Are online TEFL courses recognized or accredited? - TEFL-Certification

Are online TEFL courses recognized or accredited?

TEFL certification is the first step in getting qualified to teach English abroad or online.


You’ve probably noticed there are heaps of options for online TEFL courses. But are online TEFL courses legitimate or recognized? 


The short answer is, yes, language schools recognize online TEFL certification


But the truth is, although there are many great, recognized online TEFL certification courses, there are also a lot of courses that are either scams or offer low-quality instruction. 


Knowing if an online TEFL  course is valid requires understanding what we mean when talking about TEFL accreditation in the first place.


Is online TEFL accredited?


We’re going to let you in on a little secret.


TEFL accreditation is an inaccurate term because there isn’t any single international organization that currently provides global accreditation to TEFL courses.


Read this: There’s no such thing as TEFL accreditation: What you need to look for in a TEFL course instead


That said, there are a lot of smaller organizations that do provide accreditation, such as: 

Language courses worldwide should recognize online (or onsite) TEFL courses that have been accredited by one of these organizations.


If you come across a provider claiming they’re an accredited online TEFL certification course, verify that by looking into the accrediting organization.


Read this: A guide to TEFL accrediting bodies


Keep in mind that there are still plenty of perfectly reputable TEFL certification courses out there that may not have sought out accreditation from any of these (or other) accrediting bodies.


So, how do you go about determining the difference between a reputable and disreputable TEFL certification course?


Remember the 100-hour rule 👍


One good rule of thumb for figuring out which TEFL courses are worth your time is remembering the 100-hour rule. 


The TEFL industry and language schools have settled on 100 hours of coursework as the minimum standard for a recognized/accredited TEFL course.


It makes no difference whether you complete those 100 hours in a classroom or online: the only thing that matters is that you get those 100 hours under your belt. 


A TEFL course that offers anything less than 100 hours is just a waste of your time and money.




Remember that pretty much anybody can start up a TEFL certification course and claim they’re “accredited.” 


So don’t be fooled by courses that offer less than 100 hours of coursework.


Not only will you get inadequate training, but most prospective employers won’t consider your application if your TEFL certification equates to less than 100 hours.


How much does a good online TEFL course cost?


When it comes to TEFL certification, you get what you pay for. 


There’s a lot of  100+ hour courses out there, so not all of them will be of the same caliber.


You’ve likely noticed that the prices for these courses vary. 


While it is tempting to assume that the more expensive courses are also the best, this isn’t always the case.


After all, since a single governing body doesn’t offer accreditation for TEFL certification, schools can charge whatever they want for their courses, regardless of quality.


On the other hand, if you go for the cheapest TEFL course out there, you probably won’t get a very good education.


Most reputable online TEFL courses cost around $1,000 USD. While that is still a big chunk of money, it is also about half of what most good in-person TEFL courses cost. Plus, you’ll save on travel and accommodations.


What do we mean by an “internationally recognized” TEFL course?


Since accreditation in TEFL doesn’t always carry much weight and course prices are no guarantee of quality, you may be feeling a little confused about which course to choose.  


How are you supposed to figure out which TEFL courses are reputable and which aren’t? 


Earlier, we covered that 100 hours of coursework is the bare minimum, but other telltale signs can help determine whether a TEFL school is reputable.


Some universities and colleges offer TEFL certification courses. You can have peace of mind knowing that these courses will always be high quality and recognized by language schools worldwide.


However, there are plenty of private companies that also offer reputable, internationally recognized TEFL certification courses. 


Check out their websites to get a better idea of their quality. You can also read reviews, testimonials and ask alumni on Linkedin about their experience. 


Also, don’t be swayed by the bell and whistles some schools offer, like guaranteed job placements or teaching practicums. 


While there is nothing wrong with these offers per se, they are not indicators of quality. And sometimes they can be too good to be true and come with strings attached. 


Most language schools you apply to won’t consider a teaching practicum as career experience anyway. And a quality TEFL certificate should always be more than sufficient to get you an ESL job overseas, which makes guaranteed job placement offers a little redundant.

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2 thoughts on “Are online TEFL courses recognized or accredited?

  1. I completed a 120-hour course elsewhere and by following the “100-hour rule” I’m assuming that it would be valid for teaching overseas. My only concern is how do I know it will be recognized? Who do I contact to see if it is recognized? I have received a certificate of completion.

    • Hi Nathan,
      There is no central governing body for TEFL so there’s no way to verify that your certificate is internationally recognizable. The true test will be to see how employers respond when you start applying to jobs.I wish you luck!

      For anyone else considering TEFL, make sure you do your research on the provider – for instance, do they have good reviews? Do the instructors have the right credentials to teach you about teaching? – so that you know your certificate will be recognized around the world before you enroll! We always recommend university-backed courses like the one provided by OISE at the University of Toronto.

      – Elspeth at Teach Away

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