How to Choose a TEFL Certificate

How to Choose a TEFL Certificate – TEFL, TESOL, CELTA

TEFL? TESOL? CELTA? What is a TEFL certificate and how can you choose the best TEFL certificate? If you want to teach English abroad, having one of these certificates is essential.

In this post, you learn about TEFL courses at different price points for online teaching and teaching abroad. You will also learn how to choose the best TEFL course for you.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase using one of the links, I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps me continue to provide free content for teachers. Thank you!

What is a TEFL Certificate?

To begin, to teach English abroad or online, most schools and companies will require a TEFL certificate of at least 120 hours.

TEFL stands for teaching English as a foreign language while TESOL means teaching English to speakers of other languages. 

TEFL and TESOL are used interchangeably when teaching abroad or online.

CELTA is the Cambridge brand of TEFL and CertTESOL is the Trinity College London brand TEFL.

As part of a TEFL course, you will learn how to teach grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary, and skills like reading, listening, speaking and writing. You’ll practice lesson planning and depending on the course, may even get the chance to teach real students.

With so many different courses at different price points, it can be confusing which is the best TEFL course to choose.

How to Choose a TEFL Course

With everything that’s going on in the world, many teachers are looking to do their TEFL course online instead of in-person.

The best TEFL certification is the one that fits your teaching goals, preferences and budget.

Here are some helpful criteria you can consider when deciding how to choose a TEFL course.

Cheap TEFL courses

TEFL courses can be as cheap as $20 and as expensive as $3000. That’s a HUGE difference!

Inexpensive TEFL certificates cost between $20 and $150 and are often used for teaching English online. I do not recommend these courses for teaching abroad because they are very basic.

You get what you pay for in terms of content and learning. While these certificates may say that they are equivalent to 120 hours of instruction, some teachers finish the course in only a few days. These courses don’t usually include videos, just a long document to read.

I only recommend these cheap TEFL courses for teachers who already have teaching experience or a teaching certificate, but just need a quick course to get certified to teach English online. 

The cheap TEFL course that I recommend is International Open Academy. While this course is VERY basic, if you are already comfortable teaching or tutoring and only want to teach online, this is a good option.

Check out International Open Academy here.

These courses used to be very popular for teaching on Chinese platforms like Gogokid and Magic Ears, but since China’s ban on foreign teachers, these courses aren’t as popular. 

If you want to learn about teaching online with non-Chinese companies and platforms, then you can watch this video.

Mid-level TEFL courses

Mid-level courses range from $200-600. These accredited 120-hour introductory courses often include pre-recorded lessons or reading material, with maybe an hour or two per week to ask a tutor any questions that you have, depending on the course.

These courses are quick and can usually be finished in between 3 and 10 weeks.

If you already have some teaching experience or studied to be a teacher, this could be a good option for you since you are familiar with teaching methods. 

While this option is quite affordable, I wouldn’t recommend these courses for people with zero teaching experience because there isn’t much student support.

These courses are best for people who have a bachelor’s degree, are a native English speaker, and have some previous teaching experience.

My favorite TEFL course at the mid-level price point in Premier TEFL. Their courses are accredited, they offer several add-on options like Business English, Young Learners and Teaching Online and they have student support. Premier TEFL has a 9.7/10 rating on GoOverseas.

Check out Premiere TEFL here.

Expensive TEFL courses

The most expensive TEFL courses usually cost between $1000 and $3000. Most courses in this tier will be considered a Level 5 course which means they are considered to be university level courses. CELTA and CertTESOL are in this tier.

Level 5 TEFL courses are best for people who are new to teaching, need more instructor support, or would like to have a competitive edge over teachers with a mid-tier 120 hour TEFL, or are serious about making teaching English their career.

I recommend these courses for people without a degree, non-native speakers and anyone new to teaching.

Some high-level TEFL courses offer graduates job assistance and alumni support which makes these courses worth the high price tag as well.

These courses usually have a 4 week intensive option or less intense part-time option. I recommend signing up for a course that has teaching practice as part of the course, especially if you are a new teacher.

I recommend checking out International TEFL Academy. They have level 5 TEFL courses and offer lifetime job assistance. With over 6,000 students each year, International TEFL Academy has thousands of alumni teaching all over the world. ITA also offers in-person TEFL courses abroad in Asia, Latin America and Europe.

Check out International TEFL Academy here.


Cheap TEFL courses are only useful for online teaching if you already have some teaching experience. They don’t take long and you get what you pay for. They are not recommended for teaching abroad.

Mid-level TEFL courses are at least 120 hours. Make sure your course is accredited before you sign up. These courses are best for teachers with a bachelor’s degree and some previous teaching experience since there isn’t much student support. These courses can usually be completed in 3-10 weeks.

Expensive TEFL courses are best for teachers with little to no previous teaching experience, teachers without a degree, non-native speakers, or teachers who are serious about teaching English as their career. You’ll get lots of student support and can complete an intensive 4 week course or a less intensive part-time course. Look for courses that include teaching practice.

I highly recommend doing your TEFL certificate before you start searching for jobs. Many employers and schools will require a TEFL before they can even consider your application.

If you need a personal TEFL course recommendation, please send me an email at

If you are curious about doing a CELTA course, you can read my CELTA course review.

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Certified Teacher & Founder of ESL Teacher 365

I am passionate about helping people teach abroad & online so they can live a life of adventure!

I’ve taught in 6 different countries and love sharing my teach abroad (and online) tips and tricks.

The world is yours to teach and explore!

– Jamie 

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