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

By Kevin Mermel
April 20, 2020
Bridge online TEFL course on tablet_blog image

At Bridge, we offer a wide range of TEFL/TESOL certificates 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 the options, and wonder, “Which TEFL course should I take for my specific plans?” Should you earn a Foundational or International Certificate? Should you also add a Specialized Certificate to your training? Experienced Bridge Program Advisor, Kevin Mermel, offers advice on choosing the right course. 

Understanding Bridge Course Categories

Let’s first begin with an explanation of how our online TEFL/TESOL courses are grouped. All courses fall into one of the following three 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.
  • International 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. However, these courses go beyond the basics and cover the theory and application of TEFL/TESOL teaching techniques and lesson planning. What makes them International is that they are programs of 100 hours or more, which is the number of hours most teaching jobs 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.

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

The right type of course for you depends on your background, experience, and professional goals. As a Program Advisor, these are some questions that I ask prospective students in order to get a better understanding of their goals and interests and to advise them on which specific course to take.  

1. Do you have any English teaching experience?


No, I don’t have teaching experience. 

If not, and you’re hoping to find a teaching position either online or abroad, then my advice is usually to take one of our International Certificates. Many positions will look for teachers to have at least 100 hours of general TEFL/TESOL certification like this – and in many cases, 120 hours – 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 most comprehensive International trainings are the 120-hour Master Certificate (our most popular self-paced online course), and the 150-hour IDELTOnline (a more advanced online training, with additional structure and interaction).

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

Teaching English grammar


Yes, I have teaching experience. 

If you do have prior teaching experience, then you could be a great fit for our Specialized Certificates. These courses (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.

Specialized Certification not only provides targeted skills you can use with teaching worldwide or online but also boosts your resume and shows employers you’re serious about professional development and improving as a teacher.

2. What are your 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.

Online English Teacher at VIP Kid

I have a specific type of learner in mind. 

If you hope to work with a specific type of learner, like teaching English online, a good way to achieve this is by starting with International Certificate, and then moving onto a Specialize Certificate relevant to your teaching interests. The International 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 where you hope 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 International Certificate to choose in this case. This graduate-level training is the next best option to getting certified in the classroom and is highly regarded by employers worldwide.

Watch a recent IDELTOnline Facebook Live information session I hosted to learn more about this course:

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

4. What are your long-term teaching goals?


If you may just teach English for a limited time, say six months or a year, an International Certificate 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 degree!

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

5. What’s your budget?


With any investment, it is important to consider the cost involved. While the IDELTOnline (regularly 1495 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 course you should take? Contact me!

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 me for a live online TEFL/TESOL information session or by contacting me directly at kmermel@bridge.edu.

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!