A Review of the The TEFL Academy
Level 5 168-Hour Online TEFL Certification
The TEFL Academy 168-hour Online TEFL Certification is the ideal choice for career-minded ESL teachers who want to earn an Ofqual Level 5 TEFL Certification. This qualification will more than satisfy most ESL job requirements without breaking the bank.
About The TEFL Academy
The TEFL Academy was founded in 2012 in the UK, and while it is one of the newer TEFL certification providers on the scene, it enjoys a special place among the few providers currently offering Ofqual Level 5 TEFL certifications. What this means is that its TEFL certification courses are put through a rigorous audit to ensure they comply with Ofqual, a UK Government department which regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments.
Here is what Ofqual states as its responsibilities:
We’re responsible for making sure that:
regulated qualifications reliably indicate the knowledge, skills and understanding students have demonstrated
assessments and exams show what a student has achieved
people have confidence in the qualifications that we regulate
students and teachers have information on the full range of qualifications that we regulateSource: Ofqual
As such, The TEFL Academy’s Level 5 TEFL certification is an officially-recognized qualification, so anyone planning to embark on a career in TEFL can do no wrong by earning this certification. To put things into perspective, the Cambridge CELTA is a Level 5 qualification. So, in essence, The TEFL Academy’s TEFL certification is an equivalent to the CELTA in terms of its Level 5 qualification.
The TEFL Academy’s courses are accredited by Qualifi, an Ofqual recognized accreditation body in the UK. The TEFL Academy has also taken the additional step of gaining accreditation by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), an accreditation body recognized by the US Department of Education.
Courses Offered by The TEFL Academy
What sets The TEFL Academy apart from its competitors is that it offers only one 168-hour TEFL Certification course, which can be completed either completely online or as a combined course. Many providers offer a wide range of courses, which can get confusing for prospective students who don’t know which course is right for them.
The fact of the matter is that the ESL industry generally regards 120 hours as the minimum study hours for a valid TEFL certification. Most quality employers will be looking at this when examining your TEFL qualifications. Any course which can be completed in fewer than 100 hours is insufficient, while courses which require more than 200 hours to complete are usually unnecessary. You should be well-equipped to teach English to ESL learners by completing a course within 200 hours. Level 5 TEFL qualifications include at least 150 hours of course study. While the number of study hours itself does not define the quality of a TEFL course, a course must have enough depth of content to adequately impart knowledge, skills and understanding required for the qualification to have any true value.
Therefore, the 168-hour Level 5 TEFL Certification course offered by The TEFL Academy is more than adequate for gaining qualifications to teach English to ESL learners, and the company has made it extremely simple by offering just the one course.
That said, when you enroll in the Level 5 TEFL Certification course, you will also receive one of The TEFL Academy’s top-up courses free of charge. Many other providers charge extra tuition for their extension courses, so this is a nice bonus for completing your TEFL certification with The TEFL Academy.
Let’s have a look at the courses on offer:
Ofqual Level 5 Courses
- Online Level 5 TEFL Course (168 Hours)
- Combined Level 5 TEFL Course (148 Hours Online Course + 20 Hours Classroom Course)
Top-up Courses (free when enrolling in the Level 5 TEFL course)
- Teaching Young Learners (30 Hours)
- Teaching Business English (30 Hours)
- Teaching English Online and 1-to-1 (30 Hours)
Diving Into The TEFL Academy 168-Hour Level 5 Online TEFL Certification
The TEFL Academy has neatly organized its online certification course into 10 units, providing a complete set of skills designed to prepare you to get started as ESL teachers. Each unit focuses on specific aspects of teaching English to ESL learners.
When you login to the training portal, you are immediately taken to a dashboard where you have access to the course and a TEFL glossary for common lingo used in the industry. There is also a notification reminding you that submitted assignments will be assessed by a qualified tutor, usually within 5 business days, which gives you a sense of comfort and encouragement that you are not merely going through an automated online course, but that your enrollment in the course involves being assessed by a qualified ESL professional.
Within your dashboard, you can navigate from one unit to the next as you go through the course. You can also navigate to other key sections of the course. For example, in the Competencies section, you can track your progress through the course and the competencies you have developed along the way, or the Grades section, where you can see your unit test grades, assignment grades, and overall course grade.
Each unit has specific outcomes defining what you competencies you will have gained by the end of the unit. The content in the units are organized into “Steps”. You must complete Step 1 before gaining access to Step 2, and so on. This keeps you from getting distracted and wandering around the course while not ever completing it. Completing the course step-by-step makes it easy for you to stay focused on the task at hand.
Towards the end of each unit, there is a Further Reading section where you can find additional references to enhance your understanding of the theme and concepts covered in the unit.
Finally, before completing the unit, you will have to pass a test before you can proceed to the next unit.
In-depth Content and Solid Delivery
The course covers every core aspect of being a quality ESL teacher that both employers and students expect. Here’s a breakdown of the topics covered:
- Lesson Planning
- Teaching English Vocabulary
- Teaching Pronunciation
- Understanding English Grammar
- Teaching Receptive Skills: Listening and Reading
- Teaching Productive Skills: Speaking and Writing
- Teaching English Grammar
- Principles of Teaching English as a Foreign Language
- Materials and Aids for Teaching English/Classroom Management Strategies
- Using Resources Effectively when Teaching English as a Foreign Language
- Case Study, CV and Cover Letter, Job Sites and Resources
Actionable Information and Advice
Enrollees are assigned to specific course tutors who will monitor their progress, grade their assignments, and provide support as needed. In fact, The TEFL Academy has set up an Online Course Tutor Support website where you can submit support tickets and track every support request with a complete archive of the communication you’ve had with your assigned tutor.
There are three assignments to complete during the course. The first one is assigned after you have finished the first five units. Detailed instructions and templates are provided for you to complete the assignments, and, as mentioned, students can seek help from their tutors via the support website.
The assignments are not a cakewalk. That’s not actually a bad thing, as it’s proof positive that you must actually study and make the effort to successfully complete assignments to earn your TEFL qualification. After all, if you’re paying for a legitimate, government-regulated qualification, you would not expect to complete it without any difficulty. The assignments are designed to aid you in developing key skill sets needed for planning and delivering lessons, and supporting the development of your students.
Naturally, we can’t reveal any information about assignments, because they are intended only for students enrolled in the course, and spilling that information to the public would be a disservice to those who pay for the course and to The TEFL Academy itself.
Examples of assignments you can expect create specific lesson plans for teaching various English language skills and in different contexts, and writing an essay, which will likely require you to conduct some research.
Anyone graduating from the 168-hour Level 5 TEFL course will gain valuable knowledge and a genuine appreciation for teaching English to ESL learners. The course itself can be completed within 4 – 5 weeks if you are committed, though you have up to 6 months to complete the course. This should be ample time to complete the course and gain your TEFL certification.
Beyond the core course content, The TEFL Academy also includes a module for preparing a CV (résumé) and cover letter. This is invaluable for anyone who finds writing a resume or cover letter on their own difficult.
What About the Combined Course?
The combined course option simply augments the online certification course by providing enrollees with the opportunity to practice what they have learned through 20 hours of classroom based instruction. This is particularly beneficial for people who plan to teach English in a physical classroom either at home or abroad, as well as for people who prefer/enjoy learning in a classroom environment. The classroom based course happens over a weekend, and courses are offered in several locations across UK, Europe, USA, and Canada. The weekend course is intensive, but the advantage is that you get it done in two days, which is especially advantageous if you have other commitments during the week.
What Can Be Improved?
While there is always room for improvement, it’s really hard to find fault with this course. The TEFL Academy has arguably put together the most complete and well-structured TEFL certification course we have reviewed, and it’s no small compliment to say that the course has been designed to prepare ESL teachers for real-life teaching.
A few course graduates have commented that the turnaround for assessing assignments is a bit slow. Any experienced ESL teacher will attest that assessing students’ assignments is not fast work, and it requires intense concentration and patience to review essays, lesson plans and other assignments.
Having said that, people who have paid for the course may need to have a TEFL certificate in time for employment and work visas, and the time to wait could impact getting these sorted out in time. Still, this is not entirely the responsibility of The TEFL Academy. If you are planning on a career abroad as an ESL teacher, you really should be planning to earn your TEFL qualification, as it is one of the key qualifications needed to secure a legitimate job and work visa in most countries. Why travel abroad without the qualifications in hand? As it is, many countries now require that your documents (including your TEFL certificate) be apostilled prior to granting you a visa.
After all, the course can be completed within one month of committed study, and you have up to six months of access to complete the course.
So, yes, perhaps The TEFL Academy could do better with their turnaround for grading and providing feedback for assignments, but they do provide fair warning to students to allow 5 business days for their tutors to assess assignments and provide feedback.
Who Is This Course For?
This course is ideal for practically anyone aspiring to become a qualified ESL teacher. As an Ofqual-regulated and accredited qualification, The TEFL Academy’s Level 5 TEFL Certification is a fantastic option for both online ESL teachers and anyone planning a career teaching English abroad. Considering that one top-up course is offered free of charge to enrollees in the Level 5 TEFL Certification course, you will acquire more than enough skills to back up your paper qualifications as an ESL teacher.
If you are planning for a career abroad, you may also want to consider taking the Combined Level 5 TEFL Certification. The TEFL Academy has one of the largest networks of locations for completing the 20 hour classroom course component, with locations across the UK, Europe, Canada, and USA. Many graduates of the combined course have expressed extreme satisfaction with taking the course, due to its highly interactive and engaging atmosphere, where enrollees can practice what they have learned in the online course.
The 168-hour Level 5 Online TEFL Certification tuition fee is regularly priced at $530. This is significantly less expensive than many other Level 5 TEFL qualifications.
The 168-hour Level 5 Combined TEFL Certification tuition fee is regularly priced at $820, as it incorporates 20 hours of real classroom practice alongside 148 hours of online study.