Best TEFL Certification For Different Teachers

Anybody looking to teach ESL has probably wondered which is the best TEFL certification. I discussed in a prior article whether or not you need a TEFL certificate. For those who find themselves in need, let’s take a look at the best TEFL certification for different teachers according to what your goals are.

What are the different types of TEFL Certifications?

There are three main types of TEFL certification courses which are online, hybrid, and on site. Among these three certifications, there are also different course lengths ranging from 100 hours all the way to 320-hour courses and more. The minimum most schools around the world are going to be looking for will be a 120-course.

Online TEFL Course

An online TEFL course is one that is completely taught online. This is the base level of TEFL course and one that I would only recommend if you are trying to teach English online or if you will be teaching in a country that doesn’t have stringent regulations for teachers such as Cambodia or Mexico. Online TEFL courses cover the theory side of ESL teaching with no in-class practice. Be warned that if you are looking to teach in a market such as China or Japan or the United Arab Emirates schools will typically not accept the strictly online TEFL certification even if it is a 120-hour or more course. This doesn’t mean that the online certifications serve no purpose. If you are wanting to test the waters to see if you like teaching ESL without putting down the money for a more comprehensive but expensive TEFL course then the online certification can serve as a good starter until you decide to make the commitment and move to a higher end ESL market.

Blended Learning TEFL Course

The blended learning TEFL course (sometimes referred to as a hybrid TEFL course) is the minimum if you are looking at teaching in a country such as China where the schools are usually going to have more stringent expectations for how qualified teachers need to be. This doesn’t mean that every school in one of these countries is going to have strict standards but the general rule is that the fewer standards the school has the less they are probably going to pay. Blended learning TEFL courses merge online theory with offline practice. Those who take a blended learning TEFL course are recommended to take a 120-hour course at a minimum but will do well to look into a 140-hour class or higher. The first part of the course, which will be online, is the theory portion of the class which will cover different methods of teaching as well as classroom management strategies and will also provide you with different tools such as activities and lesson planning that will serve you in the ESL classroom. The second part will be the on-site portion which will involve in-class practice. This will usually be done abroad in a country where you can get a job teaching in after you complete your study. A hybrid TEFL certification will better prepare you for the realities of ESL teaching because of the in-class practice. If you are looking to teach English abroad without a university degree the onsite TEFL course can also be a good option to show schools you have the experience needed to teach.

Onsite TEFL Course

The final type of TEFL certification is onsite. This is a course that is conducted entirely in person from the theory training to the classroom practice. Onsite TEFL certifications generally are held in the highest regard as far as schools are concerned. If you are looking to teach in a premium ESL market such as in the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia or, at a more prestigious school where the standards for teachers are higher, this is generally going to be the type of certification they are going to be looking for. Generally, these courses will last 4 to 6 weeks and will include more rigorous and in-depth theory training as well as in-class training that will better prepare you to teach English abroad. 

What should I look for when selecting a TEFL course?


One thing to take into consideration before selecting a TEFL course is to look at whether the course you are taking is accredited. Any school worth working at is only going to hire teachers with an accredited TEFL certification from a known institution. This external accreditation is going to ensure that the program you are taking is of the highest quality and that the material being taught is both up to date and accurate. While there is no single accreditation organization some of the top and most respected in the industry are Training Qualifications UK (TQUK), Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), and the International Accreditation of TESOL Qualifying Organizations (IATQuO). There are many other accrediting organizations that are respected so just because the course you are looking at isn’t accredited by one of these three doesn’t mean you should discount it. Instead, take a look first and see if it is an accredited course and then check the accrediting body listed to make sure they are reputable and well-known so that you are getting only the best certification possible and the best return on your investment.

Job Placement

A quality TEFL course provider will offer job placement services as a part of the package. This is significant as it will ensure that you can easily find a job upon completion of your TEFL certification and will more easily be able to recoup the investment you made on the course. Make sure to look at the course provider before paying for anything and seeing if they guarantee job placement after completion and if not then realize they may not be a provider you wish to take a course from.

Course Location

If your end goal is to teach English abroad then taking either a hybrid TEFL course or, preferably, an onsite TEFL course is going to be important. When selecting which course you want to take it can be good to find one which is in the location you are wishing to teach. So, if you are taking a hybrid TEFL course and your end goal is to teach in Japan then signing up for a course where the final in-class training is located in Japan will go a long way in helping you to find a job when you are finished. If you are taking an onsite TEFL course and you want to work in Europe then taking the entire course in a European country is going to make it easier to get a job as you are going to be more familiar with the students and the challenges those specific students face when learning English.

What are the best TEFL certifications?

Best Online TEFL Certification

120 Hour Certification International Open Academy

This is the perfect option if you are looking to work online or if you are looking to get your foot in the door teaching abroad. The 120-hour online certification from the International Open Academy is composed of 10 different modules covering everything from teaching theory, methodology, classroom management, as well as a final section covering job placement and how to improve your odds of getting the exact job you want (improving your résumé is a good start). If you are looking to work in a market such as Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates or a prestigious school in China this may not be the best certification for you. These markets and schools are going to be looking for teachers with a number of years of experience and are going to be looking for on-site, or at the very least hybrid, TEFL/TESOL certifications. For everyone else, however, this certification is a perfect option.

Best Hybrid TEFL/TESOL Certification

International TEFL Academy Hybrid Course

As mentioned above, hybrid TEFL certifications combine online learning with real-world in-class teaching experience. The combined course offers the best of both the online as well as the on-site TEFL certifications in that you can study the material at your own pace but still get the classroom experience that will help to lay a solid foundation for your future teaching career. What I like the most about the International TEFL Academy hybrid TEFL certification is that they offer the in-class portion of the certification in over 20 different cities throughout the world. This is a great option if you are already traveling and don’t want to take a flight to another part of the world. The hybrid course is recommended for teachers who are looking for employment in more developed markets such as Japan and China or who will be applying in more competitive markets.

Price: The price for this will differ based on the city you decide to do your in-class training in.


Best Onsite TEFL/TESOL Certification

International TEFL Academy Onsite TEFL/TESOL Certification

This is the top of the line as far as TEFL/TESOL certifications go. If you are looking to work in a top market such as Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates or at a prestigious school in a country like Japan or China then this is the exact certification you are going to want. The onsite certification from the international TEFL academy is offered in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and North America so there are plenty of options for where you can travel and learn. This is going to be a thorough four weeks of learning combined with in-class experience that will set you up with a solid foundation to get the exact job you want.

Price: The price for this will differ based on the city you decide to do your in-class training in.

What are some final tips?

Often times people can get really hung up on the price of a TEFL course. Especially if you are looking to complete one of the onsite courses which can run significantly more than the online or hybrid. The thing to remember is that this is an investment in your career and will pay for itself. Probably quite quickly at that. For example, if you are a teacher with prior experience and looking to get into ESL teaching, then obtaining an onsite certification could help you to land a job in a high-end market like that of the United Arab Emirates where you can easily command a salary of $40,000 or more. The onsite TEFL certification, in this case, will have paid for itself in the first couple of weeks of teaching. Even if you are just looking at an online certification to teach online and you are able to use it to obtain a job at a higher paying company, you will have the course paid for in the first month of teaching. If you are willing to put in the time to obtain the certification then it will certainly make you a more appealing candidate when applying for jobs and can be a great tool for significantly increasing your income.