Are online TEFL courses authentic? 

by Calvin on August 26, 2021

in Articles

Many people hoping to become TEFL teachers become disheartened when they jump online to explore course options. With the plethora of offerings it can be confusing (to say the least) as to which course to trust. The good news is that we have prepared this summary to examine and explain what you need to look for in a course and to elaborate on what you can expect from the different delivery methods on offer.

So are online courses authentic?

The authenticity of a TEFL or any other course is not dependent on the mode of its delivery. Many courses are now offered online and this has proven especially useful during uncertain times and for people who find it, for whatever reason, difficult to attend in person. The authenticity of a course depends upon the training organisation it is offered through, the type of registration the training organisation possesses, and the accreditations that it has obtained. So the answer is yes, online TEFL courses are authentic as long as they are obtained from a registered, accredited organisation. 

Is it really important to possess an accredited qualification?

A TEFL certification provides evidence to schools and other educational institutions of training in the specific domain of teaching English to English language learners. International schools around the world who hire TEFL teachers usually expect them to possess an accredited, recognised certificate of TEFL or TESOL. A recruiter will look at the qualification the candidate possesses and where it is obtained from before looking at the teaching experience they have, so the certificate itself is important to the success of your career. 

What are my options when undertaking a TEFL courses?

‘Delivery methods’ are the ways in which educational content is conveyed from teacher to student. The traditional delivery method is face-to-face, learning with a teacher in-class in a classroom. There is also however mixed delivery learning which combines in-class learning with an institution’s internet-based learning management system (LMS). The LMS contains course materials but all lectures are still usually delivered in a physical classroom. Finally we have online courses. These can be either self-paced, with students going through the content at their own desired speed, or instructor-lead, where the teacher sets the pace and the students must keep up. Online courses are also managed through the institution’s LMS but they do not require any in-class learning.

How do I choose which is best?

It is up to the student to choose the most suitable delivery method of a course for themselves. Their choice should take into consideration their learning style (how they learn best), their availability and ability for in-class attendance as well as the course cost. 

Online technology has been integrated into many education processes and nearly all institutions and organisations currently use it. It is especially useful due to its accessibility, being available on home desk-top computers, laptops, tablets and phones. Online courses are often cheaper because they have lower capital costs than classroom-based learning, not having to pay for rent, electricity and public facilities. Online course costs are reduced to teacher salary and keeping the course online, not reduced because the quality of the course is lower than the in-class version.

What should I look for in an online TEFL course? 

You should look for a course which is offered by a registered, accredited organisation. In the UK these qualifications are regulated by Ofqual, the UK government’s Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation. The UK government’s awarding organisation, Qualifi, should recognise the course also. In the US courses are often accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), one of the United States Department of Education’s approved accrediting agencies. 

These organisations guarantee that the qualifications you receive are of an internationally recognisable standard and that the curriculum you have been taught is approved and quality assured. 

This translates into a course that 

  • has been designed and developed by subject matter experts
  • is informed by the latest research in the field
  • is delivered by teachers who competently and effectively teach and assess the learning outcomes of the course
  • is taught by qualified instructors
  • is moderated by external entities ensuring the continuity of quality 

Is an accredited course all I need? 

Accredited TEFL qualifications moderated by Ofqual and DEAC are recognised world-wide and employers abroad will look for these endorsed courses when examining your qualifications. Courses are further assessed on the amount of hours of study they take to complete. Many employers will look for courses above 100 hours as they see these as more thorough. They may also look for courses providing a practical component so that they know the teacher they are hiring has had some instruction and practice in actually leading a class.  

A TEFL certification meeting all of the above requirements will assure employers that you have passed through a thorough professional level training program and is your first step toward becoming an English language teacher working abroad. 

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