TEFL Online vs. Onsite TEFL Certification

When deciding to pursue a career teaching English as a foreign language abroad, it is extremely beneficial?and in many cases, required? to receive a form of certification. This can best be done by taking a course that both orients and trains new teachers on the methods and ideologies behind language teaching and learning. There are a plethora of courses available that promise to give teachers the resources and experience necessary to obtain a position teaching English overseas. Four main certification options exist?the CELTA, which is a standardized teaching program, the TEFL, whose program can vary depending on the institution where it is conducted, the TESOL/TESL, which is usually offered through universities, and Online TEFL Courses, which are not standardized and offer certification upon completion of materials over the internet.

Online and onsite TEFL courses offer the same certification, but a decidedly different experience, and the individual should consider several factors before making the decision of which one to take.Cost is one of the most obvious and important factors when it comes to choosing between an online and onsite TEFL course. Onsite courses require the trainee to make their own way to a foreign course location and pay for accommodation through the duration of the course, which typically lasts one month. Online courses do not have the extra cost of travel, housing, or food and require only access to a computer with an internet connection. As such, the online TEFL certificate can be obtained at a much lower price than an onsite course. An added appeal of the online certificate for many is the relative flexibility of the course? in most cases, requirements can be fulfilled according to the trainee?s own time frame. This has a number of obvious benefits; for one, the individual taking the online course is able to take as long as he or she wishes to complete the 140 hours of study, rather than committing to a straight month of classes. In addition, the online certification can be extremely beneficial to anyone who is not completely certain that teaching is their career of choice. It enables the trainee to avoid making any obvious life changes without knowing if they will enjoy or succeed at teaching English abroad. The benefits of onsite courses are also numerous. Being taught in a classroom setting can help accustom the trainee to managing a similar environment when teaching English. Most appealing to future employers are the teaching practices that trainees accumulate while on an onsite course-- teachers in training are required to plan and execute lessons to local students at least six times in order to receive certification. While online courses focus more on teaching and learning theory and lack actual hands-on practice, they do offer students the chance to watch video of English lessons being conducted. Staffing can be another benefit to onsite courses? typically they will be run by experienced trainers who can immediately answer questions and help to troubleshoot problems trainees may experience. Upon beginning an online course, students are typically assigned to an advisor who will mentor them and answer any questions via e-mail; however, this communication can be delayed depending on the location of the trainee versus the advisor, and lacks the intimacy of face to face counsel. Due to the necessity of lesson planning, most onsite schools will have a good collection of teaching materials on hand that students can use for teaching ideas and inspiration. Many online courses do offer a number of similar resources?such as teacher?s books and student worksheets?available on the internet, so trainees doing the course from home can at least have an idea of the materials they will be working with once they find a job teaching abroad. Finding a job is another aspect to consider when deciding between online and onsite certification. While many online courses will display job postings and offer some assistance and advice in regards to obtaining a position in a different country, onsite courses tend to have more developed job hunting resources. If the trainee knows he or she wishes to work in a specific country, it can be extremely beneficial to take a TEFL course in that place, as one can then begin to grow accustomed to lingual and cultural differences as well as gain important contacts in the teaching industry. Teaching English as a foreign language is a rapidly expanding industry, and the need for teachers is great. Getting a TEFL certificate is the first step towards a potentially lucrative career filled with creativity, travel, and opportunity. Online and onsite courses each have their advantages and drawbacks, depending on the needs and circumstances of the individual trainee. It is important to do ample research on the certification style of your choice before committing to any program, including seeking out testimonials from former students to find out what their experience was like and exploring the varying differences in method and requirements from school to school. In this way, trainees can ensure they are well- researched and aware of what awaits them in the field of teaching English abroad.


International Teacher Training Organization, ?Online TEFL TESOL course v/sOn-site TEFL TESOL course.? Available online,

TEFLOnline, ?Frequently Asked Questions About TEFL.? Available online,

The Guardian Unlimited, ?TEFL Courses- A Guide to What?s Available.? (2004). Available online,,15084,13 12211,00l

Author: Maria McNamara

Date of post: 2007-03-29