So you’re looking for the best online TEFL courses. Sounds like you’d like to get certified to get a job in the industry. TEFL certificates can be necessary for getting work visas to teach abroad. And they’re often a requirement of many online teaching companies.
Beyond box ticking and administrative reasons, you may also want to do a TEFL course because you’ve never taught before and want some initial training. Quite right. Just speaking a language is not enough to qualify you to teach.
As for which is the best online TEFL course for you, well that depends on a few things such as where you plan to teach (if you want to teach abroad), who you plan to teach, if you’re teaching full-time or part-time and which company you want to work for.
In this article, I'll show you what to look for in an online TEFL course (and what to avoid) and share some suggestions for which online TEFL course to do for your particular situation. Let's get into it!
What Is An Online TEFL Course?
TEFL is an acronym that stands for “teaching English as a foreign language” and it refers to the industry in which this type of teaching takes place.
You’ll come across different types of online TEFL courses. Some are short courses that let you dip your toe in the water to see what TEFL is like as a profession. Others are the 120-hour variety that employers in the industry are looking for.
Some will train you to teach a particular type of English (business English, young learners etc) or take your teaching online.
The fact that they take place online differentiates them from other TEFL courses such as the CELTA which takes place face-to-face (or with a blended or online option) and includes 6 hours of observed and assessed teaching practice with real students.
That said, you can take an online CELTA that also includes teaching practice – you just give online lessons rather than face-to-face ones!
Why Take An Online TEFL Course?
Some people will take an online TEFL course because they need a TEFL certification to work in a particular country or to work for a particular company.
If you’re in one of the above situations, make sure you check, check and double check exactly what type of certification you require for the country you want to work in or for the employer you want to work for.
As a rule, if you want to teach in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, you’ll need a face-to-face TEFL course such as the CELTA. A CELTA is also recommended if you want to teach in Europe or certain parts of Latin America.
Beyond these practical reasons, taking an online TEFL course can be helpful because you’ll learn about how languages are learned and how to teach them. This comes in handy when you want to teach!
How Do I Know If An Online TEFL Course Is Any Good?
You’ll need to look out for a few things when selecting your TEFL course:
The industry standard is 120 hours. Doing more than this isn’t necessarily useful and will probably just cost you more for little in return in terms of employability.
Is the course accredited by a reputable organization? In fact, there’s no one body that accredits TEFL courses. So you need to look for external accreditation from an awarding body that’s recognised internationally.
For UK-based providers, a good example is Ofqual (The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation).
Teaching And Assessment
Look out for features that will help you get the most out of a course such as access to a personal tutor as well as practical tasks like lesson planning, as opposed to just answering multiple choice quizzes.
Also, enquire about the trainers on the course – what qualifications and experience do they have both as teachers and trainers?
And finally, will the course provider help you look for work on completion of the course?
If you see Groupon deals for incredibly cheap TEFL courses, as you can imagine, you should avoid them.
8 Best Online TEFL Courses
I’ve divided the best online TEFL courses into four groups depending on your particular situation:
- newbies who need certified
- aspiring entrepreneurs
- offline teachers who want to go online
- TEFL-curious types
Disclaimer: I haven’t personally taken any of these courses but I have researched the online TEFL course market and these courses seem to be some of the more reputable ones. I’m also not affiliated with any of the courses or course providers.
Please be aware that in some online TEFL course review articles, the reviewers are affiliates for certain courses meaning that they make money if you take a course through that provider.
In any case, before spending money on a TEFL course, please ensure that you have done your homework and that you’ve checked it’s suitable for your particular situation, particular employer and/or visa requirements.
Best Online TEFL Courses For Newbies Who Need To Get Certified
I’ve selected a few providers that have been around for a while, have reputable accreditation and that offer more than just slide shows and multiple choice questions as part of their certification.
These courses don’t offer the 6-hour observed teaching practice you’ll find on a CELTA course but they will give you a solid grounding in TEFL methodology.
1. Bridge TEFL
Bridge has been around for thirty-five years and offers TEFL courses both for newbies and for certified teachers.
They’re a US-based TEFL course provider that’s part of the Bridge group.
Their accrediting body the ACCET is recognised by the US department of education. And you can even earn US college credit through the American Council on Education (ACE) with certain courses.
Their 120 hour Master TEFL certificate is currently on sale for €377 and lasts 12 weeks. The course includes access to a personal tutor, 10 hours of job advising, modules in teaching young learners and teaching business English, as well as the usual TEFL modules on topics such as testing, classroom management and lesson planning.
2. The TEFL.org
TEFL.org is a Uk-based provider founded by two experienced teachers in 2008. Since then, they’ve trained over 140,000 teachers.
Their courses are accredited by reputable awarding bodies recognised in the UK such as Ofqual (The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation) which is responsible for regulating education standards, certifications and exams in England and Wales.
You get dedicated support from the same tutor for the duration of the course, which you can complete over six months if you need to.
You’ll learn about TEFL methodology, English language and grammar, telephone teaching and teaching large classes. You’ll also do 20 hours of video observation.
Their 120-hour TEFL course was on sale when I looked for €219.50, regular price €439.
3. The TEFL Academy
The TEFL Academy is based in Ireland and their courses are regulated by Ofqual. As part of the course you’ll get tutor support as well as help to find a teaching job abroad.
You’ll learn about teaching online, lesson planning, reflective practice and teaching vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar as well as language skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking).
The course also includes top-up courses in teaching young learners, teaching business English and teaching online and 1:1.
They offer a 120-hour course that was on sale when I looked for €169 instead of €423.
Just one thing to be aware of – they say that the 120-hour course is only for people who want to teach casually or online. It’s not clear if that’s so they can sell you a more expensive course or if it’s genuinely the case – perhaps it could be interesting to ask them directly.
Best Online TEFL Courses For Teachers Who Want To Create Their Own Business
Are you already certified? Have you been working as an English language teacher for a while? If so, you might be interested in going independent and finding your own online English students.
Newbie? Check out my course, number 5, which trains you to teach and build a business from scratch!
4. Learn Your English Teacher Accelerator Programme
Learn Your English was founded in 2019 by three burnt out language teachers who wanted to help fellow English teachers work less, earn more and help more students.
They're also the creators of the Teacher Talking Time podcast.
The teacher Accelerator Programme teacher will show you how to use the Dogme ELT approach to reduce your lesson planning time so you can help more students and earn more money.
5. Online Teaching Accelerator (OTA)
Ok, so this one is my course!
Not only will it show you how to teach ESL even if you're starting from scratch, but it will also show you how to stand out online so you can attract students and create your own online teaching business.
The OTA isn't open for enrolment at the moment, but you can get on the waiting list to find out more.
Best Online TEFL Courses For Teachers Who Want To Take Their Teaching Online
Have you already done some initial teacher training? Have you got some teaching experience? Would you like to take your teaching online? In that case, here are some courses that would suit you.
Bear in mind that these courses don’t replace an initial 120-hour TEFL certificate. So if you haven’t got that under your belt and you need it for employer for visa reasons, do that one first!
6. Teaching Live Online
Teaching live online is a course offered by TCE or the Consultants-e.
This teacher training company was founded by Nicky Hockly and Gavin Dudeney, who have been writing and publishing about teaching and technology since 2003.
The course is on demand and is offered for groups of 6 teachers minimum. You’ll find 15 hours of content spread over two modules. The first is about the context of online teaching and the second is more practical.
You’ll learn how to use videoconferencing tools, teach individuals and groups and even how to market yourself as an online teacher. Course fees start at 165 GBP.
Good to know – All the Consultants-e courses are quality assured by AQUEDUTO – the Association for Quality Education & Training Online.
7. Take Your Teaching Online
You can take this course from NILE as long as you have at least a B1 level in English and are at least 18 years old.
NILE, based in the UK, has trained more than 50,000 English language teachers since 1995.
You’ll learn about how to plan and deliver live online lessons and the tools and skills you’ll need to do so.
The course fees are affordable at £39 but if you pay £89 you can complete an assignment and get a tutorial. By handing in the assignment, you’ll be eligible for a certificate from this course.
NILE is also accredited by AQUEDUTO for NILE Online. Their programmes also adhere to the British Council’s Code of Practice for Online ELT.
Best Online TEFL Courses For The TEFL-Curious
8. Online TEFL Starter
If you’re considering a career as a teacher of English as a second language, but you’re not sure if it’s for you, why not take a short course to learn a bit more about it.
This type of course can also be helpful if you’re a new teacher and want to improve your teaching.
Oxford TEFL offers an Online TEFL Starter that lasts 3 or 6 weeks that costs €350. This course would be a good foundation if you plan to later do a CELTA course.
At the end of each of the three course modules, you’ll have a chance to practise the teaching techniques you learn about in the course with your tutor.
You’ll learn about learners and teachers, language and skills and teaching techniques. To pass the course, you will need to complete a task at the end of each module.
CeOLT: The Top Alternative To TEFL For Serious Language Teachers
As you've seen in this article, there are lots of benefits to taking a TEFL course, but there are plenty of downsides too.
Notably, the lack of observed teaching practice and in-depth feedback.
That's why I don't generally recommend TEFL courses to people who are really serious about changing their lives through online language teaching.
If you want a qualification that will allow you to truly thrive as an online language teacher and earn a living from home, I recommend CeOLT instead.
CeOLT stands for Certificate of Online Language Teaching. It's a unique qualification designed specifically to prepare you for teaching languages online in the modern world.
CeOLT includes valuable live teaching practice, personalised feedback and a unique “business building” component that's not present in any other teaching certification.
For that reason, if you want to earn a full-time living teaching English and design your lifestyle around your work, CeOLT is head and shoulders above TEFL or any of the other certifications out there.
Best Online TEFL Courses: Kickstart Your TEFL Career
So now you know which online TEFL course or alternative teaching certification to take no matter your situation – dipping your toe in the water, getting certified for to land your first TEFL job, transitioning from offline to online teacher or building your own teaching business.
Teaching English can be a rewarding career, especially if you love language learning and helping others. But TEFL is also a business and plenty of course providers, reputable or not, want you to get certified with them.
As always, whether you’re searching for reputable ESL teaching jobs or reputable course providers, an article is a great starting point, but do your homework for your particular situation!