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If you just want a job then any cheap online TEFL course might do because 'most' schools in Asia don't fuss much about the course you took. 

But they do fuss about other things though.


If you want to learn why taking a cheap course may not equip you to fight the battles that lie ahead then read on. We'll talk about marshmallows and memory. And if you are pretty sure you still want a cheap course then I'll let you know about one at the end of this post.



cheap ez tefl

That might happen.

It happened to me and I didn't even take a "cheap" course.

It all starts with a search.

You see what looks like a great deal and think, "Holy sh**, $20 for "internationally recognized" 120 hour course! I just saw one for $350!"

They might look like this.

  • $499 $19
  • $314.98 $39
  • $215 $29

So you think...

"Awesome. I'll get the cheapest like they said on Reddit."

So you do.

And the future is looking bright.

And then you get a job.


You're going to Asia or wherever. You're excited and thinking you're pretty clever cause you found a good deal on Groupon.

But then...

You get to Asia and start teaching and realize that it's HARD.

It's much harder than you thought because you've got noisy kids, students that don't do what you say, and students that disrespect you. Like the scribble in the picture above they are calling you fat, stupid, and that you s*ck in Chinese, Korean, etc.

That's possible.

The east Asian concept of fat is quite different than the American one and if you are a poor teacher you're students will be the first to know.

Now you've got a new problem.

Before your problem was getting a job and making a move to a foreign land, but now your problem is teaching

Teaching English is hard and it's even harder if you teach kids (and most of you will teach kids).


Maybe you'll be lucky.

Maybe you are a natural teacher and it will come easy.

Maybe you'll work in a really good school with a great training program.

But most of you won't.

I actually took one of those courses on Groupon (as an experiment) to see what I would get for $39. And I don't remember anything from it except for the brand colors: black, orange, white, a whole lot of text and a few stock photos.

Here's the deal...

Why are those TEFL courses on Groupon so cheap?

Those courses are cheap for a reason and I can't speak for all courses on McDonald's Groupon. But I can tell you this...

  • A cheap course is going after 'quantity' because they can't make enough money selling 'cheap' products to just a few people and if they are selling to many people then...
  • They don't have time to give you personal feedback which means it's a mostly an automated course and you're on your own. You're just a number in a crowd. There's no teacher there to offer input. Although you may get automated input.
  • They are not focused on quality because why put the time in to make something nice when you are only going to get a few bucks from it?

But hey if you just want a certificate then go with the cheapest, but don't say I told you so.

beautefl cheap online tefl

Am I trying to manipulate you into buying my course?

It might appear that way, but I am telling you the truth which many TEFL courses won't. And if you want to teach mostly adults, business English, TOEFL (not TEFL) or in a university then I wouldn't recommend my course.

Now is the opportunity to learn. Sure, you could take any course or no course for that matter, or take a cheap one now and then maybe a better one later if you want.

Or maybe you could teach yourself.

You could.

But you probably won't.

It's easy to get by with the minimum, but you won't be very happy.

I know because I was like that.

I took a course before I taught in Taiwan (my first country) and it wasn't cheap or very helpful. It was around a $1000. And then I had to teach myself which was like 1.5 years later till I was a decent teacher.

But when I started making this website I got way better as a teacher.


Because I put effort into learning. I applied myself. Things just don't magically happen. You have to want to learn. For example, you don't just learn a foreign language by going to live in a foreign country. You learn it because you want to learn it.

Some teachers will also say that you learn by doing it, but that's only half of it you need to know what to do. You don't just learn teaching techniques, activities, rules and systems by showing up.

A little more effort now will pay off later. 

And the easiest way to learn is by watching other teachers.

And more on that later.

Here's something else to consider...


What does a marshmallow have to do with TEFL?

Have you ever heard of the marshmallow experiment?

If you are just focused on getting a certificate for a job then well, cheap TEFL may help you do that because to many schools the kind of certificate that you get won't matter.

But a cheap and easy TEFL course is just one marshmallow. Getting the job is just the beginning and getting a certificate and a job is just a short term victory.  

What's the 2nd marshmallow?

The second marshmallow is doing your job and what you learn. It's not something you get in a couple of days from a cheap and easy course.

Teaching English to kids is NOT easy.

If you don't know what you are doing you will be stressed out and teaching abroad won't be that much fun since you are going to be spending the majority of your time teaching. You have to apply yourself if you want that second marshmallow. 

More work now means less pain later.

Cheap courses are usually cheap for a reason and some people say "you get what you pay for."

Do you know what the results of that experiment were?

The children that delayed their gratification and waited to get the 2nd marshmallow ended up being more "competant" and successful when they grew up.

So do you want one marshmallow now (cheap and easy TEFL) or two later?

If you teach English to mostly kids this is how to get the second marshmallow.


Have you ever been stressed out over which option to choose, picked the cheapest one and then found out that it didn't work so well? So then you had to replace it and you actually ended up spending more money and wasting more time in the long run?

There are 2 reasons to take a TEFL course & cheap usually only covers 1

I could say that getting a job is "half the battle", but in reality the battle hasn't even begun. Getting a certificate to merely get a job only gets you to the battlefield.

What are the 2 reasons?

 1. Get a qualification.

This certification is something that you can put on your resume to help you get a job or make it look like you know something. It gets you to the battlefield.

Also you don't necessarily need a TEFL cert. to get to the battlefield.

 2. Learn how to teach

Reason two is to learn how to teach English effectively so that your students, their parents and your boss don't think you suck. If you don't care about "them" then look at it like this: you're unlikely to be happy with your experience teaching abroad if you don't know what you are doing since you are going to be spending most of your time in the classroom and not on a beach or out exploring.

Learn how to teach so you learn skills to fight on that battlefield.

Teaching is not easy and it will be more of struggle if you don't know what you are doing.

  1. Take a course for certification (gets you to the battlefield)
  2. Take a course to learn (teaches you skills to fight on that battlefield)

Fulfilling reason one is easy. For many schools it won't matter (on paper) what course you took, so a cheap course would do. You can complete one of those cheap courses in 10 hours.

Fulfilling reason two is hard. Learning to teach effectively is not easy because as the research shows many courses aren't built to do that. It also takes time and effort to learn as you don't answer a few questions and become a good teacher overnight.

Comments on a cheap Groupon course:

"It didn't actually teach you to teach English, but... (Other person laughing) Yeah it didn't really teach you at all on how to teach English, but yeah a good refresher on all the English skills." - 2canucksabroad

Why you probably won't remember that boring online course

There's too much information out there and people don't remember boring things.

a textcourse

According to some studies people only read about 20-28% of the text on a page. So if people only read that much of a page then how much do they remember?

Not much.

Here is a comment from Reddit:

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

Most cheap courses on Groupon are going to be text based.

Here's another...

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

Courses like this are not engaging and they don't offer much interaction or feedback. 

What cheap courses often have in common:

  • primarily text based
  • they're easy
  • lack multi-media
  • lack feedback from an actual human
  • short term access 
  • hidden fees

Anything that is quick and easy is unlikely to really prepare you or change much of anything.

"The reality with the Groupon “certifications” is that you’re basically just paying someone to do the photoshop for you - you’re not going to get any actual instructor feedback. If you’re just worried about getting the certificate, you’ll be fine (I don’t think it’s possible to fail one of those courses), but if you were hoping for actual feedback from an experienced instructor, you might want to moderate your expectations." - CaseyjonesABC

But you might say...

"I just want a job dude"

I know, but you are thinking short term like it's a pot of gold that's going to solve all of your problems. The job is just the beginning.

It's really just the beginning of your problems.

Cheap = short term gain now & more pain later

This is not really about cheap or expensive.

It's not either or. It's about a better experience for you and your students.

Remember that getting a certificate and a job is just the beginning. It may seem like your goal now, but don't be short sighted and waste your money and time on something that adds little value.

You might benefit in the short term w/ a fancy sounding certificate, but suffer in the long term. A quality course like the one I'll mention soon brings confidence to you and more happiness to your students, their parents and your boss.

Why are some courses so cheap?

"Cheap is the last refuge for the marketer who can't figure out how to be better." - Seth Godin

In other words those courses are cheap for a reason. 

Comments on Reddit:

"Don't expect any more than the 'basics' from any program charging between 50.00 - 200.00."

A cheap TEFL course most likely = short term gain now and long term pain later unless you are experienced or a natural teacher.

Now it feels like...

"Yay!!! I got got TEFL certified in 2 days^^"


Four months later it feels like...

"Fu@#. I hate teaching English. I wanna go home!"

Introducing TEKA - a course that you'll actually remember and that will prepare you "to do" your job

And I don't mean that in a sentimental way.

ESLinsider's course includes:

  1. Rich and engaging materials that are easier to absorb
  2. Thorough training and practical tools
  3. Interactive (NOT passive) learning
  4. Seldom used tactics to finding good jobs and avoiding bad ones
  5. Feedback on assignments from your teacher

1. Rich and engaging material that's easy to absorb

The easiest way to learn how to teach is by watching other teachers.

ESLinsider's courses are media rich. These are not just boring text based courses. These courses use a lot of video, but not just any videos. These videos are primarily short and simple instructional videos filmed in real classes with real students.

Did you notice how I pointed out the word "real" several times?

That's because most courses whether they are in a classroom or done online don't actually use "real" students to teach you with. The classes are mock classes.

The students in these classes are people like you who are taking a course to teach abroad. So whatever experience you have in a classroom or have by watching videos in some other courses are probably not going to be with "real" students like the ones you will be teaching when you actually go abroad.

So you will be in for more of a shock when you actually get abroad and start teaching.

Benefits of these how-to videos:

  • You'll learn faster and some studies suggest 60,000 times faster compared to reading! Here's a comment on the videos: "Like how the videos are short and to the point. Thank you!" - Sally
  • It's way easier to watch something being done than it is by reading. There is so much more context and information in video.
  • You'll remember more. As I mentioned earlier people only read 20-28% of a page. When was the last time you read an article from begining to end? Reading takes more effort, time and you'll remember less.

The bottom line is that with video you're more likely to remember what you are learning, but remember it does depend on the video.

These aren't lecture videos.

testimonial ESLinsider's course

2. Comprehensive, thorough and practical

Here is a course outline

  • Introduction (30 teachers share their experiences on video in Asia)
  • "Engrish" entrance exam
  • Teaching methods (7 different methods of teaching explored)
  • The teacher as a public speaker (How to captivate your students)
  • Learning styles (Learning styles and if they are accurate)
  • Lesson planning (Learn 2 different preparation methods + easy planning)
  • Presenting language
  • Teaching reading
  • Teaching speaking
  • Teaching writing
  • Teaching listening
  • Teaching pronunciation & phonics (Learn pronunciation tips that can be applied to all levels)
  • Midterm 
  • Grammar
  • Using games & activities (for enhanced learning & engagement)
  • Teaching with songs (How to use music to teach)
  • Dealing with problems in the classroom (Solutions to common problems)
  • Classroom management (How to handle the most difficult students w/ little known tricks)
  • Classroom management tips
  • Writing your resume (Outshine the competition even without experience)
  • Finding jobs (Where to look, how to avoid scams and crappy employers)
  • Culture shock
  • Final exam
  • A carrot 

Leonard"When I first started the courses, I was really absorbed with the content. You've made it so well organized and completely legible. I was hooked into the experience and spent many hours straight just digging into the content. Surprisingly, I somehow ended up filling my entire coil book with notes. On average I think I spent about 3-4 hours in one sitting while going through your course." - Leonard Giang

What does the course content look like?

Let's take a look at what some of the content inside the course looks like. The course uses a good deal of how-to videos that were mostly shot in private and public schools primarily in Korea.

  • Bite sized content pieces of video, text, and audio followed by questions.
  • Writing assignments

A video from the course

3. Learn by interacting 

These are NOT boring passive courses. You have to interact with them to make progress, but they are not intentionally made to be difficult for the sake of it. While you do have to maintain a certain grade to make progress they are made to be captivating and simple so that you want to learn.

Content is delvered in bite-sized chunks.

  • Videos are short and typically not longer than 2 minutes
  • Text is also short

There are no lectures or long pages of text based content.

The courses employ interactive learning to do that. It does so by using different media such as video, audio, text and then Q&A, multiple choice, true or false, fill in the blank, etc.

A question in the course

Over 3,000 people have already taken ESLinsider's courses

4. Learn how to get a good job (or at least a decent one) - even when you have no experience

In the Advanced course you'll learn how to get a good job, how to avoid the horror stories and some tactics to stand out even when you have no experience.

"I believe that your course was the reason that I managed to get my first teaching job. Shortly after adding it to my resume I managed to secure a job in Italy." - Oliver Franklin

You have 2 options:

  1. You can leave and continue your search for a cheap and quick online TEFL.
  2. You can make a commitment to your future teaching self by starting now and getting unlimited access to an engaging, multi-media rich course with feedback that's going to boost your confidence (unlike the other new teachers in your school). 

Learn how to teach English (especially to kids in Asia) and enjoy it!

"I downloaded the first assignment for one of the cheaper courses, and was welcomed with a pretty dense and boring academic article. While educational philosophy is nice, I was looking for practical skills that can immediately be utilized in the classroom...

I have utilized some of his methods and games and have already seen some improvement in the kids' speaking skills and some massive improvement in their behavior."

Dwayne M. 

Or check out this cheaper TEFL course.