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 most online TEFL courses can range in price from $20-1200+. 

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 a large franchise of schools offers a free course to those who work for them. They offer positions in China, Russia and Indonesia.
  • HESS an employer in Taiwan offers a free certificate.
  • 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 = $20 (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 what you read. 
  • Feedback or human interaction. 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 providers like i-to-i only offer 2-3 months access.

What's the result?

Cheap or expensive or no certificate may yield the same job to you depending on the school and country. However, the result of taking a low quality course is that you will not likely retain much of what you learn which means you will have a more difficult time in the classroom. 

Read why most online TEFL courses are not any good.

What 'should' you get with more expensive courses?

Keep in mind that I said 'should' and not 'will'.

  • Instructional 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 from a human. 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 if it's a good quality course.

Learn more about these benefits.

Courses less than $100

  • Groupon
  • ESLinsider's Basic online TEFL course = $89 Discontinued

Courses over $100

  • ESLinsider's Advanced course (TEKA) = $___. See the site for the latest or read some reviews.
  • Premier TEFL 120 hour course = $179
  • i-to-i's 120 hour course = $249
  • ITTT 120 hour course = $199
  • 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
  • faster feedback might 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.

My course allows for 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 asynchronous or 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.

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 and that may often be the case, 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 those 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.

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 98% 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/TESOL 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. You're unlikely to remember much, yet that certificate is likely to be as good to some schools as the $1200 certificate. 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 or a fancy certificate.

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