What is an Internationally recognized Online TEFL?

by Rob Swans

Question - Is there any Online TEFL program that actually is recognized and will give you the same opportunity as some of the good TEFL programs which include practical experience in the classroom?

Answer - The short answer is no. The problem is that the online courses do not offer any classroom experience. Courses such as the CELTA and CertTESOL offer practical training inside the classroom and they have some kind of quality control over the centers that offer the courses - although centers definitely do differ in the quality of training.

In many parts of the world - most of Asia and South America for example - it's quite possible to find work without any sort of TEFL certificate (whether a CELTA or another cheaper variety). I'm sure you know if you live in Taiwan. In these regions any TEFL certificate can help, simply because the average candidate doesn't have any TEFL certification.

In Europe most schools only want a CELTA or CertTESOL. Nothing else will do - certainly not a wholly online certificate.

In the Middle East a CELTA or CertTESOL is not enough. You usually need an MA TESOL or at least a TEFL Diploma

Any course that offers a similar type of training to the CELTA will cost a similar amount of money, because this kind of course is similarly expensive to run. If you find a course that looks very cheap, then it most likely will not offer training inside the classroom.

University of Cambridge ESOL Exams - who offer the CELTA - have begun to offer a partially online CELTA course. On this course you have an online course, which is quite flexible + practical face to face teaching practice. However, for this part you will have to find a center that offers this kind of course. I think this would be difficult outside of Europe, but I haven't checked all of the Asian centers. This kind of training does not yet exist in Taiwan.

No one knows for sure how schools will react to this kind of hybrid TEFL course, but I expect that being a Cambridge exam, it will become respected. I've not checked the price, follow the link above if you are interested, but it won't be cheap.

Getting qualified is a good idea, both for the students who can have a better teacher, and for the teacher, who can enjoy the job more, choose better schools - if not a better salary - and be more flexible when moving between countries.

Just a note, but if you intend to work in Europe later, then your experience will be (mostly) counted as beginning from when you have completed your certificate. So - unfair as it it - if you teach for five years in Taiwan, then go to Italy to take a CELTA - most schools won't take into account your previous experience. Or they will take it into account, but not in the same way they would with the same amount of experience in say Spain or Germany.

So if you do plan to take a qualification, then it's better to do it sooner than later. Some countries are cheaper than others (Egypt for example, if that excites you!). It can be kind of working holiday.

I don't think wholly online TEFL certificates will ever be truly internationally recognized for the reasons I've listed above, but they are - for now - a useful aid in getting work in Asia.

If you are in TESOL for the long haul, then you should get some kind of TEFL qualification. Preferably a TEFL diploma, PGCE or MA TESOL.

Here are some related articles on TEFL certification:

TEFL Certificate

MA TESOL vs TESOL Certificate

TESOL Certificates

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