When it comes to choosing the best online TESOL certification course you need to consider all the main options, what you want the qualification for, and what you hope to achieve with it once certified. First we will look at all the main online course options.
Types of online TESOL certification
The different types of online courses are easily separated by the average number of hours they require to complete them.
Weekend courses: These are often marketed as “taster courses” and are done mainly at weekends to give those who are already employed a chance to see what TESOL is about. Due to time constraints (they usually last about 10 hours in total) there is limited material covered in terms of teaching and learning, but they can be useful to help you decide if doing a full course would be worthwhile for you.
Short introductory courses: These are longer than weekend courses typically lasting 20-50 hours. They aim to cover as much as possible in a general manner and will give you a good idea if a full course is worth doing. They can in very rare circumstances provide a certificate that may be acceptable to a limited number of employers.
Specialist courses: These courses are usually undertaken after a 120-hour course has been completed. There are various specialties that are usually covered, which include; teaching young learners, teaching business English, teaching English online, and teaching academic English. Typically these courses take around 50 hours to complete and are useful if you intend to go into one of these specialist areas.
120-hour TESOL certificate: As this course is the typical entry requirement for all TESOL and TEFL employment, it is the most popular of all the TESOL courses by number. There are a huge range of courses available to take both onsite (at a location) and online. For the onsite version the courses typically take about four weeks and for the online version you are typically given six months to complete it at your own pace.
Teaching practice certificate: An onsite TESOL course will usually have a component of teaching practice (typically around 6 hours). Some versions of online courses also have a teaching practice component which can be done remotely via an online system such as Zoom.
Diploma certificate: This is a higher level course intended for those who already have a 120-hour certificate. Typical courses are around 250 hours in length and focus on the ‘why’ of educational theory and practice rather than describing the ‘what’. These courses lead directly to the next level which is a Masters course and can be used when applying for higher level teaching roles such as Director of Studies, Head of ESL or similar.
Package certificates: This is a fairly new idea that only a few companies have become fully involved in. Such courses join many individual certificates together into one overall award. For example, instead of taking a 120-hour certificate then a couple of 50-hour specialized courses followed by a Diploma, you can opt for a package which puts these altogether and either offers individual or one final certification.
Uses of these qualifications
Less than 120 hours of study: May be used in a limited number of scenarios, particularly if you already have some teaching experience. Most jobs require at least 120 hours however.
120-hours of study: This is the typical employer requirement around the world, a 120-hour TESOL certification. This may have been completed onsite, online, or by a mixture of the two. Some employers also prefer a teaching practice component to have been completed. For online teaching this is the main requirement. Being a native speaker or having a degree are not requirements for many employers.
More than 120-hours of study: These qualifications are generally used for teaching positions in schools where the employers are looking for higher skill levels from their teachers, such as in the Middle East. They are also used for higher positions with management roles such as Director of Studies or Program Manager. They can also be used for administrative positions throughout the industry.