The best TEFL or TESOL online courses in Australia? A comprehensive guide.

Want to study an English language teaching course from the comfort of home? Confused by all the options?

With TEFL and TESOL online courses ranging from less than $200 to $20,000+, it can be overwhelming to choose between them. Having completed a number of these TESOL certifications myself – I’ll guide you through all the acronyms, prices, time commitments and included opportunities for teaching ‘practice’.

You can compare them side-by-side and select the best one for you. Plus, you’ll learn what you’ll be able to teach at each level once you graduate – including TEFL, CELTA, Certificate IV, DELTA, Diploma and Higher Education qualifications.

DISCLAIMER: We use affiliate links and may receive a small fee for your referral (at no extra cost to you). Please see our Disclaimer. We make recommendations based on good reviews, word-of-mouth and personal experience – not profit. Prices are correct at date of publishing and are in Australia dollars (AUD) unless otherwise stated.

TESOL online courses
A cheap Groupon-style TESOL certification can cost <$20 but won't really help you to be a confident, prepared teacher.

Table of Contents

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Why I wrote this post…

A small group of about 10 students had gathered together on a Zoom call to discuss the first assessment for our post-graduate TESOL studies. Most of the group were experienced teachers and found the work challenging but exciting. Suddenly, mid-conversation, one of the students burst into tears. “I’ve made a big mistake! This degree isn’t for me! I have no idea what I’m doing and I’ve just realised that I won’t get an opportunity to learn how to be a teacher…”

Later, over email, I found out that she hadn’t done a lot of research and had started the course thinking that it would look more like a ‘hands on’ Certificate IV or CELTA course; not realising that university courses are often far more theoretical. She left the course a few days later. This post is designed to show you all the options available so that you don’t end up spending thousands of dollars on something that isn’t right for you.

First off, let’s start by looking what all these acronyms mean.

* TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
* (T)ESL – (Teaching) English as a Second Language
* (T)EFL – (Teaching) English as a Foreign Language
* C(D)ELTA – Certificate (Diploma) in English Language Teaching to Adults

Although there are technical differences, they often used interchangeably. Essentially, you (the teacher) will be teaching or tutoring one or more students from a non-English speaking background to improve their language skills, including grammar and pronunciation. The students may be located in Australasia or abroad, online or in-person and may be children or adults. 

TESOL in Australia and New Zealand can refer to “the professional field in which teachers provide English language instruction to people living in an English speaking country” or it can also refer to the online courses and certifications discussed in this post. The course is what you’ll be studying and the certification/qualification is what you’ll receive once you graduate. TESOL is more commonly used in Australasia and TEFL internationally. CELTA/DELTA are provided by Cambridge Assessment English (UK). 

TESOL that occurs in Primary or Secondary schools in Australia is called 
EAL/D (English as an Additional Language/Dialect) and ESL in New Zealand. Both require you to be a qualified and registered teacher. I’ll explain these in more detail later.

online english teaching
A good TESOL course helps you to be a confident, prepared teacher. (Photo by Vanessa Garcia)

What is a TESOL course?

Each TESOL/TESL/TEFL/CELTA/DELTA course will focus on slightly different things, but the main topics you’ll cover are:

  • English grammar and linguistics – think verbs, adjectives and nouns etc; 
  • Teaching basics such as: how to plan and deliver a successful lesson, manage a classroom and student behaviour, conduct activities and games etc;
  • Observation of a classroom and/or practice teaching (actually teaching classes to your fellow students or with real ESL learners).

Some courses show you how to find an English teaching job/private students, offer video support from an experienced teacher, provide you with ebooks and even a pre-arranged job interview*. Others allow you to take additional elective units to specialise in an area such as Business English, language testing (IELTS etc.) and many others.

TESOL courses take from 120 hours to 2 years to complete but can be done in as little as three weeks. Each course has different entry requirements, such as age, educational background and English language level, so check carefully before applying and/or ask your course provider. 

*Note: My advice is to apply for additional positions when you graduate, as the job supplied by your course provider may not always offer the most competitive hourly rate. See our job list for full details on online roles for Australasians. 

Should I study a TESOL course/certification online?

I studied my Certificate IV in TESOL over a decade ago in the Brisbane CBD and enjoyed the experience of learning with others. Yet, in a COVID affected world and after many years of teaching online, I now prefer the flexibility of digital learning.

This post is focused on courses that are offered 100% online but speak with your provider about your options. If you thrive in an environment with other people and think a face-to-face course would be better, many of the following courses are available in-person/with hybrid versions (except UK-based courses, unless you’re planning on an overseas trip). This is usually limited to the capital cities and can occur additional fees though, so check with your course provider.

Are online TESOL courses valid?

Yes, an accredited online TESOL or TEFL certification is equally valid to one completed offline. The main difference is teaching practice conducted online instead of in-person. 

What is 'teaching practice' and do I need it?

As part of many courses, you will receive an opportunity to plan and deliver your own class to either your TESOL cohort or to real ESL students provided by the course provider. This is usually in a small group via video call and you will likely be provided feedback on how you went and areas that you can improve upon by an experienced teacher. Not all courses offer a teaching ‘practicum’, so it’s best to check beforehand.

If you’ve never taught a class before, this experience is invaluable. If given the option, we recommend that you purchase the bonus practice teaching opportunities. Yet, it can also be a large additional expense to move up to a Diploma or CELTA for the increased practice teaching hours, so consider options such as volunteer teaching. We have a list of organisations seeking teachers to volunteer teach online here. It’s both a great way to gain experience and give back to someone who cannot afford to pay for lessons (such as refugees and recently arrived migrants).

Practicing with other students before a 'real' class can help relieve your nerves and give you an idea of what to expect.

What are my TESOL course options?

[O] – OFQUAL – The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation [UK].
[AC] ASQA – Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) [AUS] accredited.
[NA] – Not ASQA accredited.

ASQA is the regulatory body that ensures quality for all accredited courses and the process to have a course accredited in Australia is extremely rigorous.  Organisations must be registered to deliver these courses and are regularly audited to ensure consistent and relevant content.

TEFL, Certificate IV, CELTA, DELTA and Diploma

A 120 hour TEFL is a short course [O] designed to give you an introduction to the field. It isn’t as involved as the higher-level courses, but is inexpensive and can be completed in as little as three weeks! It is often sufficient for entry-level positions online or overseas (but it is best to check the requirements of the role before you apply). It is recognised by OFQUAL in the UK. You can also purchase a range of additional extras and upgrades for more in-depth learning.

If you are uncertain about teaching English and you want to “wet your feet”, an [O] course like a 120 hour TEFL from Premier TEFL (Ireland) will be a great introduction for roughly the price of one single unit of Certificate IV. There are no Australasian providers currently running this course, but we recommend Premier TEFL as their practice teaching sessions are conveniently held on Saturday and Sunday evenings (AEST).

Use the code [TEO.AU] to get an extra 15% off at checkout!

For those looking for something  more involved, the CELTA [O] certificate has been around for a long time and is internationally well-known, having originated in the UK. The Certificate IV in TESOL [AC], by comparison, is an Australasian certification (AQF Level 4) and not as well known internationally. If you search through internet forums you will find a number of people debating the relative merits of each course, with both sides citing pros and cons. 

If you plan on teaching abroad, a CELTA might give you a competitive edge, but it’s not guaranteed. Some CELTA online units can be used as credit for university study as can some from Certificate IV. Ultimately, the CELTA is about twice the price, so you are somewhat paying for the CELTA ‘brand’ and it isn’t ASQA accredited. CELTA does have slightly higher entry requirements and you must apply and be approved to take the course. CELTA is often undertaken as an ‘intensive’ course crammed into a shorter period.  

I have never had any issues with being hired internationally or online with my Certificate IV in TESOL, so it comes down to personal choice. TESOL is usually undertaken over a longer period, providing time in between ‘learning’ for further reading, research and putting into practice what has been learnt. It is also accredited by an Australian authority. Check out both courses and go with the one that most appeals to you. 

A Diploma in TESOL [AC] is the next step up. If you want additional practice teaching and more in-depth learning opportunities, this is a good choice. You can study a Diploma course that offers Certificate IV concurrently to cover both bases. The International TESOL Diploma [NA] by TESOL Australia is not a ASQA accredited course, so be aware of this before applying. As you’ll see below, a DELTA [O] has stricter entry requirements than the lower-level courses, so double check your eligibility.

Low-medium priced ($150-$3000)* TESOL/TEFL courses online

All prices are Australian Dollars (AUD), correct at the publishing date. Tables best viewed with a computer, not mobile. #Code: FREECIV21

For New Zealand teachers, please check out your additional options at English New Zealand and TESOL ANZ

Graduate Certificate, Diploma, Master's (and even a PhD)

Basically, each course is a step above the previous one, adding more in-depth study and potential for research. This is a good general guide from Study Australia.

Postgraduate TESOL courses can be from 1-4 semesters (~6 months to two years) and can cost easily cost $20,000+. As I mentioned earlier, a number of my fellow students dropped out after a few weeks once they realised that the course was more academic than practical. Postgraduate study is a big commitment and is often very theoretical. TESOL can also come under a number of post-graduate degrees in Education, Adult Education, Teaching and Applied Linguistics. Each has a slightly different focus so it’s best to check them out carefully and ask questions.

If you want to teach in a Primary or Secondary classroom in Australia/New Zealand, you’ll need a Bachelor of Education (TESOL) or a Bachelor’s degree + selected postgraduate TESOL qualification. Check with the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) or Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand. All Bachelor of Education courses (and Higher Education courses leading to Australian teacher registration) require in-person teaching practice, so I won’t be covering them in detail here.

Medium-high priced ($3000-$30k)* TEFL/TESOL online courses

These courses are for those who are more serious about TESOL as a career. There are a number of university course providers and they vary in price. This is just an example of a few providers for comparison purposes.

Your online TESOL/TEFL certification might lead to job opportunities abroad. (Photo by Naomi Shi)

What can I use my TEFL/TESOL online certification to teach?

Other certifications that you have (in addition to your TESOL/TEFL certification) will affect what you can or cannot teach once you have graduated, as well the level of certification you decide to do. If you are also a qualified Primary or Secondary teacher, you will have the most opportunities, for example. Other qualifications in Education will also be beneficial, such as a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. This is a general guide:

If you want to teach in Australia in a company/institute, university or government program, it’s best to check with your course provider that it meets NEAS requirements. Their site gives detailed information about course requirements. The TESOL association in your state/country can also give you more information about state requirements: QATESOL, ATESOL NSWVicTESOL, ATESOL NT, WATESOL, TasTESOL, SATESOL or TESOLANZ (New Zealand). University courses don’t always lead to national or state teaching registration either, so if you are considering teaching TESOL (EAL/D) in the primary or high school classroom, please confirm this with your university beforehand. Volunteering in Australasia often has a lower barrier to entry – see our full post about volunteering here.

For New Zealand teachers, please confirm requirements with TESOL ANZ or Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The TESOL industries in Australia and New Zealand are both small, competitive and have been hard hit by COVID-19. Many professionals in the sector have lost their jobs during the pandemic. A good TESOL certification can help you stand out from the pack, but jobs are far from guaranteed.

If you want to teach ONLINE at an overseas company/institute/university to students located abroad, you’ll need to confirm individual requirements, as they vary widely. Usually, the higher paying the position, the higher the qualifications required. A course like Certificate IV [AC], CELTA [O] or higher provides the most recognised certifications worldwide, but a [O] certification (like a 120 hour TEFL) is usually sufficient for online positions, especially entry-level ones. The demand for online English teachers is growing during the pandemic. If you’re interested in teaching English online, read our ULTIMATE TEACH ENGLISH ONLINE GUIDE or check out our list of the top 50 highest paying online English teaching jobs.

If you want to teach privately/independently/freelance to students located in Australia and/or overseas, all courses will suffice (120 hour TEFL, Cert IV, CELTA, DELTA, Diploma or HigherEd) and your choice comes down to your existing experience, budget and how seriously you are considering a TESOL career. Success as an independent teacher is equally about good teaching and strong business, sales and marketing skills. I offer coaching to support those who want to start their own business, having done so for the last decade. Please get in touch if you’re interested.

If you want to teach overseas in person or teach online from inside another country (yes, that’s a thing) – I recommend researching the country, looking at some job ads, joining groups of expat English teachers and asking about what qualifications are expected in that particular country. It varies so much from country to country and job to job! For many places, a 120 hour TEFL [O] certificate will be accepted, while others require a Master’s degree.

The higher the education/economic levels in that country, the higher the requirements will be for teachers. In developing nations, you might find a job without a lick of experience or anything more than a 120 hour TEFL [O] certification. In other English speaking countries, The Middle East and much of Europe (for example), a Bachelor’s degree + AC/post-graduate qualifications will likely be the minimum. Again, it varies so much that it’s difficult to give a simple answer, so please do your research.

Which online TESOL/TEFL course should I study?

As you’ve seen, there are quite a few options and the right one will be based on your circumstances and what you want to do with English language teaching in the future. Here are a few things to consider before signing up:

  • If you want a low-cost, quick, entry-level course, a 120 hour TEFL course might be for you. 
  • If you want a ‘hands on’, mid-range priced course with some practice teaching, a Certificate IV in TESOL or CELTA online might be for you.
  • If you want more practice teaching and in-depth knowledge than a Certificate IV or CELTA can provide, a Diploma in TESOL might be for you.
  • If you are an experienced TESOL teacher who wants to move up into higher-level ESL teaching or coordinating positions, consider a DELTA.
  • Postgraduate study might be best if you are serious about a long-term TESOL career, academia or a leadership position.

Summary

I hope this helped clarify the different TESOL courses and certificates available to you. Having been in the field now for over ten years, I cannot recommend a good certification enough – especially as a new or beginner teacher. Teaching fundamentals and the foundations of the English language are more complicated than they first seem. A good TEFL/TESOL course will set you up for success from day one and you’ll be confident and prepared for what your students throw at you.

Someone is guaranteed to ask you a tricky question like “What is a gerund?” on your first day, so a quality course should help you be much more ready to answer. For experienced teachers, higher level study can be an amazing challenge, propel you to greater heights in your career and offer opportunities to do important research.

So what are you waiting for? Go out there and do a TESOL course online. You’re able to study an online course that might open up a work from home opportunity, a new career or the ability to travel the world.

You never know, like me, you might still be using it a decade later!

Have you studied a TEFL/TESOL course online? What was your experience?
Any other courses that I missed? Comment below!
Interested in a CELTA in Toronto? See The Canadian Wanderer’s experiences.

4 thoughts on “The best TEFL or TESOL online courses in Australia? A comprehensive guide.”

  1. Really appreciate you sharing this article post. Really Great. Mala Christoforo Enyedy

    Reply
  2. The TESOL 120+ hours has gone to over $180.

    Reply
  3. Hi, is Diploma of TESOL from the language training institute ASQA accredited?

    Reply

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