Online or in-person? Who knows?


Online or in-person? Who knows?

Not knowing whether you should do things online or in-person these days is a very common situation. For example, do you do your grocery shopping online or in the store? What about your clothes shopping? Or even a University/college course, do you do it online in your own home or go to University? Do your research for an essay in a library or scroll through Google Scholar, or most importantly, do you watch a Movie on Netflix rather than go to the cinema? The list is scarily becoming larger and larger with great thanks to the quickly growing Internet age.

This conundrum certainly doesn’t stop when you are deciding whether you should get your Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate online, or in person. (Whilst, online or in-person aren’t the only two options to take here, they are the most popular and accessible.)

However, it isn’t just the fact that you’ve got to decide between picking the simple luxury of being able to do the certificate sat in your home study with your own music playing or whether to be prematurely adventurous and do it onsite somewhere new, that makes the decision difficult.

Many factors make these two options different, not better…just different. You should investigate many areas, before deciding which one is best for you. However, don’t stress too much, if you feel like you’ve made the ‘” wrong decision”, you should always bear in mind that employers aren’t actually too fussed about how you get your TEFL certifications. As long as it’s obtained from a reputable source, it will teach the same curriculum therefore either will meet the international TEFL standards.

Tip: be careful about what course you pick though: ask around for recommendations; speak to your travelling friends. However, you can spot reputable ones yourself. Limit your search to courses that are around the USD$500 mark, also have a good look into the provider of the course. Make sure they have international name recognition and international certification.

Don’t give in to the whacky ways of Google ads, they may know what you want and make it pop up on your Facebook feed every lunchtime, but unfortunately, most employers won’t give a $50 TEFL course that you grabbed off Groupon a second look…sorry!

In the next part of this blog, we will focus on the 3 main areas, which helped us decide, and as we are fellow travellers, they may be suitable for you too: Money, Time and Experience. FYI – This won’t be the last time you think about these 3 areas whilst making travelling decisions!


It is well known that the online course takes a drastically longer time to complete than it does to complete the TEFL course in person. Online takes 13-26 weeks and in-person takes around 4. So if you didn’t know this already, you may need to revise your timelines, especially if you are looking to head out of the country as soon as possible. And if you are anything like me, timelines are everything.

Timelines aside, you need to look at your current free time, your time schedules. You need to decide how much time you have to commit to a TEFL certification. If you are a busy person with lots on your plate, then an in-class option may be difficult to incorporate into your already busy schedule. However, if you have the luxury of “free time”, the in-class option would be great for you. A great candidate for an online course would be a full-time student or those who are holding down a full-time job…you’ve got this!

Like many tasks you can complete online, the online TEFL certifications have the best customisability and flexibility as you can pick your own terms. Essentially, you can do it however and wherever you want. Much like your online shopping, you can do your online TEFL on the go, whilst travelling, in your work breaks or at your partner’s house at the weekend. However, you will find that some online courses do give you deadlines for certain topics, but give you an amount of time to complete the entire thing; which is usually around 12 months. Loads of time, I know.

In-person certifications are a completely different thing to an online course…they generally take a month to complete.  They are full time and intense; you should consider it as a full-time commitment, in this type of situation some people thrive whilst a beer or two on a school night easily tempts others into full time partying.


Is money on the top of your mind now right? Of course it is, you have been saving for your travels for months now and spare cash is none existent – I feel you, I’ve been there.  So money will probably be the deciding factor in which course to take.

You’ve got to know that onsite TEFL certifications can cost anything from USD$1,500 and upto $2500 plus. That’s without counting the cost of travel and food, and we all know that’s where the money adds up. Remember, unless you are lucky enough to be taking a course in-person, in the town in which you already live, you may need to pay for housing too, some companies do include basic accommodation as part of their package, so look around.

Don’t be put off at these prices, when you are doing your comparison research you may find the perfect course for you that doesn’t break the traveller’s bank.


For those of you, similar to me, who find it difficult to find the motivation to study alone, then the in-person certification would be the best option for you. In class you will be surrounded by other individuals in the same boat as you, you can ask each other for help if needed and it’s a lot more fun. Or it may be nice to be able to talk to likeminded people about any concerns or worries you have as they are sharing the same learning experience. They might share the same nightmares and dreams as you too.

In-person TEFL courses in home countries provide you with teaching practicum, which offers you the opportunity to showcase your new teaching skills on your student peers, as well as getting feedback from your certified teacher trainer. And you may even be able to put this on your curriculum vitae (CV) and show that you have had some teaching hours in front of a class, it’s great to be able to get a feel for teaching before doing it for real. Any exposure is good exposure! Who doesn’t want to go in feeling a little more confident on their first day?

Due to the array of courses and their flexibility, you can also travel abroad and get certified at the same time – best of both worlds. You can acquire your TEFL in-person in almost any country! It will be more than likely, that this route will be the most time effective and in the long run maybe the cheaper option. The real benefit of this route is the immersion you get in the country you intend to live and work in, because you are already there, you increase the chances of getting a job. Most TEFL Training companies guarantee you a job after you complete the course. Also, you are massively closer for any interviews you may get; you really can choose the best placement for yourself. In addition, if you’re honest…it’s way more exciting this way too.

Not everyone goes looking for experienced teachers though, and don’t feel pressured into making a decision right now. If saving money is top of your agenda then that’s good too! You can save money with an online certification for now whilst staying at home, then when you have a larger budget, travel to the country and upgrade your skillset and give your new English Teaching prowess a go.

I hope that after reading this you are geared with the necessary information, which can help steer you towards making the best decision for you. Because you’ve got to remember that this is about you, don’t copy someone else’s path because it’s easy, create your own. Don’t let the pressure of your situation rush you into making a decision, but also remember that whatever decision you do make, is a decision in the right direction. It really does change your life!

This post was originally written in January 2020 by Eve Feeney

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