Thinking about getting an online TESOL certification? Smart move! Teaching English online is a growing field. And with a teaching certification, you’ll make it easier to find work and attract students.
But you probably have questions about the TESOL certification. So many providers are offering training in English teaching, so how do you choose between them?
I bet you’re asking yourself questions like:
What’s the difference (if any) between TEFL and TESOL? Should I do this certification or another one like the CELTA? How much does it cost?
So I’m here to give you the answers! By the end of this post, you’ll know if the online TESOL certification is for you or not.
If you want to become a qualified online language teacher and earn a living from home, I recommend checking out CeOLT (Certificate of Online Language Teaching).
What Is The TESOL Certification?
The TESOL certification is a type of initial teacher training qualification for people who’d like to teach English as a foreign or second language, either in an English-speaking country or abroad.
If you’ve been researching the different training programmes for English teachers then you’ve noticed the whole alphabetti spaghetti issue of acronyms.
Let’s clear that up right now. TESOL stands for teaching English to speakers of other languages. The other acronym you see a lot is TEFL which stands for teaching English as a foreign language. You may also come across TESL, teaching English as a second language.
Many of the people already working in the profession refer to it as ELT or English Language Teaching. I could go on as the industry loves acronyms but that’s enough to get you started.
So what’s the difference between TEFL, TESL and TESOL? And what does it mean when it comes to certifications. Well, not all that much to be honest!
If you want to be super precise then you can say that TESL refers to teaching that happens in an English speaking country for immigrants whereas TEFL refers to teaching abroad. And that TESOL is an umbrella term that covers both. Fair enough.
But in practice, they all get used interchangeably. And therefore mean the same thing – teaching English to people whose first language isn't English.
Also, American English speakers tend to refer to the profession as TESOL whereas TEFL is more common in the UK.
But do you know what? I studied English language teaching at a British university, and the modules were called TESOL. And after my studies, I went off to teach abroad. In the end, it mostly comes down to naming preferences.
And this is important because some certificate providers will try to sell you a combined TEFL and TESOL certificate. As I’ve explained above, given that these acronyms both refer to the business of English language teaching, this is really just a way to sell you on a more expensive certificate that you don’t really need, especially if you’re just starting out.
The Trinity CertTESOL
If you’ve done any research into teaching certifications, then you know that your decision comes down to this:
- do I take a 120-hour TEFL course? or
- do I do a CELTA or its equivalent (120 hours PLUS at least 6 hours of observed and assessed teaching practice)?
Your choice will depend on where you want to teach, especially if you plan to teach abroad as some countries will only accept a CELTA or its equivalent, one of which is the Trinity CertTESOL.
The Trinity CertTESOL is accepted by the British Council as an initial TESOL or TEFL qualification for teachers. While the CELTA is awarded by Cambridge English Language assessment which is part of Cambridge University, the Cert TESOL is awarded by Trinity College London.
Other CELTA equivalents that are slightly less well-known are SIT TESOL and QQI Certificate in TESOL (the Irish equivalent) and the Certificate IV in TESOL (in Australia).
The big difference between most online TEFL courses and the CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL or other equivalent is the minimum of 6 hours of observed and assessed teaching practice. This is where you put the theory into practice and actually test your teaching skills.
The danger of online-only courses is that at best, you do some peer teaching with other trainees. But this is nothing compared to actually giving a class to people whose first language is not English!
That’s when you find out if your lesson plan holds water and if you’re any good at classroom management – giving instructions etc.
How Much Does The Online TESOL Certification Cost?
So this depends on which one you go for. If you want to do the CertTESOL, be prepared to pay more, but be prepared as well for a much more rigorous course that will prepare you better for teaching.
The price of the CertTESOL varies depending on where you take it and with which provider.
If you take your CertTESOL in Hong Kong, it could cost as much as €3000! If you do it in Sri Lanka however, it costs 995 GBP. In the UK, a typical fee is £1250 or even as low as £995.
Like I said, the big difference between courses is whether or not there are the observed and assessed teaching practice hours. This is why online courses tend to be cheaper. At the same time, you get what you pay for.
For example, the 120-hour Master TEFL Certificate by Bridge describes itself as a professional online TEFL/TESOL course. And when I looked it was available for €331 instead of €674 so it’s quite a bit cheaper than the CertTESOL.
How To Get TESOL Certification
If you’re interested in taking the CertTESOL, then you’re in luck as there are over 100 validated course providers throughout the world. You can search for a provider near you here.
If you want to do the CertTESOL, you’ll need to meet the course requirements. That usually means that you need to have a high school diploma or equivalent.
You’ll also need to be at least 18 years old, if not 20 or 21 in some cases. If English is not your first language then you’ll need to demonstrate that you have a C1 level.
If you meet the minimum requirements, you can apply to the course provider you’re interested in training with. The provider may have their own additional requirements. Acceptance onto a course also depends on your performance on the interview.
Otherwise, you can find TEFL/TESOL certification from some of the more reputable providers such as Bridge.
If you’re based in Canada, here’s a list of programs recognised by TESL Canada. As you can see many of them are TESOL ones.
Can I Do The TESOL Certification Online?
In terms of the CertTESOL, you have several options. You can take it full-time, part-time, face-to-face, online or blended. But this will depend on the provider you choose.
What's The Difference Between All The TESOL Certification Programmes Advertised Online?
Well it can actually be pretty huge. You’ll see some providers, especially online, claiming to offer TESOL courses for $20!
If you’re serious about teaching ESL (or EFL depending on your preferred acronym) then I recommend getting a CertTESOL or CELTA which will give you a solid foundation, including feedback on teaching to actual students!
Other equivalents include SIT TESOL and QQI Certificate in TESOL (the Irish equivalent) and the Certificate IV in TESOL (in Australia).
If you only want to work online, then you could probably just take a 120-hour online TEFL certificate with a reputable provider such as Bridge.
When I say reputable I mean it’s a well-established company, with decent accreditation and a course that involves more than just watching video slideshows.
But before you hand over any money to anyone, check, check and double check.
If you need to get a visa because you’re teaching abroad, what are the requirements of the country you plan to teach in? Some can be pretty strict, such as in the Middle East. Visa requirements can mean that you need a degree in addition to your teaching certificate. To be honest, a degree is often a requirement for ESL teaching jobs.
If you want to teach in many English-speaking countries like the UK, Ireland or Canada, you’ll need a CELTA or its equivalent.
If you want to work for an online company, what do they accept? Usually it will be a 120-hour certificate. But do ask.
If you want to work for a big chain of schools like Wall Street English or International House, then check their specific requirements (which I've linked to for your convenience!).
What's The Difference Between TESOL, TEFL, CELTA And CeOLT?
So let’s clarify the alphabet soup again.
At their most basic level, TEFL and TESOL are simply acronyms, along with ELT that refer to the profession where you teach English to non-native speakers of the language. They are not certificates per se so you can’t say that you have “a TEFL” or “a TESOL” – this is meaningless.
The CELTA is a specific type of initial teacher training course for people who want to work in TEFL/TESOL. The CELTA is the most widely recognised initial TEFL/TESOL teacher training course.
It’s awarded by Cambridge English Language Assessment, part of Cambridge University and you can take it in centres around the world. All the courses are externally moderated so you’ll get the same quality wherever you go.
As you've hopefully figured out from this post, a well-known CELTA equivalent is the Trinity CertTESOL. Both are recognised by employers and so can help you get a job.
CeOLT is an even more unique and in-depth qualification designed specifically to prepare you for teaching languages online.
Just like CELTA, the CeOLT programme includes live teaching practice, personalised feedback and detailed assessment. But in addition, it also includes a special “business component” that helps you find your first paying students and ultimately, building a thriving online teaching business.
For these reasons, CeOLT is the most comprehensive of all the online teaching certifications and the one with the biggest potential to transform your career and help you earn an income online.
Should I Do A TESOL Certification?
It depends what you want to do. Do you want to teach abroad? If so, in which countries? Which employer do you want to work for?
If you know, then ask to be on the safe side! For some, any old TEFL certificate will suffice, others will be more picky.
But as a rule, it’s always useful to get some kind of grounding in teaching English because being a native speaker is not enough. It’s not enough to know the rules intuitively if you want to teach English grammar.
English learners, or their employers or parents, pay a lot of money for English lessons. English can be life changing for people – it can mean getting a better job, being able to live or work abroad or simply enjoy life more through travel.
So consider getting well-qualified to teach so you can help people achieve their dreams. The best way to get off to a good start in ESL teaching is to do a course with at least 6 hours of observed and assessed teaching practice.
My top recommendation for this is CeOLT. You can find out more about the CeOLT programme here.
If that's not possible for financial or logistical reasons, your next best option is a TEFL course from a reputable provider that includes not just slide shows and multiple-choice quizzes, but also tutor support and more robust assessment.
Whichever option you choose, I'm sure you'll enjoy supporting your students to learn English.