Do I need a TESOL to teach English online?


If you teach Chinese students, the answer to that question is “Yes, you will eventually.”


The internet is abuzz these days with people wondering if they need a TESOL certificate to teach English online.

The most recent development is that PalFish has now FORMALLY notified teachers of its Official Kid’s Course that they are required to upload a teaching certificate to their profiles ASAP or they will no longer be able to continue teaching the program in April 2019.

Where is all this coming from?

Sometime in late 2018, the Chinese Ministry of Education (MOE) vaguely announced tighter requirements for people who teach Chinese students.

While the announcement was made in late 2018, the enforcement of (and details of) those requirements is just starting to show up at the major online companies.

What we’ve uncovered is that those requirements will now include:

  1. A bachelor’s degree (which most companies previously required)

  2. A criminal background check (which most companies previously required)

  3. A minimum 120-hour TESOL/TEFL/TESL/CELTA certificate (this was formerly just considered an asset)

TESL, TEFL, TESOL, and CELTA?! What’s the diff?

In case you were wondering…

TESL stands for Teaching English as a Second Language and refers to teaching English to non-native speakers in a native-speaking country. Think: teaching a new immigrant from South Korea in your home city of Toronto.

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language and refers to teaching English to non-native speakers in a country where English is NOT an official language. Think: being an American expat and teaching Japanese middle-school students IN Japan.

TESOL is an umbrella term that stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and refers to teaching English to non-native speakers in your home country, or abroad. TESOL certificates are generally more in-depth and deliver more learning material.

CELTA stands for Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults.

When will the new requirements become official?

The truth is, nobody seems to know. PalFish has just begun demanding it of their teachers, but the other major companies have not officially made it a requirement, yet.

As far back as August 2018, VIPKid began offering a TESOL certificate to its teachers as a professional development option.  Now, the TESOL certification is the final stage of the VIPKid training process. Applicants must complete it before they start to teach with the company. As far as we know, this certificate is only valid to teach at VIPKid.

In December of 2018, Gogokid communicated to its current teachers that they were aware of the impending requirements and recommended that teachers obtain a 120-hour TESOL certificate before December 31, 2018, to be safe.

We’ve got your back

In light of the most recent news at PalFish we here at Online English Teaching feel that it is just a matter of time before ALL teachers will need a 120-hour teaching certificate to get hired to teach English online.  And, anybody who is currently teaching online without one will need one soon.


Therefore, we have worked on behalf of our recruits and established a partnership with International Open Academy to offer you a huge discount on an accredited, online 120-hour TESOL course.  We have personally used this course for our online teaching jobs.

The regular price for this course is $119.
If you enroll through us it is only $19.

Why International Open Academy?

First off, we’ve actually taken this course ourselves. This is why we can recommend it as a course that covers what you need. It is also recognized by all of our recommended companies.

Next, let’s look at some of the benefits of this course:

1. They have a 14-day, money-back guarantee.

If at any time in the first two weeks, you feel like the course is not working for you, you can get your money back.

2. The course is CPD certified.

CPD stands for Certified Professional Development and is a certification given to professional development courses that meet a certain number of criteria. The organization has a universally accepted structured checklist developed over 20+ years. They take an impartial and objective overview of the structure and value of professional development courses to ensure they conform to CPD guidelines.

3. The certificate is also internationally accredited by ICOES.

ICOES stands for the International Council for Online Educational Standards. The not-for-profit organization upholds high standards for online courses to protect both consumers and providers. Learn more here.

4. You get an instant PDF download as soon as you pass the course.  

This is particularly beneficial if having a TESOL is time-sensitive (which, given the recent news, it is). You can immediately upload it to your company’s online teaching portal once you pass.

5. You have 24/7 access to the learning material.  

You can do the entire course on your own time. Have a few breaks between online classes? Do a module or two of your TESOL course.  You don’t have to structure your schedule around classes that are taking place in person.

6. The course has an instructor.  

Unlike other online courses, this one has a real person you can communicate with while taking the course.

7. Over 56,000 students have taken the course.

Including us! We have personally used this course and can vouch for it.

8. It is the most affordable  (while still maintaining quality) course that we have found.

9. The course can be done quickly.

For most people with teaching experience, it won’t take the full 120 hours. See below for more details.

Does it really take 120 hours?

For anybody who has studied English or education in general, the course can take much, much less than 120 hours.

If time is your biggest concern, rest assured that you can finish this course quickly.  It took me about 30 hours. I have heard of some people who have finished it in less than 20. However, you may not want to rush it if you want to learn everything you can from this course.

And if teaching English is totally new to you, you may need more time.

If you have any questions or comments about the new TESOL requirements, we’d love to hear from you. Comment below or send us an e-mail.

*NOTE: We will keep you updated on this issue as more information becomes available. Subscribe below.