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How NOT to Get Screwed Over While Choosing the Best Online TEFL Course

How NOT to Get Screwed Over While Choosing the Best Online TEFL Course

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Teach English Abroad or Online

I paid over $1000 for an online TEFL course.

Yes. You read that right. No. You don’t need your eyes checked. Over one thousand dollars.

And in the end, I not only paid way too much, but I almost got totally screwed out of my accredited certificate too!

Fortunately, I went on to teach English in Thailand and begin my career as a happy professional nomad. But it could have gone so much worse. Which is why I’m here to save your ass from making the same mistake, and to tell you about the best TEFL course online you can take.

Not only is this course cheap, it’s everything you need to become an English teacher abroad or online.

*ALSO* I have a discount code waiting for you at the bottom of this post as well! Making this a damn cheap online TEFL course.

You’re welcome!

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Best Online TEFL Course

What is a TEFL Course?

TEFL is the acronym most commonly used for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. In order to get reputable jobs in foreign countries as an English teacher, you must be accredited by a reputable school.

When I first began my journey several years ago, there simply was not the information available that we have today, and even today it is still hard to figure out who to trust. Because I get asked all the time how I did it, where I got my certificate, and what I would recommend, I am laying it all out for you.

Finding an Accredited Online TEFL Course

Yes. Accredited. Accredited means the school is recognized as reputable enough to teach you a course and hand you a certificate of completion of said course. You need that certificate.

It’s funny. It’s really not hard to get accredited as a TEFL school, but some schools still don’t, or can’t get the accreditation—You DON’T want to take a TEFL course online with them!

woman typing on a laptop
Take my advice, learn from my mistakes!

Unless you are solely seeking enrichment, don’t bother to take a cheap TEFL course from a school that’s not fully accredited and internationally recognized. Go for the legit certificate because it will be required by most schools abroad worth its merit, which means the ones that will pay you a living wage.

What’s Involved in the Online TEFL Course?

In the online TEFL course, you’ll learn:

  • how to manage a classroom,
  • how to plan a lesson,
  • how to teach a foreign language to people who do not speak it at all,
  • how to teach to different age levels,
  • and you’ll get to practice your lessons.

All of this training will fill up a 120-hour course.

Trust me when I say to take the full 120 hours—you have to.

You’ll get extensive training through audio, video, and written communication. Remember that, like any other form of education, this is an investment in yourself and your future. It is the beginning of your English teaching career abroad.

It’s literally required that you take the 120-hour course as the other options are simply “refreshers” or for those with extensive experience already. If this isn’t you, you need the 120-hour course. This is also the course needed to obtain a work permit in most countries.

This course is what you need to teach English abroad and to students around the world.

Take the full TEFL course online, get certified, and then get out there and start your adventure.

Why take it online? It’s cheaper and much less taxing on your schedule. You can save money and time and get the exact same certificate.

If you were to take this course at the destination (if the area you desire offers an “on location” class), you’d be spending a hell of a lot more.

My Recommendation For the Best TEFL Course Online

Since I was so irritated by the fact that I grossly overpaid for a company that turned out to be highly irresponsible, so irresponsible that it lost its accreditation shortly after I received my own certificate (and was still giving them out), I have since done extensive research.

I can’t believe this company had the audacity to continue giving out certifications after they lost their accredited status! I was so lucky they lost it AFTER I received my TEFL but others weren’t so lucky… Don’t forget, this course was over $1000!

After years of experience, of talking to others, grilling the manager of the company (yes, because I don’t f*ck around with what I recommend to you guys!) the best TEFL course online I have found is myTEFL.

student reading a book outside
I wish I knew about myTEFL earlier

Take the full 120-hour course; the price is dirt cheap for what you get, which is extensive training, full-time tech support, access to a plethora of resources and research materials, and the certificate that virtually every school around the world will accept.

myTEFL even helps with job placement after you’ve graduated.

Take any other course that doesn’t provide the certificate and that’s not accredited and internationally recognized and you mine as well just make a bonfire with your money.

RELATED: Can You Teach English Online/Abroad Without a Degree?

A Cheap Online TEFL Course & Not Getting Screwed?

I know. I know. Especially if you are an American, you’re thinking, like we all do, you get what you pay for. You’re thinking you should take the more expensive course because you’ll get some big reputable company name or that dollars equal value received.

And quite often this concept is true.

But not here, not now, not with this course. You need the basic foundation to get you started on your English teacher adventures abroad, and you do not need to spend more than necessary. In fact, if you’re planning to follow in my highly active globetrotting footsteps, you’re gonna want to save as many pennies as you can.

Getting started with a life abroad is not cheap, and the last thing you want is to run out of money in a foreign country, TEFL certificate or not!

The fact is, most of these courses are pretty similar but no matter how much you pay, you get the same paper at the end of the day.

So, in reality, I actually paid more, didn’t get anything more, and nearly got screwed out of having a valid certification.

Uhm, yeah, thanks. I think I’ll just pay a few hundred bucks and get a legit certification from a trusted company, k thanks! If I had to do it all over again, I’d choose this course in a heartbeat.

myTEFL is cheap, it’s accredited, and it’ll get you what you need. Keep it simple.

Comparing Online TEFL Courses:

If you’re still suspicious, and you may not know me at all, so you think I might just be trying to sell you some raw deal, take a look at the comparison.

  • myTEFL – with this course you pay around $300 for 120 hours, tech support, a research library, accreditation, and intensive grammar and testing units. (Wait for it… It’s actually cheaper!)
  • TESOL Course – These guys have got a super cheap option! With way fewer resources and fewer hours of preparation. If you want anything on par with what you get through myTEFL, you’ll start paying above and beyond the $300 mark.
  • International TEFL Academy – The online course is almost $1500! That’s US dollars. No way. I don’t care how reputable a company is or how good the job placement. That’s too much money.
  • Teachaway – Even the budget option with Teachaway is $800, and you don’t even get 120 hours of training. If you want the full package, you’re gonna pay well over $1000. You don’t need the so-called “prestige,” nobody will care or notice!
  • Bridge – Bridge is a reputable company, for sure. And you can get everything with Bridge that you get from the cheap TEFL course online, at almost double the price. For what? A name. No way. In this case, I’m telling you, the name is not worth your hard-earned money.
woman behind a laptop
Online TEFL courses are far more practical.

Let’s just remember that while some of these names are great and I’m sure their courses are also amazing, you simply need the 120-hour course to be certified to teach English online or abroad.

That important certification is provided by all of the choices mentioned above. Most schools hiring abroad or online just want a certificate. They are not checking the name and the “prestige” that’s aligned with it.

Not Being Prepared Enough to Teach English Abroad

Some may argue that they want to pay more for better preparation. Well, I paid more and wasn’t prepared any more or less than everyone else teaching at my school. Yep, I literally didn’t feel an ounce more prepared than anyone else and here’s the shocker…

NONE of these online TEFL courses are going to really prepare you. Sure they will help with introducing you to teaching English, tips, lesson plan ideas, how to deal with certain situations, etc… You’ll learn a lot.

But make no mistake, nothing, and I mean, NOTHING will prepare you for walking into a classroom of 50 Thai high school students who barely know how to count in English or answer the question, “how are you.”

That was the situation I was thrown into and I had to figure out how to swim all on my own. The reality is, this situation will be just as foreign to you as the English language is to your students.

You’ll just have to jump off the deep end and figure things out for yourself. Nobody will expect you to be perfect and know what you’re doing on day 1.

This is where you’re just going to get up there, do your best, and get better as the days go on. No online course out there in the world can truly prepare you for your first class. And that’s why taking more courses and paying more money doesn’t matter.

I hope that last bit didn’t put you off because teaching English abroad is SO incredible and you’ll start loving it very quickly, it does take some getting used to though, just like any other job.

FAQ For Getting an Online TEFL Course:

In case you’re wondering, yes, I know exactly what you’re thinking! I’ve been there! So let’s answer some of your burning questions…

Does This Online TEFL Course Work for Teaching Online? Or Abroad? Both?

Yep, both! So no matter what you’re thinking of doing after completing this online TEFL course, you’ll be good to go. This certification is recognized worldwide, and as we spoke about, as long as they are certified, nothing else really matters. Most online schools and schools abroad will just ask to see your certificate, and that’s it.

Why Don’t I Just Get my TEFL Certification Abroad?

That’s totally up to you. In fact, myTEFL has onsite courses too but just know a few things…

  • It’s more expensive.
  • It’s a bit harder. You have to show up to classes as opposed to doing an online TEFL certification—which means you can do it in your PJs at home when you feel like it.
  • Less time to save money before your trip! You won’t be working while you’re doing your TEFL on-site and you’ll be spending money on living costs, food, etc…

For these reasons, I decided to do my TELF course online but doing one on-site can be great too. You’ll meet friends right away and get immersed in the culture sooner. So there are certainly some benefits as well.

Why Are You Recommending this Online TEFL Course?

Because this blog actually started when I was teaching in Thailand and people kept asking questions about how I was doing it! Shortly after, I realized my online TEFL course totally screwed me out of a pretty chunk of change and I wanted a good online TEFL course to recommend.

So I scoured and researched and grilled the managers of several TEFL companies. This one was the most efficient, honest, and reasonably priced course I found. I’ve been recommending this one for years and have had literally hundreds of people take the course through my recommendations and they are off teaching English somewhere else in the world or online right now.

Do I 100% NEED a TEFL To Teach English?

In short, no, you don’t. But MOST schools will want one. Many schools have it as a requirement for getting a working visa (it was a requirement for me when I taught in Thailand). And most online schools would prefer it.

I.E. The person who has one will likely get hired over the other!

How to Teach Abroad - The Guide to English Teaching Anywhere
Chances are, you need a TEFL to teach.

If you have a BA in teaching, have had years and years of teaching English experience, etc, you probably don’t need one. But if you have never taught English a day in your life, have zero experience, and want a better chance of actually getting hired and being LEGAL by getting a work permit, then you need to do an online TEFL course.

Also, you stand a chance to get paid more when you have a certification in some situations.

So I guess the long answer is more, “yes” you do need one. I assume most people reading are not qualified teachers and want more money so if that’s you, grab a TEFL and make life easier.

Do I Really Need the 120 Hour Online TEFL Course? Why Not the 40 Hour?

Anything below the 120-hour course is a waste and I would not recommend doing them. They are “testers” and “refreshers” which means they are dipping your toes in to see if teaching really is for you. Or if you’ve done a TEFL course, to refresh your knowledge.

You need to do the 120-hour online TEFL course
See – you need to do the 120-hour online TEFL course (Oh, and that price is discounted, just see below…)

This very unlikely applies to you. You NEED the 120-hour course because this is the only one recognized internationally to qualify you to teach at schools abroad and students abroad if you’re online. It literally says it right there on the course so you know what to look for when shopping around for online TEFL courses regardless if you buy this one or not.

Is There Even Such a Thing as an “Accredited” School?

Actually, no. Currently, there isn’t an actual governing body that deems an online TEFL school “accredited.” There are “accredited” TEFL schools by other standards we can use to pick and choose the scams out though! A few hints that a place is “accredited” (AKA reliable) or not…

  • They offer too low of a price (looking at you $39 TEFL certificates)
  • They don’t offer a class above 100 hours. 120 hours is the most widely used and recognized amount of hours a class should be and is literally a requirement for those wanting to teach abroad and obtain a work permit in many countries.
  • They are reputable, are recommended by many, and are established. If JoShmo TEFL is on your mind, you may want to rethink it! myTEFL is everywhere and you’ll find many people recommending them.

RELATED: How to Teach English Online From Home + 29 Schools to Apply To

Getting Started Teaching After Your Online TEFL Course

Ah, you didn’t think I was going to leave you hanging, did you?

I know this is a scary AF. You’re about to pick up, move to another country, just to do a job you have never done before. EKK!

Sorry, I don’t mean to freak you out even more but let me just say—YOU GOT THIS.

It sounds scary, it’s new, and things won’t go perfectly but you got this and everything is going to be OK. Aside from kind words and some motivation, lemme actually give ya some resources, right?

Here are a few immensely helpful posts that will help you before, during and after you get your online TEFL course:

Let’s wrap this up, shall we? I have one last thing for you… and bit of a surprise!

I have a discount code for you—Code: nina35—making this course even cheaper!

That’s nearly $100 off this online TEFL course. Yeah, this option is way better than when I did it, take advantage while you can.

Best of luck, future teacher! I owe everything to the opportunity I had teaching abroad and online. It’s why and how I’m still on the road. I might not be teaching anymore at this time but it’s what started it all for me and I’m forever grateful.

It’s a great experience and I wish you the best.

Click here to purchase your 120-hour online TEFL course and don’t forget code: nina35 for a discount!

So have you found your perfect online TEFL course that won’t rob you blind here? Let me know in the comments and tell me where you’re going to teach!

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Choosing an Online TEFL Course


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Tuesday 1st of December 2020

A million and one thank you for this informative article. After many years of wanting to take a certification class but unable because of finances and time. I’m happy to say I just signed up! I’m excited to start this new chapter. Thank you again.

Nina Ragusa

Wednesday 2nd of December 2020

Yay! Congrats! Best of luck :)

cate aray

Saturday 6th of June 2020

Hi! I have just enrolled in mytefl, thank you for giving me some confidence in choosing a program!

I chose the 120 hour program. I wondering do you know if it typically takes the full 120 hours or if people typically complete it faster than that?

Thanks! Cate

Nina Ragusa

Sunday 7th of June 2020

Great Cate! You can certainly finish it sooner :)


Thursday 7th of May 2020

Hi Nina! Just wondering if you could suggest a good refresher course for those exceptions amongst us! I did the CELTA many many years ago but haven't taught since then. Could do with something to jog the memory and give me a confidence boost before getting back on the saddle! Many thanks..!! Great blog!

Nina Ragusa

Friday 8th of May 2020

Thanks Angharad, good question. I haven't done any myself but I do believe MYTEFL has a refresher course too! And my discount would apply to those courses as well. Take a look at the other courses they offer and make sure they are what you're looking for. Sorry I don't have any personal experience with them so can't say anything for sure :)


Thursday 16th of April 2020

Hi Nina! Thank you for this. Would you be willing to weigh in any thoughts on groupon offers? I found this groupon that is supposedly 86% off for $29 USD through Learntefl. I didn't see anything about accreditation on their site so I sent them an email and they replied assuring me they were accredited through IARC (International Approval and Recognition Council).

For what it's worth, I'm an American native english speaker and was teaching English as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Lesotho before we were evacuated due to COVID-19, so I'm just looking for getting my TEFL to sort of "check the box."

Thanks for your advise! You're an inspiration!

Nina Ragusa

Thursday 16th of April 2020

Lots of bad quality classes and courses are on Groupon. Not sure if it's good enough to get you teaching abroad in some countries (as some need a legit physical certification to give you a working visa), you won't learn much, and I've heard of higher quality schools (online and abroad) not accepting those types but it's your call. You will probably be able to get away with it with some online schools but you get what you pay for. I wouldn't want to be in the position where if I only paid a bit more, I could have gotten a more legit certification. I think they are often scammy and worthless but that's just me. That's why I found this one, which is one of the more reasonably priced schools while still offering value and being 100% legit. Not familiar with that accreditation, I just know IATEFL is the most popular I believe. Best of luck!


Thursday 20th of February 2020

Thank you. I'm about to embark on the course. I've wanted to do this for a long time, but my current colleagues sucking the life out of me plus your blog... I'm doing it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Nina Ragusa

Friday 21st of February 2020

Wooo! Amazing :) Go for it!

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