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Why, if you’re smart-thinking, you should take your TEFL certification online


I don’t own a TEFL school and probably never would likely want or be able to.

Why not you person of spurting optimism who has never met me before asks yourself?

Well, I’m far too genesis lethargic to motivate myself to do so, and also the thought of continuously having to go through the motions every consecutive TEFL training month cycle wouldn’t as the Brits adorably like to put it, ‘float my boat’.

Oh and the fierce competition would likely scuttle my ship, if I had made a u-turn decision and decided to ask a (preferably male) Brit to assist me with the building and floating of such boat.

It’s actually this latter point which offers the greatest argument for not wanting to hoist one’s starboard flag and begin fumbling with the fixed line rigging.

But I maritime digress… 🙂

So let’s get straight to the chase then!

The core issue of this article zoologically, cross-disciplinary way field notes the disturbing nocturnal and diurnal habits of the onsite TEFL certification course bestia.

Search any popular TEFL forum pages, such as Davescafe.com and you will inevitably have noticed the theme of onsite vs. online TEFL having been hotly debated among registered users who aim to produce the wry wit of Plutarch, but in fact come over more like inpatients at a hospital where bars on windows are written into the constitution.

The basic premise appears to try to illustrate that taking a 4-week onsite course (a residential TEFL course) will have the student exit that “intensive” pillar of education ready to unleash their teaching English skills in any classroom in the known world and at a level whereby students and school principles alike would bestow accolades at such heavenly instruction.

Conversely, these onsite institutions – many of which, btw, often garner their headquarters from a bedroom or kitchen table – routinely repartee the very (nonsensical) notion that such standards can equally be attained through the online TEFL study (non-residential TEFL course) method.

The force de majeure argument is much less opaque than the wads of cash lining the pockets of these expensive onsite TEFL course operations. Essentially, the argument exerts the assumption that without practical teaching experience, there is little hope for you or I to become a well-versed English teacher. And to some extent, I sit on the edge of the park bench on this one.

You cannot expect to progress as a teacher of English without having practical experience of teaching English.

But, does a 4-week onsite TEFL course really hit the nail on the head with this argument? Taking a look through many onsite TEFL course syllabi, we can see that the first week is taken up with teaching methodology study. In some cases, even the second week too. And it is really only in the last 2 weeks that students are given the opportunity to practice teaching on real students, or as is the case with many schools, on their TEFL student peers.

And who is orchestrating the dynamics of this flow of methodological training to teaching practicum? Aristotle?

No. It’s usually some guy or gal – often fresh from completing that exact same course – who takes on the muse of heavenly instructor; often leaving TEFL students with a poorly mirrored reflection of how not to teach English.

And even if Aristotle were the teacher in charge of teaching practicum at one of these (often) fly by night, poorly run onsite TEFL courses, could even he impart enough training assistance of a class in excess of 20 students, and with as little as 20 hours practicum training, so that they then graduated with their teaching English knowledge and capabilities shining as bright as guided pilgrims following the angelic lines of the nighttime Milky Way constellation of stars?

To conclude…

Onsite TEFL courses are a bit like double glazing salespeople in the nineties and vacuum cleaner peddlers in the 1950’s.

They will say literally anything to get you to shell out on a plane ticket, course fee, accommodation, etc.

But the plain truth of this is that the king has no clothes.

If you are reading this and still reading this, and considering whether to take an onsite or online TEFL certificate course then you should take into account 3 main considerations:

(1) You can’t proficiently learn to teach English on a 4-week onsite or study-as-you-please online TEFL course. Your real training kicks in when you actually start teaching: on-the-job, trial and error training.

(2) If you do need an element of teaching practicum as part of your studies then go for one of the much cheaper combined online/onsite courses.

(3) If you do choose to do an onsite course then be mindful that in most countries you only have 3 months in which to get all your ducks in a row regarding finding an apartment, arranging your work visa, etc., and a 1-month onsite course is going to severely eat into this 3-month period.

So if you are a smart thinker, as I was when I was choosing which TEFL course to take, then go the online route. After all, it is 2019 and an onsite course feels more like an electronic version of the Spectrum ZX81; your online international TEFL certification course parenthetically is your Galaxy Fold.


Written by Mia Williams for Trusted TEFL Reviews.


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