Things to know before taking an online TEFL certification course?


Are you an ESL teacher who has been thrown for a loop by this pandemic? Well, have a read of this. We have discovered a brilliant way to use the extra time you might have on your hands. You can up your grammar game, sharpen your teaching skills, and increase your employment chances, all by doing one thing: getting an online TEFL certification.

Being online TEFL certified would not only help build your abilities and add to your CV; it would unlock a whole new world of employment abroad (remotely or in-person). With this additional certification under your belt, you would be an irresistible candidate for any job.
Read more on the benefits of taking an online TEFL course.

Honestly, if you are new to teaching or experienced, there cannot be many more useful ways to spend your furlough, quarantine, or time inside.

However, no doubt, you have hundreds of questions: how does it differ from in-person learning? Is it equally recognized? Do I get classroom-experience? We hear you. And with a crazy number of courses out there and ranges of different curriculum, it is important to know what is to look out for. So, do not worry, we have done some thinking.

Here are seven things you should be aware of before taking an online TEFL certification course:

1. It is not less prestigious

Your first thought might be that an online TEFL training course would not be as well-received by employers as an in-person one. Wrong. As long as your course is run by a recognizable and accredited institution (and there is plenty to choose from), your qualification will be highly valued. Many prestigious in-person providers even offer both options.

For example, the TEFL certification from Trinity or Cambridge is considered to be one of the most prestigious online teacher training courses. Anyone from all over the world can study with them – as it comes with 100+ hours of study, and 20 hours of teaching practice.

You do not need to worry about your credibility as a teacher, as it will remain intact by taking a reputed online TEFL certification course. However, not only that, choosing to further your study, especially in difficult times such as these, shows great initiative and willingness to improve that would only serve you well.

2. The hours make a difference

There are courses out there running for 40 hours, even some for 20. Moreover, maybe those are quicker and cheaper, but they would only get you so far. Employers are interested in how thorough your training experience was. They want capable, practiced, and knowledgeable teachers. Some schools will only accept candidates who come from programs with at least 120 hours.

Courses above 100 hours are the way to go. Moreover, do not forget to check the breakdown of those hours – how much is instruction and how much is classroom time? Classroom time is a must while applying for better teaching positions in schools (public and private). 20 hours of teaching practice is the standard norm followed by most of the TEFL courses.

3. It is affordable

This is quite a pull. Without the cost of travel, accommodation, and even flights on top of the usual course fee, online TEFL certifications are far cheaper than in-person ones. Furthermore, even the fees themselves can be more manageable on the bank, some being only a few hundred dollars. Though watch out that lower costing courses does not necessarily imply lower in quality, but may end up receiving less job support assistance and benefits.

Moreover, get this – if you play your cards right, it is even possible to get tuition for free. Some TEFL providers will sponsor appropriate candidates for their online TEFL certification course with a guaranteed job upon graduation.

4. You still get classroom-practice

Just because a course is online does not mean it does not have its fair share of classroom practice. But how? Well, most courses require you to complete around at least 20 hours of teaching practice, and the ways you can do so are varied.

They might ask you to find a local ESL course and spend time observing and participating. You can track these down in language schools, ethnic community centers, community colleges, libraries, or even churches. A quick google search will help you out.

However, this might be trickier to do given the current situation. So you also have options like one-to-one tutoring, English language conversation exchange, or even working as an online language English teacher. Some training institutes, providers arrange teaching practice sessions for their trainees.

Whatever the way, an online TEFL certification is still able to provide you with all the experience you need before diving into the real thing – even in a pandemic.

5. It is flexible

This might be one of the biggest reasons, so many people choose an online TEFL certification. It fits around you.

Although there are deadlines, lots of these courses can be custom designed. You can go at your own pace, taking up to two weeks to complete the course for up to six months, whatever works best around your work life, family life, or leisure time. Moreover, in most of the case, there are not even any exams to sit through, just frequent quizzes and assignments.

You can be a mum of two or a part-time sales-assistant, or even be working full time and study on the weekends. The beauty of online TEFL certification is that they do not discriminate, and you get to choose how it works.

6. The experience is different from in-person

However, if we are honest, there are differences between studying in-person and studying online. There are drawbacks to online study. For example, as it will not be an on-site program, there is less chance for immersion into the culture of where you hope to teach. You cannot spend time in a foreign city just soaking up the values and quirks of a place, gaining helpful training. Moreover, there will be less time interacting with classmates and less classroom experience to refine your learning.

However, with all the benefits of online certification we have already listed, it is a tough call to make. Although maybe you do not have to choose – there are sometimes mixed classes on offer, combining online learning with an in-person classroom component.

7. There are unhelpful courses to watch out for

The internet is a sketchy place. Moreover, there are some dishonest programs out there. So here are some dangerous things you need to keep your eyes peeled for.

Watch out for courses under 100 hours – at least, check they have thorough content with lots of classroom practice. Some courses may look glossy, but they need that teaching element. You will not get far without it.

Make sure your course has real, living, breathing instructors. They will be able to give you specific feedback and answers. Courses with automated models that get you to read and do tests will not cut future employers.

Moreover, do not forget to doubly check that it is an accredited course. It is sad, but there are courses out there without accreditation at the end of all that work. Furthermore, this is especially important if you get wooed by the offer of ‘free certification’. Use Google search and do some research before taking up a course.

Hope these sever jewels of wisdom will help you start your journey of online TEFL certification. All you need is a computer, reliable internet access, and you will be qualified in no time. And maybe the best thing about it? You can learn in your slippers.

This article was originally published in Jan-2021 and was last updated in Jan-2023.

Author: Donna J H

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