Published 30th June 2016

How do online TEFL courses work?

If you are deciding to study, there are a few different options you have to choose from – a completely face-to-face course, a completely online course or a combination of the two. Online TEFL courses work pretty much in the same way other studying options work except even better in some situations. Obviously, as with any course of study, there are advantages and disadvantages of doing an online course, but if we look at how an online TEFL course works in comparison to a face-to-face course, then you will be able to decide which one is the best choice for you.


When you do an online TEFL course, you will be given a set of materials that you will need to read. These materials will cover modules like the theories of teaching English as a Foreign Language, lesson planning, classroom management, grammar awareness, teaching skills – reading, writing, listening, speaking – and teaching language – grammar and vocabulary. These materials will be very similar regardless of whether your download them or are given them in physical form.

Coursework and assessment

Doing an online TEFL course you are expected to read the materials in your own time. You will then be able to complete and submit assignments based on those materials. Again, this is no different than in a classroom, except that you will receive feedback online instead of face-to-face. In both cases there will be guidelines and rules for completing and passing the assignments – usually you will need to hand in all assignments and obtain a certain mark in order to qualify to continue the course.

The classroom

This is the most obvious difference. In a face-to-face course, you will attend classes in a physical location with other students. If you do an online TEFL course, your classroom can be anywhere you want it to be. The same applies for the time of the lessons. If you do an online TEFL course you can study anytime, and for any length of time.


In both cases of studying, you will have classmates who are doing the same as you. While in a face-to-face situation you will get to see them every time you have class, if you are doing an online TEFL course you will only be able to “see” them online. Basically, you will not meet these people in person, but you will be able to communicate with them online.


Support is very important when studying because struggling with the workload or feeling overwhelmed can all lead to dropping out, which is the worst case scenario for studying. Contrary to popular belief, you do get a lot of support when you do an online TEFL course. Again, though, this will all be online help, but that doesn’t make it any less helpful than talking to someone in person.

Clearly there are advantages and disadvantages to studying, whether you do it online or face-to-face. Which medium you decide to use to study is up to you and your needs as a learner.