TEFL Training: Online versus in-Classroom

Another wise reader recently asked:

do you think it matters whether the certification is done online or in a classroom setting?

This comes up a lot, so it is worth talking about. And it is an important decision.

My answer is: YES, it does matter if you take an online course versus an in-classroom course.

In my opinion – it will always be better to take a full four-to-six week in-classroom course. Period.

Do most employers care? Probably not. The two biggest employers of teachers of English – China and Korea – both will accept online training. Many jobs in both countries don’t require TEFL Training, but they are happy that you at least got SOME training. Some countries won’t accept online, such as Indonesia – but that is the only country I am fairly sure about. Some employers care, but again, the employers in China and Korea – in my experience – will accept both.

But – the question was: do you think it matters

You will get a better training experience with an in-classroom course. Plus, some online courses do not offer observed teaching practice (many do these days) and that will also help you a lot. If money is NOT a factor – get the in-classroom course. Even what you learn from your fellow teacher-trainees is helpful.

However, many people can not afford the four to six weeks of full time attendance at a course PLUS the expensive tuition of US$1500-2500++ depending on where a course is offered. In that case, my opinion has always been that some training is always better than no training and an online course can help you get the basics of teaching and correct many a newbie teacher’s misconceptions about how to teach English.

So – bottom line – if you can afford a full Monty of a course, absolutely go get one. If you can not, online is a good option.

If training is NOT required where you intend to go and you wish only to teach for a year or two -then online is also fine. If you are not sure how long you might want to teach, start with an online course, teach for a year or two and if you – like so many of us – decide to continue exploring the world long term – then go back and get a good 4-6 week course to help you polish your skills.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Take an in-classroom course if you can. If you can’t, an online course is better than no training at all.

The BEST EFL Teaching Jobs in China: Government Colleges, Universities and Secondary Schools offer the most reliable and worry-free jobs in China. Click on the Link if you would like to Teach English in China

Korea or Thailand? Starting your TEFL Career Abroad

A reader recently asked:

If you were starting off – would you go to Thailand or South Korea?

Personally, I would recommend starting out in Korea.  But – the right answer for me is quite possibly not the right answer for you.

Two major issues need to be considered and you need to move to your strengths and avoid your weaknesses – at least with your first job.


Thailand’s advantage is a warm and hospitable culture of friendliness.   It is perhaps one of the easiest countries in the world for a foreigner to live in and comfortably adapt.  Add to that wonderful weather, beautiful beaches and – well – what more could you ask of a country?

Koreans can seem a bit distant and unfriendly, perhaps just a bit wary of foreigners.   Add to that some really cold weather and even hot and steamy summers and well, all of us should be heading to Thailand!

If you have never lived abroad before and are concerned about your ability to adjust and succeed in a foreign culture, then Thailand might be your best bet of the two countries under consideration here.

BUT – I said I would go to Korea!  Why?

The second major factor in your decision making for choosing a country is:

Teaching Setting, Requirements and Expectations

On this issue, Korea comes out far ahead of Thailand.

In my opinion, Korea asks far less of newbie teachers and pays and provides far more.

Most teachers in Korea will teach 25 or fewer classroom hours per week and classes, especially in language schools, are usually kept quite small.   There is a strong cultural respect for teachers that helps smooth over any mistakes or major gaffs you might make.

In Korea, teacher training is not required to obtain your legal working papers (a good TEFL Certification is required in Thailand).  While I think teacher training should be mandatory everywhere, not everyone can afford a good course when first starting out and schools in Korea are flexible enough to let you learn on the job.

To Korea’s advantage add in the ability to be hired directly from abroad without having to go there, reimbursed airfare, paid accommodation and a few other benefits such as being able to save (fairly easily!) up to US$1000 a month on the job and I think Korea is hard to beat.

Thailand – on the other hand – almost always hires on the scene, does not usually offer airfare or accommodation, and you will earn enough to live well on the local economy, but you won’t be paying off debts or saving any serious money while working there.

Of Taiwan, Korea, Saudi Arabia or Thailand – my experience was that Thailand asked more of a teacher and paid less than any of the other countries.  Saudi asks a lot – but pays accordingly.

Add in Thailand’s required teacher training which means another four weeks without wages plus US$1200-2500 in tuition costs and Thailand can be an expensive place to get started.   Oh yeah, add in airfare to get there and a two-month security deposit plus the first month’s rent for your apartment, and your costs can really start adding up before you have even received your first wages.

TED’s Tips™ #1: If money is not a consideration and you have the seed money to get started, Thailand might be your best option.  But if you have concerns about large classes and working more hours – Thailand may not be a good option for you.

TED’s Tips™ #2: If money is a driving force in why you want to head overseas – Korea is your best bet by far, especially for newbies.  But if you are concerned about culture shock or just can’t tolerate frigid winters – then Thailand might be your best option.

TED’s Tips™ #3: China can be a good middle ground. Scout the market a bit before making a final decision.

The BEST EFL Teaching Jobs in China: Government Colleges, Universities and Secondary Schools offer the most reliable and worry-free jobs in China. Click on the Link if you would like to Teach English in China

How Much can you Earn Teaching English Abroad?

Everybody asks that question, but the real question probably needs to be, How much can you SAVE teaching English abroad.

The wage packages can be so different between countries and what looks like a great offer – might actually be bettered by what appears to be a more modest offer.

Things to consider when calculating your wages and benefits . . .

Cost of Living.

In some countries you might get paid a lot, but the cost of living can be very high and what you do earn, you may well spend on basics.  Jobs in Europe and the Middle East might fall into this category.

Benefits: Accommodation, Medical Insurance and more . . .

Some jobs provide free accommodation.  But look even deeper.  Some jobs in China, for example, may even offer a basic level of electricity, cooking gas and water as part of your package.  Some schools provide free medical care (but do inquire carefully about coverage and quality of care).

Income Taxes.

A lot?  A little?  Does you employer pay them for you?

Paid Vacation Time.

University jobs often pay modestly but sometimes offer three- or four-day work weeks and even up to twenty (yes, 20!) weeks paid vacation per year.  That is literally a half-time job for full-time wages.  Be careful though, some colleges and universities might pay a reduced rate during vacations and some might not pay at all.

Overtime Pay.

Some jobs will start to pay you overtime when you have taught only nine classroom hours in a week (university jobs again), but others may not pay overtime until you exceed as many as 25 or 30 hours per week and some might not pay until you exceed a certain monthly total.  Make sure you understand how this works before you sign that contract.

Payment of Visa  and Related Fees.

In some countries visa processing and associated paperwork can be quite expensive.  Will your employer cover all or part of these expenses?


Will your employer reimburse airfare?  All or part of it?  Or up to a certain limit?  This often varies by country and sometimes even within a country.

Add it all up

Add it all up and figure what your basic package might be worth and how much you might be able to SAVE per month.  Some jobs in China, for example, can have you saving a lot more than similar jobs in Vietnam or Thailand that pay more but where you have to pay for your own accommodation, airfare and get minimal paid time off.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Don’t compare just the wages of a job.  Add in all the other factors and make sure you leave some money for travel and exploring your new country.  If you have big student loans that need to be paid, Korea is probably your best bet.  If you have better-than-average qualifications and experience then parts of the Middle East are excellent for savings as well.

The BEST EFL Teaching Jobs in China: Government Colleges, Universities and Secondary Schools offer the most reliable and worry-free jobs in China. Click on the Link if you would like to Teach English in China