Published 19th February 2020
So, how quickly can I get a TEFL certification? This is a question that is asked a thousand times, and each time you might get a different answer. How is that possible? The thing with a TEFL certification is that it isn’t necessarily what it says on the tin. It may say 120 hours but that might mean different things for different people. If that doesn’t make much sense to you (and we admit it’s a little confusing) then let us explain a little more.
The first thing you need to understand is that there are a few different kinds of TEFL courses. Some courses are only 20 hours while otherwise advertise themselves as 360 hours! We don’t recommend you do less than a 120-hour course, because that is the industry standard and you will find it difficult to get a job with less than that. So let’s look at the different 120-hour options.
The first option when it comes to 120-hour courses is to do a full-time 120 hour certificate which involves physically being in a classroom 9 to 5 five days a week for four weeks. You will be taught by a trainer in the classroom and you will have the opportunity to teach EFL learners too. Extra reading and planning will need to take place in the evenings after your classes and on weekends. There is always a fixed start date and end date so this option means you are guaranteed to finish in 4 weeks.
The other option is to do an online course and this is where a lot will depend on you. If you are not working and you can dedicate 8 hours a day to studying, then it can take you 120 hours to complete the course – three weeks. But that’s asking a lot when you think about it. Not many of us live in a vacuum where we can be undisturbed for 8 hours a day, and not many of us have the stamina to keep a study schedule that crazy for three weeks in a row. So even if you aren’t working, you need to take into account time for breaks, chores, relaxing and a social life.
Then if you are working, your 120 hours will definitely not be 120 hours. After a full day’s work a hectic night of studying is the last thing you want to be doing so it’s not likely that you’ll be able to study every day. If you manage to put in a few hours during the week and a few solid sessions on the weekend, it could take you six weeks or longer to complete the course.
So we cannot really put an exact figure on it because it will totally depend on you.
The combined course
Then there is the option of doing the combined course. This means that you will do the bulk of the coursework on your own but you’ll attend a weekend practical course to help you find your feet in a real classroom. This weekend course is usually a 20-hour course, which adds another 20 hours to however long it would take you to do the online course.
The quality of the course
Another thing to consider is the caliber of the course you are doing. A 120 hour course which takes you 20 hours is not something to boast about. It means that something is very wrong with the course. These courses are generally fall under the too-good-to-be-true category and, what a surprise!, they are.
The X factor
The final variable is, of course, you. If you haven’t been in a classroom for a while or if academics is not your strong suit, then a TEFL course may be more challenging for you than someone who has just graduated or is a professional student. This won’t make a difference to the full-time course (because everyone is in the classroom together, learning at the same pace) but it will for the online. It won’t necessarily be a problem if you are out of practice but it may mean that you take a bit longer to do the required readings and complete the course tasks. If this is you, you can expect to add another week or so on to your expected finishing time.
The tricky thing about this question is that the answer totally depends on you. While we would love to get to know each and every one of you on a personal level, that’s a little impossible so we have to make do with a few sweeping generalisations. In a nutshell, though, 120 hours can be 120 hours, but it could also be 100 or 150. If you’re motivated, dedicated and available, 6 weeks is an achievable target. If the TEFL is not your full-time fascination (and it usually isn’t), think more along the lines of 3 months.
When you think about it, 3 months, 6 months or even a year is just a drop in the ocean that is the rest of your life that you could be teaching and living your best life. And you know what they say, there’s no time like the present!