There can be little doubt that the prominence of English as an international language is continuing to increase. With key markets like China, Brazil and Thailand now becoming much more established there has been increased demand for native-speaking English teachers in these areas. However, due to a number of other factors including implementation of government policy and the competitiveness of job markets, particularly in Asia, simply being a non-native speaker is no longer a guarantee that you will land the job you want. Now, more than ever, employers are insisting that English language teachers come with not only a Bachelor's degree or higher, but also a TESOL / TEFL specific qualification. The result of such high demand for these types of courses is that the international market is now flooded with a range of both in-class and online teacher training courses to choose from. Such market saturation does offer plenty of choice and ensures that market forces collide to keep prices down. But, how do these two basic options compare? Are you better off spending the extra cash and doing an in-class qualification, or is an online TESOL / TEFL course sufficient?
Obviously there are a number of benefits associated with doing TESOL / TEFL online. The most glaring is the difference in price. With less overheads - rent, physical materials and resources and full-time tutor - providers are able to significantly reduce their costs which they can then pass on to the customer. Therefore online TESOL / TEFL courses can be up to 90% cheaper than their in-class equivalents which make them a very attractive prospect. Also, by doing the course online, trainees are able to participate in the course from anywhere in the world that has an Internet connection. This convenience factor is a significant contributor to the success of online training courses. This means trainees do not have to take time off work, continue to plug away at the course while travelling and not have to spend time commuting to and from the course each day.
But do customers really get what they need from a course that involves little or no interaction with others. After all, by its very nature language teaching is an interactive profession and in 99.99% of cases, graduates from TESOL / TEFL courses (whether they be online or in-class) will do their teaching in a classroom with actual (not virtual or imaginary) students. In order to prepare would-be teachers for the challenges involved with such high levels of human interaction, most good courses have a teaching practice component built into them, but this is rarely so for online courses. In addition, there sis the invaluable one-to-one time spent with course tutors discussing assignments and teaching ideas that are conspicuously lacking from online courses.
Increasingly, reputable organisations are demanding their teachers hold a TESOL / TEFL qualification that involved a significant amount of in-class time. While online courses may offer convenient and cheap teaching qualifications, they are unable to provide the same levels of interaction with the tutor, classmates and students that an in-class course will. While it is certainly the case that online courses cost significantly less than their in-class counterparts, it could also be argued they offer significantly less. Choose carefully and remember that cost is often (but not always) a reflection of quality.