Choosing a TEFL course

APR 4 2012

Teaching in Ghana - copyright Projects Abroad Pro

When choosing a TEFL course, there are 4 things you need to think about.

How much time have I got to do my TEFL course?

TEFL courses vary both in terms of how many hours they take, and the overall time you're allowed to complete it. It's possible to do an intensive, one-month, full-time TEFL course, but it's very hard work! If you do a distance-learning course in your own time, you can take up to 18 months to complete it if you need to. 

What kind of TEFL course do I want?

You can do a TEFL course online or in a classroom. Some courses include teaching practice in a classroom environment. If you are new to teaching, you might find this useful.

Do I need help getting a job after?

Some TEFL schools offer job placements, others have job-finding help. Some will even guarantee you a job if you pass.

What qualification will I get?

The two main internationally-recognised certificates are the Trinity CertTESOL and the Cambridge CELTA (which is geared towards teaching adults). However, you may find that the job you're applying for will require only the 'equivalent' of the CertTESOL or CELTA, which means that the certificate from your school will get you a job. 

Click here to see a list of TEFL courses and jobs.


When looking at getting your TEFL qualification, remember that most distance learning and part-time courses will include all your studies and exams, but not your practical experience. The best TEFL jobs will ask for experience and references of where you have used your qualifications, so consider taking some time to volunteer after your course to get some practise and prove you can apply what you learn. Alternatively, look at residential courses that include teaching classes as part of the curriculum. We work with TEFL classes in Thailand that provide free classes to local children to provide the TEFL students with the practical experience they need, and give something back to the local community.

I would be careful of the volunteering option. Although it looks good and is fine I would *never* pay a company to volunteer with them. There are just too many scams around and although you may be lucky and get a good deal, often paid volunteering work does little good and benefits only the middleman. No, far better to volunteer at a local center for recent arrivals in your country.

Submitted by Rachel on
Thanks for your comment, but we disagree. When you pay a company to volunteer, you get the security of staff in the UK and locally who are paid to look after you. One partner pointed out this is crucial if you get ill or injured, as you have someone to translate for you if you have to go to hospital. There are a few dodgy people out there (fortunately, not nearly as many as decent organisations) but we vet every organisation on our site, and run an approval scheme to help career breakers choose ethical organisations. Volunteers with these organisations have done a massive amount of good work, bringing huge and long-lasting benefits.