TEFL and CELTA…. What’s the difference?
The answer is, somewhere between “not a lot really” and “everything”. Let me explain.
CELTA is a type of teaching qualification. It stands for Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults.
TEFL is the name of the industry where we teach English abroad, it stands for teaching English as a foreign language. It’s also a generic name of a TEFL certification, essentially a course certificate that prepares you to teach English.
If a TEFL course/certificate is the general term we use then, In theory, you could argue that CELTA is a form of TEFL certification.
But, just to bamboozle TEFLers starting out, a TEFL certificate is also a certificate from any course that isn’t specifically accredited to an organisation, with Trinity and CELTA being the two most well-known.
What Is CELTA?
CELTA is the very best type of TEFL certification you can have. Traditionally, it’s a 3-4 week, classroom-based course, with a set amount of assessed teaching practice. Nowadays, it can also be a mix of online and classroom-based assessment.
Schools can become CELTA accredited and their course can be delivered to the standards of CELTA and you’ll end up with a CELTA certificate.
Because it’s clearly the most well-respected certificate around it gives you an advantage when applying for jobs. When a school is faced with two applicants, one with a CELTA certificate, all other things being equal, they’re likely to choose the applicant with the CELTA.
Here’s the deal. If you want the best and you want the better jobs that often pay more… you’ll need to look at CELTA courses. However, bear in mind that there are 2 billion people learning English and a few hundred thousand teachers.
In other words, there are more jobs than teachers.
Here’s another one for you.
The reason why the CELTA is so well respected is that it’s such a great course and really prepares new teachers to teach.
That’s good for the school AND the teacher. After all, if you’re a new teacher you most likely want to do a really good job.
But the reality is, the syllabus is only one important component of a good TEFL course, the other is the TEFL trainer. You can do a CELTA and get a half-hearted trainer who doesn’t really care and you can do a TEFL course and get a great trainer who goes the extra mile.
So, if you’re looking at TEFL courses in general and you want to go the CELTA route then check the reviews of a specific course and reaction of the graduates to the trainer.
Most TEFL courses take the syllabus of the CELTA… which is super easy to get hold of, you can download it, and build their own course on it. So, often there’s no real difference between the two.
The difference between a good TEFL course and a good CELTA course is the certificate.
As I’ve mentioned, you’ll get access to more jobs and will get to the front of the queue of some of the better-paid jobs. And there’s one more important thing to be mindful of. If you want to teach at a British Council school you’ll need a CELTA or Trinity. If you’re looking to teach at a summer school, you’ll find most of them of British Council Accredited.
CELTA is the best TEFL certificate, and TEFL is all other courses that are not accredited. In the world and on paper a CELTA is the best certificate you can get and will get better jobs. The reality is the quality of the course is dependent on other things, like the quality of the trainer.
CELTAs are more expensive than any other course, that’s a consideration, but if you can afford it, then you should go to the CELTA route. If you can’t, don’t worry there are plenty of jobs and plenty of good courses out there, we’re talking small differences.