Monday, 24 June 2013

To Online TEFL or not to Online TEFL?

... that is the question, but oh how often the answer misleads!

Everything you wanted to know about Online and Combined international TEFL/TESOL Courses* But were given misleading answers to.

Written by Nev (Neville)
Online TEFL course coordinator at ITTP: International Tefl/Tesol Program.

Hi :-) 
I have been working within the fields of ELT learner written publication materials and TEFL/TESOL course management for the past 15 years now and throughout these past 15 solid career years I have witnessed on English teaching forums a steady and significant amount of examples of completely false information passed on by self titled "TEFL forum experts" regarding the non-residential form of Teaching English as a Foreign Language course option (Online and Combined courses). It is also my belief that the owners and staff members of Onsite residential TEFL courses who anonymously frequent such forums 'under the radar' are the major source of this established and staunchly defended attempt at preventing people from taking courses other than their own financially lucrative residential Onsite course options.

For those of you not fully familiar with the terms 'Online TEFL', 'Combined TEFL', 'Onsite TEFL', here are their brief definitions:

Online TEFL: an internationally recognized Teaching English as a Foreign Language certification course which is taken as a computer program online and which typically consists of structured modules and the virtual assistance of an online tutor.

Combined TEFL: an internationally recognized Teaching English as a Foreign Language certification course which is taken as a computer program online and which typically consists of structured modules and the virtual assistance of an online tutor. These types of courses also include face-to-face teaching components which may or may not be supervised and which may be taken at home or abroad in the country where you plan on teaching next.

Onsite TEFL: an internationally recognized Teaching English as a Foreign Language certification course which is taken residentially and usually in the country where you plan on teaching. These courses usually come with school accommodation provided at additional expense; typically 2 or 3 times what you would expect to pay than if you traveled to your destination independently and searched accommodation options on your own. These courses also include face-to-face teaching practice components which may mean teaching real students but which often turn out to be simply loosely organized practice teaching with other members of your TEFL course. 

This post lists the 5 more commonly asked forum questions asked, their typical (short version) responses by every ready at the keyboard "forum experts" ('A') and the answer which would reflect the real truth of that original question ('B').

1. Will I find work with an Online TEFL course?

A: This answer is a clear NO! Employers do not recognize these types of qualifications and if you invest in an Online course you will be throwing your money at the wall.

B: Yes, you will find work. There is huge worldwide demand for teachers of English and all that is required for a position as teacher in this industry is a TEFL certificate. ANY type of TEFL certificate will do; meaning either one taken online, a combine course or one taken abroad whilst lodging in school accommodation and attending classes 4 or 5 days a week for 4 weeks.

2. Will a TEFL from an Online course look less important on my Resume than one taken residentially?

A: An Online course is something which will lower the effectiveness of your Resume. Best spend the extra money and invest by taking a residential course, which will add weight to your Resume instead.

B: Schools hardly ever ask if your TEFL course was taken online or residentially. Besides, on a Resume all you should need to list is the name of the TEFL course provider, the number of hours studied on the course and your final grade. Listing whether the course was taken online or onsite is immaterial.

3. Will I become a better trained teacher having taken a Combined, Online or Onsite TEFL course?

A: You can only expect to become a good teacher if you take an Onsite course which covers 120+ hours of face-to-face tuition and which includes a supervised teaching component in excess of 4 hours.

B: Online, combined and residential courses produce both excellent and poor teachers. Both types of courses run a typical duration of 4 weeks and when you have graduated and begin teaching there is definitely an element of continued on the job training. Some people are naturally matched for the wide berth of acquiring basic teaching and people skills and some people are not. A 4-week residential course will not maketh the teacher if the individual is just not cut out to be a teacher, just as also applies to a combined or online course. The opposite also applies.

4. I have been offered a place on an Online TEFL course but it contains no teaching component. Will this place me at a disadvantage when it comes to applying to schools for a teaching position?

A: Schools will not accept your job application if you have not taken a TEFL course with at least 4 hours of supervised teaching practice.

B: Most Online TEFL courses these days clearly take you through all the logical steps of preparing lesson plans and the stages of presenting classes and will prepare you just as sufficiently for when you begin your first paid teaching English class. The standard 4+ teaching practice hours offered by all residential courses is really quite laughable and quite an insignificant amount to be realistically claimed as a deal breaker requirement by employers - you will not be a significantly better teacher or more attractive catch by a school employer.

5. Why are residential TEFL courses significantly more expensive than Online TEFL courses? Is it because they are better and more widely recognized?

A: Yes, you get what you pay for. In the case of an Online TEFL course you pay less and receive less.

B: The only reason why residential courses are more expensive is because the costs surrounding the running of an onsite course are multiplied. Residential school owners must pay for office space, equipment and running. Teachers salaries also factor in significantly. Online courses are able to avoid such heavy costs so when you purchase an Online TEFL course you will only be paying for the course and the online teacher tuition and not, for example, for that classy sofa or art nouveau metallic plant stand sitting in the school hallway. 

Ok, so what should you do and who should you believe?

The answer is simple.

* If you (or your parents) have money to throw about and if you fancy the idea of taking 4 weeks out and spending it studying on a course in a city you always wanted to travel to and with other people who may or may not be similar to yourself then the Onsite residential TEFL course option is probably for you.

* If you have financial or time issues then taking an Online TEFL course will be far healthier on your bank balance and will provide you with up to 6 months to complete your course and at your own pace, with the added bonus of support from your online tutor.

* If you have financial or time issues and don't want to invest in a residential course but would also like to have some face-to-face teaching practice for peace of mind then by taking a Combined TEFL course you will satisfy your requirements.

We suggest you be very wary of anyone who spends vast amounts of their time cruising online forums and promoting onsite residential courses whilst trashing online course options because anyone who spends a significant amount of their time online in guise of an apparent good samaritan provider of impartial information is usually exactly the opposite. 

ITTP have been running Onsite, Online and Combined courses since 2002 and our list of course offer can be located on our school website:

If you have already made up your mind and wish to apply for one of our courses and begin your teaching English journey then you can find our online application form located here:

If you would like to pop us a question first then pls feel free to do so by emailing us at:

Thank you for your time and wishing all of our current Onsite, Online and Combined course students a successful and fun remaining time on their courses!