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Getting a TEFL Certification is an Essential First Step to a Successful ESL Career

No matter where or how you plan to teach English as a foreign language, obtaining a TEFL certification is important, and in most cases, necessary. Most countries where ESL jobs are in abundance now require teachers to have both a university degree as well as a TEFL certification. Without these, your chances of landing a stable, legal job as an English teacher are severely limited. This is also true for online teaching positions, as companies increasingly require their teachers have both qualifications.

As such, many TEFL certification courses have sprung up, particularly online, to take advantage of this requirement. However, not all TEFL courses are equal. Many are, unfortunately, more focused on selling you a qualification rather than adequately preparing you to become a successful ESL teacher.

Paths to Complete Your TEFL Certification

Generally, there are no prerequisites to taking a TEFL certification course, and typically anyone above the age of 18 can be enrolled and complete their TEFL qualification. There are different types of TEFL certificates, and different ways one can complete their certification. The three paths to getting TEFL certified are:

  • Online TEFL certification
  • Blended TEFL certification
  • In-Person TEFL certification

When deciding which path you want to take, it’s important to consider your longer-term career goals.

Online TEFL Certification

An online certification is completely delivered online, and most courses currently focus on learning theorem and concepts, with no practical teaching component. Some higher quality providers have incorporated an online practical component within their courses, enabling enrollees to practice teaching ESL learners inside a virtual classroom. We expect this to become more common as the take-up of online learning increases. For the moment, however, we recommend this path to people who wish to pursue a career as an online ESL teacher.

Blended TEFL Certification

For most people who intend to teach English overseas, a blended learning TEFL certification will be the most logical choice. It offers you a convenient and flexible way to learn the theoretical and conceptual aspects of teaching English as a foreign language through online self-study, and couples that with a practical component attained through classroom-based teaching. As most people who intend to teach English abroad will invariably be teaching in a physical classroom, this path equips ESL teachers with the qualifications and experience needed to succeed in the classroom.

In-Person TEFL Certification

Certified teachers and highly experienced TEFL teachers who intend to teach abroad at top international schools, public schools, and universities that offer high salaries and benefits packages will best accomplish their career goals by completing an in-class TEFL certification. This is because many top paying institutions, particularly those in the Middle East, do not presently recognize online TEFL certifications (or online university degrees). An in-class TEFL certification also gives you the best opportunity to learn and practice alongside others, make new friends and acquaintances, and complete the practical component in a classroom with ESL learners. Another distinct benefit of the in-class path is that some TEFL certification providers offer their courses in countries where English is not predominantly spoken. This gives you a wonderful opportunity to study and complete a TEFL certification in a romantic or exotic city, and get a feel for what it’s really like to live and work in a foreign country.

Which TEFL Certifications Do We Recommend?

Seeking out a quality TEFL certification program today can be a bit nerve-racking due to the sheer number of course providers. That said, among what we consider to be reputable TEFL certification course providers, there is a vast improvement in the quality of their courses, as well as a commitment to adhering to high standards. All three providers we recommend offer TEFL certifications that qualify as Level 5 qualifications under The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) of the Government of the United Kingdom. If it all sounds complex to you, we want to keep things simple for you, and assure you that all three providers are the top of the class in delivering TEFL training and certification.

In selecting which TEFL certification provider we recommend (and have partnered with), it’s important to note that we have personally audited and have carefully reviewed their blended coursesYou can read our reviews of each provider to get a better sense of what their courses offer and which one is ideal for your personal situation. All three providers offer in-person courses as well – if you are interested in taking an in-person TEFL certification, we recommend International TEFL Academy as the best option.


  • Level 5 UK Certification
  • 180-hour Blended Course
  • 65+ hour Live Practicum
  • $200-$300 Tuition

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  • Level 5 UK Certification
  • 180-hour Blended Course
  • 20-hour Live Practicum
  • $400 - $500 Tuition

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  • Level 5 UK Certification
  • 150-hour Blended Course
  • 20-hour Live Practicum
  • $1400 Tuition

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