Online TEFL courses vs Onsite TEFL coursesToday, the potential ESL/EFL teacher is offered much flexibility when it comes to the consideration of choosing between taking an online TEFL course or an on-site TEFL course. Both options arguably have their advantages and limitations as well as giving different learning experiences, but the goal that both types of courses aim to achieve for the TEFL candidate is common – and that is to produce an efficient and effective teacher of english. It therefore comes down to factors such as the candidate’s individual needs and their professional goals which will help influence their decision. In order to clarify what each option involves, the advantages and limitations of online and on-site TEFL courses will be explored below.
Online TEFL courses offer trainee teachers the flexibility and the convenience of doing the course in their own home for those who have busy schedules and other personal commitments. With the technology of today, many TEFL institutes are able to provide their online students with the support and guidance they need via online tutorial sessions with their tutor and other students, by emails, as well as the use of forums. Online courses will generally cost
significantly less than that of its on-site counterpart, and this is usually an attractive motivation for candidates to take the online option instead. It is also ideal for teachers who have had previous teaching experience; who are not so much concerned with the lesson planning or classroom management aspects, but to primarily seek to get an overview of what TEFL is all about.
The disadvantages of online TEFL courses are that while it provides the theoretical knowledge required to teach EFL/ESL, trainee teachers will not have the practical experience that on-site candidates would have. As a result, many will argue that the online course option is not a suitable choice for those that have had no teaching experience at all. Furthermore, some online courses allow so much flexibility that the course itself can take up to a year to complete, which by this time some vital information learnt at the start of the course could be forgotten.
On-site TEFL courses provide an immersive and hands-on experience in terms of trainee teachers being able to work with their tutor face-to-face and interact with other trainee teachers. It can also provide trainee teachers with physical access to resources and other useful material in the EFL/ESL classroom. These courses usually have a compulsory teaching observation and practise component which even for TEFL trainee teachers who may have had teaching experience in the past will find useful. This type of course is more intensive and structured, therefore likely to only last between 4-8 weeks in duration for those who seek to gain accreditation in the immediate future.
However limitations with on-site courses include the need to attend classes away from home, which for some candidates may not be possible if the TEFL institute is situated far away. The significant costs
as a result in course and accommodation fees also become a limiting factor. There are also arguments which claim that on-site courses are so intensive and brief that trainee teachers don’t get many opportunities to absorb and retain the information that they’ve learnt.
In summary, online TEFL courses are more theoretical while on-site TEFL courses offer more practical opportunities. Whatever the outcome there is not one decision that is more correct than the other. Whether a candidate chooses to take an online course or an on-site course, they need to ultimately consider what best suits their personal schedule and financial budget. It is however recommended that those who do decide to choose the online route will at the end of their course, supplement what they have learnt with some teaching observation and practise opportunities in their local area.