TEFL Certification Online vs. Classes: Which is Right For You?

by Published

Do you love explaining new concepts to others? Do you feel at home in a classroom? Does the English language fill you with joy rather than frustration? Then teaching English abroad could be an amazing option for you! Whether you are an experienced teacher wanting to travel or if a novice wanting to see if the ESL life is for you, the first step you have to take before job hunting for that dream position is to make sure you are qualified. That means getting TEFL certified!

hands typing on macbook computer

With TEFL certification online, your classroom can be anywhere.

There are many options: You can gain a TEFL certification online or via in-person TEFL certification classes. Which one is right for you? 

First, let’s weigh the pros and cons

👍  Perks of getting your TEFL certification online

Online gives you a lot of flexibility! Get your TEFL certification online while traveling, working abroad, sitting on the train, lounging on the beach….wishful thinking? Maybe not! Online is perfect if you live in a small town without a class nearby, or don’t want a long commute to class. Online can be a lot cheaper since the program doesn’t have to rent out physical space.

It’s also great if you have a tight schedule; many online classes can be on your own time. And of course, those other important perks, like being able to “attend” class while in your pajamas, eating cereal and jamming to Spice Girls. Just me and my learning style? Cool. 

👍  Perks for taking TEFL certification classes in-person

TEFL certification classes in-person can allow for an awesome group bond with your fellow students. Nothing like role playing classroom chaos to bring you together! It allows you to network with future colleagues, and gives you a taste of what the real teaching life could be like. Unless you teach an online ESL class, you probably will need to get used to working a room and controlling the crowd.

[Not sure where to look? We’ll look for you — get matched with TEFL certification programs, like, NOW]

warm, natural light in classroom with a few long desks and chairs

If weekly lectures and discussions IRL aren’t your thing, TEFL certification online might be the perfect alternative.

👎 Downsides of getting a TEFL certification online

It can be a bit lonely in those pajamas working on your TEFL certification online. Sure, you got your cereal, but what about classmates? What about someone to ask when you missed an important tidbit of information? It can also be hard to stay motivated without the camaraderie of classmates and the motivation of an IRL instructor. That frown of disappointment is way stronger on an actual face than an emoticon, and so is the proud smile!

It’s important as well to do a practicum in your TEFL class, practicing teaching your classmates and then teaching actual ESL students. That can be done online, but it could be more difficult!

The biggest downside is that not all ESL jobs will rank online certificates as highly as they will in-person ones. They want to be sure you have that practicum, hands on experience, so the best jobs could go to the candidate with the in-person certificate. 

👎 Downsides of taking TEFL certification classes in-person

Taking TEFL certification classes in-person can be way harder to fit into a schedule — it means getting there and showing up wearing decent clothing and maybe showered (yes, shower. Hygiene is good!). It means you have to carve out a lot more time and it’s far more inflexible, you will have to make small talk with your teacher and classmates, and you might feel restricted to be present for every single class.

It’s also likely to cost more, in terms of the actual tuition and in terms of cost of transportation and/or boarding. 

[How to Get Your TEFL Certification Online]

Macbook computer in workspace with time shown on screen

Your TEFL certification classes can take place around YOUR busy schedule.

Bonus: Consider combo TEFL certification online AND in-person TEFL certification classes

But what about a combination of models for your TEFL certification classes? The best of both worlds! And the worst. But mostly the best! Have some flexibility, and some camaraderie. Wear your pajamas some day, wear clothes the other. Meet your classmates but then also go home and sit with your cat (Or dog. Or plant. Or whatever).

This could be ideal for someone who is busy, so is attracted to TEFL certification online, but also really wants that hands on classroom experience. This way you can have the peace and quiet of home to soak up lessons on grammar, and the energy of the classroom to test out your lesson plans. It can also suit both the introvert and extrovert learners, and challenge both to step outside their comfort zone! 

[Compare TEFL classes side-by-side with MyGoAbroad]

Other FAQs on TEFL courses

Do international schools have a preference on my certification?

Some do! Make sure you check before you apply to a course. The CELTA is one of the biggest ones that schools will require. Others won’t need a specific TEFL course (i.e. offered by a particular provider), but most want ones that are accredited, which means they have important components, like a certain amount of hours and a hands on practicum. But whether or not you earned your TEFL certification online on through TEFL certification classes doesn’t matter too much in the end (provided you paid attention and learned a skill or two!).

Research before you choose!

out of focus people sitting in shadows at tables engaged in discussion with laptops

Buuuuut, you do lose out on lively discussion, meeting future teachers, and making deeper personal connections with TEFL certification classes. 

Which style of teaching offers more accredited TEFL courses?

The in-person classes tend to be more highly respected and are likely more often accredited. If you are very serious about your ESL career, in-person and big names like the CELTA and Trinity are the way to go. 

Should I take 120 hour TEFL course (whether online or in-person?)

Yes! This is the recognized standard amount of hours for an accredited course, whether you take TEFL certification online or in-person. If you’re serious about teaching ESL, you need this. If you aren’t so serious, and are looking to simply pick up skills to volunteer for example, then it’s not so important. But hey, might as well get a real deal accredited certification while you’re working so hard right?

But even more important than the 120 hour is how they are used. For an accredited course, some of those hours have to be actual teaching hours. That means teaching ESL students, not just classmates. (Although classmates are great guinea pigs!)

[Here’s Why You Need an Online TEFL Course with Teaching Practice]

Does having a TEFL certificate guarantee me a job?

Nope. Some of the TEFL programs WILL guarantee job placement but not all of them. And of course even if you get a job, it’s up to you to keep it. Teaching is hard work. Having a certification in hand is a vital first step, but it doesn’t guarantee that you will suddenly have an amazing ESL career. That’s up to you!

Now enough about the basics. Let’s dive into who does it best. 

group of students studying together around table

In the end, whether you take classes in-person or online, your goals are all the same: get TEFL certified and teach English abroad!

What are the best jobs and programs for TEFL certification classes?

1. Earn a TEFL Certificate with Entrust TEFL

Get your certification in Thailand with Entrust! They are internationally accredited and provided guaranteed job placement. You can choose to have them set up housing for you and go on cultural excursions, or if you’re traveling on a tight budget you can customize their package with your own housing or no travel. They also have a legal team to support you with any work visa issues. 

Related: Read Reviews of Entrust | Visit their site

2. Take TEFL Certification Classes with Maximo Nivel

With Maximo Nivel you can get TEFL certified in Costa Rica, Guatemala or Peru. Their TEFL program is 150 hours long (over the 120 usual minimum!), and includes a practicum of teaching while being observed by experienced ESL teachers. On top of that, they even provide lifetime job-finding assistance with CV/resume and job-finding workshops!

Related: Read Reviews of Maximo Nivel | Visit their site

3. Get TEFL Certification Online with the University of Toronto

Delivered by TeachAway and designed by professors from the University of Toronto's Faculty of Education, this course is 100% online, allowing for flexibility on both your pace of learning and location. You can also choose how many hours you want to do - 100, 120 or 150. 

Related: Read Reviews of The University of Toronto TEFL course | Visit their site

4. Become TEFL Certified with The Language House TEFL

Study ESL teaching in beautiful Prague! This 4 week TEFL course has job placement help, 12-14 hours of teaching practice with real students, and it’s fully accredited. They also host fun events for TEFL students and alumni! 

Related: Read Reviews of The Language House TEFL | Visit their site

5. Complete TEFL Certification Through International TEFL & TESOL Training Online

Take your TEFL courses from anywhere in the world you choose. Through International TEFL & TESOL Training online, you can gain all the benefits of your TEFL certification from your very own home, and then plan your adventures abroad once you're an official TEFL graduate.

Related: Read Reviews of ITTT | Visit their site

Want more? Keep reading!

Pick which TEFL course is right for you

There are a lot of great TEFL courses out there — find out which one is best for you by searching through the many TEFL options and reading reviews! Getting TEFL certified is a great first step for a career change, a global experience, or to try out teaching. Find the course that meets your needs and will send you on your way to a fulfilling experience both for you and your future students.

Find TEFL courses now