TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is a fantastic paid job to support yourself while traveling abroad. In fact, it may be the most popular way for English-speaking travelers to start their journey.
Teaching English supported me when I booked my one-way ticket to Thailand and lived in Southeast Asia. I still highly recommend doing an online TEFL course for anyone eager to travel and who wants a paid teaching job to support themselves while they do so.
Before you book that flight, which are the best TEFL courses to take? There’s a high demand for certified TEFL teachers, and that means a competitive market. You want to stand out amongst the crowd, and getting a certificate helps (and is often necessary!)
Even if you don’t have a job lined up, a TEFL certification in your back pocket goes a long way.
PS – Stick with me! I have some discount codes for you too!
Best Online TEFL Courses
Now I know you’re a busy person, and you might be looking for a quick list of TEFL courses, so you can get up and get started—which I LOVE! I’m an impatient person, so I know how you feel.
Lucky for you, I have exactly that just below. But if you want to stick around, I’ll also be getting into how I nearly got screwed out of my TEFL certification, all your frequently asked questions on getting an online TEFL, and maybe even some questions you haven’t even thought to ask!
So, for all my impatient people, here’s the quick list with links and codes to all the discounted TEFL programs! The rest of you… Keep on reading!
My Experience With an Online TEFL Course—I Made the Mistakes So You Don’t Have To!
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.
When I first began my journey several years ago, there simply was not the same information available that we have today, and even today, it is still hard to figure out who to trust. I ended up grossly overpaying for my online certification, AND I later found out the school I went through lost its accreditation.
In other words, I got kinda scammed. Luckily my certification was still valid, but other people who used that company (that no longer exists) weren’t so lucky! This is why I’m here—to save your ass from making the same mistake and to tell you about the best online TEFL courses you can take.
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. Not only are these courses affordable, but they also provide you with everything you need to become an English teacher abroad or online.
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.
A good TEFL course trains you to teach English to anyone hoping to use it as a second language. With the right course, you’ll learn how to develop proper lesson plans and organize a structured curriculum.
TESOL VS TEFL
What is TESOL, and how does it compare to TEFL? I get this question many times, but the two are basically the same. TESOL stands for ‘Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.’
The main distinction between them is that TEFL is more specifically for countries where English is a foreign language. But TESOL also includes teaching English as a second language where it’s the predominant language.
Despite the slight distinction, both courses prepare you to teach English to non-English speaking individuals. As long as you take an accredited course of 120+ hours, one isn’t necessarily better than the other. And companies will accept your online TEFL certificate, regardless of the acronym.
Why Do You Need a TEFL Course?
Obtaining a TEFL certificate is essential if you’re trying to get a paid job. While finding work without taking a TEFL course is possible, don’t expect decent pay.
120-hour TEFL courses are the norm, and it takes an average of 10-12 weeks to earn your certificate, though some programs can be completed faster. This is the standard that most places abroad look for when hiring their TEFL teachers.
I wouldn’t recommend getting courses any shorter than 120 hours, since they won’t help you find work abroad.
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!
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.
How to sniff out a sub-par TEFL Course:
- 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.
What’s Involved in an Online TEFL Course?
In a good 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 different age levels,
- and you’ll get to practice your lessons.
All of this training will fill up a 120-hour course.
The best TEFL courses offer 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.
Take a full online TEFL course, get certified, and then get out there and start your adventure!
The Best Online TEFL Courses
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!
If you’re itching for a TEFL teaching job but don’t have tons of cash to splash, I got you covered. There are thousands of TEFL courses out there, and prices vary by a wide range.
HINT: You DON’T need to spend tons of money on the best TEFL course!
Follow this guide to obtain a TEFL certificate from a legit company without going bankrupt. When you find the right online TEFL course, you’re on your way to obtaining a paid travel job!
1. myTEFL – Online TEFL Course—MY PICK!
After years of experience, talking to others, and grilling the manager of the company (yes, because I don’t f*ck around with what I recommend to you guys!), the best online TEFL course I have found is myTEFL.
myTEFL is the online TEFL course I recommend the most because it has tremendous value for aspiring TEFL teachers. The 120-hour course has all the needed course materials and 24/7 tutor support to answer your questions.
You’ll have three months to complete the course, so it keeps you on a steady pace to learn the material. When you finish the curriculum, myTEFL even provides a letter of recommendation to help you find a job.
If you need help organizing your lessons after graduation, myTEFL gives you six months of access to their resources. myTEFL support is always available whenever you require assistance finding employment.
The course helps you with lesson planning and offers tips on different teaching techniques for all skill levels. For a quality price, myTEFL is among the best online TEFL courses on the market.
- Job placement assistance
- Course content is available for six months after completion
- Virtual tutor support
- Detailed course modules
- You can finish the course quicker if you have the time to
- Lacks teaching practice and in-class instructional videos
PRICE: $150 with code nina50 (normally $299 – save 50%)
2. i-to-i – Online TEFL Course
i-to-i scores high marks for their extensive certificates and diplomas for those wishing to teach English. Start earning quickly with their 120-hour course, it is a definite bang for your buck.
The program typically costs $299, but discounts frequently bring down the overall cost. Their accessible material lets you work on the computer or from your phone.
With their detailed tutor feedback, i-to-i helps guide you through the English-teaching basics you’ll need for success. It’s among the best online TEFL courses for newbies who want to earn their certificate in 6 weeks, but you can work at your desired pace with help from your online tutor.
- Detailed tutor feedback
- Great budget choice for beginners
- Extensive resource materials
- Easy to interpret lessons
- Lacks customer support
- Some students report lessons being too easy
PRICE: $129 with this link (normally $299 – save 55%)
3. Premier TEFL – Online TEFL Course
Premier TEFL has a global reputation with graduates in 89 countries worldwide. Their 120-hour Advanced TEFL course puts you on the fast track to becoming certified to teach English.
The course takes 3-6 weeks to complete and comes at a budget-friendly price for consumers. With lessons divided into small learning blocks, the 10 modules are easy to interpret.
Course materials teach the key aspects of teaching language, grammar, reading, speaking, and writing to students of all levels. When you complete the course, Premier TEFL provides a letter of reference for potential employers. And their staff assists you with landing a job or paid TEFL internship upon course completion.
- Modules come with end-of-lesson videos and assessment
- Mobile app to access lessons
- Course material available for six months
- Offers paid TEFL internships
- Customer support could use improvement
- No in-class teaching practicum
4. UNI-Prep Institute – Online TEFL Course
UNI-Prep Institute offers two online TESOL programs that help you teach English just about anywhere. Their 120-hour TESOL Certificate comes with tutor support, video lessons, and job support upon completion.
Past participants rave about the time flexibility to complete the course and its teaching methods. Those eager to get their certificate and get to work can complete the course in 2-4 weeks.
The video lessons are easy to follow and teach you master strategies to use in the classroom. Their specialty modules help you instruct a wide range of students either online or in-person. And UNI-Prep Institute is among the most affordable online TEFL courses to make an incredible value for customers.
- Tutor & job support
- Time flexibility
- TESOL specialization courses available
- Good value
- High demand causes lower feedback
- Specialty modules contain lots of info to absorb
PRICE: $195 with this link (normally $300 – save 35%)
5. International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT) – Online TEFL Course
ITTT has been a leader in online TEFL courses for over 20 years and offers a wide range of classes. With 120,000+ graduates worldwide, they’re pros at getting you ready to teach English abroad.
ITTT works alongside recruitment agencies and prestigious schools to provide graduates many job placement opportunities. Their online and in-person courses have tutor support with qualified instructors.
The 120-hour course has all the needed materials and gives you plenty of time flexibility. Half the curriculum focuses on teaching skills imperative to teach your future students.
With 20 distinct units, the course doesn’t bombard you with too much info at once. Upon graduation, ITTT provides teaching materials and assistance to land a job for your entire TEFL career.
- Job placement assistance
- 20+ years of experience teaching students
- Advanced courses available
- Tutor support from highly-trained teachers
- Some lesson plans lack feedback
- More teaching practice would be helpful
PRICE: $249 with this link (save 10%)
6. TEFLPros – Online TEFL Course
TEFLPros gives students maximum flexibility to complete their accredited online TEFL course. Most students complete the course within 6 weeks, but you can work through lessons at your desired pace. TEFLPros does a fantastic job teaching practical skills you need in the classroom.
The amount of in-class and instructional videos is second to none. The 120-hour class is slightly pricier than others, but they do an excellent job preparing future teachers.
Another cool feature is TEFLPros lets you do a trial run before you’re ready to commit to the course. Give the module a try and see if teaching English is the right travel job for you. When you finish the course, TEFLPros provide resources for your job search.
- In-class observation videos
- Free trial run
- Includes teacher portfolio to receive feedback
- Extensive resource materials
- Lacks job placement services
7. The TEFL Academy – Online TEFL Course
The TEFL Academy is committed to ensuring TEFL instructors have all the needed resources to work after graduation. And with their Online Level 5 TEFL Course, you’ll receive 168 hours of training.
That’s well over the 120-hour threshold required by most companies to secure employment. And if you ever want real class experience before you jet off, the TEFL Academy has tons of in-class locations.
Their online course is on par with the CELTA and Trinity CertTESOL qualifications, so you’ll stand out amongst the competition. Expect 4-6 weeks minimum to complete the course, though the resources are available for 6 months.
The course consists of 10 units with exams to assess your capabilities after each unit. And with tutor support and job placement assistance, it’s a top-notch online TEFL course for the price.
- Tutor support
- Job placement assistance
- In-person locations for teaching practice
- 6 months’ access to course material
- Level 5 TEFL Certificate
- Some students report slow customer service
- Lots of info that can potentially overwhelm some students
- Pricier if not on sale
PRICE: $139 with this link (normally $348 – save 60%)
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 an 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 to consider…
- 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.
This can be a great option for some, and these TEFL courses abroad don’t even require a bachelor’s degree, which may work out really well for some of you!
Do I 100% NEED a TEFL To Teach English?
In short, no, you don’t—not 100% of the time. 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 require it as well.
I.E. The person who has one will likely get hired over the other!
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?
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.
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 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 one of the ones I’ve recommended or not.
How Do I Find the Sweet Spot of A Not Too Cheap and Not Too Expensive Online TEFL Course?
Finding that sweet spot can be tricky, so let me spell it out for you in detail.
Don’t go too cheap.
It’s not uncommon to run across advertisements claiming to sell the cheapest TEFL courses on the web. Groupon is one such website that always promotes these deals.
But should you trust the fine print of these wicked cheap deals? My advice is to steer clear at all costs. It will only cause you future headaches when trying to land a solid English teaching job.
I’ve literally seen Groupon offer 120-hour TEFL courses for $30 or $40, but your antennas should go up with those prices. It’s awesome to save money, but purchase a TEFL course too cheap, and you’ll sacrifice quality.
And you want an accredited online TEFL course that makes you competitive in the market. Here are the problems you’ll run into with a Groupon TEFL course and why you should avoid these.
- Lack of accreditation – If your TEFL course lacks accreditation, you won’t get hired.
- No quality – You get what you pay for and these courses trade quality for price. If buyers complete the course in a few days, major red flag.
- Limited support – Once you purchase the course, good luck finding help for your questions or job search support afterward.
- Hidden Costs – These courses often sneakily slip in extra fees that don’t save you much money in the first place. So, you’ll receive a bunk course and cough up more change. A double whammy!
Of course, people HAVE gotten jobs just using one of these cheap TEFL courses from Groupon before. It’s just a matter of certain schools that may not accept this type of course, and then you lose out on an opportunity because you didn’t spend a little more on a legit course. With that said…
While you don’t want to totally cheap out, spending crazy cash as I did does not mean that you’re getting the best TEFL course out there.
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 with a TEFL course. You need the basic foundation to get started on your English teacher adventures abroad, but 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 a cheaper course in a heartbeat.
myTEFL is cheap, it’s accredited, and it’ll get you what you need. Keep it simple.
Will an online TEFL Course Prepare Me To Teach English Abroad?
Here comes a hard truth. Even the best TEFL courses can’t prepare you completely for teaching 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. But it does take some getting used to, just like any other job.
So Which is the Best TEFL Course?!
If you really want my opinion, I’d say myTEFL is the best online FEFL course, just because they are mega-popular, have extensive resources, and already have a slew of teachers abroad successfully working as English teachers. (Don’t forget they offer a discount with code: Nina50!)
BUT you honestly can’t go wrong with any of these courses listed. Which do you feel you’d benefit from the most from? They are all appropriately priced, especially with the discounts above. Just grab one and roll with it—they all will get you where you need to go 🙂
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 scary AF. You’re about to pick up and 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, so let me just say—YOU GOT THIS.
It sounds scary, it’s new, and things won’t go perfectly, but if I can do it, so can you! Aside from kind words and some motivation, lemme actually give ya some resources, right?
Here are a few immensely helpful posts that will support you before, during and after you get your online TEFL course:
- A guide to teaching abroad—Anywhere! – Yep, here are the fundamentals you need to teach abroad.
- 19 of the BEST countries to teach English in (salary vs cost of living) – Let me help you choose a country to teach in! This is a huge decision.
- How to teach English online – It’s one of the best ways to make money nowadays hands down. It’s possibly why you’re here looking into getting a TEFL certification online, so read this next!
- Can you teach English online/abroad without a degree? – HINT: Yes! But read this first! (Oh, and getting an online TEFL course done is 100% going to be a smart decision)
- A guide to teaching Chinese kids online – The biggest market for students needing to learn English are Chinese students! Here’s what you need to know.
- Your guide to taking your desk around the world: 21+ jobs you can do online! – Oh, hello, opportunity. While I was teaching abroad, then online, I was hustling on the side with other online ventures. There’s so much to take advantage of—go for it!
Best of luck, future teacher! I owe everything to the opportunity I had to teach 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.
Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad since 2011 and blogging on Where in the World is Nina? for nearly as long. Nina helps people like you move around the world while making money. She loves talking about how to work abroad and online to travel longer!