwan.

Some companies out there will say that people who took their course got paid more or got better jobs, but in my experience new teachers don't get the best jobs regardless of whatever course they took because they don't have experience.

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.

And even the more so-called legit accreditations are often made up of people who work in the same companies they accredit!

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. It's one of the industry lies.

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 normally 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?

Yes, there are. Here's a TEFL course review site scam. And there are plenty of...


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.

And chances are as a naive newcomer you will buy into their BS.

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.

Which TEFL courses are legitimate?

Legitimate is in the eye of the beholder. 98% of employers out there are not going to care that you took "X" course. TEFL certification is secondary, tertiary, etc. to actual teaching experience.

If all you want is a job then it doesn't matter 'most' of the time. 

So how to 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 take a course focused on teaching the students you are going to teach. Figure out who you will probably be teaching. If you teach in Asia I can tell you who you will teach, but most courses in my experience aren't going to prepare you well.

That's the best course if you ask me. It's the one that's going to train you to do your job. NOT the one with the nice beach pictures, fancy sounding accreditation, or the one claiming to be "internationally recognized".


Get your head in the game.

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 although that may have changed sinve the corona virus. If you think a "legit" course is going to get you a better position I'd say you're probably misinformed and in it for the wrong reason. 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 or make more money. Possibly, but mostly blah, blah if you ask me.

The bottomline is TEFL certificates don't compare to a degree in terms of power because they are rarely legally required to issue a visa. And they don't compare to actual experience (in terms of years) which is what employers want.

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.

When you are starting off you are not thinking about doing your job you are thinking about getting a job and going traveling. REALITY has not set in.

But it will soon.

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.