This is a question I get a lot from people, and although I touched on it briefly in my free cheat sheet giving you the first four steps to becoming an online English teacher, I figured I would go further in detail here. There are so many hundreds of TEFL courses being sold to you out there, I know exactly why it is so daunting trying to choose which one to do. Let’s start with a few things to take note on in advance:
Getting a TEFL course is not so much the course as it is the certificate. You need that ‘golden certificate’ to be hired by most online ESL companies. So don’t overthink it all, just make sure the certificate comes from an internationally accredited company and has good reviews.
Don’t break your bank account to buy this course. There is no real need to go into major debt and drop hundreds of dollars on this. Yes, there are companies out there that have MUCH better courses and they charge more. They will prepare you really well to teach. However, this isn’t necessary to find a job online. Someone who did a $150 TEFL course will get the same job as someone who did a $2000 TEFL course. Do you see what I am getting at? That is not to say that the cheaper TEFL course is going to be amazing, but it will get you that ‘Golden certificate’ as I mentioned earlier. Bear in mind that buying a course for $50 will likely be utter rubbish, so don’t go too cheap either.
If you have a degree in Education that is awesome and you are automatically one step ahead, however, you still have to do a TEFL/TESOL course. Why? Because you need to be qualified to teach English to “foreigners’ not just other native English students. Yes, there are companies that hire you without acquiring a TEFL course. However, it will open more doors and job opportunities for you if you have this certification. Not to mention it is actually a handy course to get under your belt. Add it to your list of qualifications and become desirably hireable!
So what does it all mean?
Let me break down some key jargon for you so you know what all these weird acronyms even mean.
TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language
TESOL – Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages
CELTA – Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults
ESL – English as a Second Language
EFL – English as a Foreign Language
What’s the difference between the TEFL/TESOL?
These two are industry acronyms which essentially mean the same thing. These terms are used interchangeably, some countries and institutes use the term TEFL and others will use the term TESOL. They both train you on how to teach non-native English people the English language. Doing either one of the other is a great option.
CELTA courses are a specific brand of TEFL certification awarded by the University of Cambridge’s non-profit assessment organisation, the ‘Cambridge English Assessment.’ This course is offered by many schools around the globe. This course is more intensive, more expensive, and also is targeted towards learning how to teach adults English.
Okay, but which one must I do?
A CELTA is intensive and the higher qualification to have, but don't think that doing an expensive CELTA is the only way you will find a job. Doing a TEFL/TESOL course is absolutely adequate in teaching you how to teach ESL as well as it will qualify you for many job opportunities. Online ESL companies are mostly looking for any teaching qualification, such as a TEFL/TESOL or CELTA with no specific preference. Keep in mind that you can always start out your ESL career with an online TEFL course, and then later down the line, you can complete additional courses to up-skill yourself even further!
In terms of TEFL/TESOL courses, there are cheap ones and expensive ones. Here are some specific things to look out for and bear in mind when choosing a course.
- Choose something with a minimum of 120 hours. Also having live practice with actual ESL students is always a great addition.
- The company and course must be internationally accredited and must provide you with ‘certification’ at the end.
- The course is taught by experienced instructors and provide you with personal support.
- Read the course reviews and see what other people have said about it.
- Doing an online TEFL course is adequate for teaching ESL online. Doing an in-classroom TEFL is much more in-depth and great for growing actual practical skills and gaining classroom experience, however, It is not necessary to find a job online.
- If you are a non-native English speaker, definitely look into an in-classroom TEFL or a CELTA to really get you qualified as finding work will be a touch harder for you. The higher your qualifications are the better.
Here are some recommendations for online TEFL companies. Check out their 120-hour TEFL courses, they are all internationally accredited companies with thorough courses to equip you with the knowledge you need to do this job.
If you are seriously strapped for cash, you can go have a look at Groupon for TEFL course deals. They often discount courses super cheaply for a period of time. It is always worth checking out what deals they have going. Just remember, if you don't have any teaching experience it may be worth investing in a decent course. Try amp up your skills by spending a bit more money. Remember, whatever you invest in this TEFL course, you will make back in a month or so of teaching. Sometimes you need to spend some money to make money, right?
Quick recap: Don’t go into debt for a TEFL course but also don’t buy the cheapest thing you find as it will not be quality, look out for a course that is a minimum of 120 hours, make sure the company is internationally accredited and look for good and positive reviews. Don't spend too much time researching and wrecking your brain, simply find a legitimate course, get it done and become one step closer to earning an income online!