Published 14th July 2020

Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a TEFL Course

Mistakes to avoid when choosing a TEFL course. Let’s be honest: these days, money is tight, and time is money. If you’re interested in becoming a TEFL teacher, then you need to think about doing a TEFL course. But before you sign up for the first course you see, stop and think carefully about who you are going to give your hard-earned money and valuable time too. TEFL courses are not necessarily cheap, and are not created equal, so you don’t want to waste your time or your money on a course that is not going to give you what you need. 

We know this and we understand this. 

Even though we are a TEFL course provider – and the world’s leading TEFL course provider, we might add (*cough, cough *) – we want you to make a decision that you are going to be happy with. If you aren’t happy when you start the course, it’s unlikely you’ll be satisfied during or after the course. We know that choosing a TEFL course can be a tough decision. With so much information out there, and so many choices, it can be downright overwhelming. 

With that being said, let’s look at five mistakes you want to avoid when choosing a TEFL course.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a TEFL Course

1. Choosing a short course

And by short we mean really short. There are TEFL courses advertised as being twenty hours. Twenty hours! Some of use can’t finish reading a book in twenty hours, let alone finish an entire course and learn how to teach! There is no way a 20-hour course can cover everything that you need to know and prepare you to become a qualified English teacher. If they are trying to sell it to you as an introductory course, then what’s the point anyway because you’ll still need to do another course afterwards! No, you need a fully comprehensive course.  

Let’s look at what a TEFL course entails so you can decide for yourself if you’d be comfortable covering it all in twenty hours:

  • Principles of Teaching English as a Foreign Language
  • Classroom management
  • Understanding English Grammar
  • Teaching vocabulary, grammar, reading, writing, listening, speaking
  • Pronunciation
  • Lesson planning
  • Using resources effectively
  • Assessing students
  • Error correction

You see what we’re saying? 

The industry standard for a TEFL course is 120 hours. This is not only to protect your students but for your benefit too – would you feel comfortable teaching a class of EFL learners after twenty hours? Not many of us, if any, would.

2. Thinking a face-to-face course is better than an online course

These days a lot of learning takes place online. There is nothing that says a face-to-face course is better than an online course. The theory is the same, the content is the same, the support is the same. The only thing that is different is that you will need to have more motivation and dedication than if you had a teacher right in front of your face. 

On the other hand, there are many benefits to doing an online course. Online courses are actually becoming more popular as they are so convenient. You don’t need to be in a specific city to do the course, you don’t need to commute to a certain place every day, and you don’t need to be available at certain times of the day. You can do the course whenever and wherever suits you, plus you save money.

Read more: Can I Teach English Online with an Online TEFL Certificate?

3. Choosing a course without a practical component

 But how can you do a practical component with an online course? I hear you say. That’s the beauty of online learning. With an online course you can do an online practical. Especially with the current climate of online learning, an online practical component is a good substitute for a face-to-face practical training session, especially if you are leaning towards teaching English online.

The whole point of a practical component of a TEFL course is to practice classroom management skills while putting into practice the theories of learning and teaching. Even once you have mastered the fine art of lesson planning, carrying out the lesson plan with students in real-time is another thing entirely. Testing out your teaching skills, so to speak, is necessary to help you feel comfortable once you’re in the classroom.

Read more: 3 Easy Ideas to Maximise Classroom Management

4. Going for cheap as chips

Yes, a TEFL course costs money. But a TEFL course is a teaching course. It literally teaches you how to teach, which is one of the most important jobs in the world. You should expect to pay for it just as you would expect to pay for a university degree or diploma. It might be tempting to go for the cheapest course you can find, but we ask you to think twice. Just as with most things in life, it’s usually too good to be true. The course might be very short or not very good or with a company with a bad reputation. In other words, there’s a reason it’s the cheapest course.  

Sadly there are a few scams floating around in the TEFL world and cheap but useless courses is one of them. 

Read more: 3 Ways to Safeguard Yourself against EFL Scams

5. Not doing your homework

We will say this again and again: do your due diligence. Before you sign up for anything, check out the particular TEFL company online. Do they have an online presence? Does their website look legit? Are their online reviews good? It is very easy for anyone to set up a website promising a good TEFL course without having anything of value to back it up so we need to be very careful about which one we choose. We’re more than happy for you to do some digging on us – our reviews speak for themselves –  and any TEFL course provider worth their salt would be too. 

This also means checking up on a TEFL provider’s accreditation. While it is true that there is no one accrediting body when it comes to TEFL courses, there are a number of international bodies which have accrediting powers. Check that the course you are looking at is accredited by a respectable accrediting body. The TEFL Academy, for example, is accredited by Ofqual (a UK government department), Qualifi (a UK-government recognised awarding body and the DEAC (an awarding body recognized by the U.S Department of Education). 

So, yes, it can look like a lot of work to find a TEFL course that’s good, reputable and cost-effective, but they are out there. In fact, we know a really good one! The bottom line is, before you send anyone any money, make sure you avoid these five common mistakes. If you need any help choosing a course, give us a shout and we’ll help you as best we can.

    1. Hi there! Thank you for commenting on our blog. It is indeed possible to teach online with only a TEFL qualification as there are many online language companies that do not have a requirement to hold a degree. It is also possible to teach in many countries without a degree. I would recommend taking a look at our Teaching Without a Degree page here for more information.

  1. I think I have spotted a typing error in paragraph 5 of “5 mistakes to avoid when choosing a TEFL course”

    Do you they have an online presence?

    Should it not be : Do they have an online presence?

    Kind regards

    1. Hello David. Thank you for commenting on our blog. Thank you also for bringing this to our attention, we are always grateful when people let us know of any errors on our blog. This information has now been passed over to the blog writer for review. If you ever have any questions or issues, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us by email to

  2. Good day

    I am interesting doing your business english 30 hr tefl course.

    I need a breakdown about the course content in a bit more details.



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