How Many Hours of TEFL/TESOL Certification Do I Need? Is 120 Enough?

January 8, 2021

If you’re looking to teach English online or in an international classroom, then you’ve probably already wondered, “How many hours of TEFL/TESOL certification do I need?” While the answer varies, a minimum of 120 hours is usually the standard, and it should come as no surprise that having training from an accredited provider will open more doors in today’s hyper-competitive ESL job market.

What does TEFL/TESOL stand for?

Before answering the question, “How many TEFL/TESOL course hours do I need?” it’s important to first review what terms like TEFL and TESOL mean.


TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and it’s the term you may be more familiar with. It refers to teaching students English in a country where English is not the primary language (such as a teacher from the U.S. in Japan).


Then, what is TESOL? TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. It’s a wider, umbrella term that includes EFL as well as teaching English to students in a country where the primary language is English (such as teaching a group of international students at a language center in New York).

While there are subtle differences between the two, these terms are often used interchangeably and essentially refer to the same thing: teaching the English language. For that reason, you’ll commonly see the term written as TEFL/TESOL.

Why do I need to take a TEFL/TESOL course?

Most jobs teaching English, whether in a traditional classroom or online, require a professional TEFL/TESOL certification to prove that you’ve been trained in the theoretical and practical foundations of English language instruction. Certification shows that you’re familiar with ESL teaching methodology, lesson planning, grammar knowledge, and classroom management.

What are TEFL/TESOL course hours?

TEFL/TESOL course hours are a way to quantify to employers how prepared you are to be an effective teacher.

Factoring in the course’s content

There are now hundreds of course options for obtaining a TEFL/TESOL certification, but it’s important to make sure that the number of claimed course hours matches the course content and curriculum. It might be appealing to take a cheap, 40-hour online course, but keep in mind that it might not satisfy the requirements to teach English online or abroad. The course also might not prepare you to teach in a real-life classroom.

The importance of accreditation

It’s also crucial to make sure the TEFL/TESOL course you choose to take is legitimate. One of the main ways to check this is to look at the educational bodies granting accreditation. For example, Bridge has been accredited by ACCET, the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training, since 1998. Also, most recently, Bridge was evaluated and granted accreditation by Aqueduto, the Association for Quality Education & Online Training, in March 2020.

Read more about Bridge accreditation.

TEFL Certified Teachers with certificates

Newly-certified TEFL/TESOL teachers

So, how many hours of TEFL/TESOL certification do I need?

You’re probably still wondering, “How many hours of TEFL/TESOL training do I need?” and in short, 120 hours is the standard that will generally qualify you to teach abroad and online. While teaching English abroad requirements can vary by country and some online companies ask for even more hours, 120 is what you should aim for when browsing different courses.

Is TEFL/TESOL certification worth it for you? Find out.

Keep in mind that English language professionals can qualify for more competitive jobs or stand out with 150+ hours of certification, such as the Bridge IDELTOnline™ course (described in more detail below). While it’s a bigger initial financial and time investment, taking a course that’s 150+ hours can pay off in the long run.

How long does it take to complete a 120-hour TEFL/TESOL course?

Completing a 120-hour certification will probably take you several weeks. On average, most people take six to eight weeks to complete Bridge TEFL/TESOL certification courses, but some finish sooner. Bridge allows you up to three months to complete a TEFL/TESOL certification course.

teacher with TEFL certificate

Bridge grad, Hawra, holding her recently earned TEFL/TESOL certificate

Which Bridge courses are 120+ hours?

Choosing the right TEFL/TESOL course is an important yet difficult choice. There are so many options out there, that picking the one that meets your specific needs may seem daunting. Luckily, Bridge has a specific category of courses, called Professional Certificates, that meet this hours requirement. (Beyond these general certificates, Bridge also offers Specialized Certification courses to help teachers develop their expertise and qualify for competitive jobs.)

120-Hour Master Certificate

The 120-hour Master Certificate is a flexible course for independent learners. It’s made up of 13 modules, a grammar refresher, and two additional sections on Teaching Young Learners and Teaching Business English. This course covers everything from how to write lesson plans to classroom management to how to teach vocabulary and grammar. As part of the course, students have access to a professional tutor, special TEFL/TESOL resources, discussion forums, and the Bridge Job Board.

150-Hour IDELTOnline

This academic, 150-hour TEFL/TESOL course is interactive and university-affiliated. In fact, the course has been recommended by The American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT®) for up to nine graduate-level university credits, which can be transferred to over 1,600 colleges and universities. The course can also be taken as a pathway to a master’s degree in TESOL through Bridge partner universities.

For that reason, the IDELTOnline is more than a certification program. It’s a stepping stone to career advancement for those looking to make a long-term career out of teaching English.

Find out more about the differences between the IDELTOnline™ vs. Master Certificate.

Teachers participate in TEFL/TESOL training in Denver

Do I need a practicum in addition to a 120-hour TEFL/TESOL certification?

What is a TEFL/TESOL practicum?

A TEFL/TESOL practicum is a practical application of what you learned in your certification course. It’s an opportunity to teach actual students in either an in-person or virtual classroom.

What are the advantages of taking a practicum?

There are clear advantages to choosing a TEFL/TESOL course that includes a practicum, as it gives you real teaching experience and makes you a competitive applicant. Some teaching jobs abroad and online even require a practicum, or at least prior teaching experience, in order to apply. Practicums count as TEFL/TESOL teaching experience and give you a chance to apply what you’ve learned with real students.

Does Bridge offer a practicum?

Yes! In fact, Bridge offers two practicum options, either of which can be added to any Bridge TEFL/TESOL course or taken in addition to certification earned through another provider.

20-Hour Guided Teaching Practicum

Bridge offers a 20-Hour Guided Teaching Practicum for any teachers looking to expand their portfolio with hands-on training. Those enrolled in this practicum will both observe professional TEFL/TESOL teachers in action and teach their own classes while receiving feedback. While most practicums only give you a few choices of language institutes in major cities, Bridge allows you to add this valuable teaching experience to your resume from anywhere in the world.

60-Hour Practicum in Teaching English Online

If you’re looking to pursue a career teaching English online from home, then you can check out Bridge’s 60-Hour Practicum in Teaching English Online, a specialized TEFL/TESOL certificate that benefits both established teachers looking to transition to online teaching and those with no prior teaching experience.

This unique practicum gives you real experience in a virtual classroom so that you feel prepared for online teaching jobs when you finish the course. You’ll also walk away with a portfolio of recorded classes that you can show potential employers.


Most TEFL/TESOL jobs online or abroad will be satisfied with a 120-hour certification. If you’re looking to really stand out, then you can pursue certification with 150+ hours or add a practicum or other specializations to your TEFL resume.

Are you already a teacher? Find out if you still need TEFL/TESOL certification!