TEFL and TESOL courses can be taken online, in-class or as a combined course (mixed online and in-class training). An internationally recognised TEFL qualification should contain at least 120 hours of externally validated study.
Depending on the visa rules of the country that you would like to work in, a degree may also be necessary. More information about BA and MA TESOL programs can be seen on our Upgrade your Qualifications page.
Online or onsite TEFL courses?
There are some clear advantages to taking an in-class TEFL course. The main benefit comes from the observed teaching practice sessions and the confidence that is instilled in new teachers. Face-to-face instruction also gives the TEFL trainer more opportunity to impart their knowledge and guide the trainee on areas that they feel are particularly important. The second advantage of an in-class course is that you can apply for local teaching positions during the course and be available to start immediately after the course concludes.
Online courses are the most common way for teachers to gain a TEFL qualification. More than 95% of ESL teachers gain their qualifications through an online program. ITTT’s 120-hour online course allows teachers to study the same content and teaching methods that are taught during a 4-week in-class course.
The main benefits of taking a TEFL course online are its cheaper cost and the course flexibility. Trainees can access the online courses 24/7. On average, trainees complete the 120-hour online course in 5-7 weeks.
The stigma that surrounded qualifications gained online has diminished over the past few years. Programs that were once exclusively taught in class were adapted and taught online during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the benefits of face-to-face learning, it is now widely understood that a quality online course provides a great platform to prepare teachers for the classroom.
Combined TEFL courses
Combined courses or online courses with teaching practice are another alternative. There are several variations of combined programs across the industry. Programs with 6+ hours of in-class observed teaching practice and feedback are the best option. The drawback is that they aren’t as readily available and the price closely mimics the 4-week in-class courses. Cheaper options are available with recognition of teaching practice. These options are best suited to teachers who are already employed and have access to ESL students so they can complete their teaching hours.
The teaching practice gained through any blended TEFL course is only likely to equate to 1-5 days of actual teaching. The small amount of teaching experience is only really relevant to your first job, after which, you will have experience and references to lean on.
What to look out for?
120-hour TEFL qualifications have long been the industry standard for ESL teachers. Some cheap, 120-hour courses with print-your-own certificate options have hit the market in the past few years. Many reviews indicate that these courses can be completed in under a week and don’t contain anywhere near 120 hours of content. This has led to increased scrutiny of TEFL certificates by governments and employers, especially for 120-hour qualifications. If you don’t have a degree in education or substantial teaching experience, it would be wise to choose a more extensive TEFL package of university-accredited courses with embossed certificates.
Online course packages
ITTT has the widest range of online TEFL course packages of any established TEFL course provider. Each package includes the 120-hour online TEFL course together with university-accredited specialized courses to advance your skills and qualifications in particular areas of teaching. The options range from 170 hours up to a 550-hour TEFL Expert Package.
If you wish to have qualifications relating to teaching in a classroom and online, the 170-hour package fits the bill.
The 220-hour TEFL Master Package is the most commonly chosen package of certificate-level courses. It includes qualifications for teaching business English and teaching English to young learners.
The 550-hour Expert Package also includes the advanced Diploma in TESOL course, if you really want to move your qualifications onto the next level.