Best Online TEFL Courses

The most common reason people take TEFL courses is so they can get a job in Thailand, go to the beach, and meet people. There is something alluring about traveling places, living in exotic locations, meeting good looking people, hanging out with them, and all that fun stuff.

I have a CELTA certificate myself and I’ve been to Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia several times. I haven’t taught English there, but I love southeast Asian people, cultures, and food so I totally understand the appeal.

If you are itching to go to Thailand (I prefer Vietnam), I would strongly recommend doing this while you’re young – the younger the better. And I have to be straight with you – English teaching jobs don’t pay that much, especially not at the level you’d be starting at. I strongly recommend that at first you focus on the experiences teaching abroad will bring you rather than the financial aspect of it.

There are locations that traditionally pay much more where you can make a serious career of it. But those are usually not the sought after locations and require some experience before you could even qualify for those positions. Either way, finances will take care of themselves over time.

So, first things first. Let’s get you that certificate so that you can pack your bags, have fun, and gain that much-needed experience. I will not get into the topic of teaching abroad. But I will first give you a rundown of some common questions regarding all these different certificates.

best online tefl course

TEFL vs TESOL vs CELTA

There are so many acronyms in language teaching, starting with the basic two: ESL – English as a Second Language, and EFL – English as a Foreign Language. Essentially, ESL describes English language education in English-speaking countries while EFL is used in countries where English is not the official language.

Then we have the confusing three:

  • TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language
  • TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
  • CELTA – Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults

These are the top three certifications that you can get for teaching English abroad.

TEFL is the most common name used to describe teaching English abroad. Obtaining “TEFL certification” means getting the training and the certificate that are normally required by all language schools around the world that hire English teachers.

TESOL and TEFL are often used interchangeably. The clue to how they might differ is in the different meanings of their root acronyms ESL and EFL. So you could say that TESOL is a general umbrella term while TEFL refers to teaching abroad.

Phew! Tired of the alphabet soup yet? Almost there.

CELTA and Trinity

best tefl online certification

CELTA is a brand of TEFL certification. It is awarded by the University of Cambridge’s non-profit assessment organization called Cambridge English Assessment. This course is standardized and offered by many schools and institutions around the world. It runs about four intensive weeks and includes a 120-hour TEFL certification and six hours of classroom teaching.

The Trinity TESOL certificate is similar to CELTA in that it’s an intensive training with teaching practice and feedback. The two differ slightly in the syllabus. Trinity runs 10 hours longer than CELTA and has a module targeted specifically for Teaching Young Learners, while CELTA focuses only on teaching adults and older teenagers.

The only other real difference between them is their awarding bodies. Trinity Cert TESOL is issued by the Trinity College of London, the oldest language board in the world. And CELTA, the Cambridge ESOL, by the University of Cambridge.

Why am I explaining these two separately? How they differ from the other TEFL courses is the certification providers. Unlike with TEFL certificates, when you take CELTA or Trinity, there is only one certificate for each from their respective well-known universities. Any employer who has a to make a decision on whom to give the job to will find it much easier to go with a certificate they easily recognize.

Certification, accreditation, regulation

The trouble with TEFL certificates is that they come from so many different bodies. So don’t be fooled by any accreditation claims – they are all accredited but none of them are!

Some of the internationally recognized bodies for TEFL certification are TQUK, ACCET, IATQuO, but I wouldn’t rely on those. When looking for the best online TEFL certification course, it’s probably better to follow its regulation. This way you know that the course is being held to some accepted standard.

In the UK, there is The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Services or Ofqual. They maintain a ranking system known as the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF). Their rankings are based on content and hours.

TEFL and TESOL accreditations start at Level 3. That may incorporate 100 hours or training, but no practice teaching and is typically used for volunteer work. Level 3 on the QCF scale is equivalent to a US high school level class.

Level 4 is the standard of a 100 hour TEFL class with six hours of practice and would be equivalent to a freshman university course. Levels 4 and 5 are professional levels and include live practice teaching and at least 100 hours of coursework. They are the equivalent of a university-level class for the first or second-year student. A level 5 class requires a minimum of 168 hours of guided classwork.

list of accredited tefl online courses

Online or on-site TEFL?

My reviews below focus on online TEFL certificates. But it would not be fair if I didn’t mention the differences between online and on-site courses.

The main reasons to get an online certificate are:

  • Saving money
  • Saving time
  • Time flexibility
  • No local option available

Top advantages of going on-site are:

  • Cultural immersion if taking the course abroad
  • Networking and social interaction
  • Observed teaching practice

Main disadvantages of getting your certificate on-site are:

  • Much higher tuition cost
  • Travel and accommodation costs
  • Strict deadlines
  • Being more rigorous and difficult

Prices are a major factor, of course. You can get the least expensive minimal TEFL certificate online for as little as a couple of hundred dollars. I paid €1,300 for my CELTA course and that was after a deep early-bird discount! They can be even more expensive in more attractive locations in Europe. And what about the cost of your flight, rent, and food for a month?

What you could do instead is go for something in between which would be obtaining a TEFL certificate abroad combined with some paid teaching. I will talk about “paid internships” below. That would cost you halfway between an online TEFL and a CELTA and may be a great option for you if you can afford it.

Since I mentioned teaching, here’s one more word of wisdom about who’d have a priority when getting hired. It’s a safe assumption that my CELTA would beat your TEFL overall, but any old TEFL with experience would beat a CELTA or Trinity without experience. Food for thought.

Criteria

As always, I considered everything – student reviews, school ratings, choices, options, “accreditations”. There are dozens and dozens of online options for a TEFL certificate, hundreds if you consider all on-site options. So it was first a matter of removing lesser known and lower-rated schools and then sifting through the rest. Really just pulling out the cream on top.

The final list is a combination of quality, reviews, offers, and enough differences between the selections so that everybody may be able to find something for them on this list.

best accredited tefl courses

Best Online TEFL Course Reviews

Premier TEFL

Location: Ireland
Rating: 4.6
Accreditation: ACDL/TQUK
Cost: $

Relatively new to online courses as a company, but their teachers have plenty of experience. They offer many different online and on-site programs. There are currently five online TEFL courses and five added specializations.

Online TEFL Courses

Premier TEFL is one of the highest rated TEFL course providers. They have online TEFL courses, online specialist courses, blended courses, and paid internships. At this time, their five TEFL online options are:

  • 120-hour Advanced TEFL Course
    120 hours of online TEFL training
    ACDL & TQUK accredited
  • 240-hour Expert TEFL Course
    240 hours of online TEFL training
    ACDL & TQUK endorsed course
  • 168-hour Ofqual Regulated Level 5 TEFL Course
    168 hours of online TEFL training
    Ofqual regulated TQUK Level 5 (RQF) course
  • 230-hour TEFL Training Professional Course
    Includes Ofqual Regulated TQUK Level 5 (RQF) course (168 hours)
    Total of 230 hours of online TEFL, IELTS & TOEIC training
  • 290-hour TEFL Training Expert Course
    Includes Ofqual Regulated TQUK Level 5 (RQF) course (168 hours)
    of 290 hours of online TEFL, IELTS, TOEIC, TBE & TYL training

Specialist Courses

In addition to the basic TEFL training, their online course options include five different online specializations:

  • Teaching English Online
  • Teaching TOEIC
    Test of English for International Communication, Listening and Reading Test (TOEIC) is used to assess the English language skills of non-native speakers. Over 6 million TOEIC tests are taken every year to determine students’ proficiency as a standard measure of English ability around the world.
  • Teaching Young Learners (TYL)
  • Teaching IELTS
    The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a test that assesses the language proficiency of non-native speakers who wish to study or work in environments where English is the primary language. Each year, over 2 million IELTS tests are taken worldwide to determine students’ grasp of the four language skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking.
  • Teaching Business English (TBE)

All these specialized courses are inexpensive 30-hour additions to your basic TEFL training. All of them can help you greatly when looking for additional job opportunities. Finding a niche is a great idea in any business and it’s no different here. You can try some of these different paths and see where you fit in best.

On-site

Premier TEFL has quite a few paid internships available all over the world: in Asia, Europe, and South America. They run between 2 and 12 months and include a 120-hour TEFL course. You would need to cover your expenses while you’re attending your course and after that, they’ll provide you with a stipend. Find out more details from Premier TEFL.

Bottomline, coming from someone who has tried two different companies now, I recommend this company. Plus, the price is great for what they offer.

Easy to use and is a very thorough course. The support offered is also brilliant.

Highly recommend this program!

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i-to-i

Location: UK
Rating: 4.6
Accreditation: ODLQC
Cost: $

i-to-i has been around since 1994 and trained almost 200,000 graduates since then. They are actually the first company to offer online TEFL certificates since 2001. There are currently four different online TEFL courses, nine specialist courses, and three combined courses. They also offer paid internships in Vietnam, China, Thailand, and Spain.

Online TEFL Courses

  • 60-Hour Online TEFL Course
    Ideal if you want to do TEFL voluntary work
  • 120-Hour Online TEFL Course
    Recognised by employers across the world
  • 180-Hour Online TEFL Course
    Essential: 120-hour online TEFL course
    30 hour Advanced Grammar Specialist Course
    30 hour Teaching Young Learners Specialist Course
  • 300-Hour Online TEFL Course
    Essential 120-hour online TEFL course
    Plus: Boost your earning potential with 5x Specialist TEFL Courses

Specialist TEFL Courses

These short TEFL courses will provide you with extra training and look great on your CV. Not only will you get a qualification boost, but they will make you and your job application stand out to your future employers.

  • Teaching Young Learners
  • Teaching Teenagers
  • Lesson Planning
  • Teaching Business English
  • Become an IELTS Coach
  • Advanced Grammar
  • Become an Online Tutor
  • Teaching English One To One
  • TEFL Teaching Pack

Combined Courses

These courses offer the best of both worlds by adding two days of in-depth classroom practice to the standard 120 hours of online TEFL and optional specialist courses.

  • 140 Hour Combined TEFL Course
    120 hour online TEFL course
    Plus 20-hour weekend classroom course
  • 200 Hour Combined TEFL Course
    Essential 120-hour online TEFL course
    30 hour Advanced Grammar Specialist Course
    30 hour Teaching Young Learners Specialist Course
    Plus a 20-hour weekend classroom course
  • 320 Hour Combined TEFL Course
    Essential 120-hour online TEFL course
    Plus a 20-hour weekend classroom course
    Plus: Boost your earning potential with 5x Specialist TEFL Courses

The layout, the quizzes, the videos mostly, really made it enjoyable to study with I-to-I!

I love it, so simple to understand. Education and life made easy.

i-to-i Love TEFL is a great platform for anyone to kick start their teaching career.

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myTEFL

Location: Canada
Rating: 4.7
Accreditation: OTTSA/IATEFL
Cost: $

This socially responsible TEFL organization offers basic online and onsite TEFL certification as well as different types of internships.

While myTEFL doesn’t offer as many course options as the previous two, they do one thing and they do it really well – they have excellent reviews! They offer regular discounts and are willing to help students and recent graduates.

Online TEFL Courses

myTEFL offers four different TEFL course variations. Obviously, the shorter ones are not standard duration. They are designed more as refresher courses or additional training such as upgrading your classroom management skills. If what you need is a TEFL certificate, I do not recommend you take any course that’s shorter than 120 hours.

  • Basic – 40 hours
    Fundamental Classroom Management
  • Standard – 60 hours
    Teaching Techniques & Methods
  • Advanced – 80 hours
    Advanced Approaches & Grammar
  • Professional – 120 hours
    Master TEFL Expert Teacher

Without a doubt, I believe that myTEFL is the leader in this market.

This school has it all; the resources are there, it’s affordable, and the staff is there to help you with whatever you may need at any given time. I especially like the fact that there is free job advice after graduation, forever! Thank you guys so much for helping me on my journey.

I would highly recommend choosing this myTEFL program if you considering getting a certificate because the interface is extremely easy to navigate and you will not be disappointed at all!

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Conclusion

It is hard to go wrong with any of these three – they all offer what you are looking for and are highly rated. Certainly, i-to-i stands out as the one with most experience and most choices.

Whichever one you choose, there will be some work at first, but the career itself is rewarding in so many different ways. I know you’ll have fun! And as long as you remember to put the needs of your students first, you will make a fine English instructor.

best tefl course providers

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