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How Does Online TEFL Certification Work? What to Expect and FAQs

Bridge online TEFL course on tablet_blog image

You’ve made the decision to get your TEFL certification online, congrats! Now, you’re probably wondering, “How does online TEFL certification work?” Let’s take a look at the process – including the format, what you’ll learn, how long the certification is valid, and other FAQs so that you know what to expect in your online TEFL certification course.

First, what do the terms TEFL and TESOL stand for – are they the same thing?

While technically the definition of these terms varies slightly, these acronyms are often used interchangeably by certification providers as well as schools hiring teachers. Therefore, don’t worry if you see either the term TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) crop up in regard to certification courses or in the listed requirements for English teaching jobs abroad or online.

Read more about the difference between TEFL vs. TESOL certification.

How does a TEFL/TESOL online course work?

Completing TEFL courses online is both convenient and flexible. For most online TEFL/TESOL courses, including Bridge’s popular 120-hour Master Certificate, you can start the same day you enroll, and you’ll be given a time frame in which to complete the course at your own pace (3 months for the Master Certificate).

Throughout the course, you’re able to receive tutor guidance and get personalized feedback on your assignments, just as you would with an in-person course. An added bonus of Bridge online certification courses is that they’re hosted on a fun, interactive learning platform combining videos, exercises, and discussion boards.

Check out this short video to see the Bridge course platform for yourself:

What do you learn in a TEFL course?

Now, let’s get into the specifics of how online TEFL certification courses work.  While each course will vary somewhat, in general, TEFL certification courses online, including Bridge courses, cover the following topics.

  • Lesson planning
  • Methodology and teaching strategies
  • Grammar expertise
  • Classroom management

You’ll find that most courses teach the material and test your understanding using practice exercises, online quizzes and assessments, and written assignments, such as lesson plans. In addition to the course content, Bridge online TEFL/TESOL certification courses also include other great resources, like:

  • Study tips for online learning
  • Study plans
  • Job assistance
  • Grammar tools and recommended books
  • An ESL/EFL glossary
Hawra Saleh, Bridge grad, with her TEFL/TESOL certificate

Hawra Saleh, Bridge grad, with her TEFL/TESOL certificate.

How long does it take to do an online TEFL course?

TEFL/TESOL certification courses online can vary in length to complete. It’ll primarily depend on the particular course that you choose, but 120 hours is generally considered the minimum number of TEFL certification hours you’ll need to qualify for English teaching jobs.

The 120-hour Bridge Master Certificate course typically takes trainees six to eight weeks to complete. However, since the course is self-paced, (you have up to three months’ access) there are people who finish sooner or take longer.

How difficult is a TEFL course?

A TEFL course is not necessarily difficult, but it will require you to work hard and create goals for yourself, especially if the course is self-paced. In the Bridge Master Certificate course, for example, you’ll work through the 13 modules of the course, completing reading, interactive exercises, practice quizzes, and other activities. At the end of each module, there’s a final quiz, and at least one graded written assignment. Your end-of-module quiz and written assignment grade average together for each module. You must earn a 70% average or higher on all combined modules to pass the course.

If you do not pass a module assignment, you will be given one opportunity to re-submit it to improve your grade; however, quiz grades are final.

The 120-hour Master Certificate course also has other components, specialized modules in teaching young learners, business English, and grammar, which are pass/fail –  meaning your grades for these do not average into your overall grade for the course, but must simply be passed in order to receive the hours toward your total certification.

To be successful in any TEFL/TESOL course, here are some tips:

  • Know the course expectations and structure.
  • Create a good study environment.
  • Engage and participate in discussion boards.
  • Seek help and additional resources.
BridgeTEFL certificate

An example of an online TEFL/TESOL course certificate.

How long is a TEFL certificate valid?

One of the best aspects of an online TEFL/TESOL certificate is that it never expires! However, after you complete your TEFL certificate, you can pursue additional professional development opportunities for ESL teachers with Specialized Certifications or Micro-credentials. This will allow you to stay up to date with industry trends and practices.

Online TEFL/TESOL certification FAQs

Can I teach English online with a TEFL certificate?

Yes! Most online English tutoring companies require teachers to have a TEFL certificate of at least 120 hours, and also value Specialized Certification in Teaching English Online.

Do I need a TEFL/TESOL certificate if I have a degree? Find out!

Is 120-hours of TEFL certification enough?

Yes, a 120-hour online TEFL/TESOL certification course is the perfect place to start, as this is the generally accepted number of hours required to teach abroad. Later on, you can always add on additional certifications if you’d like to specialize in a particular area or focus on a specific age of learners.

How much does a TEFL certificate cost?

TEFL/TESOL certification cost can vary quite a bit based on factors such as whether it’s in-person, online, or a combination of the two, the number of hours, accreditation, and how much teacher support and feedback is provided. Generally, you’ll pay about $200 for a basic, 40-hour course and up to $400-$500 for a 100+ hour course. For an in-person course, you can expect to pay $1,000-$2,500.

What is the best TEFL qualification?

The best TEFL qualification for you depends on your background and experience as well as your teaching goals.

For many new teachers looking to qualify for their first job teaching English abroad, the 120-Hour Master Certificate course is the best choice, since it’s comprehensive, accredited training that’s also affordable and conveniently self-paced.

Other new teachers may be looking to start with a more advanced-level, in-depth, interactive training. Or, experienced teachers may want to take a TEFL/TESOL certification course that can advance their career or serve as a stepping stone to a master’s degree in TESOL. For these teachers, the best TEFL qualification is more likely the Bridge International Diploma in English Langauge Teaching (IDELTOnline™).

Find out more about the IDELTOnline vs. Master Certificate.

Still other teachers may already be TEFL-qualified but are making the transition from teaching English in the classroom to teaching online. For these teachers, the 120-hour combination of Foundations and Advanced Methods in Teaching English online is the best TEFL/TESOL certification to add to their existing credentials.

Johanna, an online and classroom-based English teacher in Japan, with her TEFL/TESOL certificate

Johanna, an English teacher in Japan, with her TEFL/TESOL certificate.

Are online TEFL/TESOL courses legitimate?

Not all TEFL courses are the same, and when choosing the best tefl certification, you want to make sure that the course is accredited by a reputable organization. For example, Bridge courses are accredited by both the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET)  and Aqueduto, the Association for Quality Education and Training Online. Learn more about the accreditation of Bridge courses.

Bridge courses have also been recommended for undergraduate and graduate-level college credit by the American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT). More on this below.

Can I get a job with an online TEFL?

Yes! Getting a TEFL certification online (of at least 120 hours) can lead to both in-person, classroom teaching jobs and online English teaching jobs. Of course, there can be other required qualifications for teachers, such as a degree or previous teaching experience, but this varies by location and employer.

Learn more about the types of jobs you can get with a TEFL/TESOL certificate.

Can I earn college credit for an online TEFL course?

Yes, there are several options when it comes to earning college credit for Bridge TEFL/TESOL courses. Bridge grads can take the IDELTOnline as a pathway to a Master’s in TESOL with more than 1,600 universities or get an ACE CREDIT® transcript for undergraduate or graduate-level credit for taking other online TEFL/TESOL courses.

Should I take a TEFL practicum?

It’s a good idea to include a practicum with your online TEFL certificate. If you don’t have previous teaching experience, a practicum can be an ideal way to get that experience, become more comfortable in front of a class or when teaching online, and show employers that you have the necessary skills for the job. Bridge offers a Teaching English Online Practicum and a Guided Teaching Practicum (in person).

Check out these seven ways to get TEFL experience if you’re newly-certified.

Is an online TEFL certification course as good as an in-class TEFL course?

Yes! Today’s online TEFL certification courses are just as comprehensive and thorough as an in-person course, with personalized feedback and interactive lessons. They’re also more affordable and convenient and allow you to start teaching quickly.

Digital badges for BridgeTEFL certification

What is a digital badge for TEFL/TESOL?

Digital badges are dynamic icons that represent your Bridge achievements. In addition to your TEFL/TESOL certificate, you’ll receive a digital badge for every Bridge online TEFL/TESOL course you complete, from initial certification to professional development courses such as Micro-credentials. Because they’re digital, these badges can be shared anywhere online — social networks like LinkedIn, your personal blog, or via your online resume. When an employer clicks on your digital badge, they are able to see the full scope of your achievements, including:

  • The learning objectives you met to earn the badge
  • Evidence that you completed those objectives (such as key assignments)
  • Your core competencies
  • Bridge’s standards and accreditation, including ACCET accreditation, recognized by the US Department of Education as well as Aqueduto accreditation.

Badges are also incredibly convenient and versatile since you can display them on social networks such as LinkedIn, on a blog, or even on your online teacher resume.

Learn more about how to use digital badges.

If you’re just getting started, the world of online TEFL certification can seem overwhelming. However, now that you know how online TEFL certification works, you can choose the course that’s the right fit for you and begin or advance your English teaching career.

Take a look at the online TEFL/TESOL certification courses that Bridge offers!

Betsy has been working remotely for eight years in content creation, editing, writing, and teaching/mentoring. In early 2014, she earned her TEFL certification and has enjoyed teaching online to adult learners around the world ever since. When she’s not working, Betsy loves exploring the world and has visited 35+ countries. Born and raised in the Midwest, she moved to Florida for grad school and has been there ever since. Her favorite hobbies are reading and slowly improving her Mandarin. You can connect with her on her blog or Instagram.