Cheap or Free TEFL certificates

There are many reasons why people are looking to take a TEFL course. You may want to earn some extra money teaching online in the evenings and at weekends. You may want to teach online to fund your travels. You may already be a teacher and need a certificate to get a new job. Some of you may be in the situation where you can’t afford one, so you need to look for a free TEFL certificate, or a cheap one.

In this post, we will discuss the options for those of you who need to take a free online TEFL course, consider whether a free TESOL is the right thing for you, as well as looking at cheap alternatives.

Free TEFL certification

Can you get work as an English teacher with a free TEFL certification?

Well, some people work abroad and online as English teachers without any certificate at all, so you can get a job with a free TEFL course.

For some countries, you need an apostilled TEFL certificate for the work permit. If this is the case in the country you want to work in, you need to check that it’s possible.

Something you need to be aware of is that having a TEFL certificate isn’t a guarantee of a job as an English teacher abroad or online. It can be expensive to recruit teachers from abroad, and to arrange visas and work permits, and so schools and companies are looking to fill certain niches that their local teachers can’t.

Cheap and free TEFL courses may not be accepted by schools you apply to because of the content. There is not often any practical aspect, which schools want. They are generally made up of some reading and then multiple choice tests at the end to test what you have learned. They won’t take the ‘120 hours’ that they claim unless you are very slow. In fact, many could probably be taken in a weekend, while still leaving time for a post-course celebratory beverage of your choice.

Also, it is not hard to find the answers to the multiple choice tests that make up the assessment online, so they don’t tell schools that a potential teacher has actually spent any time studying the materials. They could just have looked up the answers and not really studied at all.

There are also restrictions on visas to teach English in some countries. It’s best to look into where you can teach English before spending time taking any TEFL course, free or paid. For example, unless you have the right to work in the UK, Canada or other English speaking countries, there is no point taking a TEFL course to work there. They won’t get you a visa. It can also be challenging to get work teaching in EU countries without an EU passport.

It isn’t impossible to get a job in Europe without an EU passport though. If you want to know more, read this post.

I’ve also spoken to several English teachers who have taken more than one of these free courses, and are now frustrated that they can’t find teaching work abroad. On speaking to them in more detail, I find out that their English level is B1 (intermediate) so not high enough to be employed abroad.

For online work, it tends to be quite competitive these days. The collapse of the market teaching children in China through the likes of VIPKid and PandaABC put a lot of experienced teachers out of work. Seemingly at a similar time, the message went out that online English teaching was a way to earn more money, so more and more people decided to get TEFL qualified. This sheer number of potential teachers combined with fewer available positions means that you need to stick out from the crowd to get work. You will not be top of the pile of applications with a free TEFL certificate, particularly if you also have no experience and no bachelor’s degree. If there was no practical aspect to your course and you have never actually taught before, you are going to find it tricky to perform well in an interview, demo lesson or for your online video.

If you can afford to pay for a TEFL course, pay for one. If you can afford to pay for the CELTA, Trinity certTESOL or another full course with assessed teaching practice of real students, do that. If you can pay for one with some practical aspects e.g. where you need to design lessons and/or do assignments, do that. However, if you aren’t in that position, then one of the following free TEFL certificates could be for you. If you want some additional knowledge to apply to your current teaching role, then you may learn something there too. Just please understand that taking a free TEFL course does not guarantee any kind of job at all.

Having said that, there are options for funded full TEFL courses, like a free CELTA or Trinity certTESOL. If you are lucky enough to get one of those, you will get a well-recognised qualification that is accepted in many countries in the world by professional schools. Read on for more on this.

Not sure about all these TEFL courses? Read our blog with advice on what TEFL course you should do.

Are free TEFL certificates really free?

Well, some are, and some aren’t. Many of the courses that are advertised as ‘free’ are free courses. However, if you want a certificate to prove you took the course, then you will need to pay for it. If you need your certificate authenticating or legalising for a job somewhere like China, you will need to pay for it. It won’t be high, but there is likely to be a fee. You should check that before you enroll on a free TEFL course.

Along the same vein, some of the cheap TEFL courses may have hidden costs that you can pay for, like penalties for not submitting assignments in time or offers to mark assignments quickly.

Sometimes these costs add up to more than it would have cost you to pay for a course in the first place, so look into this.

Ok, so with those warnings, let’s look at the range of free TEFL and TESOL certificates.

Free TEFL courses

Coursera TESOL certificate from Arizona State University

Arizona State University runs a TESOL course through the Coursera platform. There are eight parts to the course which can be taken separately, the final of which are two Capstone projects, where you observe 6 hours of others teaching, write lesson plans and submit 10 videos of you teaching for assessment. This is a comprehensive course run by professionals.

If you just want to work through the course materials, then it’s completely free. However, if you want to do the Capstone projects and/or you want a certificate of completion, you do need to pay for it. It costs $19 a month for each course, so you need to work through the eight parts quickly or the cost will mount up. There is an offer of financial aid, to support you if you qualify for it, so if you are interested, it’s worth looking into that.

Teacher Record

Teacher Record offer a free TEFL certificate that you can take over a six month period. I’ve looked at it, and it consists of quite detailed texts to read, followed by multiple choice tests. The information in it is ok, and quite easy to follow.

If you only need the e-copy of the certificate, then there is no charge. Basically, Teacher Record is a recruitment company, finding teachers for Chinese schools. They make their money through recruitment, not from offering the TEFL course, with schools paying them referal fees for teachers. This was a massive area in the past, but now the glory days of teaching English online to Chinese students have gone, they must be struggling a bit.

See fellow teacher and Youtuber Alex Walls’ review of the Teacher Record course

If you need a hard copy of the TEFL certificate, you will need to pay. If you are not in China, it’ll be $70 for the certificate and shipping. If you are in China, it’s a lot cheaper, but if you are abroad, there are going to be cheaper courses you could take.

TEFL Professional Development Institute

This company used to call itself the ‘Free TEFL certificate’ but seems to have changed now. Like Teacher Record, while the access to the course is free, if you want a hard copy of the certificate to apply for visa, you will need to pay. Apparently it costs about $50 for this.

I have also looked at the content of this course. It has more video material than Teacher Record, but I honestly found the content really confusing, and I’m a fully qualified English language teacher. It just seemed to be a lot of Youtube videos without a real thread that I could see. If I was choosing between them, I’d go with Teacher Record.

EF TEFL Scholarship

English First run English language schools in various countries, but the most are in China, Russia and Indonesia. They employ many teachers each year, and to keep up with the demand, they offer a free TEFL certificate to applicants. It’s a 120 hour online course with one of their partner course providers. They say that it is accredited, although they don’t say on the website which course it is. I’m sure you can contact them and ask though.

This free TEFL certification is only available to people with a passport from the UK, Ireland, the USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa or New Zealand, and you need to have a degree too. If you fulfil these requirements and you are interested in a year’ job teaching English in an EF school in China or Indonesia, then it is worth a try. scholarship

Online TEFL course provider offers 2 fully funded courses per year. To get one of their free TEFL certificates, you need to be eligible and to complete the competition task. See more on their website.

Free CELTA or certTESOL courses through scholarships

Some CELTA and Trinity certTESOL course providers offer funded places. I’d suggest following local centres on social media as these are often advertised as competitions to apply for. Course places are sometimes offered as prizes in draws during TEFL conferences, so look out for those too.

Another way to get a centre to sponsor your CELTA or certTESOL is to work for a teacher training centre as a teacher ‘pre-CELTA’ and negotiate a sponsorship deal with them. Some teacher training centres also offer a refund of the course if you are successful in getting work as a teacher with them and you work for 2+ years for them.

Other TEFL course providers offer competitions for free places too, so again, keep your eye on their social media channels.

Funded certTESOL courses for UK residents

If you currently live in the UK, as a UK citizen or a student, you could be eligible for a funded Trinity certTESOL course from Gotoco. They work with various funding bodies in the UK and abroad to provide the course followed by a short-term paid teaching job in places like Thailand and Colombia. These programs also include flights and other benefits, so are definitely worth looking into.

Cheap TEFL certification

If none of the free TEFL certification options appeal, there are also many cheap TEFL certificates out there.

Premier TEFL Scholarship – 19 Euros

Premier TEFL is an online TEFL certificate provider who has partnered with a company called Angloville, as well as young learner summer schools to provide an online TEFL certificate with experience in teaching in one of several European countries. You need to pay an initial fee of 69 Euros to take the online TEFL course, and then if you do a 3-week placement teaching, you get 50 euros back, meaning that it costs just 19 Euros. Given that the Premier TEFL 120 hour online course costs 319 Euros, that’s 300 euros off. Not a bad deal.

The cities you can go to include Budapest, Poland, Romania, Ireland and England. Accommodation and food for the three week period is included. You’ll need to pay for your flights, and visa as required, as well as your spending money.

At Angloville, one of the partners, you will be doing conversation classes with adults who are staying in the hotel with you. They pay the program to stay and practice their English, so you’ll be meeting people from all over Europe.

You do not need to be a native speaker for all of the programs, and you do not need a degree either.

This is just a three week program though. There’s no position at the end of it. If you want to stay on and teach, you’ll need to look for work yourself.

Groupon TEFL courses

Various online TEFL companies have offers on Groupon periodically where you can get their course for a very discounted rate. These are generally courses with reading and then multiple choice tests, similar to those free ones mentioned above. If you Google it, you can usually get a course for around $20-30.

If you want to study your TEFL course online, read our guide to what to think about before choosing an online TEFL course.


Another company that offers discounted basic TEFL courses is Dux TEFL. This company was set up by a group of TEFL professionals, who also run an agency recruiting governors and tutors. Their fundamentals of TEFL 120 hour course is often around $50. The guys behind it are very helpful and will provide you with some advice in finding work as well.

Should you take a cheap or free TEFL certification?

I guess this is the key question. If you can’t afford to pay for a TEFL course, then a free course may be for you. If you just want information to apply to your current job, you will learn something. If this is you, look at the Coursera/ASU course and apply for funding from them. If you just need a piece of paper to fulfil some kind of job requirements, then go for it. Choose one of the free or cheap courses.

If you are living in the UK, look at Gotogo. If you qualify for the EF sponsored course, look at that. There are options around for free CELTA courses and other TEFL certificates.

Don’t believe marketing. Do your research before taking time and effort to take a course. Make sure it will be accepted for the position you want. This goes for all TEFL courses.

Be aware that those courses named ‘Free’ are not always free if you need the paper certificate. If this is the case, then consider a better quality cheap course instead.

For more advice on teaching English from experienced teachers, including country guides and interviews with other teachers, see our Teaching English page.

Free TEFL certification

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2 Responses

  1. Moyo Duduzile says:

    I want to obtain TEFL certificate.

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