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 2020, 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!
How did we pick these programs?
In choosing the best online TEFL course, we took into account two main factors: the review scores of each program, and the number of reviews that program had received.
Our goal is to choose those programs which are truly the best: they have more and better reviews than the average for similar programs and are verified by enough reviews for us to feel confident giving our stamp of approval.
Lastly, we base these decisions on our own industry knowledge. We want to make sure we're recommending programs that are vetted both by you, the users, and us, the experts, so that we feel confident the programs included below are the best of the best!
1) 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) 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
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
4) Online Level 5 TEFL Course with 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 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) 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
6) 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) 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 and various eBooks which means you can learn wherever you are.
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) Internationally Recognized TEFL Courses from i-to-i
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) 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) CIEE 150-hour certification
CIEE's 150-hour TEFL certification can be completed in three months. This program comprises 130 hours of online coursework with an additional 20-hour hands-on practicum to give you the opportunity to practice your skills in the classroom. The practicum can be completed in your local community and will help give you the confidence you need to get started in your new career.
With your course fee, you'll receive personalized tutor support and feedback, the opportunity to interact and brainstorm with a cohort of classmates, and access to CIEE's comprehensive job assistance guide.
This certification is perfect for those with no experience. The only prerequisite is to be a native English speaker. Non-native speakers are welcome too as long as they can provide proof of advanced language proficiency.
Here's what past participants had to say about CIEE's course:
- “If you truly want to get help with teaching ESL this course will help you with all of the basics and has a great community to assist you.” -- Joel
- “My tutor was passionate about producing good English teachers, and she pushed each of us to challenge ourselves and become the best teachers we could be..” -- Grania
11) 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
It's Time to Prepare for Your Future of Teaching and Traveling
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 March 2021.