Teaching English opens doors to a rewarding career that can take you all over the world. English is in demand and you'll find enthusiastic students of all ages just waiting to learn. Although some countries allow native speakers to teach without a degree or certificate, a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course could enhance your job prospects and earning potential. Most importantly though, it can give you the tools to be a more effective teacher for your students.
You may be wondering if it's better to get a TEFL course in person or online. Online TEFL courses provide the flexibility to study where and when is convenient for you. I teach English in Spain for a program that only requires a bachelor's degree in any subject. However, to give me more confidence, I decided to do an online TEFL course. I found the course really helpful for remembering grammar structures as well as generating new ideas for activities and games to use in the classroom. It was a small investment that I believe markedly enhanced my teaching skills.
In 2022, consider pursuing an online TEFL course. We have handpicked the best of the best for you and highlight their features below. Starting one of these courses could be the first step toward the adventure of a lifetime!
Key factors to consider when picking an online TEFL program
Before we dive in, let's go over criteria to consider when picking a TEFL program. You'll want to research and identify these key factors before you invest your time and money in a TEFL course!
- Accreditation: Opting for an accredited TEFL course will help verify that your class will meet industry standards, cover the required hours of training, and provide you with the necessary amount of instruction and teaching practice.
- Length of course: In order to ensure your chances of getting a teaching job after your course ends, your online TEFL certification course must cover at least 100 hours of class time and 20 hours of teaching practice.
- Cost: While it's important to pick an affordable TEFL course, you should also be wary of any super cheap classes. Online classes tend to already be less expensive, but be sure it includes practical teaching experience, otherwise you're potentially wasting money!
- Job placement assistance: You're taking this TEFL course to get a job after, right? So if you're going to invest your time, make sure this course can also provide you with important resources such as interview assistance, referrals, and job guidance.
Read more: How to Choose a TEFL Certification Program
How did we pick these programs?
When community members review a program, they’re asked to rate various factors, like housing, support, fun, value, and safety. We average these scores into an overall rating, to help us determine the highest rated programs.
We also look at how recent the reviews are and compare the reviews left by community members. We check to see what they love, what they hate, and everything in between! The more positive, highly-rated reviews there are, the more confident we feel to give our stamp of approval!
Lastly, we determined the list based on our own industry knowledge. We want to make sure we're recommending programs that are vetted both by you, the community members, and us, the experts, so that we feel confident the programs included are the best of the best!
1: Best for building confidence: International TEFL Academy
According to the International TEFL Academy, their alumni work in 80 countries across the world, so it's no wonder why this world-renowned program tops our list. This part-time, 11-week 170-hour TEFL certification promises small class sizes (maximum of 20 students), teachers with a minimum of a master's degree, and interactive features such as live lectures, webinars, and chat sessions.
This course is comprised of 150 hours of learning coupled with a 20-hour hands-on teaching practicum. Throughout your studies you will be aided by a personal tutor who will be there to answer all your questions.
Graduates will benefit from lifetime job search assistance as well as a network of thousands of ITA graduates located all around the globe.
Here's what past participants had to say about ITA's course:
- “The support staff and instructors were exceptional from start to finish. I now feel genuinely empowered as I pursue my aspirations to teach ESL to adults.” -- Timothy
- “The course work is challenging but doable and each assignment helps to build you into a better ESL instructor. You will definitely feel more confident and eager to teach abroad by the end of the term.” -- Melinda
2: Best for personalized structure: Teach Away's OISE TEFL
Teach Away, world leaders in international teacher placement, has partnered with the University of Toronto to offer the OISE TEFL program. This comprehensive program is available as three different courses to suit the needs of everyone from recent university grads looking to start their career in teaching, to current ESL teachers hoping to boost their credentials.
With Teach Away, you can choose from 100-hour, 120-hour, and 150-hour course options, and you can also select specializations that cater to your personal interests and teaching goals. But beyond the course material, you'll also get a leg up when starting your career with a certificate from a globally recognized institution, as well as job assistance through Teach Away.
Here's what past participants had to say about Teach Away's course:
- “I have taken numerous online courses over the years, but I have no problem rating this course the best so far. The lessons were well organized and covered a lot of material (history of language, teaching theory, fundamentals of language/grammar).” -- Mary
- “The staff at the University of Toronto Teach Away were very patient and friendly. I would certainly recommend this course to anyone who would like to teach English as a foreign language.” -- Sandra
3: Best for fast pace learning: UNI-Prep Institute
UNI-Prep's 120-hour online TEFL certification is great for those hoping to jump into their teaching career quickly. According to their website, this course can be completed in 2-4 weeks, although students have up to a year to work through the materials. The course covers classroom management, lesson planning, and language level testing in addition to the basics of reading, writing, and phonics.
Tutor support is available and job search assistance is included. While they don't screen participants, a high school diploma, and native level or advanced proficiency in English are required.
Past participants have rated this program highly and praise it for its value and level of instruction.
Here's what some of UNI-Prep's alumni had to say about the course:
- “I have really enjoyed my experience using this institute. I had the most amazing experience while doing my TESOL course. The course was very insightful, and easy to follow through.” -- Nisrine
- “The material was easy to access, simple to follow along with, and helpfully summarized by unit tests to check students' understanding of course content. I especially enjoyed the helpful examples of teaching methods and tools to use in the classroom that were provided with each unit lesson.” -- Jane
4: Best for hands-on virtual learning: The TEFL Academy
The TEFL Academy is truly committed to offering students a top-notch TEFL experience. Since TEFL is their specialty, they're able to offer well-crafted, accredited, and highly interactive courses which are all taught by experienced ESL teachers. Who better to learn from than those who are already experienced in the field?
Their Online Level 5 TEFL Course is a fully online TEFL option available to students around the globe. The course leads to a Level 5 TEFL Certificate, equivalent to 168 hours, which will allow you to teach anywhere you want. If taken full time, the course will take about 9 weeks to complete, but its flexible nature means that you can fit the course to your schedule. The course is composed of 11 mandatory units, plus a bonus unit about teaching young learners, which is perfect for folks who are hoping to teach English at primary schools abroad.
Here's what past participants had to say about The TEFL Academy's course:
- “I was initially cautious to try learning online as it wasn't something I had ever done before. The TEFL Academy was accessible and highly enjoyable. I learnt so much about the English language I didn't already know as a native speaker.” – Holly
- “The support provided by the tutors were very helpful and responses were quick and easy to understand. They were very helpful when guiding me on my assignments and their advice was professional. Overall, the course was fun and interesting.” -- Divanya
5: Best for resources & job prep: TEFLPros
TEFLPros offers a fully accredited 120-hour online TEFL course that combines high quality instruction with maximum flexibility. The course boasts more than 50 hours of real-life classroom and instructional videos so that you're sure to get the most bang for your buck.
This course offers preparation in important skills such as lesson planning, managing difficult classroom situations, and preparing classroom materials. And TEFLPros want to make sure you're happy with the course before you put any money into it; they offer a free full module to students so that you can "try before you buy." This kind of transparency is hard to beat!
Here's what past participants had to say about TEFLPros' course:
- “What I loved about TEFLPros was their abundance of resources made available to me and their real life examples. I was able to see their teaching applied in classrooms to great effect.” -- Alejandro
- “I'm really happy that I chose TEFLPros. I got an offer to teach online almost immediately after finishing the course which made me really happy. But more importantly, I felt confident and prepared to start teaching online.” -- Marcus
6: Best for affordability: ITTT Online TEFL/TESOL Course
Whether you're looking to brush up on your teaching skills or to fulfill a job requirement, ITTT can meet your needs with their 60 to 250-hour TEFL/TESOL certificate. There are also specialized course options such as a 50-hour Teaching Business English and a 50-hour Teaching English to Young Learners. You can choose to complete your online TEFL courses on your own or with a tutor, so you get the proper support.
ITTT's diplomas are recognized all around the world, so you never have to worry if your credentials will be accepted when you move jobs or locations. Plus, after completing an ITTT TEFL course, you'll have lifetime access to job assistance services.
Here's what past participants had to say about ITTT Online TEFL course:
- “I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to learn or teach English, or just needs to meet the requirements for a job. The time and money efficient course provides tons of useful materials and instructions that prepare you well for lecturing and facilitating activities.” -- Txiv
- “At the end of each unit I was more and more excited to move on to the next, and cared more about teaching than when I started. The course material really inspired me. The website is very well made and easy to navigate. The course material was challenging yet very comprehensive at the same time.” -- James
7: Best for innovative learning: Premier TEFL
Premier TEFL offers prospective English teachers a variety of options for undertaking their certification. Whether you go with the industry standard 120-hour online course or more intensive study, all programs include various perks. You can expect to learn all the basics through their new app, various eBooks, and even their podcast, which means you can learn wherever you are (even if you're on the go!).
In addition to the course materials, learners can expect to receive expert tutor support throughout the program. Most notably, on completion of your certification, Premier TEFL will provide you with a letter of reference which could come in handy when applying for your first job.
Feeling prepared but not yet confident to start the job search? Internship opportunities exist throughout Asia, Europe, and South America. These short-term teaching experiences will give you a taste of international teaching while helping to build your CV.
Here's what past participants had to say about Premier TEFL's course:
- “This was an exceptional learning experience with techniques and tools that I found directly applicable to work situations. I found the instructors did a very effective job in breaking down and explaining the concepts.” -- E
- “I really enjoyed this course. I think they did an amazing job and I learned a lot! They had a load of info and I felt informed and prepared.” --Mickell
8: Best for in-depth courses: i-to-i TEFL
If you want to go beyond the usual 120-hour course, i-to-i TEFL offers programs up to 320-hours. If you choose to study the courses consisting of 180 hours or more, your bundle will include additional modules such as teaching young learners, business English, grammar awareness, and advanced lesson planning.
These TEFL certifications can be completed solely online or taken as a hybrid option with two days of classroom experience with qualified and knowledgeable tutors. All courses provide a minimum of 120 hours of materials along with support and feedback from DELTA (diploma provided by Cambridge English) qualified tutors.
Once you are fully certified, i-to-i offers paid internship opportunities in China and Vietnam, and an unpaid placement in Thailand. All three programs include accommodation and range from 7 weeks to 5 months. This could be a good way to break into the international TEFL world without a year commitment.
Here's what past participants had to say about i-to-i's course:
- “These courses go in-depth in the areas you will need to know and practice when going out to teach English internationally. The grammar lessons proved very practical, the extra material offered to buy also helped out greatly (teaching guides).” -- Sarah
- “The i-to-i site is so helpful, you can find resources, jobs and chat to people like you. The courses are well set out, easy to follow, and understand, and the support is second to none.” -- Lizzie
9 - Best for support: Maximo Nivel
Maximo Nivel offers a 150-hour completely online TEFL certification that includes live teaching practice. While other online courses require in-person teaching practice, with Maximo Nivel you can conduct your 6-hour practicum with real language learners live via Skype. These sessions will be observed by your trainer who will give you constructive feedback to improve your skills.
Maximo Nivel focuses on support and guarantees 10 hours of face-to-face personal tutor support via Skype or Zoom during your course. This will allow you to receive advice, hear critiques of your classwork and teaching, and ask any questions you may have. After successful completion of the course, students have access to lifetime job search support which means you always have someone in your corner throughout your teaching career.
Here's what past participants had to say about Maximo Nivel's course:
- “My favorite part was my online teaching practicum. I absolutely loved teaching online and the thought of being able to teach anyone in the world from my living room is so cool!.” -- Madi
- “I learned so much about myself and teaching, as well as speaking the English language in general.” -- Mia
10: Best for interactive class setting: Teaching Nomad
Who said learning virtually had to be done alone?
For students who learn best through class discussions and opportunities for collaboration, you'll enjoy Teaching Nomad's Instructor Led Online TEFL Course.
In this course, you'll meet 3 times a week over a 4-week period, and participate in discussion based learning, while receiving personal feedback from your instructor. After the virtual course is completed, you'll even receive the opportunity to observe 10 days of teaching practice in popular teaching cities such as Shanghai, Buenos Aries, Hanoi, and more.
Here's what past participants had to say about Teaching Nomad's course:
- “The course provides useful tools to start your career as an English teacher regardless of whether or not you have experience in the area.” -- Brenda
- “I learned how to become a better teacher because of this program. The teacher gave me great feedback after every teaching practice and I made great friends in the class that I'm still in connection with.” -- Chyna
11: Best for professional experience: Vantage TEFL
Boasting a 100% satisfaction score from over 100 reviewers on Go Overseas, Vantage TEFL offers a 120-hour course for those pursuing an international career in teaching. Validated by Lamar University in the U.S., this course is the equivalent of three credit hours. Students will have six months to complete all the modules.
The unique thing about Vantage TEFL is the intensive, supervised 6-hour practicum which is conducted in Thailand. For those already interested in starting off in Asia, this can be a great jumping off point to network and get comfortable in your new surroundings. Some of the highest ESL salaries are offered in Asia so why not make the leap with Vantage TEFL?
Here's what past participants had to say about Vantage TEFL's course:
- “My time spent with Vantage was nothing short of spectacular. Everyone was very welcoming and the trainers always extended their help when it was needed. Vantage TEFL is very supportive before, during and even after the course was completed.” -- JJ
- “We also learned how to formulate a viable lesson plan, which was the first step in our six observed teaching sessions. I got better and better every time I taught and I believe the self-evolution together with Vantage’s professional feedback was the key reason why.” -- Lotti
FAQs about online TEFL courses
If you're still on the fence about applying for an online TEFL course (or just have a million questions buzzing in your head -- trust us, it's normal!) then take a peek at some of the top FAQs asked by aspiring teachers like you!
What are the benefits of an online TEFL certification?
By taking an online program you’ll be able to complete your coursework from anywhere in the world -- so long as you have a computer and internet, there’s no need to spend time commuting.
Additionally, online programs also tend to be lower in cost (read: better for your wallet). The instruction itself online is more heavily focused on theory than classroom practice. This can be very beneficial for those who have limited teaching experience as understanding the theory and methodology behind teaching practices is fundamental in helping new teachers succeed in the classroom.
Where can I teach with an online TEFL certification?
The regions where online TEFL certification it is most widely accepted or required are Latin America and Asia. However, no matter where in the world you are planning to teach, having a TEFL certification will be an asset. Not only will it help you stand out from other applicants, it will also better prepare you to be a more effective classroom teacher which will have a positive impact on your students -- no matter if they are in South Korea, Nepal, Brazil, Hungary or beyond.
How many hours should my online TEFL certification be?
The length of online TEFL certifications vary widely. The bare minimum is usually 20 hours, but some are up to 240 hours. Choosing which course level is right for you largely depends on your long-term teaching goals, as different teaching jobs require different levels of TEFL qualifications. For most new teachers a 100-hour course will open up the most job opportunities, as well as give you the confidence to teach effectively. You can always take more classes later should you choose to pursue TEFL as a serious career. Shorter courses are good for teachers who may only be exploring TEFL as a short-term career break.
Will an online TEFL certification really prepare me for the classroom?
Yes, an online TEFL certification will absolutely help prepare you for the classroom! It may seem strange that taking a course online can help you teach a classroom full of live students. However, what many people new to the teaching profession don’t realize is just how much theory and methodology is involved in effective teaching practices.
With an online program you’ll learn the basic principles of teaching English as a foreign language, lesson planning, and develop skills in teaching reading, writing, listening and speaking.
Read more: What Do You Learn in an Online TEFL Course?
Ready to start your teaching journey?
If you have a positive attitude, thirst for adventure, and desire to help others, a career in English teaching might just be right for you. Teaching can be challenging but it is a rewarding and potentially lucrative way to travel the world while making a difference in the lives of children and adults. Making sure you have the right training is key, so sign up with one of these top courses and start dreaming of your next destination today!
This article was originally published in May 2020, and it was updated in January 2022.