If you have found a free course that you are interested in, it would be a good idea to run through a simple checklist of features of your chosen course, to help you decide if it is worth taking.
A simple checklist of course features:
1) Is it an internationally recognized TESOL certificate?
2) Does it include a hardcopy of the certificate for work permit uses?
3) Is the TESOL course at least 120-hours of study?
4) Does the course cover teaching skills and language awareness?
5) Are you able to access continued job guidance and support?
6) Does the course lead to higher level qualifications in TESOL?
For the best employment prospects, all of the above are very important.
A number of other factors may not be immediately obvious, but these include;
The course is free, but you have to pay for certification
This is now a common form of marketing an educational product. The course itself is delivered free, but should you wish to be certified as having completed that course you need to pay for the certificate. As the certificate prices are typically set at pretty much the same as the value of a course which provides a free certificate, this is hardly free.
Is the course accredited and moderated?
These two factors are often misunderstood, even by TESOL companies it would seem, if you look at some websites. Accreditation usually refers to a one-off (or at least fairly long timeframe) inspection by an external educational body, such as a university. The accreditation agency will look at staffing, course delivery, course follow–up offerings such as job assistance and many other factors. If the TESOL provider is judged to be meeting the accreditation body’s standards then they are given the ‘seal of approval’ by that agency.
As this is a one-off, there is usually an annual follow-up inspection to ensure that these standards are maintained, at which time evidence from a course is presented to an internal or external moderator who will look at the evidence provided by the training center and judge if standards are being maintained. If the moderator feels that work needs to be done they will suggest improvements or changes which should take place ready for the next moderation.
Accreditation and moderation of a training course are one of the major factors in determining if a course is going to provide you with the necessary training to be able to survive in a classroom setting and also have a certificate which is acceptable to employers throughout the world.
Although it is possible to find a free TESOL course, having taken all the above into consideration, you may feel that the reasons it is free make it a less useful choice of certification.