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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Need to Know
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.
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
How do I get a TEFL Certificate?
There are many ways to get a TEFL certificate to teach abroad. Whether in person, online, or a mix of the two (called a ‘hybrid’ course), certification to teach English as a foreign language is 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.
Do I really need a TEFL certificate to teach abroad?
Whether you are considering an online or in-person TEFL/TESOL certification course or an accredited CELTA (Certificate In English Language Teaching to Adults) certification, the question still lies therein: is TEFL certification really necessary to teach abroad?
Technically, you don’t need to be certified to teach abroad. However, those who aren’t certified end up with very limited options. Some would also say that teaching overseas with no academic background or teaching certification is a serious disservice to your students -- and many schools (and countries) will not even consider you as a teaching candidate without it.
TEFL certifications aren’t just a piece of paper. The courses include in-depth training to help you better lesson plan and instruct, not to mention providing hands on teaching experience to add to your resume. Read this teacher’s thoughts on whether a TEFL certificate is worth it.
How much is a TEFL Certificate?
TEFL certificate courses can cost a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the provider and course duration. Some schools and language programs may even offer to pay for your TEFL certification if you agree to teach at their school (though, those schools reportedly pay much less in salary).
You can expect to pay nearly $2,000 if you want to be TEFL certified from a reputable program. 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.
Do I have to have 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, however, you may be required to have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college. This certification prerequisite varies per program.
Do I need a Master's degree in TEFL to teach abroad?
While a four-year degree may be required in many high-paying schools and countries (like Qatar, Japan, the UAE, Korea, and Saudi Arabia), other countries have more lax education laws and hire teachers who don’t have a college degree at all -- let alone, a master’s degree.
Absence of a graduate or Master’s degree in teaching English as a foreign language will not prevent you from securing a job abroad. Having one, however, will definitely help you access bigger opportunities! For teach abroad candidates seeking extensive international experience and high pay, a Master’s degree is totally worth it.
Is it better to take an Online TEFL course or do a TEFL course in person?
International teachers have mixed opinions about the online vs. in-person TEFL course debate. The truth is, the best type of TEFL certification course is the one that you actually complete! If an in-person TEFL course doesn’t fit your schedule and lifestyle, you’ll end up wasting your money and never finishing it.
Online courses, on the other hand, provide convenience but may sacrifice immersive learning. Which is important to you? To decide whether to get TEFL certified online or in person, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have the time to attend in-person classes?
- Do I want to get TEFL certified while abroad, or before I leave?
- What is my budget for TEFL certification?
- How much time do I have to get certified?
- Do I need to practice teaching in front of a classroom?
How do I choose a good TEFL course?
With an abundance of TEFL course choices available, the options can feel overwhelming. Between fine print, accreditation information, and fees, how do you know what to look for when selecting a good TEFL certificate course? Here are a few key elements to consider when choosing the right TEFL certification course for you:
- At least 100 hours of training
- Accreditation approval (from independent bodies like ALTE, English Profile, QuiTE, British Council, NCFE, ACCET, IATEFL, ODLQC, ACTDEC, and/or the University of Cambridge.)
- Job placement assistance
To learn more about what to look out for when choosing a TEFL certificate course, review our expert guide to selecting a top-level TEFL certification.
How much is a TEFL course in Thailand?
The cost of TEFL courses in Thailand will vary depending on the program and what the program includes. Prices start around $1,200 for a 120 hour program, but you should also keep in mind the cost of airfare, accommodation, meals, transportation, and personal expenses.