TEFL Checklist: How to Choose a Legitimate Online Course

With so many choices out there for TEFL certification, it can be frustrating trying to weed through different options and choose the right TEFL course for your plans to teach abroad. If  you’ve decided to take an online course, you’ve also likely been warned to beware of fly-by-night TEFL course providers and to make sure and choose a “legitimate” course. Yet, if you’re new to teaching abroad, you may not know how exactly to determine this!

Knowing what to look for in a TEFL course is key! To help, here is your legitimate TEFL course checklist:

1. Is the course at least 100 hours?

TEFL courses are delineated in hours, and many providers offer a range of TEFL course options, from 40 to around 140. Usually when teaching jobs abroad require applicants have “TEFL certification,” what they mean is that your certificate should meet the (unwritten) international standard of 100+ hours of training.  China is one notable exception to this 100-hour rule, (since some schools there only require 40 hours), but you’ll find this is the case just about everywhere else!

The fact that a course is fewer than 100 hours doesn’t mean it’s not a legitimate course, but it does mean it may not qualify you for jobs in all countries.

2. Are the course tutors qualified?

I strongly recommend that you choose an online TEFL course that includes a personal tutor who will review your course work, since getting feedback on lesson plans on a big part of your development as a teacher. For any TEFL course you’re considering, you should be able to find the bios of the available tutors on the provider’s website, so that you can get a sense of their qualification and experience before you sign up. Ideally, tutors should have taught abroad themselves, and hold at least a bachelor’s degree (and preferably a master’s) in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), English or education.

3. Can you verify that the course accredited?

It may be hard to get an understanding of the importance of accreditation, since there is no single accrediting body for all TEFL courses and in fact, not all courses are accredited! Adding to your confusion, you may not have not heard of any of the accrediting bodies you do find in your TEFL research. Yet it’s still very important!

Why? Because accreditation lets you, the consumer, know that a professional, outside body has reviewed the TEFL course and certified that it meets a set of academic standards. You should be able to go to the accrediting body’s website to read about those standards and verify that the course you’re considering is listed there.

4. Is the course price so low you can’t believe it? 

Then don’t! You might be tempted to buy an online TEFL course on one of those online coupon sites where you can find deep discounts that seem too good to be true. I would advise against that. Instead, take a comprehensive, fully accredited TEFL course that teaches you how to lesson plan, refreshes your English grammar (what’s a gerund, again?) and offers tutor feedback on your work. Believe me, when you’re standing in front of your first classroom of eager English students, you’ll be glad you did!

5.  Do other people say good things about the course?

I don’t know about you, but whenever I am going to make a big purchase, I read online customer reviews of the product first.  You can do this for TEFL, too! I recommend reading course reviews written by actual TEFL students on a site like www.teflcoursereview.com, which is basically Yelp for TEFL courses. You can see what students have to say about various courses before you sign up.

Use this checklist to choose a legitimate TEFL course and begin your adventure of teaching abroad!  If have more questions about the process, please call or email a BridgeTEFL advisor anytime. We’ve traveled, studied and taught abroad ourselves, and we would love to share what we’ve learned along the way!