There are so many TEFL courses out there! Which TEFL course should I take?
Do a quick Google search on ‘TEFL courses’ and you’ll come up with A LOT of options. 4,680,000 to be precise (yes, we did check – we’re not ashamed to admit we’re a bit obsessed with all things TEFL!)
Rather than crossing your fingers and hoping that you’ll somehow stumble your way through the masses to find the best TEFL course out there, we’ve pulled together the key information you need to find out which TEFL course you should take.
Types of TEFL course
There are four broad categories of TEFL courses. The best TEFL course for you depends on what you’re looking for.
- TEFL taster courses, also known as foundation or introductory TEFL courses, are aimed at people who want a sprinkling of TEFL knowledge. They are useful for short-term voluntary roles but are not sufficiently in-depth for paid TEFL jobs.
- TEFL certification courses provide you with a solid grounding in teaching methodology plus the practical tools you need to plan and deliver effective TEFL lessons. They are, in effect, the entry-level course for paid TEFL work across the world.
- Specialist TEFL courses focus on specific topics, such as preparing students for international English exams or teaching young learners. You normally complete specialist courses as an add-on to a TEFL certification course or once you have started teaching.
- Delta is an advanced qualification for TEFL teachers, for which you normally need a minimum of one year’s full-time English teaching experience. It’s the most widely recognised TEFL career-progression qualification worldwide for teachers already working in TEFL.
Tip: If you’re looking for the best TEFL course to help you into your first TEFL job, then focus on TEFL certification courses.
Is CELTA or TEFL better?
We get asked this question a lot – but in fact TEFL is not the title of a qualification but a general name for the field of teaching English to non-native English speakers. In turn, CELTA is one specific ‘brand’ of TEFL certification programme that would-be teachers can take. Whether you should take CELTA over any other TEFL certification programme really depends on what you are looking for.
If you’re considering TEFL as a career option or want to teach in a native English speaking country, CELTA definitely can be worth its fairly hefty price tag of around £1,500 ($2,000 / €1,750). CELTA is the most widely recognised TEFL qualification worldwide and some employers, particularly in native English speaking countries, require you to have CELTA (or the comparable CertTESOL) before they’ll consider your application. In addition, all CELTA courses are rigorously quality assured and offer good hands-on teaching practice, so you can be confident of getting a high-quality course wherever you take it.
On the other hand, if your main purpose in taking a TEFL course is to fund your travels across Asia, Central America, South America or Eastern Europe it’s worth considering other good quality TEFL certification courses. For example, i-to-i TEFL now offers a TEFL certification programme that gets good reviews from students worldwide and leads to an English government-regulated TEFL qualification accepted by numerous employers in non-native English speaking countries. Their courses don’t match CELTA and CertTESOL for global recognition or the depth of hands-on training you’ll receive but they do cover substantially the same material at a considerably lower price. In addition, non-CELTA providers are far more likely to offer add-ons such as support with finding jobs and preparing for your first TEFL lessons, which can be extremely valuable when you’re starting out.
Tip: Read our article TEFL, TESOL and CELTA – which is better? to find out more.
There is no overarching global accreditation body for TEFL. However, if a recognised national body, such as the Open and Distance Learning Quality Council (ODLQC), Accreditation UK or the British Accreditation Council (BAC) has accredited your TEFL course provider, then you can be confident that it has been assessed against a set of external quality standards.
Another mark of quality is if your TEFL course leads to a government-regulated qualification. You can check if a qualification is regulated by looking on the Ofqual register in England and the SQA register in Scotland.
Tip: TEFL providers can sign up to be a member of a number of schemes and bodies. While these may provide useful support for the provider, don’t be tricked into thinking that this is the same as being accredited. Providers often can simply hand over a membership fee to join.
TEFL course format
Once you’ve filtered down to TEFL certification courses run by accredited providers your list will be a lot shorter! Your next decision is to choose a course format. The course format that is best for you is really down your budget, timeframe and how you personally like to study.
- Fully online TEFL courses
Fully online courses are the cheapest and most flexible option. You can start at any time, choose when and where to study and go at a pace that suits you. However, you won’t get any classroom experience unless you arrange this independently and you do need to be happy studying by yourself.
Guideline cost for TEFL certification course: £150-£300 / $200-$400 / €170-€350
- Combined / Blended TEFL courses
Combined courses deliver most of the theoretical elements through online modules. Students then come in for face-to-face group sessions at set points to gain classroom experience and meet up with fellow students and their tutor. They provide a halfway house between online and classroom courses for both flexibility and cost.
Guideline cost for TEFL certification course: £250-£400 / $300-$550 / €280-€450
- Classroom TEFL courses
Classroom based TEFL courses are delivered face-to-face, usually in a group of around 10-15 students. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to practise delivering activities in front of others and ask your tutor those burning questions. On the downside, classroom courses are at the top end of the price scale and you’ll have little flexibility over dates and venues.
Guideline cost for TEFL certification course: £1,000-£1,500 / $1,300-$2,000 / €1,150-€1,750
Tip: Core TEFL certification courses normally last for 120 hours. CELTA courses are at the top end, with prices of around £1,500 / $2,500 / €1,750 for the certification course. Expect to pay around £30-£50 ($40-$65 / €35-€60) extra for any additional specialist units on all options.
Even if your TEFL course is fully online, there should be some form of support during the course. Find out:
- What help you will get if you get stuck or have a question to ask during the course
- How and when you will get feedback on key activities
- If any assistance is available after the course, for example with putting together your CV, finding a TEFL job or ongoing help after you start working
Tip: If it’s not clear what support is on offer then ask before you pay for a course. Ongoing assistance to help you find a job after your course can be invaluable as you start your TEFL adventure.
Look at TEFL course reviews
While a TEFL course may look good on the website, it’s always useful to find out the views of recent students. You can find independent reviews for many of the top TEFL course providers if you search for “TEFL” on www.reviews.co.uk. Alternatively, Google the name of your top few options plus ‘course review’.
Tip: Don’t be put off by the odd negative review here and there – any genuine course will have these now and again. However, browsing through recent reviews will give you a good idea of what to expect.
Over to you…
We hope this article has given you a good idea of which TEFL course to take. Now it’s down to you. Give your top course providers a call, chat through any specialist modules or other add-ons they offer – and then go with the course that you like the best.
Enjoy your TEFL course. Once you’re started, check back in with us for support on finding a TEFL job. We can’t wait to help!