Online tefl courses vs onsite TEFL coursesPeople decide to teach English as a foreign language for many reasons. Some wish to make this a full time career and often work with students in their own English speaking country, while others are looking for adventure in a foreign country yet would like to have the structure and financial comfort that a teaching job can provide. Making the decision to teach English in a foreign country is, in itself, a big step. Once this decision has been made, however, prospective teachers then need to decide whether working towards a tefl certification
is something they need, or want, to do. Obtaining a TEFL certificate
may be required to get a job in the country they wish to travel to, or it might be something they wish to pursue to increase their confidence in their teaching skills. Regardless of their reasons for becoming certified
, there are many different types of tefl courses currently being offered to prospective teachers. One of the more common differences between courses is whether it is offered online or onsite and each have advantages and disadvantages, such as accessibility and length of the course, practical teaching experience and transferable certification that should be carefully examined before deciding which type of course to take (Thomson, 2004).
Online tefl courses are offered by a variety of companies and may be chosen for a number of reasons. online courses are very practical options for those who do not have access to an onsite tefl course whether due to distance or time constraints (Shringi, 2008). As opposed to onsite tefl courses, those offered online are largely self-paced making it easier for students to complete over a longer period of time when facing other time constraints, like working at another job. A self-paced course could also theoretically be completed in a shorter amount of time; for example, if the student needs to be certified
by a certain date in order to start a job, taking an online course would be faster. It should be noted, however, that most TEFL organizations offering online courses do place some restraints on how fast the course can be completed in order to ensure students fully understand the materials (TEFLOnline.net).
Perhaps the biggest difference between online and onsite tefl courses concerns practical teaching experiences. Most onsite tefl courses include at least six hours of monitored teaching experience in an actual ESL class and therefore give students a good indication of what the profession will actually be like (Thomson, 2004). Unfortunately, because online courses are taught via distance, most do not have any practical teaching components Instead, online courses usually focus on other practical activities like lesson planning that can adequately be evaluated by distance (Shringi, 2008). Depending on the reasons that students are taking the tefl course, a lack of practical teaching may not be important, however it is certainly something they should be aware of when deciding which course to take.
Finally, it is important to note that tefl certification
received from an online course may not be applicable or transferable to the country the student wishes to teach in. As such, it is very important to research the requirements of specific jobs and countries before choosing an appropriate training program. If a student plans on returning to their own country to teach after being abroad, it is may also be possible to become TEFL certified
based on the combination of an online course and a certain amount of verifiable teaching experience (TESL Canada). Teaching English in a foreign country is a very exciting opportunity for teachers and becoming TEFL certified
can certainly make the process much easier, however as previously demonstrated it is very important to be aware of the differences between types of courses in order to choose
the one most appropriate for each situation.