Can You Really Get a Free TEFL Certification Online? Here are the Facts

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1. What is a TEFL certification — 2. Is getting certified worth it — 3. How you can get a free TEFL certification

Getting a TEFL certification also has a lot of benefits for online EFL teachers. If you want to get hired by one of the online language schools or start your own teaching business, you may not need this certification. However, once you are hired, a TEFL certificate on your resume or online profile may help you get more students.

  • In my experience as an online teacher on VIPKID – one of the largest online language schools – getting a TEFL certification changed the game. Here is how I was able to get more students;
  • As I mentioned before, you do not need to be certified to become a VIPKID teacher; the platform requires a bachelor’s degree and a year of teaching or similar experience.
  • Once you get hired as a teacher, the students on VIPKID may book a lesson with you. If you are TEFL certified the students may choose you over the teacher who does not have a certification.

This is how TEFL gives you a better chance of getting more students.

Other advantages include;

To get a TEFL certificate you have to go through a training program, which helps you learn different elements of teaching English as a foreign language. This means you will get a better idea of what it takes to become a good and successful online EFL teacher.

This can help you perform better on VIPKID. The website allows the students to rate the teacher at the end of their lessons and the rating depends on how well you perform as a teacher; the better the performance, the higher the rating. If your ratings are higher, you will not only get booked by more students, you may also get paid a higher salary for each of your lessons.

To get a free TEFL certification you must only register with the most authentic TEFL course.

1. What is a TEFL certification?

This will sound familiar.

You want to teach English and have started doing research, only to find there are so many acronyms that you can’t tell your TESOL from your TOEFL, or your TEFL from your FALAFEL. Allow us to help.

(If you already know about TEFL, feel free to skip to Part 3, where we finally answer how to get a free TEFL certification.)

free tefl certification

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language can entail getting a TEFL certificate after you complete English teacher training.

You’re undoubtedly wondering how long this training takes. That depends on a few things. For example, what country you want to teach English in or in which accrediting institution you choose. Some countries want teachers with a high level of TEFL certification while others are just happy to have native English speakers.

That being said, most TEFL courses take two to three months to complete with full-time study. Part-time courses can take much longer.

Different learning strategies are an important part of TEFL courses. To get a taste of what’s included, see our most effective English language learning tactics here.

2. Is Getting Certified Worth it?

In a nutshell: Yes.

If you’re going abroad to teach English, you will have a harder time finding a job and earning a high salary without a TEFL certificate than if you had one. This is because schools see a TEFL certificate as a stamp of approval on teaching ability. Employers hiring teachers will hold those with a TEFL in higher regards.

While you may be able to squeeze by with only a bachelor’s degree, most academic places of note will request a TEFL certificate. These are places such as universities, colleges and language schools in large cities.

Furthermore, many countries such as China are starting to limit visas for working foreigners and seeking a higher quality of professional applicants. A recognized TEFL certification will put you head and shoulders above non-certified candidates.

3. Can You Really Get a Free TEFL Certification?

Yes and no.

You may have read about people getting free or sponsored TEFL certification. The main way to get one is through volunteering. Some companies place applicants abroad for a few months to volunteer as part of their TEFL certification course.

free tefl certification travel

Once their training is complete, they get a TEFL certificate. As amazing as this sounds, they often have to pay the company for the placement!

One cheaper way to get a TEFL certificate is online. You can do it from anywhere with a stable internet connection. To be clear, we’re not talking about a a free TEFL certification, but online courses are significantly more affordable. For example,

  • Tefl.org offer their premium 120-hour online TEFL course for £289
  • MyTefl is a little cheaper with their own 12- hour online course at $299

This is significantly less than on-site TEFL certification. Teflcertificatecourses.com, for example, have offline courses that begin at $1335 (plus a $50 registration fee). Another is Maximo Nivel, who have offline courses that start at $1100.

What will a TEFL certification course teach you?

As mentioned before, TEFL is a certification program that allows you to teach English as a Foreign Language. This course is not just about the certificate; the training program allows you to understand how the EFL teaching process works. Here are a few things that you will learn during the training program;

  • How to teach English language teaching skills – English is all about its four basic elements;
    • Reading
    • Speaking
    • Listening
    • Writing

As a teacher, you should keep in mind that your students may want to focus on all or any one of these elements. Therefore, it is extremely important that you understand their basics and what teaching approach works best for each of these elements. This is what you will learn during your course.

  • How to simplify grammar – There is no doubt that English grammar is an extremely difficult aspect of the English language. The TEFL course will teach you how to simplify grammar for non-native students; this simplification is very important for making the learning process easier for them.
  • How to plan your lessons –  Planning effective and result oriented lessons is an integral part of the entire teaching process. It becomes even more important on platforms such as VIPKID that provide the teacher with their own teaching material. Not only do you have to keep the lesson interesting but also make sure it is relevant to the material given to you. The TEFL course will help you learn how to plan lessons that enable you to set learning objectives for your students and then help them achieve those objectives. Without a proper lesson plan, you simply cannot expect your students to progress.
  • Understand the different styles of learning – Every student has a different learning style; a teaching approach that works for one may not be suitable for the other. During the course, you will learn the different styles of learning, which will help you understand how to communicate best with each of your students.

To get your TEFL certification online you must register with an authentic TEFL course that is affiliated with recognized organization.  


Earn up to $22 an Hour Teaching English from Home

Teaching with VIPKID does not require a TEFL certification.

While cheaper, there are downsides to taking a TEFL course online.

Online courses are less hands-on, as everything is taught over a computer screen in bits of text and video. It doesn’t give you a feel of the classroom or even the culture of the country where you hope to teach.

On the other hand, taking a TEFL course on the ground is a fantastic way to network and get a feel for a new country. You can also learn a new language, which has countless unexpected benefits.

And another benefit is this: It is much easier in-person to apply and get a job that you will enjoy than from the other side of the world through a computer screen. Most teachers will attest that all classrooms are different and they differ even more from country to country. Being there will help you adjust to “classroom life” and get immersed in teaching.

Of course, remember to factor in the extra costs of flights, immunizations, rent and food. You may also be unsure about where you want to teach, and finding out you’ve made the wrong decision after getting to a foreign country can be costly.

In sum, there are a few crucial decisions to make before deciding to get your TEFL certification. These include:

  • Where you want to teach English
  • To what kind of school you plan to apply
  • Whether to get TEFL certification online
  • Whether to get a free TEFL certification through volunteering

Many companies market their courses as a free TEFL certification. In the end, though, there will always be costs – it’s up to you to decide how much you are willing to pay.

Is ESL the same as EFL or ESOL?

It is a very common mistake to consider TESL, TEFL and TESOL to be the same, but in reality these three are used for different purposes. Let’s have a look:

  • TESL – It stands for Teaching English as a Second Language. It is used when you have to teach non-native speakers leaving in native-English speaking countries. For example, if your student was from Germany but lived in the US then you would be called an ESL teacher.
  • TEFL – It stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. When you teach English to non-native speakers living in non-native countries you will be called and EFL teacher.
  • TESOL – It stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. This term can be used to cover both TESL and TEFL.  

All three certificates can be used to teach English as a Secondary or Foreign language. As long as you completed your training hours, the institutions that require these certificates are not too particular about the kind of certification you have.

Is CELTA different than TESL, TEFL and TESOL?

CELTA stands for Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. This is not a different certification; it can be called just another “brand” or type of TESOL certification. CELTA is supported by Cambridge University and is internationally recognized. In fact, some of the institutions or countries may consider it as the most reputable TESOL certification.

CELTA courses are specially designed for teachers who aim to teach adults whereas TESL and TELF can be used for teaching adults and children.

Can I become an ESL teacher without TEFL certification?

There are many new teachers who come to me and ask if they could become an ESL teacher without getting TEFL certification, and to their delight and surprise, I say yes. However, this yes comes with a huge but.

As I mentioned in the benefits of TEFL certification that it can help you get more and better-paid jobs. That is quite true!

There are many countries where you can become an EFL teacher and you may even get jobs in schools, get hired as a private tutor or work as a language assistant. But if you want to build a long and sustainable teaching career you should have TEFL certification on your resume. It will help you move up the academic ladder and progress in your chosen career. Moreover, many educational institutions in different countries may even require you to be TEFL certified, these could include universities, international schools or international language schools etc. most of these institutions offer jobs that are best paid in the country. So without a TEFL certificate, you may miss out the best these countries may have to offer to an English teacher.

A TEFL certification will come in handy when you want to go abroad to become an English teacher but have no teaching experience. Language institutions and even schools may overlook your lack of experience if you have 120 or more hours of TEFL training on your resume.

A TEFL certificate becomes even more important when you are not a native-English speaker, which means when your command over the English language is great but you are not from a native-English speaking country.

How to prepare for a TEFL certification program

If you have a good command over the English language, then a TEFL certification should not be too difficult for you. You just have to take care of a few things that will help you focus on the program better and get better results.

Here is what you need to do before starting your course:

  • Take some time out – Before you start the program or even register for it, you must make sure that you clear your calendar a bit. Whether it is for just one month or six months, you will need to make a proper timetable to complete the program on time. The schedule may become tougher for short-duration courses, such as a month-long course, but it may be a bit more flexible for longer programs. If you have a full-time job, then you must figure out a way to study and spend the time to review tutorials and other material.
  • Get an idea about what’s to come – It is a good idea to find out a bit about how the course works. Most of the courses give you the guidelines and material that you will be taught during the program; you should take some time to review it before you take your first class.
  • Brush up on your grammar – The course is all about learning about how to become a better English language teacher, therefore, it is a good idea to just review all the grammatical rules before you start the course. Why? Because your lessons will mainly focus on how you can teach your students grammar and simplify it for them instead of teaching you the basic rules.
  • Join online TEFL groups – This is a very good idea because it will help you get in touch with other TEFL students. Not only will they give you useful tips on how to perform better but also guide you which online programs are the best and most authentic.

These are a few basic points that will help you perform better and complete your course without too many breaks.