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What is the difference between TEFL and CELTA?

TEFL, CELTA, TESOL, DELTA, TESL… these acronyms don’t exactly clear up what makes each English teaching qualification different and which is the right one for you.

Two of the most notable ESL qualifications are TEFL (which stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and CELTA (meaning Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults). Both of these sought-after courses, provided by training institutes worldwide, prepare future English as a second language teachers to feel confident in the classroom and to succeed in their teaching career goals.

But what are the key distinctions between them?

Your course content

CELTA courses adhere to specific curriculum criteria because they are designed and approved by just one authoritative body, namely Cambridge English. This means that wherever you study CELTA, you will be covering the same material over the required 120 hours’ class time.

For TEFL programmes, on the other hand, there is no one voice leading what they must contain. In fact, their durations and subject matters can vary significantly.

Course content of TEFL courses is decided by the training institute providing them. Some schools design their own unique TEFL programmes but there are also exam boards who design accredited TEFL courses which can be taught at approved centres.

Your English students

The clue is in the name – CELTA trains you specifically in teaching English to adults. As a result, once you are qualified, the particular course you completed might affect who you end up teaching.

TEFL-qualified teachers will be leading classrooms in non-native-English-speaking countries where the pupils could be any age, from infant to adult.

However, some schools might accept a CELTA qualification as proof that you have the capabilities to teach their young students as well as adults.

Your employer

Of course, the aim of completing an ESL course is to get a teaching job at the end. If you have taken the steps to undergo an ESL qualification, you probably already have an idea in mind of what you want your future role to look like.

Your hopes for your future employment should be considered when choosing TEFL or CELTA. Some schools will be specific in wanting an accredited TEFL qualification, whereas others may ask for CELTA. Many will be open to either, as long as you can prove you are confident and capable in teaching English to those who have a different native language.

Your accreditation

When choosing an ESL course, many people seek ones with widely-recognised accreditations. Having an accredited qualification can open up your opportunities because employers feel assured that you completed high-quality training.

CELTA qualifications are often well-regarded due to their being designed and approved by Cambridge English, a part of the world-famous Cambridge University.

Many TEFL courses have globally-recognised accreditation, with different education bodies from around the world supplying them. This means if you do choose TEFL over CELTA, you have lots of room to find an accredited programme that suits your specific learning needs and desires.

TEFL courses can also be non-accredited but this is not necessarily a bad thing. When a training institute is not limited in what it teaches by an exam board’s specifications, its TEFL courses can be any length and can include out-of-the-box course content that is not taught anywhere else.

Your study experience

A factor to take into account when choosing a course is how you will study. Full-time study of CELTA can be intensive and can consist of a heavy assignment load, and if you study on a part-time basis, you might be expected to know complex English grammar concepts as you brush through the main learning material.

With TEFL courses, the intensity of the workload and the difficulty of the world depends on which particular programme you enrol in, but most will still require you to write essays.

One key component of gaining a CELTA qualification is that you must spend a total of six hours teaching in a real-life ESL classroom.

With most TEFL courses, real teaching practice is not a requirement, meaning you can pass without ever having stepped foot in a classroom. Often, though, you will get the opportunity to try out mock teaching sessions before your fellow trainees and your tutors, who will give you useful, practical feedback.

Explore Notting Hill College’s range of ESL courses and find a programme that meets your needs.



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