Home / Need help choosing a TEFL course? What’s the difference between 120-hour vs Level 5 TEFL Courses?
girl and laptop
Wondering which TEFL course is for you? Or what’s the difference between 120-hour vs Level 5 TEFL Courses?

We have made it easier for you, make sure to read this blog and learn more about TEFL hours and levels explained. First of all, what exactly is TEFL? TEFL stands for Teaching English as a foreign language. This means that you will teach English not in the way that native speakers have learnt it, but as a second language. Normally, the teacher does this in the country of the students but these days, teaching online from your own country is also possible. There are also positions in English speaking countries where your work may involve teaching those who have emigrated to the country and need to learn the local language or groups who have travelled for immersion classes on a short-term stay.  To be able to do any of this, you will need a TEFL qualification but firstly you must choose the right TEFL course for you. 

If you are looking to start your career in TEFL, it can be difficult to choose which TEFL course is right for you and which one will land you the teaching position you are looking for. It can also be confusing to deal with the TEFL course terminology- what does “120 hour” mean? Is this enough to get a teaching job? What does “Level 5” mean? Is it important? What does it mean for your TEFL prospects? Below we’ll take a look at what these terms mean so you will be able to make an informed decision about what course you should take to kickstart your TEFL adventure!

It is important to note that both are valid TEFL qualifications and both courses can open up different job opportunities. However, which course is suitable for you will depend on your needs and your educational/ working background. What’s important is that you choose a qualification that is recognised and accredited. If you see a TEFL course advertised for €20 that you can complete in two days, this will most likely not be official and will not mean anything to your employers when you come to apply for a job.

What is a 120-hour course?

A 120-hour course is the industry minimum amount of hours to work in TEFL. Anything less and you run the risk of employers not accepting the qualification so you should look to do at least 120 hours when taking a TEFL course. Choosing a 120-hour TEFL course will give you the basics of TEFL. This qualification may serve the minimum requirements of many TEFL job adverts but it is often looked at hand-in-hand with your previous experience (TEFL and non-TEFL) and other qualifications you may have. It is a way to round off your already detailed CV with evidence of knowledge of how to teach English.

What is a Level 5 TEFL course?

A Level 5 TEFL course has been awarded this level based on the OFQUAL qualification framework, which is the regulatory body for qualifications in England.  This means that all Level 5 courses have been assessed to be the same level of difficulty – undergraduate degrees are also Level 5. This does not mean that a Level 5 TEFL course is the same as a degree, but it is assessed to be the same level of difficulty. Our Level 5 TEFL course is 180-hours and regulated by the awarding body Highfield, meaning it is recognised internationally.  Due to the level and the number of hours of study, this course is a more in-depth exploration of TEFL. 

globe travel

Who is best suited to each course?

You may be interested in the 120-hour course if:

  • You already have experience and wish to get a qualification on paper. This could be because your place of work has asked you to get an official qualification or you may need it to satisfy the requirements for a job you are interested in, or if you want to teach online.
  • 120 hours is the minimum for this. Online teaching often has fewer requirements than face-to-face positions.
  • You want to get certified but are on a budget and don’t have as much time to complete it. The course is roughly completed in 120 hours but of course, this could be less depending on the speed of the learner.

The Level 5 course may interest:

  • Non-native speakers with a high level of English. This course can help you stand out more as a non-native TEFL teacher and also solidify your grammar knowledge.
  • Those who want to enter into a more competitive job market. Finding work in language centres in English-speaking countries (Ireland, the UK for example) or teaching in areas such as the Middle East, as it may be more competitive so this course can help set you apart from other candidates that may have the minimum qualification.
  • Those who do not have a degree. A level 5 of course does not replace a degree but it will show employers you are capable of more in-depth study and will give you a more academic standing.
  • People who have no experience in teaching or those who feel nervous and want a deeper training experience. The Level 5 course will provide you with a more comprehensive understanding of TEFL which will give you an extra confidence boost to tackle your first lessons.
What do these courses entail with the TEFL Institute of Ireland? 

120-hour Premier TEFL course:

Our 120-hour course will provide you with essential TEFL knowledge that will give you the confidence to start your first TEFL job. It is fully accredited and recognised by employers both online and all over the world. 

It consists of:

  • 10 modules of study where you will learn the fundamentals of everything from planning classes to teaching grammar and vocabulary to your students.
  • 100% online and flexible study. You get 6 months study time to complete the course so you can go at the pace you want to.
  • Assessments in the form of 10 multiple-choice quizzes at the end of each module. These quizzes will test what you have studied in the previous module.
  • A pass rate of 80% (you can try the quizzes as many times as you need to in order to achieve the pass rate).
  • The opportunity to become qualified in just 4 weeks (depending on your availability and study pace).
  • Access to tutor support via email, a discord network where you can ask questions and meet other learners and a weekly zoom session to ask any questions you have face-to-face.

For more information about this course, check out this link!

180-hour Government Regulated Level 5 course:

The 180-hour Level 5 government-regulated TEFL course will give your CV a boost in the more competitive job markets. Recognised by employees intentionally, the qualification will give you the best chance to secure a TEFL position in these job markets.

This course entails:

  • 10 modules of study which will give you an in-depth introduction to grammar before teaching you the techniques you’ll need for teaching it to your learners. You’ll also learn how to plan different types of lessons both in the classroom and online, choose activities and materials for your classes and how to manage your classes whether this is face-to-face or teaching them online.
  • 100% online and self-study – you can access the course when you want and study as much or as little per week in the 6 months of study time that you have to complete the course.
  • 3 assessments completed during the course based on the modules studied. These assessments have a pass rate of 100% but you will be provided feedback by our highly qualified assessors to help you achieve this. Each of our assessors are Masters-level qualified and have many years of experience in the industry, with quite an impressive array of countries taught in between them!
  • Access to tutor support via email, a discord network where you can meet other learners on your course and a weekly zoom session where you can speak to a qualified assessor face-to-face to ask any questions you have about the course or the TEFL industry.

For more information about the Level 5 180-hour course, check it out here!


Choosing the right TEFL course for you can depend on your previous experience and what type of TEFL job you want to get in the future. You should consider whether you want to teach online or in the classroom, whether you are a native or non-native speaker, whether you have any previous experience or a degree to decide on the appropriate course. Of course, if you need help choosing a TEFL course, the team here at The TEFL Institute of Ireland will be on hand to help you make the decision that could change your life!


Shopping Basket
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyBrowse Courses