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How to get TEFL Certification Online

Written By
By Munira Maricar
Travel Writer

Starting on the journey to teach English abroad is an exciting venture, beginning with a crucial step: obtaining your TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification. 

TEFL certification is more than just a credential; it’s a testament to your teaching abilities and dedication to the profession. It equips you with the necessary skills to effectively teach English to non-native speakers worldwide and signals to potential employers your commitment to the teaching field.

This guide delves into the essentials of online TEFL programs, outlining the general requirements, steps to certification, and the benefits of completing such a program. You’ll learn about the process of acquiring this essential qualification, and how it prepares you for a world of teaching experiences abroad.

What is the difference: TEFL vs TESOL

TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) are terms often used interchangeably in the field of English language teaching, but they have distinct differences. 

TEFL generally refers to teaching English in countries where English is not the primary language. It focuses on teaching English to students in their home country, where the surrounding environment is not predominantly English-speaking. Therefore, this program would be more useful for people who want to travel abroad to teach English. The curriculum of the TEFL focuses on teaching people who wouldn’t normally have day-to-day English interactions, and techniques are focused on encouraging knowledge retention and making sure the students have a good technical understanding of the English language. 

In contrast, TESOL encompasses a broader scope, referring to teaching English to non-native speakers in both non-English speaking countries (similar to TEFL) and English-speaking countries. TESOL is more inclusive, covering the teaching of English in environments where English is the dominant language, such as teaching immigrants or international students in English-speaking countries like the US, UK, or Australia. The curriculum focuses on more practical usage of the language rather than technical knowledge – for example, getting students used to visits to the doctor or preparing for job interviews. 

Essentially, while TEFL is more specific to teaching in foreign countries, TESOL includes teaching in any context where English is not the first language of the students, whether abroad or in an English-speaking country.

Requirements for Obtaining an Online TEFL Certification


Online doesn’t necessarily mean only from home! Feel free to take your course from anywhere!

To embark on the path of getting an online TEFL certification, there are a few general requirements that candidates typically need to meet:

  • Educational Background: Most online TEFL programs require at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some may prefer or require a bachelor’s degree, but this is more often a requirement for job placements rather than the certification itself.

  • Proficiency in English: Candidates must have a strong command of the English language. This requirement is crucial regardless of whether English is your first language or an additional language. Some programs may require proof of proficiency through tests or assessments.

  • Technical Requirements: As the course is online, you need reliable access to a computer and a stable internet connection. Basic computer literacy is also essential for navigating online learning platforms.

  • Time Commitment: Online TEFL courses vary in length, but a commitment to completing the required hours (commonly, a minimum of 120 hours is preferred) is necessary. This includes time for studying, completing assignments, and, in some cases, participating in practical teaching exercises.

  • Age Requirements: Most programs require participants to be at least 18 years old. However, some employers in certain countries may have higher age requirements for teaching positions.

  • Fees: Be prepared to pay for your online TEFL course. Costs can vary widely depending on the program’s length, comprehensiveness, and reputation. For example, a shorter course can cost around US$400, and a longer, more comprehensive course that includes extra modules and in-person practicums can go as high as US$6390.

  • Legal Documentation: For eventual employment, you may need additional documentation like a passport, visa, or background check, depending on the country where you plan to teach.

How to earn a TEFL Certification online


Make sure you meet the necessary requirements before you begin!

Here are six straightforward steps to obtain your TEFL certification online

Step 1: Selecting the Right Program

When choosing an online TEFL course, consider the amount of time you can commit. Course lengths vary, typically ranging from 20 to over 200 hours. It’s important to note that most employers favor certificates that reflect at least 120 hours of instruction. While shorter courses are convenient, they might not meet the criteria of schools offering competitive salaries. Consider courses that blend theoretical learning with practical elements, especially if you’re new to teaching. This hybrid approach combines the flexibility of online learning with the hands-on experience of in-class teaching. Ensure the program is accredited to avoid scams. Reputable providers like Maximo Nivel, International TEFL Academy, IVHQ, and Volunteering Solutions offer convenient and trustworthy options.

Step 2: Enrollment

Once you’ve chosen your program, the next step is simple: sign up! This usually entails choosing the exact course hours you want and making a payment. Online TEFL courses are generally more affordable than in-person courses.

Step 3: Get Organized

Whether you’re taking the course from home or anywhere else, always remember to create a conducive learning environment. Find a quiet, distraction-free space and gather all necessary study materials. Minimize interruptions by turning off notifications on your devices, ensuring you can focus entirely on your course.

Step 4: Pace Your Learning

In a self-guided course, the freedom to set your own pace is both a privilege and a responsibility. It’s essential to develop a study schedule that suits your daily routine, but equally important is sticking to it. Keep track of all deadlines to manage your study workload effectively. While some students in intensive courses might be tempted to rush through the material by pulling all-nighters, this approach is not advisable. Effective learning requires taking regular breaks and maintaining a steady pace. Remember, a tired student is not an effective student. Proper pacing is everything in online learning – it’s not just about completing the course but absorbing and understanding the material. Allow yourself the time to fully engage with the content, ensuring a more enriching and sustainable learning experience.

Step 5: Excel in Your Course

Success in your online TEFL course requires commitment and active engagement with the material. Follow your study schedule diligently, participate in course activities, and complete assignments on time. These practices will help you not just pass, but excel in your TEFL course.

Step 6: Transitioning to the Classroom

After certification, you’re ready to explore teaching opportunities. Many online TEFL programs provide job placement assistance and guidance for teaching abroad. Start your job hunt by researching various teaching placements and leveraging the network provided by your TEFL program. Getting TEFL certified is a significant step towards a successful teaching career abroad. Consider providers like the International TEFL Academy and African Impact, which offer accredited courses and in-person teaching internships, to start your journey in teaching abroad.

Popular Online TEFL Programs

Several reputable online TEFL programs can help you get certified quickly and efficiently.

Maximo Nivel’s Online TEFL Program

Maximo Nivel's TEFL

Teach English abroad in Latin America with Maximo!

Since 2003, Maximo Nivel has been offering diverse educational and volunteer programs in Latin America and is acclaimed for its global accreditations. As an English as a Second Language (ESL) institute with 20+ years experience, they have expertly built an effective TEFL program to help people start their journey in teaching English abroad.

Along with in-person or hybrid TEFL certification courses based in Latin America, Maximo Nivel provides an interactive online TEFL course for those that need more flexibility. This program is designed for those seeking a more intensive and hands-on approach to TEFL training, with a course structure that allows for teaching practice and feedback from experienced TEFL instructors. The course creatively blends theory with practice. What sets it apart is the inclusion of 5 hours of live teaching with English students, supplemented by 10 hours of tutoring and coaching. The certification you will receive is accredited and recognized worldwide.

Additionally, Maximo Nivel offers help with job placement guarantee and lifetime job-finding support providing continuous support for a successful teaching abroad career. 

International TEFL Academy

Earn your TEFL certificate and teach English abroad with ITA

Get your TEFL certification with International TEFL Academy!

ITA’s Accredited Online Courses

Established in 2010, the International TEFL Academy (ITA) offers globally recognized and accredited TEFL courses, certifying 6,000 people annually with graduates teaching in over 80 countries.  ITA is renowned for its Level 5 Ofqual accreditation from TQUK and its extensive network of partner schools across Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Having received media coverage from Forbes to CNBC, ITA has a well-established reputation. ITA also supports graduates and those TEFL certified with guaranteed job placement services in Asia, and cultural training to prepare graduates for teaching English anywhere in the world. ITA’s business divisions extend its reach into university relations and collaboration with international educational programs, emphasizing its role in global English language education.

Besides providing certification courses in over 20 worldwide locations, ITA also offers TEFL online courses. These online courses, designed for both full-time and part-time learners, blend theoretical instruction with live practice teaching, providing a rigorous and comprehensive learning experience. Beyond the standard TEFL certification, ITA offers TEFL specialty courses in teaching English online, business English, and young learners, enhancing career prospects. Supported by highly qualified instructors, ITA’s online courses ensure flexibility, accessibility, and quality education, backed by lifetime job search guidance for diverse international and online teaching opportunities.


What's the difference between TEFL, TESOL, CELTA? - IVHQ

IVHQ is a leading volunteer organization established in 2007, renowned for placing over 132,000 volunteers in 42+ countries to support global sustainable development. With B Corporation Certification and a Carbon Neutral status since 2019, IVHQ provides a wide range of volunteer opportunities, including teaching abroad, with comprehensive support, alongside flexible booking and options for academic credit.

TEFL HQ Online Certification via IVHQ

TEFL HQ offers a specialized 100-hour online TEFL course, internationally recognized and developed by second language acquisition experts. This course is a comprehensive introduction to teaching English, covering aspects like grammar simplification, lesson planning, and classroom management. TEFL HQ’s course is particularly beneficial for those looking to volunteer abroad or enhance their teaching credentials.

African Impact


Put your newly learned skills to work by choosing an online course and an in-person practicum

Online TEFL Course and In-Person Teaching Internship with African Impact

This unique TEFL Teaching Internship by African Impact combines online coursework with a hands-on practicum in Zanzibar or Zambia. Tailored for those enrolled in African Impact’s TEFL course, this program requires a minimum of 28 hours of practical teaching over two weeks, which is a requirement for participants to graduate with their TEFL Certification. Interns teach in nursery schools and at an Education Centre, engaging with children, adults, and women’s groups. This experience not only involves lesson planning and classroom support but also immerses participants in local culture. The program promises a comprehensive, fulfilling experience with accommodation, meals, and support, empowering local communities through education and providing interns with diverse teaching skills as they complete their TEFL Certification.

Volunteering Solutions


Your journey to teaching English globally begins here!

TEFL UK Course via Volunteering Solutions

The Online TEFL Course by Volunteering Solutions, in collaboration with TEFL UK, offers a flexible and comprehensive program for those eager to teach English globally. Catering to a wide audience, including high school graduates, gap year travelers, and experienced educators, this 120-hour course is ideal for developing essential teaching skills. It opens doors to international teaching opportunities, allowing you to learn at your own pace and even from home.

Start Your TEFL Certification Today!


With your TEFL Certification, you can improve your English teaching skills and bring your expertise around the world!

Obtaining your TEFL certification online is a gateway to a world of opportunities, empowering you to embark on a fulfilling journey as an English teacher abroad.

With the right preparation, commitment, and guidance from accredited programs, you can turn your aspirations into reality. Whether you’re a recent graduate, a professional seeking a career change, or simply passionate about teaching and travel, the path to teaching English abroad begins here. Embrace this adventure with enthusiasm and preparedness, and you’ll find that teaching English as a Foreign Language is not just a profession, but a rewarding way to connect with people across the globe, sharing knowledge and experiences in a journey that extends far beyond the classroom.