Let's Teach English

The Ultimate Guide to TEFL Certification

What is a TEFL or TESOL Qualification?

A TEFL (English as a Foreign Language) certification is an accredited ESL teaching certificate to teach English to students whose first language isn’t English. Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) is very different from teaching students whose primary and first language is English. A TEFL is crucial to get a work visa as an ESL teacher and what most hiring educational organizations value on a teach abroad and online application.

Do I need a certificate to teach online or abroad?

The short answer is yes unless you graduated with an English major degree, have a state-issued teacher license, and a proven track record of years of English language teaching experience.

An accredited 120+ hour TEFL certificate is often required to apply for a work visa as an English teacher teaching overseas. It is a strict requirement for teaching both online and abroad for English learning platform and local learning centers in China.

Types of ESL Teaching Programs (TEFL, TESOL, and DELTA/CELTA)

What are the differences between TEFL and TESOL?

TESOL is short for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. TESOL courses are often, but not always true, designed geared toward academia or full-time in classroom ESL teachers. Universities usually advertise their program as TESOL instead of TEFL.

For teaching ESL online or teaching abroad, university TESOL (not TEFL) courses might be overkill and significantly more expensive, ex. US$100 vs. $1500+, which is intended for one devotes to ESL teaching career and profession in the classroom setting. Some very reputable online TEFL certification courses would satisfy both the online teaching and teaching abroad requirements and land you a great job. Some offer in-classroom training, which is especially crucial for those interested in teaching abroad.

Few Other Confusing Terms

  • ESL – English as a Second Language.
  • TOEFL – Test of English as a Foreign Language
  • TESL – Teaching English as a Second Language. Where English is being taught to non-native English speakers in a country where English is the native language.

TEFL Course Formats

There are several different types of class formats, including in-classroom, online, and hybrid. Depending on your ultimate goal, either teaching ESL online, teaching abroad, or launch a career teaching ESL. In-classroom or hands-on courses are often offered by accredited universities or sophisticated organizations with a curriculum designed for licensed teachers pursuing their careers in full-time English teaching.

Online vs. In-Class vs. Hybrid TEFL Certification

A TEFL certificate that you get through a reputable online course should be sufficient to bring you an online teaching job. However, we don’t recommend a dirt-cheap online certificate (aka a $20 for a 120+ hrs TEFL certificate on Groupon), which might get you an online teaching job working remotely. You would need at least an accredited 120-hour TEFL certificate to stand out from other online teaching job candidates.

Suppose you’re looking for a Teach Abroad job in countries like South Korea, Japan, the Middle East, and China. In that case, you will need to look into something more sophisticated and legitimate 120+ hr TEFL course with in-classroom training.

In-Classroom TEFL Certification

In-class TEFL certification is ideal for those who wish to learn the principles and methodologies of ESL teaching in-depth and gain hands-on teaching experience in a real-world teaching environment with real students. Many programs offer in-class TEFL training. Some offer partial online courses blend with around 20-40 hours of in-classroom practices. Some offer intensive 3-5 week long in full classroom training experience either within your home country or designated countries.

Go with a reputable online TEFL certificate, which might be slightly more expensive ($900-1200), if you aim to get a better local teaching position in the higher-paying countries. It is reasonably easy for recruiters to look up the TEFL certificate website where you were certified. That can happen as well with the online schools, but many of them are not as concerned.

How Many Hours of TEFL Program Should I Obtain?

The program we recommend for those who are interested in teaching English overseas is typically 120+ hours combine with In-class courses. It is generally more highly valued by employers or sometimes a pre-requisite.

TEFL course is usually self-paced. A typical 120-hour usually takes around 6-10 weeks to complete on average. Factor in the online material learning, homework, and some in-classroom practices if there is any.

TEFL Accreditation

Find out if you’re getting accredited certificate. Some are government recognized accrediting organizations or privately registered entities.


  • ACCET – Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET is recognized by the US Department of Education)


  • British Council (The British Council is a UK registered charity and non-departmental public body)
  • TQUK – Training Qualifications U.K. (TQUK is a UK awarding organisation recognized by Ofqual)
  • Cambridge Assessment English (Cambridge Assessment is a UK awarding organisation recognized by Ofqual)
  • Trinity College London (Trinity College London is a UK awarding organisation recognized by Ofqual.)
  • *Ofqual – The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation is a non-ministerial government department that regulates qualifications, exams and tests in England.

You can find additional accrediting organizations in details

TEFL Certificate for Different Types of Employers

Online ESL Learning Platform

Online English language learning platform schools are usually educational companies that provide after school ESL learning programs for students of all ages and various language ability levels. This is the most flexible option for teachers looking for a part-time teaching job without leaving the home country. The downside is the time zone differences depending on where you and the students are located. This is typically the loosest in English teaching requirements. Some can even teach without a TEFL certificate.

If you’re interested in teaching students online for the companies based in China. Starting in March 2019, it is required for all teachers to obtain a TEFL to be hired by Chinese English learning companies legally.

Local English Language Learning Centers

Similar to online English language platform, they are usually the educational companies that provide after school/work or summer ESL learning programs to students of all ages and English language ability levels. However, you’ll need to prepare to travel to a foreign country and expect to stay there at least a year on a typical employment working contract.

Private language schools usually offer a more enticing salary than regular schools, but you’ll be expected to work hard on the after school hours, nights, and weekends when children are off the school and adults off work. A legal form of teaching certificate is often required, whether TEFL, TESOL, CELTA, or teacher license, for VISA reasons.

Local K12 Schools (Public, International, and Bilingual Schools)

Schools are formal educational institutions that are authorized and follow government academic guidelines, which are typical K12, from elementary, middle, to some high schools. Often the English curriculum are taught by local teachers. However, many schools are revolutionizing by bringing in native English speaking teachers to teach local students, which is a common practice in Hong Kong and growing demand in China.

Schools have higher expectations and often more strict requirements, especially international schools. A legal form of teaching certificate or even state-issued teacher license is required. a TEFL, TESOL, CELTA, or teacher license is required for work visa application. 


Universities that offer language courses also frequently employ native English speaker teachers. Working conditions and hours are typically good at reasonable salaries. Higher education often has a higher expectation of academic qualification. However, it’s an excellent opportunity for you to be a graduate student or a recent graduate of the university.

The Cost of Getting a TEFL Certificate

A legit TEFL certificate does not need to be expensive. We did some digging and survey the teachers currently in our FB groups, Online ESL Teaching Jobs and Online ESL Reviews. Few on Groupon are sufficient to get you hired for the online English teaching jobs by Chinese ESL learning platforms and likely elsewhere as well. One course 160-hour course by TEFL Full Circle costs $39 and received the greatest compliments, and landed many teachers jobs according to our community. On the other hand, the International Open Academy is only $5 but not good at providing useful info. It is too cheap to be true.

That said, a small investment of $39 is perfect for online teaching. However, it might not be enough for you to score an ESL teaching job abroad compares to many fully equipped TEFL courses out there costing US$500 or even 1000+ with a university stamp on it.

Is a TEFL or TESOL Certificate Wroth it?

If you want concrete knowledge in ESL teaching, plan to teach abroad, or get involved in the teaching career of English as a second language. You would need to look into more structured and sophisticated programs (NOT Groupon ones), especially the ones that include in-classroom training.

Groupon TEFL Deals

The following Groupon TEFL certificate programs are suitable for Online Teaching but NOT necessarily good for Teach Abroad.

TEFL Full Circle (US$39)

  • We see many of the teachers recommending this one.
  • There is a Groupon coupon here for $39. You should be fine with the Full Circle one, as many teachers in our community confirmed the validity of this particular program to find Online teaching jobs.
  • I did a 150hours one and it worked for me
  • I did it in the spring and vipkid accepted it
  • I finished Full Circle, it’s a decent course, 99% of the employers don’t care where you got it anyway.
  • I did Full Circle for £49 on Groupon. It was fine. I found the staff very helpful and quick to respond.
  • if it is just for teaching online yes. they are legitimate, but get the one from Full Circle. I heard that one is a good one
  • That’s a good plan. Don’t listen to the naysayers. For teaching online the Grouponcourses will be a good place to start and you can get some good foundational information from them if you apply yourself and do some research of your own to reinforce the principles. I did the IOA TESOL course and the 160-hour TEFL Full Circle course both on Groupon and I currently have 3 online ESL jobs using those credentials. I would have LOVED to have taken a University TEFL course or an on-site course, but life and other responsibilities dictated that I had to take the least expensive and quickest route. Will those certs allow you to teach in a brick and mortar school? Absolutely not… but they will help you keep your head above water and help you gain some experience. Once you get your foot in the door with online teaching and get some money saved up, you can invest in something more reputable. Good luck and best wishes!
  • I bought a 160 hour TEFL course for $40 on Groupon called TEFL Full Circle. I just skipped to all the quizzes and guessed and got a passing score on most of them the first try. Then you do a lesson plan assignment, then a writing assignment. That’ll get you a 120-hour certificate and then you can do the 40 hours TEFL to young learners quizzes and get that one as well. The only downside in my experience with them is that they said to give them 10 days to grade the assignments, and you can’t download the certificates (or buy a hard copy) until then. Overall though any TEFL that is online is not very worthwhile, so don’t pay more than you have to.
  • There is a Reddit thread on it as well with a lot of positive comments

International Open Academy ($5)

  • TESOL course
  • 10 modules ranging from Linguistics, Writing, Speaking, and Getting a TEFL Job
  • 120 hours of course content
  • Fully accredited by the International Council for Online Educational Standards
  • Travel the world while teaching English
  • I did the very TESOL that you’re looking at last October, for a stupid $8! I also investigated Groupon because I just couldn’t believe that this could be the real deal. I figured if it’s a scam, then at least I wasn’t out a bunch of money. I searched for info about IOA but if I remember correctly, I didn’t find anything. But everyone I spoke with who has experience with Groupon said it’s a legit thing, so I took the course. As Adam said, the course was pretty awful. I got the PDF certificate immediately, then some days later requested the original, and paid the $20. After exchanging several emails with the company, and waiting a month for it to come, they said they’d send another one. I didn’t send any money for this second one, and they didn’t say I’d need to send more. That was in November of 2017 and I still don’t have the original and have quit hoping. Of course, I was leery the whole time, but everything really seemed legit. And of course, because I believed that Groupon is honest (and still believe), I held out hope. There’s an article, either on this group or on its sister group, that discusses accreditation for these courses. The organization that IOA says accredits their courses isn’t mentioned in the article, and to be fair, it only mentions 2 organizations. What did I get out of this? A PDF that I still use in my applications for online jobs. I’m in Vietnam, where the more reputable companies require (in accord with gov’t regulations) that the candidate teacher provides the original teaching certificate, which I can’t do. I’ve got years of experience, and I am not really interested in using it to apply for B&M schools, so, for me, in a way, the whole deal was worth it. :)
  • It seems it’s the real deal. Probably not as high-value like some other TEFL programs, but it should do the job.
  • I did it and if you actually want to learn something, I wouldn’t recommend it. I didn’t find it useful at all.
  • I have done this one, it works and everything. There are no videos, just documents. It definitely does not take 120 hours tho, I did it in a couple of days
  • I definitely will be getting another one though, not enough information but it’s a good intro

Learn TEFL ($39)

  • An Accredited 150-Hour TEFL Certification Course.
  • I bought a Groupon for a 150-hour TEFL certification course from LearnTEFL.com. it cost $39. I won’t pretend like it was the best class I’ve ever taken, but my certificate seems to be sufficient for finding a job in China, Korea, and southeast Asia at least. I’ve gotten tons of interview requests and two job offers in one week. I think I’m going to accept the position in hong kong. I’d be working in a private language center teaching kids ages kindergarten – 18 years old in groups of less than 4 students.
  • I’ve done an online course it’s very valuable I put the hard work & recently passed it!

Global Language Training ($39)

  • Online 150-Hour Master Fully-Accredited TEFL/TESOL Course
  • 10 modules covering English grammar, classroom management, writing skills, and more
  • Fully-accredited course
  • 150 hours of online learning
  • Covers how to teach English to children, business English, and content and language integrated learning
  • Certificate with satisfactory completion
  • Includes admin support, trainer support, and job placement assistance

The end of Groupon deals

TEFL for Both Online Teaching & Teach Abroad

The following TEFL certificates and programs are Good for both Online Teaching and Teach Abroad

Bridge TEFL

  • Good certificate for Teach Abroad
  • Accreditation: Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) since 1998.
  • Certify over 3,000 graduates each year
  • Nearly 30 years of experience in TEFL
  • Online TEFL Certification
  • Onsite classroom TEFL Certification: Bridge 4-week, full-time TEFL course that gives trainees the chance to teach real EFL students from partnered centers worldwide.
  • If you have the money to invest you should look for an International Diploma in English Language Teaching (IDELT) certification. There is one offered by Bridge TEFL that is an intense 12-week online course that will result in a 150 hour TEFL certification. If you want to expand your education further they have various 40-hour specialized certificates that can be added as well. These include:
    • Teaching English Online
    • Teaching Business English
    • Teaching English to Young Learners
    • Designing Custom Courses
    • Teaching English Grammar
    • Guided Teaching Practicum
  • You can find the complete list here.

International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT)

  • Good certificate for Teach Abroad
  • Accreditation: Online TEFL and TESOL Standards Agency (OTTSA)
  • Choose to add on tutor support to enhance your course feedback and interaction
  • Offer both Online and onsite in-class courses.
  • In-class at over 30 locations worldwide.
  • ITTT Online courses range from introductory, full 120-hour TEFL courses, advanced Diploma course to specialized certificates in teaching young learners and business English.
  • ITTT accreditation from the Online TESOL and TEFL Standards Agency.
  • Discount: Save 10% on ITTT TEFL/TESOL Certification Course

i-to-i Online TEFL

  • Accreditation: ODLQC (Open & Distance Learning Quality Council)
  • i-to-i TEFL has experience in training over 182,000+ TEFL graduates since 1994 and 65+ experienced tutors around the world
  • Training style to suit you – face to face, distance learning or a combination. Many free online resources
  • Cast-iron money back guarantee
  • Personalised tutor feedback – true support from real expert

Premier TEFL

  • Accreditation: Training center with TQUK
  • All course options are well over 100 hours.
  • Full-time job, internship, or short-term teaching experiences.
  • Combine online course with additional onsite, location-specific development to specialize toward your target region.


  • Accreditation: Online TEFL and TESOL Standards Agency (OTTSA)
  • Enrollment in a myTEFL course also gives back to a good cause. With every new participant, a donation is made to several causes, such as buying livestock for a rural community or sponsoring a child’s education.
  • Offer Online and Onsite classroom TEFL Courses
  • Length: Short Courses (40-100 hours) and Standard (120-140 hours)
  • Accreditation: International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL)

TEFL Academy

  • TEFL Academy course is good for teaching English online and abroad.
  • Accreditation: DEAC, a U.S. Department of Education National Accreditor and awarded by Qualifi.
  • 168 hour, level 5, 10 units TEFL course which can be studied in two ways. Either online or combined with 20 hours of face-to-face classroom training. All of their trainers are experienced EFL professionals and minimum DELTA qualified assessors.
  • A wide range of internships and volunteer placements around the world.

TESOL Australia

  • TESOL Australia has been around for over 10 years and Australia registered company.
  • TESOL Australia offers nationally accredited and internationally recognized TESOL courses.
  • All courses include a mandatory teaching observation and fully supervised and assessed teaching practicum
  • This nationally accredited course is provided by Sydney Higher Education Institute (SHEI), Registered Training Provider No. 45393.

International TEFL Academy

  • Good certificate for Teach Abroad
  • Accreditation: the Online TESOL and TEFL Standards Agency (OTTSA)
  • Named by GoAbroad as the Top TEFL Organization
  • Offer 170 hour Online TEFL courses with 6~20 hrs of Onsite classroom practice.
  • Internationally accredited by several respected organizations.
  • Courses are all taught by experienced university instructors.
  • A small class size per instructor and interactive curriculum ensures that all online TEFL candidates receive nothing but the finest instruction.
  • Personalized career guidance and placement assistance for all students/alumni.
  • Request a free brochure and receive an exclusive $50 off discount code!

Coursera TESOL by Arizona State University

  • Accreditation: TESOL Certificate from Arizona State University.
  • Part 1 – The basic foundational principles of language acquisition and the basic techniques founded upon those principles. Designing a lesson plan which includes learning outcomes, assessments, materials, classroom management techniques and the learning activities themselves.
  • Part 2 – Apply the skills you learned by demonstrating your ability to teach through video recordings and by reflecting on your own and others’ teaching. When you complete both Specializations, you will submit your work for expert review to receive your ASU 150-hour TESOL Certificate, in addition to your Coursera certificates.


Hope this article gave you the comprehensive knowledge and full perspectives to decide on what route you would like to go to cert your TEFL certification. If you are never easily satisfied and looking for a room to improve, then check out the advanced certificate like CELTA/DELTA by Cambridge University, which will greatly enhance your English teaching abilities and prepare you to launch a stellar teaching position!