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Which TEFL Course Should I Take? 5 Questions to Help You Decide

Bridge online TEFL course on tablet_blog image

At Bridge, we offer a wide range of TEFL certification courses to choose from. All of our courses are accredited and designed to develop your professional credentials and help better prepare you for your ideal teaching situation, whether you want to teach English online or abroad. However, you might feel confused by all of the options and wonder, “Which TEFL course should I take for my specific plans?” Here’s Program Advisor Krzl Nunes’ advice for choosing the right course.

Understanding Bridge Course Categories

Let’s first begin with an explanation of how our online TEFL courses are grouped. All courses fall into one of the following four categories:

  • Foundational Certificates are designed to introduce you to the field of TEFL/TESOL and build the general English teaching knowledge on which you can pursue further study, regardless of whether you plan to teach in person or online. They are less than 120 hours.
  • Professional Certificates are similar to Foundational Certificates in that they are focused on the general principles of teaching English rather than being specialized in any area. They go beyond the basics and cover the theory and application of TEFL/TESOL teaching techniques and lesson planning. What makes them Professional is that they are programs of 120 hours or more, which is the number of hours of certification that most teaching jobs online and worldwide require.
  • Specialized Certificates are designed to be added on to general TEFL/TESOL training since they focus on a specific subfield of English teaching, such as Teaching English Online or Teaching Young Learners.
  • Micro-credentials are short, targeted professional development courses that focus on skills like Teaching English Using Video or Teaching English Online to Groups. These courses are typically only 10 or 20 hours.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself to Choose the Right TEFL/TESOL Course

Choosing the best TEFL/TESOL certification course for you depends on your background, experience, and professional goals. As a Program Advisor, these are some questions that I have prospective students answer in order to get a better understanding of their goals and interests and to advise them on which specific course to take.

1. Do I have any English teaching experience?

No, I don’t have teaching experience. 

If not, and you’re hoping to find a teaching position online or abroad, then my advice is to take one of our Professional Certificates. Many positions will look for teachers to have at least 120 hours of general TEFL/TESOL certification, so these programs are a great way to give you a thorough overview of English teaching methodology while also qualifying you for jobs.

Our two Professional courses are the 120-hour Master Certificate (our most popular self-paced, online course) and the 150-hour IDELTOnline (a more advanced, graduate-level online training option with additional structure and interaction). If you’re planning to teach online, we recommend taking our Comprehensive Certification Bundle, which combines a Professional Certification with specialized certification in Teaching English Online.

This article provides a detailed breakdown of the differences between these two programs: IDELTOnline™ vs. Master Certificate: Which Course Should I Take?

freelance ESL teacher to adults
Yes, I have teaching experience. 

If you do have prior teaching experience (and have already earned a TEFL/TESOL certification that gave you a foundation in teaching English), then you could be a great fit for our Professional Development courses. Our Specialized Certificates (such as Teaching English Online, Teaching Young Learners and Teenagers, and Teaching Business English) are designed to help trainees build on their existing TEFL/TESOL knowledge and focus on one specific subfield of their choice. They dive deep into specific TEFL/TESOL niches so trainees can set themselves apart from other teachers in these competitive areas of the ESL industry.

You can also opt for Micro-credential certifications, like Teaching English as a Global Language or Games and Activities for the Online Classroom, to hone specific teaching skills and get new ideas for enhancing your lessons or teaching in certain contexts.

Specialized certification and Micro-credentials not only provide targeted skills you can use with teaching worldwide or online but also boost your resume and show employers you’re serious about professional development and improving as a teacher.

2. What are my teaching plans?

I’m not sure.

No problem! If you are unsure of your long-term career plans but think teaching English could be right for you, then our standard recommendation is to start with a Foundational Certificate. These programs will introduce you to basic concepts of TEFL/TESOL and can also give you an idea of whether the field is a good fit. Then, you can upgrade and take your training further and qualify for jobs.

teaching English online
I have a specific type of learner in mind.

If you hope to work with a specific type of learner, like business professionals, a good way to achieve this is by starting with a Professional Certificate and then moving on to a Specialized Certificate that is relevant to your teaching interests. The Professional Certificates provide the essential theory and methods of TEFL/TESOL on which you can then add additional, specialized training in your chosen field of interest.

3. Is there a specific place abroad where I want to teach?

If you think you may want to teach English abroad now or in the future, it can also be helpful to consider where you want to teach and what the market might look like in your ideal destination. Generally speaking, Africa, Asia, and Latin America are less competitive markets for teaching positions while the Middle East, Europe, and English-speaking countries are highly competitive.

The more competitive your chosen teaching destination, the more credentials you will want to earn, and the Bridge International Diploma in English Language Teaching (IDELTOnline™) would be the best Professional Certificate to choose in this case. This graduate-level training, taken with a cohort of international trainees and a master’s-level instructor, is highly regarded by employers worldwide.

Our Bridge Job Board provides a good overview of different positions available online and around the globe.

4. What are my long-term teaching goals?

If you may just teach English for a limited time, say six months or a year, the 120-Hour Master Certification will provide you with the skills you need and qualify you for jobs teaching online or around the world.

However, if you are hoping to pursue a long-term career in TEFL/TESOL, then the IDELTOnline™ could be the better choice, as this university-level course delves much further into teaching theory and methodology under the guidance of a master’s-level instructor. This course can even be taken as credit towards a master’s in TESOL at more than 1,600 universities.

Is the IDELTOnline™ right for you? Read this article by an instructor to find out.

5. What’s my budget?

With any investment, it is important to consider the cost involved. While the IDELTOnline™ (regularly $1,495 USD) is our most prestigious and advanced program, the 120-hour Master Certificate (under $500 USD) can be a good alternative for people who are looking for a program at a lower price point. The Master Certificate can be particularly useful because many positions online and around the globe will specifically require 120 hours of certification (see our Bridge Job Board).

However, if the Master Certificate is out of your ideal price range, or if you would like to start with a shorter program to see if TEFL/TESOL is right for you, then one of our Foundational TEFL/TESOL certificates is a great way to start. You can always come back and upgrade your certification later on!

Compare online TEFL/TESOL courses.

English teacher abroad in Asia

Still not sure which TEFL/TESOL course you should take? Contact an advisor!

Of course, every situation is different, and no two prospective teachers are the same. Hopefully, my advice has been helpful in getting you started with this process. If you feel like you could use some additional guidance, Bridge advisors like me are always happy to help! Get your questions answered by joining us for a live online TEFL/TESOL information session or contacting a program advisor directly.

When comparing courses, it is essential that you pay attention to accreditation. Learn more about how to verify an accredited TEFL/TESOL course and why it’s so important!

Back in her hometown in the Philippines, Krzl worked as a writer at a TV station before moving to Chile. After she completed her TESOL certification, she worked for language institutes and then decided to become an independent English teacher to business professionals. When she’s not giving classes, she’s either surfing along Chile’s long stretch of coastline, traveling, or practicing photography by the beach.