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I came up with this FAQ on TEFL courses and TESOL/CELTA certification, by searching Google. They have been divided into these categories.

What is a TEFL course?

TEFL=Teaching English as a Foreign Language. A TEFL course typically provides training to teach English abroad. These courses can be taken in a classroom, online or possibly combined.

Can I take a course if I am not a native English speaker?

Usually you can, however if your ability to speak and write in English is not very good then maybe you shouldn’t be taking a course to begin with. Also one of the qualifications of teaching abroad is usually to be a native English speaker.

Can I take a course if I don't have a degree?

Yes. However, you should know that most jobs require a degree which is for your work visa. If you can obtain a visa another way then that may enable you to teach for a limited amount of hours. Teaching without a degree can also be illegal.

What's the difference between CELTA, TEFL and TESOL?

TEFL and TESOL refer to the same thing. TEFL refers to teaching English as a foreign language and TESOL refers to teaching English to speakers of other languages. CELTA refers to Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults. TEFL, TESOL and CELTA are all "TEFL" courses.

Is a TEFL certificate enough?

Enough for what? I am assuming you are talking about the requirements to teach abroad. If so then that depends. You usually need to be a native English speaker and to have a degree. Those are for visa purposes Some schools may prefer or require TEFL certification. It depends on the country.

How long does TEFL certification last?

Forever. In that sense it is like a degree. A certificate is a certificate and it is not dated. The courses themselves may have a time limit though. Or some may be dated too. Some come and go.

How long will you last might be a more appropriate question. Most ESL teachers only teach abroad for like a year or two.

How/where do I get a TEFL certificate?

You have to search online to find a provider. You can take an online course or a course in the classroom. Some courses combine the two.

Will getting certified help me get a job?

Each school has different requirements and preferences for teachers. If an employer is choosing between two applicants with relatively similar qualifications such as a degree then the employer will probably choose the one with certification.

What’s the best course?

That depends on what you call the best. The best for you may not be the best for someone else. I’d say the best course is going to prepare you for your job. Some courses focus on teaching adults others business English and others children. I'd say take the course that’s going to best prepare you for who you want to teach.

How do you know?

First know who you want to teach. if you want to teach kids don't take a course that specializes in teaching adults. Most courses do focus on teaching adults. It is hard to know without actually trying a course first. You can read reviews of other courses and see if they have one that you can try out or see what kind of resources they offer.

You should also decide whether you should take an online course or an in-class course. You can also consider the cost of courses, location, timeline, etc.

What’s the cheapest course?

The cheapest courses are online and usually on Groupon. Other than that you can search Google for cheap TEFL.

What’s the most reputable TEFL course?

The most reputable TEFL courses are usually CELTA, DELTA and Trinity TESOL. These courses are intensive, time consuming and expensive. They can cost upwards of $2000. Learn more.

Is TEFL certification worth it?

That depends on what you mean and the course that you take. For some people it wasn’t. Usually this question has to do with money. So if you are asking yourself this question then maybe you shouldn’t spend much money on it.

The benefits of certification are being able to put it on your resume. In the eyes of the employer this will only add to your qualifications and experience. You may make more money or you may not. It might help you get a better job or not. It depends on where you are planning to teach.

How to become TEFL certified?

You can search Google for TEFL, TESOL or CELTA courses. After you successfully complete the course you can get a certificate.

How long does it take to get a TEFL certification?

It depends on the course. There are 20, 60, 120, 150 hour courses. The more hours the more time it can take. However, course hours don’t always mean that it will take that long to complete.

Different providers have different standards and a 120 hour course does not mean that it will take you 120 hours to complete. It could take you longer or be considerably shorter.

Courses like CELTA can take a month (8 hours, 5 days a week) or more to complete. Classroom based courses have a set timeline. On the short end they could be just a weekend course and on the long end it could be a month or more.

Online courses tend to be shorter.

How many TEFL course hours do I need?

As mentioned before there are 20, 40, 60 on up to 150 hours or so. As far as TEFL courses go hours greater than 100 tend to be more recognized by employers who care about TEFL certification.

Keep in mind that in many cases TEFL course hours are not accurate meaning you might complete your so-called 120 hour online course in 11 hours.

How long does it take to complete a 120, 140, etc. hour TEFL course?

It depends on the course and the provider. Online TEFL courses typically offer "pseudo" hours. That means they won't take you that long to compete. In the case of a course like CELTA. These courses usually take place over a period of 4 weeks. They are 8 hours a day. 

Is TEFL certification necessary?

No, it isn’t always necessary. It is possible to teach without certification. These schools typically require teachers to have a degree and to be a native English speaker.

These schools typically do not offer any or much training.

Should I get TEFL certified?

If you ask a TEFL provider that question most will say yes. Taking a course should better prepare you for your job. Although keep in mind that all courses are not the same and some will better prepare you than others.

How much does it cost to get a TEFL Certificate?

They don’t typically sell certificates. They are usually issued at the completion of the course. As far as courses go…

On the very low end I have seen online courses on Groupon priced for like $39. On the high end you could pay more than $2000.

How hard is a TEFL course?

It depends on the course. CELTA courses are usually considered pretty difficult.

Some courses have extensive grammar sections which can be difficult for even native speakers.

How much are TEFL courses?

It depends on the course. Some as cheap as $40 and others over $2000. Why is there such a big price difference? Well, the cheaper courses usually offer less.

How can I get an "internationally recognized" certificate?

"Internationally recognized" TEFL certification is a misnomer. It's mainly a marketing term. Like a degree there is no certificate that guarantees a job anywhere.

Learn more about "internationally recognized" TEFL certification.

Where can I find a list of accredited TEFL courses?

Accreditation is not a requirement for TEFL courses and there isn't any one overarching body for TEFL accreditation. These are mostly private companies that do accreditation and sometimes they are the same company or may contain members from different TEFL course providers.

Learn more about TEFL accreditation.

How long does TEFL certification last?

It's kind of like a degree. It will last forever. Yet, it can be easy to forget what you learned in the course if you didn't practice it in real life.

Classroom or online TEFL course?

That depends on you and what you want. If you want to learn in a classroom and possibly get feedback on your teaching then a classroom based course of 120 hours typically offers 6 hours of in-class training where you may get observation and feedback from your instructor.

There are some schools out there that don’t accept online courses. These are usually higher end schools that will usually prefer experience or may have additional requirements such as related degrees, master’s degrees or teaching licenses. These kinds of schools can be found more often in Europe or the Middle East.

Classroom courses tend to be more expensive and online courses cheaper.

Are online TEFL courses valid? Are they accepted?

It depends on the school. For many schools in Asia they are. Some of the higher end schools may not accept them especially if you do not have experience. This may be more common in Europe or the Middle East.

Most of the time in Asia you can get a job with an online TEFL course.

Find out if they are worth it.

How much does an online course cost?

Online courses typically range in price from about $5 to $1,200 or more dollars.

How does an online TEFL course work?

It's going to depend on the course. I took a course on Groupon that involved reading, answering questions at the end of a unit, taking a final exam, doing 1 lesson plan and a short writing assignment. After I completed those I was able to download the certificate.

Now I can compare that to ESLinsider's course where you have to read and watch videos, answer questions, take a midterm exam, do 3 lesson plans, a final and then you can download your certificate as long as your grade was high enough (80%) throughout the course.

See an example:

What does an online TEFL course involve?

How long does an online TEFL course take?

It depends on the course and you. Online courses are faster than in-class courses. Some people finish so-called 120 hour courses in less than 10 hours. Learn more about TEFL course hours.

Which online TEFL course should I take?

I would do your research before buying. You have a lot of options. You can read this in-depth guide on which TEFL course you should take.

How good are online TEFL courses?

It depends on the course. The quality can vary quite a bit from provider to provider. On the low end some could be just reading some text and answering some questions from a PDF. On the higher end you'll probably have a multi-media (video and audio) course with feedback and maybe even interaction with other students.

Online courses aren't for everyone. Some people need the discipline and companionship that comes from being in a classroom. Self-motivated learners can do good with online courses, yet it's going to depend on the quality of the course.

Can you fail an online TEFL course?

Yes, it's possible but I'd say that is pretty difficult to do unless you are extremely lazy. Most courses want you to get through.

The online courses that I have taken and created require the user to maintain a grade average above 80%. If your grade is not high enough then you can't proceed to the next topic. However, if it's simply not high enough you can retake it until it is.

What online TEFL course is best?

It depends on what you want and the course itself. Popular online courses are i-to-i, myTEFL, iTTT, and Groupon courses if you want a really cheap course.

For some the best might be the cheapest or have the most reputable name. For others it might offer a guaranteed job and others yet might offer the best possible training via multi-media and feedback.

Read more about what's the best online TEFL course?

What is a legitimate online course?

It depends what you consider a legitimate TEFL course. Legitimate suggests something that is conforming to the rules. Well, there are no rules in regards to TEFL courses. There is no one international accreditation for TEFL courses. Courses are not actually required to be accredited and accreditation isn't always what it seems.

Legitimate also implies something that is honest. Many TEFL courses including some of the biggest companies tell lies and other scammy half-truths.

Is an online TEFL course hard?

That depends on the course and you. Some online courses can be challenging, but it depends. One of the benefits of an online course is that you can work on it when you want. There is less pressure. With a classroom based course such as CELTA there can be a lot of pressure.

What are the benefits of an online TEFL course?

They can be more convenient and cheaper than classroom based courses. Read more about the benefits.

What is the fastest online TEFL course?

Those are usually on Groupon. It depends on the length of the course. ESLinsider's basic course could probably be completed in 10 hours if you are diligent. 

Learn more about the fastest online TEFL courses.

What is the content of a online TEFL course like?

That depends on the course. Good online courses will include video, assignments, Q&A and be interactive. Here is an example of an online TEFL course's content which includes the syllabus.

Are there any sample courses out there?

There is a free course that you can try out. Read more about this sample online TEFL course.

Is an online TEFL course enough?

It depends on the course and it depends on what you mean by "enough". Online TESOL/TEFL courses can be a good start especially if you are not sure how long you would like to teach for. You can get a good taste and start to TEFL training with an online course. 

But it does depend on the course. Some can be low quality. Some may be pretty basic. Some may not have any tutors. 

In most of Asia they are fine in terms of job requirements. Most schools will accept them. All TEFL courses (online or in-class) are usually second to real teaching experience though.

Where can I find some answers to my online TEFL course?

They should be in the course. If you attempt to take an exam or quiz without having had read the material then you can't expect good results.

If you are looking for a way to cheat then you are just wasting your time and money. The main purpose of a course should be to learn and not just obtain a certificate. It's possible that the course you took may be low quality.

CELTA or TEFL which is better?

CELTA is more reputable especially in Europe and the Middle East. It is less popular in Asia. It is a TEFL course that focuses primarily on teaching adults. There is a great deal of variety for TEFL courses. No two CELTA or TEFL courses will be the same.

When should you apply to take a CELTA course?

It is generally recommended to sign up 6 weeks in advance.

How difficult is a CELTA course?

There is a lot of lesson planning, writing assignments and class work. You can have a lot of pressure to complete assignments and some people do not complete the CELTA. Also some can fail and not receive a certificate or get their money back.

How much does the CELTA cost?

Prices can range from as little as $1,600 to $3,000. According to this CELTA provider $2,795.

Can you take CELTA online?

Yes, partly. There is a blended course.

Parting words

ESLinsider offers practical online TEFL courses.

  • ESLinsider's course FAQ here.

How about you? Do you have any questions about TEFL courses? You can send me an email and let me know and I'll see if I can help.