The TEFL Industry (Teach English as a Foreign Language) is one of the fastest-growing industries of the moment, and with more and more people opting for a life of travel, it's a great option for earning money while on the road. There are generally some requirements to working as a TEFL tutor, however. Firstly, many schools and agencies will only take on tutors who have completed a university degree (any degree, though anything English/Literary-based, will obviously be favoured, and Drama courses are popular too), and it is essential to complete a 120-hour TEFL certificated course. Some jobs offer a certified course alongside training, so it's not necessarily essential to acquire one before you find your first job, but if you'd like more options during your job search, it's wise to take a course before hand.
I've compiled a list of the best TEFL courses based on researched reviews and ratings, as well as my own experience and that of fellow tutors I know.
Navigating your TEFL course options can seem a bit daunting. Generally, a minimum of a 120-hour course is required in order to find work as a TEFL tutor. I have seen courses for 20, 30 or 60 hours, but I've always assumed that these are to be considered more top-up courses for people looking to move into a specialty, such as teaching Business English, or for people who haven't taught in a while and are looking to get back into it.
Furthermore, there are certifications and then there are diplomas. Depending on your career aspirations, most schools will, as I mentioned above, expect only a 120hr certified course, but if you're looking for a long, serious career working for some of the best schools in the world, or even found a school/agency yourself, you can complete TEFL diplomas, equivalent to a bachelors or masters degree. More information regarding the different levels of TEFL qualifications can be found here.
Highlights of studying through ITTT include:
- Internationally accredited TEFL/TESOL certification by the Online TESOL and TEFL Standards Agency (OTTSA)
- Access to a vast network of schools worldwide
- TEFL courses for native and fluent English speakers
- More than 25 Years in the Teacher Training Industry
This was the company through which I completed my 140-hour TEFL course in May 2013. The course consisted of 120-hours of online, self-paced tuition and a 20-hour classroom-based workshop over the course of a weekend. This course can be found here, or, if attending a classroom workshop isn't possible, a 120-hour course can be found here, and they offer various courses of varying levels and specialties. During my experience, the weekend workshop was especially useful, as it was an opportunity to practice the teaching methods and techniques described in the online course, and a chance to grow my confidence as a tutor. Workbooks were provided, which I still refer back to, to this day.
Locations for their workshops and classroom courses can be found across the UK, Australia, South Africa, USA, China, and various EU countries. More information regarding their locations can be found here.
I have taken two 30-hour 'top-up' courses through Premier TEFL (these can be found here and here), and I can say that I was extremely happy with my experience. Studying online, I received personal tutor support via video, as well as a downloadable coursebook, a grammar book, and a book on lesson planning.
As for the two courses that I studied, I found them to be a little repetitive, and besides the fact that they were taken two years apart, both after long periods breaks in my teaching experience, I definitely wouldn't say that it is necessary to take both at once.
International TEFL Academy
The International TEFL Academy is a huge organisation with an excellent reputation, and its 170-hour course, in particular, has been named the best TEFL course and best online TEFL course by GoAbroad. Locations for in-class study across Europe, USA, Asia, and Latin America. While there is an excellent online course, they seem to focus more heavily on practical courses, offering excellent opportunities to become certified while you work and become training fully in the classroom, so you can gain confidence, experience, and qualifications simultaneously. A full comparison of the various courses can be found here. Given the nature of the classroom-based courses, this is a pricier option, as fees factor in housing and tuition costs additionally, but it definitely seems like a worthy investment.
While CIEE doesn't appear to offer as many options for courses as other TEFL organisations, with their four courses being based online, the reviews for their courses are excellent, with continuous ratings of 9.5. The longer courses (150 or 180 hours) include a 'practicum component'; working or volunteering in your local community is required in order to complete the course, and gain some practical experience, but they offer full support in arranging this. This is a US-based company, and looking at their website, they seem to be branded heavily towards American customers, and so I'm not sure how much support is given to someone trying to arrange practical experience elsewhere besides the USA.