One of the questions that we get asked a lot is do I need a certificate to teach online? The short answer is yes, but probably not for the reason you are thinking. The reason why, in our opinion, is that if you have the right program it will make you a better teacher. Of course, it also helps as well when you’re applying if you have a teaching certificate.
That being said, there are multiple types of certification that you can get for online and off-line teaching. The certificate that we will cover today is the Teaching English as a Foreign Language(TEFL) certificate which can be obtained online with little difficulty. Do not confuse this with the TOEFL test which students take in order to get a job or get into a university.
Showing employers that you have taken the effort to get a TEFL will put you in a better position. If you already have a degree in teaching English then, of course, this does not apply. If you have taught English overseas without a TEFL it is still a good recommendation that you obtain one for teaching in the online world. Again, it shows that you put forth the effort, and with the right program, you will become a better teacher.
Types of Programs
There are TEFL courses that are either done in person, online, and ones that are a hybrid of both. If possible, it is best to get certified through an in-person, hands-on course. Even better are courses that you take in person that have a strong job placement program. This is ideal for those of you that have the time and the money, along with the willingness to travel to a foreign country if you decide to go that route.
Online Versus Offline Certification
As mentioned above, it is our opinion that trying to find a reputable in-person course is the best route to go. However, there are some very reputable online TEFL certification courses. Some of the top ones are the International TEFL Academy, Bridge TEFL Online(TEFLOnline.com), International TEFL and TESOL Training(TEFLOnline.net), and the online TEFL program from the University of Toronto(TeachAway.com).
If you are only looking for an online teaching job, then a TEFL certificate that you get through a reputable online course should be good enough to get a job. We cannot emphasize enough though that you should pick and take a program that you think will make you a better teacher.
Some of the other reasons to get a TEFL certificate online are:
- Flexibility if you’re on a tight schedule
- Are not concerned about hands-on experience
- If you’re looking something that is inexpensive
- You are not concerned about getting a job in the country you are in
- Is not important for you to go overseas and teach face-to-face
The last point above is probably the most important. Yes, if you get a cheaper online certificate you can get still get a job in many countries. However, and this is the important point, if you’re looking for a job in countries like South Korea, Japan, the Middle East, and China then you might have difficulty getting into the better schools or any school at all.
There are other factors involved with getting hired and having a TEFL is only one of them. So if you have strengths that can overcome having a cheaper online certificate then you might be fine, but why risk it?
To be clear here, the point we are trying to make is to go with a more expensive and reputable online certificate if you want to get into some of the better schools in the higher-paying countries. It is fairly easy for recruiters to look up the website of the company where you were certified and then match that up with the price you paid. That can happen as well with the online schools, but many of them are not as concerned. They can also see if the school and course are certified as well.
Another point on this topic is the number of hours for the course that you take. It is our recommendation that you take a 100-hour course at the very least. If you can take a 120 hour or 160-hour course you will be better off as a teacher and it will increase your chances of getting a job online or in an in-person school later on. As stated above though, make sure that you’re getting it from a reputable school.
Take the time to find out if the school where you’re getting your certificate is itself certified. What you want to look for is to see if they are accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training(ACCET) or other programs such as the Training Qualifications UK(TQUK). The ACCET organization is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, and because of that, you will find them to be better recognized by the schools that you’re applying to. This is an example of what you should be looking for on the school’s website:
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.
Another great course is the 170 hour TEFL certification offered by the International TEFL Academy. The main advantage of that course is that you will take a 150 hour course that is followed up with 20 hours of live practice teaching. Similar to the Bridge TEFL you can add on additional modules such as the young learner or business modules. Either of these extends the certification to 200 hours and gives you even further specialities that will help with your teaching capabilities and increase your chances of getting a higher paying job. You can read more here.
In Person Certification
Being able to take a course in person where you’re going to work is a great way to go if you have the time and money. Beyond getting practical hands-on experience, you also have a chance to be exposed to the local culture and with most of these programs, you will have a job waiting for you when you’re done.
If you’ve never lived overseas before, this is a great way to get started as long as you choose a reputable school. When you review their website, make sure that they are an accredited institution. Spend the effort as well to search online to see what other people have to say about the program.
Unlike the online programs that you can take any time, you will need to check to see what dates and locations are available for you to get a traditional TEFL certificate. The good thing is all of this information is available for you from websites such as this one here.
Hopefully this article gave you enough information to decide on what route you would like to go to cert your TEFL certification. Getting a more advanced certificate such as a CELTA will improve your teaching abilities and greatly improve your ability to get a job. As written this article, you can take reputable online TEFL certification courses that will improve your chances of getting a job while showing you how to be a better teacher.