Answers to your questions about online TEFL courses
Here you will find a massive short answer FAQ and then links to in-depth articles regarding online TEFL courses.
About the author...
Yep, that's me (pink guy above).
I've taught English in Taiwan, Korea and China and now I live in Japan. I've taken 2 different TEFL/TESOL courses and one of those was online. I've also created multi-media courses and materials for teachers.
Here are 22 common questions about online TEFL courses
Below you will find short answers to some of the common questions asked about online courses and then links to all articles.
- What is an online TEFL course?
- Which online TEFL course should I take?
- How much does an online TEFL course cost?
- What are these online courses like?
- How do online TEFL courses work?
- Which age group of students do courses focus on?
- Are online courses any good?
- Is it possible to fail an online course?
- How long do you have access to an online TEFL course?
- How long does it take to complete an online TEFL course? How many hours do you need? 100, 120, 150?
- Are online TEFL courses accepted?
- What's the fastest online course?
- What's the best online TEFL course?
- What's the most reputable online TEFL course?
- What's the most accredited course?
- Why do all courses look and sound the same?
- What's the difference between a cheap course and an expensive course?
- Is there an online TEFL course with teaching practicum?
- Should I take a take an onsite or in-class course?
- What are the answers to my online TEFL course?
- Should I take a course?
- What course for teaching online?
- All related articles here
What is an online TEFL course?
An online TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is a teacher training course that is taken online and 'said' to prepare you to teach English abroad.
Yes, quality amonst online course providers varies.
Which online TEFL course should I take?
Is your head swimming in TEFL courses?
You are overwhelmed with choices. I understand. But continue to do your research. See what you can learn about a course.
My recommendation is to take a practical course. Some courses will say they are practical, but are they really?
If you are taking it online you need visuals like how-to videos and images to help you learn because if you take an online one without that and just text then you are unlikely to learn much because you won't read it all nor absorb it.
Studies show people only read 20-28% of a page.
And if they read that little how much do they remember?
I took a cheapo course to see what I would get with my money. And that course was all text and a few stock photos. And that course was popular, but see Seth Godin's quote below regarding the "best" course.
But it's not just video - it's the kind of video. You need instructional videos where you learn what to do 'in the classroom' and not lecture videos. Interaction and feedback also helps.
Learn more about which online TEFL course you should take?
How much does an online TEFL course cost?
That depends on the course as they can vary in quality. On the low end I've seen them ranging in prices from about $20 to $1200.
Learn more about how much online TEFL/TESOL courses cost.
What are these online courses like?
It depends on the course.
Often you'll read about various topics related to teaching English and then answer questions and multiple choice or true or false type questions. Some courses may include instructional videos although the cheap course that I took didn't.
Some courses may include writing assignments such as lesson planning as that's an important part of teaching. Some courses may include forums or interactions with other students or teachers.
This is a screen shot from inside ESLinsider's course which includes many short instructional videos.
Then sometimes you will answer questions like this...
Those are from the automated parts of the course. There are also lesson plans and other writing assignments.
How do online TEFL courses work?
There are 2 types of online courses:
- Asynchronous. This kind of course is self-paced.
- Synchronous. This kind of course occurs at certain class times. I have never seen or heard of an online TEFL/TESOL course like this.
Which age group of students do courses focus on?
It depends on the course, however I would say most tend to focus on teaching adults like CELTA does, as the "A" in CELTA stands for "Adults".
But there are also courses for kids (often referred to young learners) and then perhaps courses for business English too.
Are online courses for TEFL/TESOL any good?
As mentioned before quality varies. Many people have complained about their online courses being boring. Part of the reason may be that there aren't many visuals. The course I took online from Groupon didn't contain any videos so you couldn't learn how to teach by watching other teachers.
It just contained some generic stock photos that were hardly related to teaching.
Another problem is that many of these courses are automated and there is little interaction with an actual human or teacher.
Why many online courses aren't any good:
- No visuals
- Too much theory
- No feedback or interaction with a human
As a general rule of them I would say that the cheaper courses tend to be lower quality since less care probably went into making them and they want to make them automated which means less work for them.
More interaction with a human can be helpful and it can help you remember what you study in the course.
Also you need to see teaching in action so you need visuals because without them you won't remember what you learn.
Is it possible to fail an online course?
It's possible, but from what I gathered it's not common and the same can be said of TEFL courses in general. I have heard of people failing CELTA.
Generally you have the option of retaking the course as needed.
How long do you have access to these online TEFL courses?
It depends on the course. Many of the popular providers may only allow access for 2-3 months. I took a course that offered 6 months of access.
ESLinsider's advanced course includes lifetime access.
How long does it take to complete an online TEFL course? How many hours do you need? 100, 120, 150?
It depends on the course. Some courses are easier than others. And the so-called "hours" are irrelevant as these courses are all 'asynchronous' courses. What that means is that you can work on them when you want because there are no class times.
This is a misleading term in the TEFL course industry.
They will mostly say you need 100 or 120 hour course or more, but the truth is you don't necessarily need a TEFL course to teach in Asia. Before I went to Taiwan to teach I took a TESOL course for like 2 days in a classroom at the end of it they gave me what they said was a "60 hour" certificate but it didn't even say that.
And if I wanted a 120 hour certificate I had to do some take home work which I started, but quit because it was so boring and then I just left for Taiwan.
Anyways after that I spent 2 years in Taiwan, 3.5 in Korea and 6 months in China. I worked in a lot of schools and interviewed at many more and only remember one school ever asking me about the "hours".
Now some schools may care about those. I know EPIK in Korea has a little box in their application for "hours". But the reality is definitely not like the TEFL course providers tell you.
I completed a so-called "120 hour" online course in 8 hours.
Many other people have had similar experiences.
Are online TEFL courses accepted?
It depends on the school and country. Based on my experience teaching in Asia I'd say that, yes, they usually are. Maybe in the Middle East or in parts of Europe they won't be.
Again it depends on the school.
Schools abroad aren't any different than employers in your own country in the sense that they tend to pick who they think is the most qualified person.
In other words...
Can I get a job with an online TEFL?
Yes, you can somewhere and you can also get a job without one too. Every school is different and there is no course that will guarantee you a job everywhere - not even CELTA.
It's just like your degree.
Did your degree guarantee you a job anywhere?
What's the fastest online course?
The fastest course is likely the easiest course and probably one of the cheapest courses. Speed and quality don't usually go together. What's fast and easy is unlikely to actually teach you much which means you won't be prepared to do your job and you probably won't enjoy your job anymore because of it.
What's the best online TEFL/TESOL course?
Well, that depends on you and the course. I'd say it's the one that is targeted at teaching the students you will teach. If you teach adults take one focused on that which is most courses. But if you teach kids then take one focused on that like this one.
It's also going to include a lot of visuals that show you how to teach.
It's also probably not the most popular one.
Think about it.
Is McDonald's the best restaurant?
Because it's served BILLIONS.
Or the one with the fancy sounding accreditation because those courses are selling you just that.
And consider this quote by Seth Godin (a famous marketer, teacher and author)
"Regardless of how you measure 'best' (elegance, deluxeness, impact, profitability, ROI, meaningfulness, memorability), it's almost never present in the thing that is the most popular."
The short term best for you might help you get a job, but then again you can get a job without a course so then why pay someone money for that? The long term best for you is going to be focused on teaching you because that's where you are going to be spending most of your time abroad.
What's the most reputable online TEFL course?
I'd say there isn't one.
To some schools out there online courses aren't even reputable to begin with although in these schools you usually need experience anyways. Employers in Asia don't keep track of all the different TEFL/TESOL qualifications. Plenty of companies out there will say they are the best and employers want "our" certificate, but that is a lie.
Think about it.
What companies do you know of in Turkey, Korea, or Israel? In Korea maybe you know Samsung. But Samsung is a massive cell phone/computer company.
TEFL courses on the other hand are a pretty niche thing.
The average employer abroad in Asia speaks another language and is likely not familiar with many or any of the different TEFL courses.
TEFL certification isn't the best qualification to have.
Experience usually is and that is what employers in Asia really care about. A TEFL is just a little something that you can put on your resume that might give you an edge over someone who doesn't have one or it might be required.
More importantly it should help you 'do' your job.
Did your degree guarantee you a better job or more money?
It's the same with TEFL courses. Instead of chasing the carrot - which is that "reputable" certificate I would focus on an intrinsic reward like "learning" because that is going to pay off in the long run (your day to day job) whereas a certificate might only help you get get a job which is just the beginning of your experience.
What's the most accredited course?
"No institution seeks accreditation to improve the education it provides." - Jamin Hübner
In TEFL there is no one accreditation and it's not required. There are only 3rd party accreditors which are basically businesses. While accreditation may appear to be a sign of quality it isn't necessarily and in TEFL there are some fake accreditations as well.
And since accreditation goes on behind the scenes no one knows much about what they do or who those accreditors are.
- Why accreditation doesn't work
- Why TEFL accreditation doesn't matter
- Which online TEFL courses are accredited?
Why do all courses look and sound the same?
I think so too.
Maybe it's because there are many copy cats. Or perhaps because of accreditation. Acredditation promotes sameness and NOT differentation or innovation.
Although in TEFL there is no "one" accreditation.
I think that many courses try to look and sound like CELTA.
Also another thing to keep in mind is that no two courses are the same. For example, one brands "120 hour" course is not going to be the same as the next brands "120 hour" course.
Although they may be similar.
What's the difference between a cheap course and an expensive course?
It depends on the courses in question.
- A cheap course is going to be automated because it's easier.
- A cheap course probably won't include much or any feedback from a tutor or teacher.
- A cheap course is going to be lower quality. For example, it might a text-based course with few to no visuals.
- A cheap course might give you a certificate, but it likely won't prepare you to teach well.
Some people say, "you get what you pay for" and there may be some truth to that.
Is there an online TEFL course with teaching practicum?
Yes, but I don't know one in particular.
Try a search for:
online tefl course with teaching practice
And keep in mind that the actual teaching practice won't be much. Will it make a difference? It may help, but don't expect much.
I think CELTA offers a course like this that's partly online and partly in-class.
Should I take a take an onsite or in-class course?
Well, it depends on the course and you. This question is broad and no two online or onsite courses are the same.
An online course is more convenient, but an in-class course is a real experience.
If you are a traditional learner then probably take an in-class course.
Learn more about whether you should take an online or onsite TEFL course.
What are the answers to my online TEFL course?
Haha, you are either a bad student or you made a poor decision by taking a poor course or both. The truth is many online courses are poor quality. They'll feed you a lot of theory, grammar and academic fluff.
They'll make you read all of this useless information and answer follow up questions, but no one wants to read black and white text online. Studies show that people only read like 20-28% of a page so then they'll remember even less.
It happens in onsite courses too. But possibly instead of reading you'll probably be listening to a teacher lecture.
It's not only TEFL right?
How much of your education do you actually remember? Chemistry, biology, geometry or ____ (fill in the blank).
Learn more about what are the answers to my online TEFL course?
Should I take a course?
Well, you don't necessarily have to. They can be required in some schools or places, but not all. Something to keep in mind is that based on my experience teaching in Asia most schools do not provide much or any training.
So you are sort of left to your own devices.
I would expect to be shown a classroom and told to teach. If you get a little training great, but I worked in a lot of schools and basically don't expect much.
If you take a course make sure you take a good one that's targeted towards teaching who you are going to teach. The culture doesn't matter so much, but the age does.
What that means is that how you teach English to Japanese people compared to how you teach to Turkish people is the same, but how you teach to kids and adults is different.
What's the best course for 'teaching online'?
I don't know. I actually took a free course on that, but it didn't seem very different from teaching in person. I mean what they were talking about didn't seem very different from teaching in person.
What is different about teaching online? Well, there are certain things that won't apply and there are certain activities that you can do in a classroom that you can't online. The space that you can move around in goes from big (a classsroom) down to about a 13 inch screen.
So that is a limitation.
Yet, some things are easier such as classroom management since your classes are normally much smaller and if you work for a company you don't usually have to do much lesson planning, but you still have to teach.
Learn more about teaching online.