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How to choose a TEFL Certificate program right for you
By: Eric Tiettmeyer "Mr.Student Traveler" (justin) 2012.04.27

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 How to choose a TEFL Certificate program right for you

Working abroad is a wonderful way to see the world and make some money while you are doing it. Teaching English abroad is the leading way most people make a living working abroad. So it is no coincidence that there are many, many ways to prepare to teach, get a job, and actually do it. The problem is that with all the reliable TEFL certificate companies, there are a few "bad apples". This article will not highlight who we think is shady, but it will show you tips on how to pick a reliable program to get your TEFL certificate and/or just get a job.

1. Get your TEFL certificate through a known U.S. university

You can't go wrong if you get your TEFL Certificate from a legitimate, U.S. university (not the kind that spam you to get a degree in two days). Universities like UC Irvine and Cal State Long Beach have TEFL programs through their extension programs located on campus. In most cases its over 120 hours of classroom teaching and another few hours of practice teaching. Georgetown University offers a program online and Hamline University offers training on the East Coast. Kent State University does it's training from it's Dresden, Germany facility. Raymond Dupuy of UC Irvine says there are a few advantages of getting your TEFL certificate from a university. First, all instructors are from UC Irvine. Second, no GED or BA is required to enroll and get the certificate (something that other TEFL programs require). Third, the certificate can be used in some cases to get a teaching job in the US. And finally, the course spends over 20 class hours helping trainees find the best, available jobs abroad.

2. Make sure the TEFL school is accredited and has an independent advisor(s).

TEFL International  has 37 locations in five continents around the world,  offers classroom instruction and then teaching jobs at all it's locations.  According to Bruce Veldhuisen of TEFL International, all courses meet current international accreditation standards of  over six hours of observed teaching practice and over 100 hours of classroom. Veldhuisen added that Brian Tomlinson, a well-known author of books on language teaching including "Developing Materials for Language Teaching" checks on courses every month.  Veldhuisen added that "these schools operate very independently and are very far apart, so Tomlinson reviews course assignments, student feedback and talks to the main teachers at each of our schools every month.  In fact he writes a report and it is posted online."

Via Lingua (, another large TEFL certificate provider with schools in 18 countries worldwide, says that its schools are accredited by the College of Teachers, and are also active members of TESOL and NAFSA.

3. Maybe you need a TEFL certificate. Maybe you don't!  

Tom Shanford, who runs Via Lingua says that most language schools "won’t hire people with online certificates unless they can prove they have real, monitored teaching practice in a classroom." The four week courses in 120 hours and six hours practice teaching at his locations offer theory, practice, culture, and training experience that he says is vital to learning how to teach in the classroom.

This causes an obvious problem for those that have ponied up at least $99 to get an online TEFL certificate that won't be worth much when you show up to a job interview overseas and they ask you "have you actually taught someone how to speak English?" So what companies like Via Lingua and TEFL International do is offer the training at their own facilities overseas for a fee, and then offer most a teaching job at the facility (or at one of their many locations worldwide) once they get their certificate.

But don't think that an online degree is a waste of time! It's something, and with a price tag usually under $500 USD it's usually cheaper than a program taught in a classroom. There are many online, TEFL programs to choose from. Before you pony up for the program that comes up first on Google, do a little research. Find out if they are accredited. See if they have an option to learn in a classroom overseas. These are all signs that you will get a valuable education.   Plus, your future employer may know a reputable online TEFL provider like i-to-i (

Finally, an online education can quickly tell you if you really want to be a teacher overseas. If you find yourself getting bored after the first online lecture, maybe teaching is not your thing. There are many ways to work overseas. So maybe waiting tables or at a bar, working on a farm, or something related to your major in an English-speaking country may be more your style. It may be better to find this out after shelling out only $99 instead of $5,000 that some teaching schools charge. Some language schools, like TEFL International, will offer you classes for FREE or for very cheap, especially in Asia where teaching jobs are in high demand. TEFL International has a popular program called "Special Projects" (  where you can get your TEFL Certificate for FREE or at a greatly reduced fee to teach in Thailand, Vietnam or China.

You just need to know that you may not start out in the higher paying jobs overseas. In fact, you can walk into many language schools off the street in countries like South Korea and China and get a job with no experience. So the online degree will at least get you a bit comfortable, you can learn as you go once you get the job, and then move onto higher paying jobs.

The advantage of getting a TEFL certificate can greatly increase one's chances to score a PAYING job overseas. A TEFL certificate from a classroom is the preferred choice for language schools, but those not ready to plunge into flying overseas and learning how to teach can also get a certificate online. So set your sights for getting a TEFL certificate and joining the countless others that are traveling the world teaching English abroad!

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