From its lowly origins in a small corner of western Europe, over the last few centuries, the English language has grown and spread around the world, becoming one of the most important languages on the planet today.
Currently, English is the largest language by a number of speakers, with an estimated user base of over 2 billion people from across the globe. Furthermore, the English tongue is arguably the lingua franca of global business as well as the internet, our most popular tool.
However, this rapid and universal proliferation of the language is not due to its simplicity, far from it. Many consider English a hard language to learn no thanks to its many illogical oddities, its many quirky rules, and then endless exceptions to the same rules, and those freaking homophones.
Nevertheless, there is always a positive in every situation. And in this case, the flipside is the massive worldwide demand created for English teachers, both native and second-language speakers, to assist in bringing even more people aboard the ever-increasing English train.
Teaching English is now one of the most popular jobs for people who love to travel the world and help students of all ages in the process.
However, to gain full access to the “Teaching English” market, you must prove that you can meet international standards for tutoring English, and the best way to achieve this is with a TESL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certification
English is increasing in popularity every day, and with many countries suffering a shortage of qualified teachers, there has never been a better time to enter the field of English tutoring. One of the fastest ways to enter and win in this sphere is to take and pass the TEFL.
Without a doubt, a certification in TEFL is one of the most valuable documents for anyone who wishes to teach English today. In most countries, the TEFL is considered the standard for English teachers irrespective of their other educational qualifications.
With a TEFL, you gain access to one of the world’s fastest-growing educational fields, allowing you to teach English abroad anywhere on the planet.
Since there is no regularized TEFL exam, you get to choose from a wide range of certification providers around the world. Furthermore, you can take your TEFL in person at a physical center or opt for an online distance-learning certification program.
In addition to standard TEFL certificate programs, with some providers, you can sometimes find a more advanced TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.) TESOL certifications typically include modules that help with the teaching of non-native speakers living in native English speaking countries.
Online TEFL vs. Physical TEFL
Contrary to endless rumors that proliferate across the internet, an online TEFL certification is equivalent to and just as good as physical on-site alternatives. There is no shortage of digital nomads online that got stable English teaching jobs around the world with an online TEFL certification.
Hence, choosing between an online or offline TEFL certificate program all boils down to convenience and price.
The one area where an on-site program provides a slight advantage over an online one is if you choose to take the physical TEFL program in the country where you plan to teach.
Here, you get the chance to assimilate the culture and teaching system on the ground before you begin teaching proper, as you often get to practice with real students in the typical job setting you will work with in the future.
Furthermore, an on-site TEFL comes with the added guarantee that local employers recognize your TEFL certificate, help you to avoid any compatibility issues. Plus, the chances are that you can snag valuable information that enhances your employability.
However, on-site programs typically carry a hefty price tag as well as a drain on time and other resources. This option requires a significant initial commitment as you do have to be willing to move to and live in your new location for some time.
An online TEFL certificate program, on the other hand, offers an excellent way to get your feet wet and see if this is what you want before making excessive commitments. Online programs are typically far cheaper, and they offer supreme convenience.
Furthermore, with online TEFL programs becoming more and more advanced, some providers now include video-based teaching practice with real students, significantly reducing the gap between an online and on-site experience.
Choosing the Right TEFL Course for You
With tens of programs marketed across the web, selecting the best online TEFL certification program for you can quickly get overwhelming. The main key points you should consider when making a choice include:
- Program Length: For many job openings around the world, it is an unspoken rule that the standard for accepting a TEFL certification is that the program is at least 100 hours long. While you can find several popular 50-hour courses, taking these could significantly impair your chances of getting hired.
- Accreditation: Steer clear of the quacks and opt for a TEFL certificate that is accredited by reputable accrediting bodies like the College of Teachers, TQUK, and ACCET. Alternatively, you can also take courses offered by accredited universities like Cambridge University and Trinity University
- Reputation: The reputation of the online TEFL certificate program also goes a long way in increasing your chances of finding gainful employment.
- Human Tutors: All opt for certificate programs with human instructors as opposed to automated computer programs. The more live tutors, the better, as you get real support and feedback that is sure to help on your journey to finding that dream job.
- Resources: The best online TEFL courses also provide a wealth of resources like job assistance that make it easier for you to gain employment once you complete the program.
TEFL Certificate Program Requirements
The requirements for getting started with TEFL are pretty basic as you do not need higher education to get started. The only requirements for TEFL are that you are at least 18 years old, a high school graduate, and have a passion for the “teaching English abroad” adventure.
However, some countries and employers may have additional requirements like a degree or some teaching experience before they allow you to work as an English language tutor.
Best Online TEFL Certificate Programs
Best Overall: Vantage TEFL Certification (120 Hours)
Vantage TEFL Certification is one of the most popular certificate programs in the industry and also one of the most robust when it comes to content and user support. Since it was established in 2007, Vantage has stayed on top, providing a high-end curriculum and producing capable English teachers around the world.
This TEFL is a four-week certification course that includes 120 hours of intensive learning, as well as 6 hours of in-class teaching experience.
Vantage uses a hybrid combine course system that strays from the traditional setting on an online TEFL certification. With Vantage TEFL, you get the complete the bulk of the course online as you would on any other platform. However, the program also includes two weeks of on-site observed training, which you can take at any of their 29 centers in 20 countries to further refine your teaching skills.
Once you complete the program, you can rest assured that the management has got you covered when it comes to finding a job. Vantage provides expert job assistance that includes interview coaching and resume creation to all students.
Furthermore, with Vantage, you also gain access to their TEFL Silk Road Program that offers guaranteed employment in China to Vantage graduates. The company achieves this thanks through their partner institute that boasts a portfolio of over ninety schools in 17 Chinese cities.
Vantage TEFL certificate program is recognized by Lamar University, Texas, where the course equals to three undergraduate credits. Consequently, on completion of your Vantage program, you get the Vantage certificate as well as an official transcript from Lamar University.
- Vantage TEFL is one of the most popular options with a significant level of acceptability worldwide
- With two weeks of hands-on teaching experience than can significantly boost your employment prospects
- Highend curriculum and trainers with decades of experience
- A long list of successful alumni
- Centers for completing the teaching practice are few and far between
Best Robust Option: International TEFL Academy (170 Hours)
When you want to max out on learning and teaching practice, International TEFL Academy is the guys go to. ITA is one of the world’s leading TEFL certification programs, providing excellent training to aspiring teachers from around the world.
With 150 hours of teaching instruction and 20 hours of required in-class practicum, this TEFL certification course is one of the beefiest you will find anywhere. The course includes in-depth live lectures and comprehensive webinars that ensure you get all the latest teaching methodologies available today.
However, despite the massive load, you barely get overwhelmed with the program as all aspects, even the practicum, is flexible and customizable to fit your schedule.
Since its launch in 2010, International TEFL Academy has made it its mission to provide the most comprehensive certificate program backed by extensive support from seasoned instructors. And they have positive feedback to show for it.
In user reviews, alumni hail ITA for their intense academic rigor, the depth of their instructional program, and the wealth of support and job assistance that they provide. Furthermore, ITA’s 170-hour course won the GoAbroad.com People’s Choice Category Award for Best International Education Organization in 2018.
ITA offers a 170-hour online course as well as an on-site certification program in their 25 physical locations worldwide. The ITA curriculum is externally monitored and certified by TQUK.
- One of the most robust TEFL programs yet, giving you all of the latest teaching methodologies
- 20 hours of required in-class practicum provides adequate teaching experience
- A fully personalized experience for each user
- monitored and certified by TQUK.
- A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau
- More expensive than other options
Best Content: TEFLPros TEFL Certification (120 Hours)
If you want an ultramodern course that imbibes all the perks of digital learning in today’s world, look no further than the TEFLPros TEFL Certification program. Created by founders Jos and Whitney in 2015, TEFLPros offers one of the most up to date platforms you will get from any TEFL provider.
This structured 120-hour course provides all of the information and skills you need as an aspiring teacher, packed in an intuitive platform that is a dream to use. In addition to the course content, the TEFLPros TEFL program packs an additional 50 hours of video content with classroom settings that help to broaden your knowledge of all the latest teaching methodologies and practices.
Compared to many other TEFL programs, the TEFLPros program is one of the most comprehensive you will find. With this course, you get in-depth lessons on lesson planning, classroom management, classroom culture, and even information on how to prepare for interviews and build a professional portfolio.
Furthermore, with this program, you get full one-on-one support for the duration of the course as well as extended job assistance once you graduate.
While TEFLPros does not offer any in-class teaching experience, many of their video content showcase the curriculum in a real classroom setting, allowing you to gain a feel for practical teaching skills.
The TEFLPros TEFL Certification is certified by ACCREDITAT, a Scotland-based accreditation body with rigorous standards for TEFL providers.
- Modern, intuitive interface
- additional 50 hours of video content
- Practical skill building with all the latest teaching methodologies
- Fully customizable user experience
- Free trial with one full module gives you a feel for the course before you pull the trigger
- Decent pricing
- No in-class practicum
Best Budget Option: ITT International TEFL (120 Hours)
Broke college student looking for budget-friendly TEFL certificate programs that can get you jobs? No worries, ITT International has you covered. The ITT International TEFL course is one of the least expensive TEFL certifications you will find anywhere, with a 120-hour course that can go for as low as around 60 bucks.
While you won’t get the extensiveness of International TEFL Academy’s certification with this program, the course from ITT international is no pushover either. The ITT plan offers an excellent way to get an accredited certificate without breaking the bank like you would with other providers.
Even though the company is a relatively new outfit, they do have some experienced teachers, and they have a wealth of resources to power the course. The program includes extensive video content backed by the assistance of a tutor with every step.
Furthermore, ITT international has a strong customer support backbone that provides 24-hour support from tutors to ensure that the program runs smoothly.
On completion of the program, ITT international goes the extra mile to help you get hired, providing contacts in Europe, Asia, and South America, as well as lifetime access to their TEFL Jobs Center to aid your job search.
- Best value for the price of any TEFL certificate program
- Lifetime access to their TEFL Jobs Center to aid your job search
- Live tutor support
- Flexible learning program
- Outdated website and course platform
Best Premium Option: Anaheim University Online TESOL Certificate (15 Weeks)
If you want to go all-in with a comprehensive course, offering more instruction than your basic TEFL course, you will be hard-pressed to find any that does it better.
The Anaheim University online certification is an English teaching program created and managed by globally-acclaimed linguist Dr. David Nunan, a former president of TESOL, the world’s largest language teaching body.
This course is a comprehensive fifteen-week online program that takes you through everything from basic teaching methodology to more advanced topics like how to conduct research or how to make presentations with multimedia content. When it comes to the extent of the content available here, no TEFL program can hold a candle to this TESOL course from Anaheim University.
The 3-unit certification program is available to both aspiring and current English teachers, with new courses starting on the first Monday of each month.
- More comprehensive than any TEFL program
- A TESOL opens to door to more teaching opportunities and increased pay
- Run by Dr. David Nunan, a former president of TESOL
- More expensive than a regular TEFL