Have you ever wanted to make a difference in someone's life? To help them get a better job? To inspire them to travel overseas? As an English teacher, you can do that and more with people from all over the world.

A TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate is your ticket to this exciting and rewarding career in language education. Though TEFL courses can range in length, one of the most standard options is the 120-hour TEFL course. This provides you with the sufficient qualifications to teach English as a second language in an exciting new country or to teach English online.

A 120-hour TEFL course can be completed entirely online, but if you're ready to take the plunge overseas, you can opt for an in-person or blended course. Asia and Europe are popular destinations for aspiring English teachers to study TEFL.

Course Types

The ability to teach English is one of the most sought-after skills overseas. This means job security and the opportunity to live and work anywhere you want once you're certified.

A good 120-hour TEFL course includes many of the same elements but can be structured in a variety of ways. The best course for you depends on how you learn best and what tools you think you need to become a good English teacher.


One of the common and sought after TEFL course types is the self-guided course. Using the materials provided by the accrediting agency, you will prepare and study for exams and assignments that you can complete at your own pace. This allows you to spend as much time as you need with the material in order to feel comfortable with it.

This is a helpful option for people taking a TEFL course while they work or go to school. These are often taken online, which allows maximum flexibility. Since you're not restricted by course start and end times, you can complete self-guided courses more quickly.

Fixed Schedule

Fixed schedule TEFL courses involve matriculating in a school either online or in-person that requires you to attend a class for a specific length of time. The main benefit of these courses, particularly if you are taking them in person, is that they are guided by an instructor and can provide you with more support on specific elements of the course. Fixed schedule 120-hour TEFL courses also often include practical experience and live feedback, which you might not be able to receive if you're working on a course on your own.

Hybrid Courses

Some 120-hour TEFL courses are blended to include a portion that is online and self-paced and another that is scheduled as face-to-face instruction. This option could be the best of both worlds and allows you to practice what you've learned on your own in a real classroom setting with other students and a live instructor.

Online Options

There are many online options for people looking for 120-hour TEFL courses. These can be self-guided or fixed, requiring you to attend scheduled online lectures or chats. Depending on how much assistance you need in preparing to become a TEFL teacher, some options may work better for you than others. There are also options to work with a tutor to get personalized help with the TEFL course material.

If you're brand new to teaching or teaching English as a second language, you may want to choose a 120-hour TEFL course that is held live with an instructor for a fixed amount of time. This way, you can obtain support and feedback as you go through the material.

On the other hand, if you prefer to study on your own, online TEFL courses allow you to distribute your learning, however, it works best for you. This would be most convenient for someone with a full-time job that can't commit to a fixed schedule, for example.

Comparing 120-Hour TEFL Courses with Other TEFL Courses

In order to teach at most English schools, you want to get a TEFL certificate that is robust enough to cover all the necessary materials. A 120-hour TEFL course makes companies feel like you're well-prepared and ready for the classroom. Though there are some courses that are as little as 60 hours long, many schools will not consider that adequate training, making it harder for you to find work.

There are also 150-hour and 240-hour TEFL courses that give you an even deeper introduction to teaching English as a second language. If you are serious about your career in English education, then one of these options would be best for you, as they would provide you with more in-depth pedagogical theory. This can also be beneficial for your job prospects and salary.

Read More: How to Choose the Best TEFL Certification for Your Career

Need to Know

Popular Destinations

As the most common length of course, 120-hour TEFL courses are offered all over the world, providing a fantastic opportunity to get to know a new culture while you train to become a TEFL teacher.

  • Asia -- Countries in Asia, like Japan and China, have some of the highest demand for English teachers in the world. There are many courses held in person at academies in Asia that allow you to earn your 120-hour TEFL certification while immersing yourself in the country's rich culture. These courses are ideal for anyone who wants to be a classroom teacher for children in Asia.
  • Europe -- Europe is another popular location for TEFL courses, because of the high demand for English teachers and the possibility for travel in the area. Some favorite destinations for future English teachers include England, Spain, and the Czech Republic. You can find Oxford TEFL courses, which are recognized internationally and accredited by Oxford University, in London, Barcelona, and Prague.
  • Online -- Many aspiring English teachers opt to take their 120-hour TEFL course online prior to going overseas for work assignments. This is the cheapest option and usually the most flexible because it doesn't require any travel or taking time off. It's online, so it's everywhere!


Depending on how the course is structured, a 120-hour TEFL course can take anywhere from one month to six months. Shorter courses are more intensive and require full-time study. Longer courses are part-time and allow time for other activities. If you're doing your course overseas, you may require housing for a longer time and it can be much more expensive. However, it could also be a practical supplement to a longer-term volunteer or internship position.

Not all TEFL programs will help you with accommodation, so it's important to determine what your needs are and which course will be the best fit for you. Courses that do offer accommodation are typically more expensive, but it may be a small price to pay for relieving the stress of relocation.

If you need to find housing on your own, you should make use of all the online resources you can. Short-term rental sites like Airbnb can offer good temporary accommodations, though it might be more expensive. The best way to find good room shares or sublets is to talk to people who already live there - this could be through ex-pat Facebook groups or local housing forums, as long as they're in English.

Cost of Living

Whether you're considering Europe or Asia, doing a TEFL course abroad will require you to adjust to a different standard and cost of living. Some countries like Thailand where you might only need $700-800 per month to get by for all of your costs, will be more affordable than Spain, for instance, where rent alone is $700-800 a month. The overall cost of living could be almost double that.

The cost of living also depends on whether or not you have shared housing, as private accommodations will always be more expensive. To prepare for your studies, it would be helpful to create a budget for yourself and choose a location accordingly.

Other Considerations

Aside from basic housing, doing a 120-hour TEFL course overseas also requires you to consider the language and visa requirements. If you're thinking of spending time learning the local language in your temporary home, you should account for the cost and time that requires. You also need to make sure you have all the necessary visa paperwork in order to study overseas, even if you only intend to stay for the duration of your TEFL course.

Costs & Funding

Like any investment in your education or professional development, you will have to consider the cost of a 120-hour TEFL course before making your decision.

Average Cost of 120-Hour TEFL Courses

Though prices vary by location, you can expect to pay at least $1,000 to $2,000 for intensive 120-hour TEFL courses that are around a month long. If a program includes some cultural immersion components or language learning, it might be longer and more costly. But this can be worthwhile if you're studying in the same place where you plan to teach English in the future.

Online courses are generally cheaper than courses overseas. Since there are so many course providers, there's plenty of options at competitive prices. By studying online, you might be able to obtain a 120-hour TEFL certificate for $500 - 1,800.

Scholarships & Funding Options

Unless you're studying TEFL as a university degree, it is unlikely that you would qualify for scholarships. Most TEFL academies provide training for students only after they have paid in full. However, some longer programs at well-established academies may offer some financial aid. This is usually in the form of a payment plan that allows you to pay for only part of the course upfront to hold your place before final payment is required.

120-Hour TEFL Courses

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you travel to South Korea this year?

    Yes, while it’s important to be cautious and follow all health requirements, such as mask mandates and testing, fully vaccinated travelers are welcome to visit South Korea and study, teach, work and more in 2022-2023!

  • How do I choose a good TEFL course?

    With an abundance of TEFL course choices available, the options can feel overwhelming. In general, you should pick a course that is accredited, covers at least 100 hours of training, has a live teaching practice component, and offers job placement support to help you land a job teaching English at a school.

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  • What qualifications do you need to take a TEFL course?

    To enroll in a TEFL certification course, you'll need to be at least 18 years old, a native (or near-native level) English speaker, and have a proficient knowledge of English grammar. Many schools may also require you to have your high school diploma or GED.

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  • Should I get TEFL certified online or in-person?

    Here's the short answer: it depends! You should consider your budget, how much time you can commit to, and what kind of classroom experience you're looking for!

    If an in-person TEFL course doesn’t fit your busy schedule and lifestyle, you’ll end up wasting your money and never finishing it. Online courses, on the other hand, provide convenience and flexibility, but may sacrifice immersive learning if it doesn't offer a live, practice teaching component.

    Regardless of whether you opt to take the TEFL course remotely or in person, it's important you pick a TEFL program that is accredited, offers plenty of support, and provides students with real teaching practice.

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  • Do I need a degree to do a TEFL course?

    Certain countries prefer to hire teachers with a college degree (and some even require it) but not all. Luckily, TEFL certificate programs do not require a degree to take the course and can be used to supplement a degree when applying for teaching jobs in many countries. All you have to do is speak native English or demonstrate advanced English-speaking skills.

    If you are seeking a TESOL or CELTA certification course, depending on the program, you may be required to have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college.

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  • How much does a TEFL Certificate cost?

    The cost of a TEFL certificate course can vary depending on the provider, course duration, and where you get certified. Generally, TEFL courses can range from $200 - $2000.

    You can expect to pay nearly $2,000 if you want to be TEFL certified on-site, from a reputable program. Some schools and language programs may even offer to pay for your TEFL certification if you agree to teach at their school.

    Online TEFL courses are cheaper and typically range between $250-$600, but it's important to ensure the program offers a live teaching component, otherwise your certification may not be seen as valid by employers. Though other programs may advertise cheaper, discount classes, be sure to review the fine print closely, as those courses may not meet the hour minimum or accreditation requirements of the school you want to teach at.

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  • Do I really need a TEFL certificate to teach abroad?

    While it is possible to land an English teaching job without being certified, having a TEFL certificate can lead to a higher paying ESL salary, make you a more competitive applicant, and help you build the skills and confidence you'll need to successfully lead a classroom.

    Plus, if you're looking to teach in countries where the demand for English teachers is high, like China, Japan, or South Korea, obtaining your TEFL certification may be mandatory. Many schools will not even consider applicants without proof of certification or prior teaching experience.

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  • How do I get a TEFL Certificate?

    There are three main ways to get a TEFL certificate to teach abroad. You can get certified in-person, online, or even through a hybrid course, which is a mix of in-person and online lessons! Many TEFL certification programs are flexible and can be earned in your home country or while overseas.

    While certified teachers who’ve taken the course in person rave about the hands-on learning, immersive teaching exercises, and increased accountability, online TEFL graduates appreciate being able to balance their course with daily responsibilities at home, while learning at their own pace.

    Choose the TEFL certification course that is right for you by browsing the Go Overseas database of available courses.

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