8 Online ESL Certification Courses for Teaching English Abroad in 2023
Want the dream job of teaching English and traveling the world?
Then you need an English as a Second Language teaching certificate.
I’ve been an English teacher across several countries, including Nigeria, China, Morocco and Chile, and it wouldn’t have been possible without an ESL certificate.
There are tons of choices, from six-month programs at universities to internationally recognized online courses.
Here’s your guide to choosing the right ESL certification course online!
- Popular Online ESL Certification Programs
- Tips for Successful Online ESL Certification
Popular Online ESL Certification Programs
Some students may want to make sure their piece of paper is accredited and will be recognized by employers anywhere in the world and fulfill strict visa requirements.
Others may want to go for the cheaper option and are not worried about accreditation. They are going to volunteer to teach ESL at the local community college and don’t want to spend a lot of time and money on a certification. Instead, they just want the basic how-to information.
Be clear about what it is you want to achieve with your ESL certification. If you want to volunteer with a local organization, you likely don’t need to graduate from the Harvard ESL program or get a CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from Cambridge. If you know the basics—which you can learn in about 100 hours—that will be sufficient.
What is your agenda?
Review your options:
This Canada-based school offers a 15-week course that you can do online. You can sign up all year round since a new batch of classes starts every month. The program is designed by a linguist and you’ll get a Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) certificate afterwards.
Bridge TEFL has online and classroom options for ESL accreditation, with emphasis on Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). The school also offers a webinar to help you decide if it is the right choice for you.
Premier TEFL has a wide range of accredited options that include online training and a combination of online and on-the-ground overseas training. They offer a variety of internships, scholarships and job placement options.
If a flexible schedule is on your must-have list, consider Drexel University. The program can be completed in six to 12 months, depending on your other commitments.
myTEFL offers a professional, accredited 120-hour online course, as well as several other online and on-site options for teaching abroad. They also have a job placement service.
Some programs will train you for a specific teaching assignment or for working in a particular area. For example, SEE TEFL offers training and paid internships in Thailand. This can be a convenient option if you want to have a clear idea of what you’re training for as you’re working towards certification.
i-to-i has several TEFL courses, from the standard 120 hours to an advanced diploma for 420 hours of training. Most students finish their shortest certification course in six weeks or less. You can also check out their job board and internship listings in specific countries.
The TEFL Academy
You can choose from either online or in-person courses at The TEFL Academy. If you get their online TEFL course, you can access other specialized courses with topics like business English and teaching kids, along with webinars every week.
Tips for Successful Online ESL Certification
Once you have figured out which ESL online certification programs you want, it’s time to focus on how to make it a reality.
Do a self-assessment
How much of a self-directed learner are you?
Online learning means you have to take total responsibility for your education. There is no set time for classes and no teacher to remind you that assignments are due.
Factors to consider include the cost of tuition fees and the flexibility of the schedule. There is a multitude of considerations to make sure the program you are looking at fits your budget and your lifestyle.
- Is the course all online or is attendance required for tests?
- How lenient is the schedule of the ESL certification program?
- Do you have to pay a penalty if you don’t complete the work on time and want to extend?
Family support may be another key factor. If your partner and/or children are prepared to make sure they don’t disturb you when you are trying to work it will make studying—and getting the certificate—much easier.
Set up a schedule
To be successful in an online ESL certification program, students have to make a commitment, block out required hours and stick to a timeline.
As part of your schedule, break tasks down into small doable chunks. Keep an eye on due dates so that assignments don’t sneak up on you. Tape a copy to the fridge and/or your office door and/or on your phone that beeps reminders so that it is literally in your face.
Consider a buddy system
Some people find it easier to study if they are doing it with someone else. Do you have a friend that is interested in taking the same course? Great if you do, as that means you can compare notes and help each other stay focused.
Check to see if the school can connect you with other ESL learners, either online or in person.
Monitor the ESL certification process
Check to see if the course provides a time frame for what you should have covered by week three of month two. If there are boxes to tick it makes it easier for you to monitor your progress. If there isn’t a clearly defined timeline, create your own due dates.
Build in treats. If you are sticking to the schedule and submitting the assignments on time, take yourself out for dinner or to a movie. It is important to pat yourself on the back from time to time as it will help keep you motivated.
Practice what you are learning
Theory is wonderful, but practice is essential to test to see if what you are learning in the online program works with real students. See if you can find a part-time job teaching ESL, or maybe an internship for a few hours each week.
If not, volunteer at a local immigrant or refugee center or offer your services to people in your area who are looking to improve their English.
This will allow you to start developing your own teaching style and get hands-on experience. You can try out different tools for teaching, like songs, online videos or worksheets.
There are even language learning programs that let you assign quizzes and homework to students. For instance, FluentU has hundreds of authentic English videos that students can watch with interactive subtitles. Duolingo can make grammar exercises fun for students with short attention spans.
Once you have committed to pursuing an ESL certification online, selected a program that meets your needs and enrolled, it is a matter of staying on track. Everything from an outline of due dates to a buddy system will help you stay focused.