Mike Cairnduff from Hello Teacher!

Updated July 22, 2020
By Mike Cairnduff

Best online TEFL course

I'm asked this question a lot. So, what is the best online TEFL course?

Well, like many things in life, there’s no simple answer. Course quality, features and cost all come into the equation.

What I can tell you, however, is there are four online TEFL (or TESOL) courses that punch above their weight.

They’re all 120 hours in duration and will get your foot in the teaching door.

Plus, they’re amongst the cheapest online TEFL courses available.

Why a 120 hour TEFL course?

For most teach abroad destinations, including China, 120 hours is the minimum requirement along with a bachelor’s degree.

But you should check the requirements of the specific country you’re going to (this country comparison chart by Teach Away is pretty cool).

There’s no point doing more hours – and paying more – unless you have to. I’ll talk about that later.

So, if you’re looking to teach overseas (once the coronavirus has passed) or you’re ready to teach online now from the comfort of your own home, here are the best online TEFL courses to consider.

Before I begin…

Just so you know, I’ve taught English in China a couple of times, I’ve completed a TEFL course and bachelor’s degree, and I’m in constant contact with people doing TEFL courses as part of my job.

So it’s safe to say I know what I’m talking about.

I taught in China once I got a TEFL certificate

I've paid my TEFL dues.

Have I completed all four courses below? Absolutely not – I’d go crazy if I had to repeat the same thing over and over!

But when it comes to TEFL certification online, trust me. I know what to look for, what’s important, and what you need to be wary of.

Ok, let’s get straight into it.

1. Level 3 Online 120 Hour by i-to-i

Good old i-to-i. They’re a pioneer of the TEFL industry, having been around longer than the others.

A staggering 200,000 people have completed an i-to-i TEFL course. And that includes me!

Things I like about this course

  • It’s well-structured and constantly reviewed
  • Your answers are assessed by DELTA qualified tutors
  • Great customer service (backed by thousands of reviews)
  • Regulated by the English government

Room for improvement

  • You only get 10 weeks to complete it (an extension of up to a year costs extra)

Price point

  • US$139 / GBP£110 / AU$199 at time of publication

In case you’re wondering, DELTA is a higher qualification than TEFL and even CELTA. I touch on TEFL vs CELTA further down.

For me, the fact that this course is marked by super-qualified instructors is what makes it one of the best online TEFL courses available. It’s a big wow factor. You won’t get that with a crappy Groupon TEFL!

Get the course here.

2. 120 Hour Advanced TEFL Certificate Course by Global Language Training

Global Language Training was started by a group of experienced teachers. More than 85,000 students have graduated with one of their TEFL online certificates.

The 120 Hour Advanced TEFL Course is their most popular, and for good reason.

Things I like about this course

  • You get a year to complete it
  • Lifetime job placement support
  • 14-day money back guarantee
  • A notary and apostille service to help with your work visa for China or Vietnam
  • Includes a free 40-hour specialist course in teaching online (or other area)

Room for improvement

  • Limited independent/external customer reviews

Price point

  • US$139 / GBP£110 / AU$199 at time of publication

I love the bonus 40-hour course to help boost your online teaching skills. It effectively makes this a 160-hour course for the price of 120 hours.

Get the course here.

3. 120-hr TEFL Course with Tutor & Videos by iTTT

Another big player in the TEFL industry, iTTT has two 120-hour courses to choose from.

Personally, I’d rather fork out a little bit extra for the tutor support and suite of videos, but you could still get away with the no-frills option. After all, 120 hours is 120 hours!

Things I like about this course

  • Loads of videos
  • If you have any questions, a tutor will get back to you within a day
  • Lifetime job guidance
  • Includes a free 50-hour specialist course (business English or young learners)

Room for improvement

  • It’s not the cheapest TEFL course on this list (but it’s one of the best quality)

Price point

  • With tutor and videos – US$349 / GBP£277 / AU$497 at time of publication
  • Without tutor and videos – US$239 / GBP£189 / AU$340 at time of publication

I’m a big fan of the videos because it’s the closest thing you have to a real classroom. Plus, if you’re a visual learner like me, you really can’t go wrong.

Get the course here.

4. 120hr Professional TEFL Course by TEFL UK

Don’t be fooled by the name. Anyone can complete a TEFL UK course – not just Brits!

In 2020, TEFL UK is donating a portion of every sale to Concern Worldwide to help tackle extreme poverty. So with this course, not only will you get TEFL certification but the ‘feel good’ factor as well!

Things I like about this course

  • Lifetime access to course materials
  • 93% of graduates say they would recommend TEFL UK
  • A notary and apostille service to help with your work visa
  • Comprehensive job placement service
  • Cheapest TEFL course in this review

Room for improvement

  • More video content would help with real-life teaching examples

Price point

  • US$124 / GBP£99 / AU$177 at time of publication

Get the course here. (Use code EAA49ABB for a sweet 10% off)

In case you missed it

All these online TEFL courses are 120 hours, which is the minimum requirement for most countries.

The big question is, why would you want to do a 150-hour course or even a 180-hour course?

I personally don’t see the point, unless you absolutely love studying and have the extra time and money.

Happy senior Chinese students

A 120 hour TEFL course is the minimum for most overseas destinations.

Let’s face it – the purpose of the TEFL certificate is to get your foot in the teaching door (or in China’s case, part of the visa requirements).

The reality is you’re going to get your experience on the job.

On the flipside, a really short TEFL course, e.g. one that’s 40 or 60 hours in length, is not worth the paper it’s written on.

I can only see value in these short courses if you want to test the water before committing your time and money to a full course.

What do I think of CELTA?

When I was shopping around for the best TEFL courses, I considered doing a CELTA course.

These courses are administered by Cambridge English, part of the University of Cambridge. They’re more comprehensive than TEFL, mostly full-time and run face to face, and include real teaching practice.

While it’s a great course to have under your belt, most countries don’t require the higher qualification.

And, CELTA is significantly more expensive than online TEFL. In many cases, the cost is up to 10 times higher!

While I’m not a massive fan of forums like Reddit, I do agree with this Reddit post that argues TEFL is a better starting point than CELTA for a newbie teacher.

Don’t say the A-word!

Accreditation. It’s a dirty word.

What! Why?

In the TEFL world, there’s no one internationally recognised governing body. Instead, there’s a plethora of them.

That’s why I take TEFL accreditation with a grain of salt.

Accredited TEFL course

I don't buy the whole 'accredited TEFL course' thing (but all the courses I recommend are accredited).

TEFL providers essentially pay to get assessed and use the ‘accreditation’ as part of their marketing. But in a very competitive industry, who can blame them?

If an accredited TEFL course is important to you, rest assured the four above all have a badge of some sort.

What matters most

When it comes to choosing the best TEFL certification online, I believe what’s most important is a course that is engaging and well-structured, meets the minimum requirements for the country, has qualified tutors marking your answers, and is a good price.

All of the above courses fit that bill.

If I had to choose just one online TEFL course, it would be the Global Language Training course.

Not only is it one of the cheapest, but I love the bonus 40-hour specialist course for teaching students online. This is very topical – and helpful – in today’s work-from-home environment.

Do you have any questions about the best online TEFL courses? As always, just ask me in the comments section below.

Are you a TEFL course provider that would like to be reviewed? Please contact Hello Teacher!

Further reading about TEFL online

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