If you’re researching TEFL courses, you’ve probably seen the terms “accredited” and “internationally recognized” being bandied about and wondered, which one matters most to hiring schools abroad? 🤔
But here’s the rub: As we’ve covered on the blog before, TEFL training is by and large an unregulated industry. At least for now.
We know you want to pick that one TEFL course provider that’ll give you your money’s worth. That gets your resume to the top of the pile. And another step closer to landing your dream job teaching English abroad.
The root of the problem here is the inescapable fact that there just is no single official accrediting body governing TEFL courses in operation worldwide. Instead, there are dozens of so-called TEFL accreditation bodies that seem like an indecipherable alphabet jumble of acronyms.
On the surface, some sort of accreditation seems to offer some level of quality assurance and a way to separate quality TEFL courses from their sketchier counterparts. Scratch a little deeper, though, and TEFL accrediting bodies are not all they seem.
A list of TEFL/TESL/TESOL accrediting bodies
- Training Qualifications UK (TQUK)
- WTEFLAC (The World TEFL Accrediting Commission)
- ALTE (Association of Language Testers in Europe)
- British Council
- OFQUAL (The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation)
- ACCET (Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training)
- IATEFL (International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language)
- ODLQC (Open and Distance Learning Quality Council)
- ACTDEC (Accreditation Council for TESOL Distance Education Courses)
- TESL Canada
Many of the TEFL course accreditors listed above are privately operated businesses and (more often than not), offer little in the way of legitimizing a TEFL course in the eyes of prospective employers overseas.
The fact is, the organization that accredited your TEFL course is not a question any hiring schools abroad is likely to ask of a job candidate.
TEFL accreditation real talk.
Over the nearly 15 years the Teach Away team has spent recruiting teachers for English teaching jobs abroad, they’ve never seen candidates screened out of the hiring process by not having an accredited TEFL certificate. (Although they have seen applicants WITHOUT a TEFL certificate being disregarded.)
That’s why Teach Away chose to partner with a reputable university to design the OISE University of Toronto TEFL course, rather than pay an annual fee for an easily obtained (but little earned) accreditation. They knew from experience that it just doesn’t factor into any school’s hiring decisions.
However, we also know that many people do default to choosing “accredited” TEFL courses. On the face of it, a TEFL course provider that’s externally accredited just sounds automatically more appealing and valid than a course provider that’s “internationally recognized”, which seems like a pretty subjective concept.
What makes the whole notion of TEFL accreditation even murkier is the fact that many TEFL courses will go as far as creating a fraudulent accrediting company to give their course a false veneer of legitimacy.
Those low-cost Groupon TEFL courses you might have seen on Google Ads are some of the biggest culprits when it comes to faking TEFL course accreditations. And it’s not hard to see why they resort to these shady tactics when other established TEFL programs are using accreditation to draw prospective students in. It’s an easy marketing ploy in the TEFL industry and as such is ripe for exploitation by unscrupulous TEFL courses.
But even in cases where TEFL course providers do go with an accrediting company that actually exists IRL, the vetting process, if any, is done privately and doesn’t really offer any guarantee that you’re getting quality TEFL training.
Who’s accrediting the accreditors? 🤷
A typical accreditation process should include thorough reviews to assess all aspects of a course. And beyond this, these accrediting bodies should be further vetted by a regional or international governing body to ensure they are actually using appropriate standards when evaluating a course. But who’s accrediting these so-called TEFL course accreditors?
In fact, many of these so-called accrediting bodies we’ve linked to above have given the stamp of approval to literally dozens of TEFL courses – some of which have gone out of business judging by our quick Google search. And what’s even more disheartening is that you can even find the annual fees they’re charging for accreditation on their websites. Making TEFL course creators stump up a few thousand dollars for the privilege of being accredited by them isn’t a reliable indicator of course quality.
In any case, being accredited by any of the bodies above is not what makes a TEFL course recognized by employers. Go for a brand name that employers recognize, such as a university TEFL course. After all, these higher education institutions ARE usually regionally or nationally accredited, which is a far better indicator of excellence. And TEFL courses with a good track record of helping graduates land well-paying reputable teaching jobs abroad is a safer bet.