60-hour Online or 120-hour TEFL, which one?
Quite often we have enquiries from those unsure which of these two TEFLs to take. There’s quite a few differences and it depends what your situation and objectives are. Both have their uses.
Teaching is a dynamic inter-personal skill, that is to say; you need the confidence to stand up in front of people and communicate with them. For this reason, a TEFL teacher needs to get some ‘face-time’ experience sooner of later. This makes it difficult to fully train a teacher through an online course.
For this reason most recruiters only take the 120-hour 4-week TEFL cert seriously, assuming it included the standard 6 teaching pracs required by the industry. Sometimes they even need to go off and look into the course that certified you. In any case, they will often call you in for a ‘teaching trial’, which soon reveals if you’ve had any experience in front of students.
So, key to a full TEFL course where you have to show up at a training centre, is that you get to present a planned lesson to real students in a real school, at least once a week during your four weeks of training. It’s also more fun and dynamic to have a trainer and fellow students to with.
Is an Online TEFL worth the virtual paper it’s written on?
Online TEFLs do have their uses. There are two main instances I can think of where an online TEFL is acceptable or useful. The first is where it’s part of a hybrid course where you study the theory online at home, part-time, then attend the ‘prac’ part where you then do your live presentations. Sometimes this is arranged as ‘internships’. Some course providers are now selling this option though it’s unclear if recruiters approve of these types of TEFLs.
The other instance is where a person has been an ESL teacher already, and has classroom experience but never bothered to get TEFL trained. The online modules can provide the theory you never studied; how to teach grammar successfully, classroom management, methodology for lesson preps and so on. Of course, you won’t benefit from feedback from observers but since you’re no longer a rookie, that’s not so important. If you have peer review among your teachers and supervisor at your school, this is fine.
Online TEFLs are usually shorter in hours and cheaper and suit those who have limited funds and/or time to take a TEFL refresher. However, it’s not much use on your CV unfortunately. If you’re doing teaching as a vocation for a few years living abroad it’s not so bad, but if you are new to the profession and have anything less than the 120-hour full TEFL on your CV you’re going to struggle to find a job that is satisfactory. As you gain experience this can be overcome.
Ultimately, the recruiter will treat your TEFL credentials in much the same way an employment agency looks at your high school grades, the longer you’ve been in the industry and gaining experience the less relevant they are. If you’re entering the profession, however, you will be glad you took the 4 weeks to get classroom experience since that will help you clinch the job when you have to do a ‘trial teach’ at the interview.
It all depends on your situation, ambitions, and stage of your teaching career.