Should I take a TEFL course online or in a classroom?
When choosing a TEFL certification course one of the first decisions you need to make is whether to complete it online as a distance learning course or in-class by attending a training center. Both have their pros and cons so it is down to the individual to decide which best suits their own personal situation. So what are the main differences to consider between an online TEFL course and an in-class TEFL course?
Probably the most significant difference is the inclusion of Observed Teaching Practice (OTP) in classroom based courses. Throughout the four-week course you will spend many hours practicing your teaching skills in a real classroom with genuine English language learners. These practice lessons are observed by an experienced course trainer who will provide instant feedback and tips for improvement following each lesson. OTP allows you to hone your teaching skills and gain confidence in your ability before you start teaching in your own classroom, something that is not possible with any standard online course.
Classroom based courses also include daily lessons on grammar and other subjects delivered by qualified teacher trainers. Many students find this classroom based approach preferable to learning on their own as the subject matter is explained by a professional and any questions will be answered immediately rather than via email. Learning within a group setting can also be advantageous as input and ideas from multiple sources can often lead to a more rounded understanding of the subject. The social aspect of an in-class course is one other area that should be acknowledged as making new friends in an interesting and unfamiliar environment should ensure that the overall experience is far more stimulating than distance learning.
The big advantage of an online course is that you are free to study in the comfort of your own home at whatever pace suits you. Many people also find they are simply unable to take a month away from their commitments to attend a training center, making distance learning the only realistic option. Another big difference that can’t be ignored is the cost. This is often the most important factor as an in-class TEFL course costs in the region of US$1500 or more, with accommodation, travel and entertainment not included, whilst a good quality 120-hour online TEFL course can be completed for around US$ 250 – $ 350.
One further option is the combined TEFL course which blends different aspects of both the online and in-class courses. With the combined course you complete all the theoretical components via distance learning at any pace you are happy with. Once complete you then attend a training center for two weeks to complete the course and the observed teaching practice sessions. This third option is popular as it requires less time commitment but still results in a full TEFL certification.
There are several significant differences between the course options but it is clear that the in-class TEFL courses’ focus on practical teaching skills offers a solid foundation from which to start a teaching career. However, if the cost or time needed to complete the in-class course is prohibitive then an online TEFL course from a reputable company can still provide a convenient and affordable route to TEFL certification.