10 Pros and Cons of Online TEFL Courses
You can become trained in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) by doing an online TEFL course or by attending classes in person. The online program option is cheaper and more flexible, but you also miss out on advantages such as practice opportunities.
Let’s look deeper into the advantages and disadvantages of online TEFL courses compared to on-site classroom courses.
Advantages & Benefits of Online TEFL Courses
Taking a TEFL (or TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) course online gives you many of the general benefits of online study. These are considerable. So, it’s definitely worth taking a look at the online option.
1. Convenience & Flexibility
One of the greatest advantages of an online TEFL course is that it can fit nicely into your weekly schedule. You can work through course content any time you want, preferably when you’re free from the pressures and distractions of your normal day-to-day activities. You’re not restricted in nearly the same way as when you attend classes in person. Online courses don’t inconvenience your normal life, though you still need to make time to study.
Undertaking an online TEFL program is less costly compared to attending classes in person. You can reduce expenses across the board, including tuition fees (which tend to be lower), transport costs, and other time and monetary expenses associated with attending the classroom. Online study allows you to live anywhere, including in a more affordable location. You might also save on the cost of textbooks because course materials are more likely to be made available free online.
3. Try Before You Buy
Studying to teach English online allows you to try out a few things without a big commitment. For example, you can try a cheap course just to test if the whole online learning thing is for you. While doing this, you may get a better idea if you really want to do teaching. Online training also allows you to attempt to gain a qualification from a foreign country where you want to teach before actually travelling there.
4. Interact with Tutors Easily
The fact that you are undertaking the courses online does not mean that you cannot interact with tutors the way you want. You have the opportunity to carry out discussions, ask questions and get any other help you need effectively. Different apps that makes this possible and all you need to do is to install them on your device. With video chat, it can feel as if you’re meeting tutors face-to-face during the learning process.
5. Enjoy Personalized Learning
When doing online TEFL courses, you can learn at your own pace according to whatever style suits you best. For example, during the middle of a recorded presentation, you can hit pause and go back over something important. You can also quickly check alternative sources of information online. Many students find that taking notes on digital flashcards helps to keep them engaged and, later, with reviewing and retaining critical information.
Disadvantages of Online TEFL Courses
A drawback of doing a TEFL course online is that you miss out on some of the benefits of in-person classes. As well, the online format presents some special study challenges and you need good study skills to succeed. Here are the top 5 disadvantages of online TEFL programs.
1. Missing Practical Experience
Undertaking a purely online TEFL course means you will normally miss out on the opportunity to gain practical experience. A standard TEFL certificate is 120 hours and includes at least 6-10 hours of supervised teaching practice (see classroom and combined TEFL courses).
TEFL students are overseen by a certified professional and instruct real students (not classmates). Observed Teacher Practice is one of the items that employers may look for when recruiting. If you study online, you can still demonstrate teaching experience in other ways (including by doing your first job).
2. Lost Study Abroad Opportunity
If you want teach English – especially to future international students – instead of studying online you might want to study abroad. You’ll gain a better feel for the challenges and rewards of being a student in a foreign country. This helps you develop better empathy for international students. Plus you could enjoy the many benefits of studying in a country such as Australia or the UK.
3. You May Feel Isolated
A shortcoming of online learning is that you can end up developing a sense of isolation. Apart from text-based interactions, most of your learning experience will be by yourself. Consider whether you have the personality and enough other activities in your life to cope well with studying online.
4. You Need to Be an Active Learner
If you are not an active learner, undertaking a TEFL course online might not be the best option. Because you don’t meet face-to-face with the tutors and classmates, you don’t get the regular reality checks and psychological support that comes from being part of a group. You also miss out on group discussions that make the learning process easier. So you need to be an active, engaged learner who naturally enjoys gaining knowledge.
5. Create Your Own Structure
Another disadvantage associated with online training is that you’re not given much learning structure. You don’t have fixed class times. So you can’t just turn up and expect things to be organised for you. Instead, you’ll have to organise yourself and create good work habits and routines. Good organisation is essential if you want to complete an online course successfully.
So there you have it, if you are wondering whether to get TEFL certified online or in a classroom we hope this article has helped you to made a decision. If you need any help or advice about taking a course please contact us. You might also like to view our guide to teaching abroad or search TEFL jobs.