Choosing the Right TESOL Certificate

Choosing the Right TESOL Certificate

Christine Knorr

by Christine Knorr, WAL Director

So you’ve decided that you want to teach English to adults?  You might even know exactly where you would like to do this.  Your bags are packed and you are ready for the next adventure…or are you?  In the back of your mind you know you’ll need to get some type of training.  You’re aware that just being a “native speaker of English” isn’t going to be enough to land you a job—at least not a good one.  So where to begin?  The training options and certificate choices online are overwhelming and more importantly, the cost of tuition can be confusing at best.

Selecting the right TESOL/TESL Certificate Program before starting your job search is a good idea.  Start by asking yourself these 5 questions below.  If you can answer these honestly, the responses will guide you toward the right type of institution and will help you decide how much you are willing to pay for a TESOL/TESL Certificate.

Basically, TESOL/TESL Certificates can be obtained from three types of institutions:  non-accredited private international schools; non-accredited brand name franchises, and accredited university affiliated programs.  There is no “best” institution– just the “right” institution for YOU!  Here’s a quick reference to help you understand each type and what could be the best fit for you:

Types TYPE A

non-accredited private international institutions


non-credit brand name franchises/institutions


accredited university affiliated programs



ITTO  International Teacher Training Organization Oxford Seminars


Seattle Central Con Ed

City U


Location International/multiple sites US; International/multiple sites Seattle; Mexico
Tuition ≈ $1800-1900 + lodging + travel ≈ $2000 -$3000 ≈ $4000


In class Online



In class


Hours of instruction 100-120/4 weeks 120/4 weeks 150/5 weeks
University credit 0 0 15


Christine Knorr teaching in Vietnam
Christine Knorr teaching in Vietnam.

Another important consideration is identifying a certificate program that offers lots of hands-on opportunities.  Make sure you will have the opportunity to sit in classes (as part of the curriculum), observe teachers in action, and participate and even maybe get the chance to teach a lesson or two.  Some schools offer foreign language “immersion” classes to get teacher trainees to discover first-hand about the challenges (and joys) of learning a new language.  This can be a very powerful experience!

Finally, after all the hard work you will have accomplished in receiving your Certificate, you will want to know how to navigate the TESOL employment world.  Be sure there will be some type of job counseling available at the end of your program.  Find out if the institution has connections or partnerships with other language schools abroad. Depending on where on the teaching assignment and the student population you intend to work with, your approach to finding a job will be very different.  You’ll need support!

Your choice in teacher training programs is vital.  It can make a huge difference in how prepared you’ll feel on that first day of class and could really affect your confidence and your students.  Take charge!  Take ownership of how you’ll best serve your future students!

Still have questions? Want to know more about CityU’s TESOL Certificate Program or pursuing a Master of Education in Adult Ed/TESOL? Please contact us at

Published June 6, 2018



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