The 5 Best Online TEFL Certifications

by Feb 28, 2019

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In an ever-adapting & technology-driven world, we find ourselves spending more and more time looking at a screen than we do a piece of paper. The TEFL world has kept up with this, and there are numerous providers out there offering high-quality TEFL certifications online that often cost less than of a 4-week onsite course.

Online TEFL courses appeal to those who wish to continue working or going to school while completing their training. The schedule is usually part time and you’re able to complete the certification from the comfort of your own home, often at your own pace.

Some online TEFL courses include theory and practicum experience (live teaching practice), whereas some just cover the theory. Practicum experience is not required for all ESL jobs, but some recruiters prefer their teachers to have completed a course which includes teaching practice as they feel it better prepares new teachers.  

Related: Where to Teach Abroad

If an online TEFL certification is something you’re contemplating, then you’ve come to the right place. In this guide we will break down the best online TEFL courses to help you choose one that will enable you to go tear up the ESL teaching world!

How We Evaluate the Courses

Curriculum – we have read up on the modules each online TEFL program provides to ensure that you get the highest quality education and feel well prepared as an ESL teacher.

Support – good support is essential to help you on your journey to becoming a confident teacher. We have looked into what support each program offers, both during the course and after.

Reputation – we want to ensure you have the best online TEFL experience, so we evaluate the programs on their overall package and what former students have had to say about them.

Here are our top two:

Best Overall Online TEFL Course: International TEFL Academy (ITA)

If you’re looking for an online TEFL course that offers both theory and live teaching practice, ITA is the best one going. ITA is probably the most well-known TEFL provider out there, and their 170-hour online TEFL course is their most popular offering.

More Information >

Best Budget Online TEFL Course: ITTO

This tutor-guided, theory-based online TEFL course is one of the most affordable around. With good reviews and over 40 years of experience in the ESL world, it’s worth checking out!

More Information >

Here are the rest:

The Top Online TEFL Certificates

The International TEFL Academy (ITA)

ITA is a well-established and well-known TEFL provider, internationally accredited by several respected organizations in the field, including the Training Qualifications UK Centre (TQUK). The 170-hour online TEFL course is the most popular course offering for ITA, with more than 5,000 students taking it each year. Their certification offers expert-led training and career guidance/placement assistance, so your investment will start paying off quickly.

Curriculum – the course is delivered entirely online and consists of 150 hours academic coursework; basic principles of teaching, grammar, classroom management, error correction, lesson planning, use of visual & audio aids, teaching group classes of different abilities, teaching the 4 main skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing), language awareness, conversational English and private tutoring. In addition to the online component, there are 20 hours of live practice teaching. ITA also offers an optional 2-week bonus module on young learners and business professionals, which is available at no extra cost. These 30-hour bonus modules will earn you a 200 hour TEFL certification.

Support – the course is taught by highly experienced university-level instructors, who are committed to providing the finest training possible. They are available and accessible throughout the course. ITA also provides hands-on job placement assistance to support students in landing an ESL teaching job.

Reputation – they’re probably the most well-known providers to date and all their TEFL courses meet or exceed international standards. Graduates felt confident and competent in their abilities as ESL teachers and ready to reach out into the world of TEFL.

Course Details

  • Location: Online
  • Time commitment: 11 weeks part-time, 170 or 200 hours (typically 10-12 hours per week)
  • Observed teaching hours: 20 hours of live practice teaching (not specified how many of these are observed)
  • Rigor score: 8/10
  • Price: $1,395
  • Guaranteed job placement: no, but lifetime job guidance worldwide is provided as well as hands-on job placement assistance.

The Good

  • Live practice teaching and a tutor is included as part of the course.
  • It’s widely recognized and accredited.
  • The option to add 30-hours of bonus modules, at no extra cost.

The Bad

  • One of the more expensive online TEFL courses available
  • There is a time commitment to starting and completing the course.

Best for: Students who want practicum experience included as part of the course.

More Information >


ITTT

Accredited through the Online TESOL and TEFL Standards Agency, ITTT guarantees to deliver top-notch education. ITTT provides a wide variety of online TEFL certification courses, including the popular 120-hour certificate which is recognized and accepted worldwide and is what most employers require of their applicants. Their online TEFL courses don’t include practicum experience, but they offer a separate OTP (observed teaching practice) course.

Curriculum – the 120-hour online TEFL course covers two distinct areas; teaching skills and language awareness. Teaching skills include teaching theories and methodologies, classroom management, lesson planning and how to test and evaluate the progress of your students. The language awareness covers all the main areas of English grammar such as the parts of speech and the tense system, as well as other topics such as pronunciation.

Support – if you choose the tutored option, you receive ongoing support and assistance from ITTT’s experienced online tutors throughout the course. They are available at any time to offer support and feedback. Support is given to all ITTT students, tutor or no tutor, with job assistance upon completion of the course.

Related: Browse Online English Teaching Jobs

Reputation – former students felt the course was informative and instructive, with the content covering a vast range of topics. They said the online platform was easy to use and straightforward, and the skills learned helped them feel confident in their abilities as an ESL teacher.

Course Details

  • Location: Online
  • Time commitment: 120 hours, at your own pace.
  • Observed teaching hours: Not included in the online TEFL course, but if you do the separate OTP course you receive 6 hours or 12 hours.
  • Rigor score: 7/10
  • Price: 120-hour online TEFL certificate – $239 without a tutor, $349 with a tutor.  

30-hour OTP – $249, 50-hour OTP – $399.

  • Guaranteed job placement: no, but they offer ongoing job support and worldwide job guidance.

The Good

  • There are no set dates for the course, so you can start the course whenever. Once your payment has been received, the course administrator will set up your course.
  • You can also work through the course at whatever pace suits you.

The Bad

  • Observed teaching practice is not included in their online courses but you can complete an OTP course separately through ITTT.
  • You have to pay extra to have a tutor.

Best for: Students who want the flexibility of start date and pace and the option to add on OTP.

More Information >


OISE University of Toronto TEFL

Designed and developed by the University of Toronto Faculty of Education (OISE), an internationally recognized university that’s ranked as one of the top 20 universities in the world, this online TEFL course qualifies you to teach online and round the globe. Teach Away delivers the TEFL course, coordinating all aspects of the program, and teachers can opt for a 100-hour, 120-hour or 150-hour theory-based course, each with industry-leading training. Upon completion, graduates receive a TEFL certificate issued directly from the university.

Curriculum – the core curriculum is broken down into 6 units; teaching language skills (25 hours); an introduction to English language teaching (10 hours); adapting subject-specific content (10 hours); structuring and delivering lessons (20 hours); managing your teaching environment (25 hours); resources and materials (10 hours). The 120 and 150-hour courses offer students to choose 2 specialization units on top of the core curriculum, including teaching business English and teaching young learners.

Support –  the website does not specify that a tutor is provided but graduates state that it’s a straightforward course. There is TEFL support in place to provide assistance with any technical difficulties during the program.

Reputation – former students felt that adding areas of specialization relevant to their future careers made them well prepared for the classroom environments they faced. The wealth of reference material and the resources in place for lesson planning were also highly praised.

Course Details

  • Location: Online
  • Time commitment: 100-hours, 120-hours, or 150-hours, at your own pace (1 year maximum to complete the course).
  • Observed teaching hours: Not included.
  • Rigor score: 7/10
  • Price: 100-hour certificate – $995, 120-hour certificate – $1,295, 150-hour certificate – $1,495
  • Guaranteed job placement: no, but they offer job assistance through the teacher recruitment agency, Teach Away.

The Good

  • You can choose 2 specialization units if you complete the 120-hour and 150-hour certificate.
  • You can work through the course at whatever pace suits you from anywhere in the world.
  • Their website states that over 85% of graduates got a job overseas after enrolling in their course.

The Bad

  • Practicum experience is not included.
  • One of the more expensive online TEFL courses.

Best for: Students who want to be able to choose topics of specialization in order to focus their training on the areas most relevant to their careers.

More Information >

Bridge TEFL (120-hour Master Certificate)

Since 1998, Bridge has been accredited by ACCET (Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training). They offer tutor-guided, self-paced online TEFL courses, including the 120-hour Master Certificate. This certification course provides a solid background in teaching methodology and effective lesson planning, qualifying you for teaching jobs worldwide. Bridge also offers specialized certificates, one of these being a 20-hour guided teaching practicum course.

Curriculum – the course offers 13 core teacher training modules; the role of the teacher and learner and language learning methodology; classroom management; language systems and skills; acquiring a new language; testing for the ESL student; culture and the ESL classroom; teaching the receptive skills (reading and listening); productive skills (speaking and writing); teaching vocabulary; teaching grammar; teaching phonology; planning lessons; using visual aids, technology, activities and games. The course also provides an introduction to teaching young learners (10 hours) and business English (10 hours), as well as a 40 hour grammar advisor certification.

Support – the course is tutor-guided, with the instructors on hand throughout the course for help and support with all the modules and any questions you may have. Former students have said that they found the tutors to be easily available, offered helpful feedback and were one of the main strengths of the course.

Reputation – reviews are generally really good with graduates meriting the course on its content and materials that got progressively more challenging and kept them engaged and focused throughout. Those who already had teaching experience felt that the course taught them new ideas and helped them improve their current teaching style. Those who were new to teaching felt confident and well prepared to start their ESL teaching journey.

Course Details

  • Location: Online
  • Time commitment: 120-hours, self-paced, up to 3 months to complete.
  • Observed teaching hours: Not included, but Bridge offers a separate 20-hour guided teaching practicum course.
  • Rigor score: 7/10
  • Price: 120-hour Master Certificate – regular price $710, but the website offers discounts.
  • Guaranteed job placement: no, but they offer job assistance as part of the course, and graduates have access to the Bridge Job Board.

The Good

  • You complete extra modules on teaching young learners and business professionals.
  • The course includes 6 months access to a database of teaching resources from ESL library.
  • You can earn university credit (conditions apply for this, so check it out on their website).

The Bad

  • Practicum experience is not included but you can add on a 20-hour guided teaching practicum for $107.

Best for: Students who are new to ESL teaching and those who already have teaching experience.

More Information >


ITTO ( International Teacher Training Organization)

Offering both online and onsite TEFL courses, ITTO has more than 40 years of experience in the ESL industry and is accredited by the Ministry of Education in Mexico. Their online TEFL course has led to over 4,500 graduates being placed in countries worldwide, through their Job Offer Program.

They offer a variety of theory-based course options, 100-hour, 120-hour and 140-hour, all inclusive of a personal tutor and all internationally recognized. None of their online TEFL courses include practicum experience.

Curriculum – Their website only breaks down the course content for the 140-hour course. It’s broken down into 8 units; the teaching and learning process, vocabulary, grammar, the four skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening), classroom management, planning, games, grammar, and pronunciation. On top of this, there are 8 practice tasks, a final project and self-reflection journals.

Support – all of ITTO’s online TEFL courses include highly skilled, experienced and professional personal tutors, ready to offer quick support and feedback throughout the course. They also offer employment support after successful completion of the course to get you into a classroom as soon as you’re ready.

Reputation – former students praise the course on its efficiency, effectiveness and interactive content. Some were concerned about taking an online course over an in-class one, especially due to the lack of human interaction, but they found that the quick feedback and responses from the tutors eased this. Upon completion, they felt well prepared for their next steps as ESL teachers.

Course Details

  • Location: Online
  • Time commitment: 120 hours or 140 hours, at your own pace (1 year maximum to complete)
  • Observed teaching hours: Not included
  • Rigor score: 7/10
  • Price: 120-hour certificate – $275, 140-hour certificate – $325
  • Guaranteed job placement: no, but they offer job contacts worldwide and lifelong job guidance with all courses, and their Job Offer Program to graduates of the 140-hour certificate course.

The Good

  • You can work through the course at whatever pace suits you.
  • A tutor is included in the price of the course.
  • One of the most affordable online TEFL certifications available.

The Bad

  • Practicum experience is not included.

Best for: Students who are on a budget and want a flexible course to fit around them.

More Information >

Conclusion

While there’s a huge market out there for online TEFL certification courses, there are many which are either scams or provide a very low-quality product. It’s important that you choose one that is not only accredited and internationally recognized but that it suits you and what you want from your ESL teaching career. A budget will always play a role, but don’t be fooled by high or low prices. A high price doesn’t always equate to high quality, and sometimes a low price is too good to be true.

Before rushing into anything, do your research. Read up on accreditations, find out where graduates are now, have a look at what former students have to say about the course. If you have doubts, keep looking.

Another important aspect to consider is whether or not the online course offers a practicum experience. As mentioned at the start of this guide, not all ESL jobs will require their applicants to have teaching practice, but you will come across some who prefer their teachers to have completed a course which includes it. At the end of the day, it comes down to individual preference. If you feel that the teaching practice will make you feel more confident in the classroom, then we recommend that you choose a course which offers it.

We hope this guide will make your decision-making process that little bit less stressful. Whatever you decide to do, we wish you the best of luck as you step into the TEFL world and hopefully land that dream ESL teaching job!