What to choose, TESOL or TEFL?

Searching ways of honing teaching skills you will likely find intriguing acronyms such as TEFL and TESOL. What do they stand for? Both of them are useful and valuable for ESL teachers with different backgrounds.

Most employers around the world require and respect them. Having such certificates allows you to get a work visa in most Asian countries without a problem. Additionally, it may replace a lack of education and teaching experience.

TEFL and TESOL provide necessary knowledge about teaching receptive and productive skills, making lesson plans, and searching for materials. Probably, you are confused. If they are equally valuable and recognized, what is the distinction?

They seem interchangeable, so most employers require just one of them. It is possible to have them in two ways, online and in-person. Obviously, the courses are similar in terms of meaning, because even language schools don’t pay attention to the difference.

However, it exists. Keep reading, and you will figure out which course suits your goals better. Also, we are going to compare them in terms of duration, cost, and application.

What TEFL and TESOL mean

If you check the meaning of the TEFL acronym, you will get that it speaks volumes. TEFL allows teaching English in countries, where English is a foreign language for the population.

For example, if you are from South Africa, and have TEFL you may work with people in Indonesia or China. The advantage is that such places have a constant need for ESL teachers.

On the contrary, TESOL means that graduates can teach in a country, where English is primary. Such a difference leads to careful thinking about a place to work. Obviously, you can’t work wherever you want to have only one certification.

Each of them makes you opt for a particular country.

Why TEFL and TESOL are so popular? They help ESL tutors around the world improve teaching skills and get a job abroad. Usually, employers require at least one of them.

So, you should consider such certificates if you want:

  • to teach people at such institutions such as schools, colleges, or universities;
  • to have an online job;
  • to work abroad;
  • to get a work visa;
  • to get new knowledge about teaching.

Keep in mind that if you decide to pursue your educational purposes and get a master’s degree in college or university, you will be a Master in TESOL.

How long do they take?

TESOL offers several ways of learning, 40, 60, 100, 120, and 150 hours. As usual, 120 hours are enough to get familiar with essential parts of teaching. It goes without saying that one of the most important parts of practice.

In this case, you won’t be afraid of having a real class.

It doesn’t take too long to finish a TESOL course. Obviously, it is influenced by many factors such as course duration, way of learning, and pace of learning. Having the 100-hour online course takes about 2-3 months of online studying.

Fortunately, many teachers say that it’s quite possible to combine with a part-time job. But, if you rush to get the international certificate, you may take an offline way and learn about four weeks of full-time studying.

In comparison with TEFL, there is a slight change. As usual, TEFL lasts 120 hours.

How to apply?

Requirements to take the courses up are clear and reasonable. As long as the courses are in English, candidates must be fluent English speakers with B2-C2 levels according to the CEFR levels.

You will figure out some umbrella terms from the context, but there is no time to learn the language from scratch. However, it’s not rocket science, so having a level higher than Intermediate will let you understand.

Also, you must be an adult to enroll in the courses. The good news is that there is no need for special skills or knowledge.

TEFL and TESOL don’t require candidates to have teaching experience or a degree in teaching. That’s why so many ESL teachers around the world opt for them. They perfectly fit both, qualified experts and newcomers.

Which is cheaper?

The possibility of an online TESOL course gives you a convenient pace of learning, whereas offline studying may be in a country where you are going to work. Such a way suggests four weeks of intensive work.

Fortunately, it’s up to you, because whether you study on the spot or online, there will not be a mention of it on a certification.

As for a course price, it depends on many factors. As long as there is no one accrediting body for TEFL and TESOL, there are providers around the world, which set their own prices.

As usual, the shortest 40-hour online course costs about $200, and depending on the duration such a price is getting higher.

Also, the price increases if a trainer helps you during the course. A 100-hour TESOL course may cost $400-500 for online access, however, studying in a classroom is about $1,000-2,500 for a 120-hour course.

What about TEFL and TESOL certification

The significant merit of both certificates is that they have no expiring date. Once you received TEFL or TESOL certification, you are qualified for a whole life. There is no need to update it or repass.

It attracts many ESL teachers, who tend to save their time and spend it wisely. As usual, diligent students get a digital copy of a certificate if they succeed and pass all tests.

A digital copy is enough for those, who are going to stay at the same workplace and teach English online. However, if you are going to work abroad, a hard copy is a necessity in terms of getting a work visa and applying for a job.

The certificates have information about all modules and topics you have learned in the course transcription.

So that your employers might be sure that you perfectly understand how to teach English in different ways. It doesn’t matter what way of studying you have chosen because neither TEFL nor TESOL certificate mention online studying.

Which to choose?

On the one hand, there is no difference between the courses. Both of them are supposed to improve teaching skills.

They provide valuable and accurate information about each section of English such as phonetics, vocabulary, grammar, speaking, reading, writing, and listening. Additionally, they have knowledge about modern teaching techniques and learning approaches.

Thanks to them, it won’t be a problem to get a job abroad and work with people of different ages. So, you will always have a chance to start your teaching path by teaching young learners and continue work with adults.

On the other hand, having one of the certificates makes you pick a country to work in. TEFL is for teaching English in countries, where English is a foreign language, whereas TESOL allows teaching in places, where the language is the main.

As we mentioned, most employers worldwide consider the courses interchangeable but anyway taking one of them narrows your opportunities to work freely abroad.

That’s why it’s better to take them both. Some courses unify TEFL and TESOL and offer intensive programs. Moreover, the certificate, you will get at the end, will allow you to work wherever you want.


Why waste time and decide between two valuable courses, when there is a chance to get the best out of both of them? Given the fact of travel restrictions, it’s safer and more reliable to take an online course of TEFL/TESOL.

There are three ways of duration such as 120, 150, and 250 hours. In fact, your access to the materials will be from 6 to 8 months. It’s enough time to study hard-working part-time.

A blend of two courses increases your chances to get a well-paid job worldwide so that you will be able to work everywhere, not in certain places. Now, International Certification offers the best price and top-notch support. You will be given help from a native-speaker trainer.

And, if you hesitate about how to start a teaching career abroad, International Certification will help you to prepare your CV and resume and find a suitable place. Don’t waste your time and enroll in an online TEFL/TESOL course with a nice discount.

You will become a certified and qualified ESL teacher in a couple of months.

We hope you found this article helpful. Leave your comments below if you have other questions.