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things to do before buying an online tefl

Things to Do Before Purchasing an Online TEFL 


things to do before buying an online tefl


You know you want to teach English online or abroad, but now what? You need to choose a TEFL certification. And that can be tricky. To help you find a course that will give you proper support and a dynamic learning experience, we’ve put together a list of things to do before purchasing an online TEFL.


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In today’s world of online versus in-person courses, there are so many choices that it can easily become overwhelming. In our opinion, online courses offer a great deal more flexibility. Also, there’s no need to spend money on traveling to the course location or paying for food and accommodations in a new location for a month. Plus, unfortunately, thanks to COVID, some countries have travel restrictions. To help you find a course that will truly fit your needs, here’s our top list of things to do before purchasing an online TEFL.


Look for a course with 120 hours of instruction.


First and foremost, a legitimate TEFL course must have 120 hours of training. When you see a course that claims to give you a TEFL certification, but the number of course hours is less than 120….pass. The industry standard for a full TEFL certification (the type that can actually get you a job) is 120 hours – period. Anything less than that is a scam. Also, make sure that those 120 hours make sense. What we mean here is, make sure that the amount of work listed in the syllabus accurately correlates to 120 hours of coursework. If a company is offering some PDF files and not much else, chances are they are not providing you with an adequate amount of study materials. Look for one that does and your chances for success will be much greater.


Find a course with a strong emphasis on video based lessons


Videos are extremely helpful when you cannot study in an actual classroom. They bring the classroom to you! Therefore, make sure your online TEFL course is built around video based learning. This media will allow you to observe real lessons, watch how real teachers interact with their students and vice versa. Learning how a lesson plan goes from words on a sheet of paper to an actual lesson in the classroom isn’t easy, so you definitely want some concrete examples to help you make that transition. (not just a digital textbook)


Look at the Syllabus. 


It’s important to find out about the “meat” of the course. To do this, we recommend starting off with a look at the syllabus. If you can’t easily find one on the website, be suspicious! Look for a course that focuses on training you on the practical skill set of lesson planning and instructing. This way, you’ll be prepared to teach adults or children, and online or at a language school. After all, you want to know that you’ll be successful no matter the environment you’re in, or the type of textbook, worksheets or school supplies you’re provided. 

Also, if you’re unsure of the meaning of the contents of a unit, don’t hesitate to ask the company. A quality course will have staff excited to share all of the details with you!


Make sure the course has an online teaching component.


In these days of ever changing COVID numbers and guidelines, it’s important to find a course with a section devoted solely to online teaching. Even if you’re planning to go abroad to teach, the country you want to teach in may have travel restrictions. Also, a brick-and-mortar school might have to resort to solely online teaching at times. Learning how to teach successfully online, whether you want to work with adults or children, will make you much more marketable. 


Look for a course that encourages volunteering to help you gain experience.


Did you know that many online and in person English language schools, only hire teachers with some kind of teaching experience? As a matter of fact, they’re often looking for teachers with at least 1 year of experience. So, how are you supposed to get teaching experience while taking an online course?  It turns out, there are many individuals and organizations looking for volunteer English teachers. So, make sure the online TEFL course you choose has a staff that can offer you advice on where and how to volunteer locally, internationally and even online. Take a look at TEFLPros’ recent blog post for more details on volunteering as a TEFL teacher.


things to do before purchasing an online tefl

Find out what others are saying about the course.


Read a lot of reviews! Here are some things to consider as you scroll through the comments. What are people saying about their overall experience with the course? Do people feel they learned a lot and that they’re now ready to begin their TEFL journey? Do they feel they got a high level of support? Was the course intuitive to move through? And finally, what about the quality of the customer service? Was it prompt and useful? 


Hear What Real Students Have to Say!


Make sure there are multiple ways to get support (and if the support is ongoing). 


Before you purchase a course, make sure you can get help when you need it. Look for a course with a reputation for having a very helpful and prompt student support staff. Also, find out if the course has any membership groups (like private FB groups) you can join. Are there ways to connect with other students? How about ways to network with graduates and find jobs?

Another key element is live support. For example, are there ways to speak to your trainer if you’re feeling stuck? What about if you have questions about the course before you even begin? Can you speak with an expert who can guide you?

Finally, it’s good to recognize that becoming a TEFL teacher is exciting and daunting all at the same time. You might move to a different country, interact with a different culture, find new housing, find a stable job, use a new language….the list goes on and on.

A good TEFL provider will help support you through this process. They will offer literature or video content on dealing with a new culture, on the interview process and on navigating the job market. Therefore, if no attention is paid to these very real aspects of TEFL, keep looking till you find a course that does take these into account.


Watch out for the “guaranteed job commitment”.


This can vary from company to company and from location to location. Often what it points to is a relationship between the TEFL provider and recruiters wherein the provider is paid by the recruiters for the use of their graduates. From the graduate standpoint this could mean that you might be living in an undesirable location, earning lower wages, or placed in a school that doesn’t have the proper resources or programming to support you.

Our suggestion is to find a TEFL provider that can help guide you in your job search and offer support in interviewing, resume building, country selection, and connections with high-quality institutions. By offering job support rather than job placement, you know that the TEFL company has your best interests at heart. 


Check for legitimate accreditation.


Just because a course is accredited, doesn’t mean it’s “really” accredited. Let us explain. The TEFL industry is still sorting itself out. There are a lot of strong companies out there offering great programs, but there are also a lot of scammers trying to take advantage of people who want to go abroad and don’t know what to look for (or what to watch out for!). 

So, do your due diligence. Google the accreditation company that has placed their stamp of approval on the course you are interested in. Check and see if they are legitimate or not. Do they only require a payment and then “Bam!” the company is magically accredited? Or do they have a lengthy process of approving materials? You will want to study with a program that has been put through its paces and properly reviewed.


Check the credentials needed for schools in the nation where you plan to teach.


We suggest deciding on the country you’d like to teach in early on. After all, you can always change your mind or teach in several different countries. But you will want to get a certification that will be accepted in the country you have your eye on. Better yet – go with a course that offers worldwide certification and lifetime certification. That means you can find a job anywhere you wish to teach and that there is no need to ever renew your certification. 


Find out if there are “extras” included with your training.


Besides excellent course material and expert trainers, look to see if the course includes any extra resources and guidance. For example, does it include information on how to interview or how to create a resume? Does it offer access to a bank of quality activities? And, finally, are there trained professionals to offer you feedback and suggestions on written assignments?


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To Sum Up

Make sure your online TEFL provider is going to give you what you need as a learner. This includes 120 hours of solid content that is engaging and fully accredited. Watch out for the scammers who will try to sell you a collection of poorly constructed articles. Finally, look for a program that will support you through trainer interaction and through real-world advice.


May the adventure begin. Happy teaching!


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