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You probably already realized that you have a lot of options as to where to get your TEFL certification, so you are probably confused a bit.

I understand.

You have probably been told different things and may be getting confused as to what to look for, what's actually important and where to buy.

Later I will recommend a course that focuses more teaching kids in Asia, but now I will share some of my thoughts on what matters.

There are two basic reasons to take a TEFL course.

  1. To get a certificate which might help you get a job
  2. To learn how to teach

Now at this stage you are probably focused more on getting a job, but in my experience the second reason is more important which I will tell you about later.

If you go to a site like Reddit (r/tefl) and ask this question you will probably get told a few different things. Many will suggest either:

  1. The cheapest or
  2. A CELTA

1. Should you take the cheapest?

Because they are looking at it like a commodity. That means that on paper to most schools that they look mostly the same so why bother spending more for the same result?

Well, it depends what result you want. If a result is a job then yes, the cheapest might help you fulfill that requirement.

But that's short sited because of two reasons: for one you can get a job somewhere without a TEFL. And two getting a job is just the beginning.

After that you have a year at least ahead of you and if you want to have a good year then you have to know what you are doing otherwise work will be stressful and you won't have a good year.

But lets say you are still not convinced and for now you just want a job. Well, do you want just any job?

Because some people have bad experiences with some schools. They may end up getting fired, quit or not get paid on time or in full.

Do you want that?

So are you shopping for a piece of paper or an experience?

If you are shopping for a piece a paper then the cheapest would do, but if you want more than that then you need something else.

2. Should you take a CELTA?

CELTA has a reputation as being the best when it comes to short term courses. However, from my point of view it's a bit exagerrated.

It might be the best if you are planning on teaching long term to mostly adults.

CELTA or online TEFL?

So what do you really need?

You need a course that's focused on teaching the students that you are going to teach.

Why? Because if you just take any course (many of them are general courses) you are probably not going to be very prepared like I wasn't.

I took a TESOL course (part in-class) before I started teaching in Taiwan and I can tell you that it didn't really prepare me for teaching those kids that I taught in Taiwan.

Most courses out there focus more on teaching adults (including CELTA). And a CELTA might be what you need if you teach adults.

It's just my theory but I think a lot of courses out there are CELTA clones or try to look more official like CELTA.


You don't need a course focused on teaching theory, studying grammar and the English language

Why not? Because people want to learn how to communicate in English not learn another language behind the English language. 

That's like the courses I took. I mentioned I took one TESOL course before but I also took one of those cheap Groupon courses.

So what do you need?

  • You need something practical.
  • You need to learn what to do in the classroom.
  • You need to learn how to manage your classroom (especially kids).
  • You need to learn how to keep your students interested.
  • You need to know how to combine entertainment and education.

You don't stand up in front of the class and recite English language rules and grammar labels. Most students don't need all the grammar details. You just need to teach your students how to use the language.

Ever hear of the KISS principle?


Like me when I first started you probably don't know anything about teaching so you don't need abstractions or theory, and just like the students you will teach you need something simple.

You need a course that you will remember especially if you take it online

Why? Because if you don't remember what you "learn" in a course or retain any of the information what's the point?

See what the research says about online TEFL courses and the kind of course that you need.

If you take a course online and you take one of those cheap Groupon courses then chances are you won't remember much because there is little to no feedback and you have no visuals.

To remember what you learn online you need:

  • Visuals
  • Feedback and interaction with a human
  • Repetition
  • To write

If you take a low quality course online those things may be mostly absent.

"All I have is an online TEFL that I forget most of." - thedan633

Learn more.

Getting a job??

These are things that I think don't actually matter much. If you have been researching TEFL courses then you will have come across a lot of big claims in regards to these following things.

My experience

I have tried to tell you what I think really matters based on my experience teaching in Asia which is different from what most providers say. I was very disappointed with the course I took and it was "accredited", "internationally recognized" and offered "guaranteed jobs".

I learned that those things didn't really matter - at all.

After years of teaching in Asia I decided that I wanted to make teaching English easier. For me what worked was watching other teachers. That was the easiest way to learn.

It wasn't by reading a book or reading instructionals online it was by observing other teachers. Teaching was not easy for me and I don't want it to be so difficult for you.


I started to make classroom instructional videos in 2010. Then later in 2013 I started to create courses that supplement those videos. Now there are several courses that are focused more on teaching kids in Asia and that is the market where most of the jobs are.

So if you really want to learn how to do that and get prepared then I would recommend ESLinsider's Advanced course.