If you’ve done any research into becoming an English language teacher and travelling the world it’s likely you have come across the CELTA vs TEFL debate.
With so many different courses out there and so many options to choose from it can be hard to figure out what is right for you.
That’s why we’ve created this guide to lay out the difference between a CELTA vs TEFL as well as which is better.
Check it out.
What is a TEFL?
There’s one common question we’re asked about TEFL – What is it?
TEFL stands for ‘Teaching English as a Foreign Language’ and is often the name used for the industry of English Language Teaching.
It is an umbrella term for any course or school that deals with Teaching English as a ‘Foreign’ language.
“TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is not an exam or a qualification, but rather the name of the subject area/industry.”
Generically named “TEFL” courses without any external accreditation are pretty much useless because anybody can provide them.
Such courses may also be referred to as TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) ESL (English as a Second Language) or ELT (English Language Training.)
That’s a lot of letters so the rest of this guide will just stick to TEFL.
What is a CELTA?
CELTA stands for ‘Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages’ and is issued by Cambridge: a prestigious and worldwide renowned university in the United Kingdom.
“It’s easiest to think of a CELTA as the ultimate TEFL course.”
So a CELTA is a type of TEFL course, but it can only be issued by Cambridge and therefore is regarded as the most trusted and acclaimed TEFL course in the world.
TEFL vs CELTA: Why learn to teach English?
There are a number of reasons why you might go through TEFL training, but most of our students fall into two camps. Either they’d like to make a permanent move to another country, or they’d like to teach English to make money while traveling. In both cases, choosing the right qualification is vital.
But teaching English abroad is more than just a way to make money. The best TEFL courses also teach soft skills, like communication, leadership, and time management. Whether you teach English abroad for a summer or for a decade, these skills will be invaluable in your career afterwards.
You want to find a great teaching job as quickly and easily as possible, and language schools prefer TEFL teachers with qualifications they know and trust.
Lets’s keep that in mind as we look at the difference between TEFL and CELTA.
CELTA vs TEFL: What’s the difference?
So what is the difference between a CELTA and a TEFL?
Below, we’ve laid some of the biggest differences and divided them into the most important categories for you.
*Because there’s no single authority on TEFL almost anyone can run one. You can find cheap TEFL’s on the likes of Groupon or you can find expensive high-end courses run by private companies.
Duration of study:
CELTA: 30 days full-time intensive course or weekly classes.
TEFL: 1 day-1 year*
*Some may be a weekend long, others a year long, it just depends on where you go.
Location of study:
CELTA: All over the world, but trainees must be there in person.*
TEFL: Can be done online.
*All CELTA trainees must have taught 8 lessons to real-life students to be qualified.
CELTA: Recognised by schools all over the world.
TEFL: Most serious language schools require a CELTA, therefore the job opportunities are quite limited.
Why you should do a CELTA instead of a TEFL
Here are a few more reasons why we encourage potential-trainees to do a CELTA instead of a TEFL:
1. You get to be a Cambridge alumni + certified teacher
Let’s get the vain one out of the way first… perhaps this would never cross your mind in the decision making process, but let’s be honest:
It’s a pretty great thing to be able to say and put on your CV/Resume.
2. It can be done anywhere in the world.
Chances are if you are looking into becoming an English language teacher you most likely are passionate about travelling and seeing the world.
The great thing about the CELTA is that you don’t have to wait until you’re qualified to do that.
With the CELTA training, you can start your adventure right away by getting your certificate overseas.
3. The CELTA is one of the most affordable career training options available
Most jobs require you to go to university/college and get a degree. This costs an insane amount of money and 4 years + of your life.
However, because the CELTA is only £1295 and takes 4 weeks, you can be qualified in under a month and make that money back in your first month of teaching in many countries around the world.
The alternative is spending months or even years abroad looking for work with a shoddy qualification, or finding yourself taking a poorly paid job out of desperation. While a CELTA course may seem like a big outlay, you’ll actually save money in the long-run by investing in a recognised TEFL qualification.
4. You don’t need any previous experience
Because the course is so intense and covers so much, trainees don’t need any previous teaching experience or qualifications in English.
“This makes the CELTA a great option for a first-time career, or even for those seeking a career change/break.”
Many young people choose to do a CELTA during the summer vacation while they are at university or after high-school so they can do a gap year/travel once their studies are finished (and make money while doing it.)
5. A CELTA is your passport to the world
English is the most in-demand language worldwide and countries from every corner of the earth are in need of high-quality, professionally trained English language teachers.
There’s a myth that native English speakers can simply rock up in a foreign country and start teaching. While this can happen, it’s usually a bad sign if a school hires people with no experience or qualifications. In reality, the best way to guarantee a good job teaching English abroad is to get a CELTA qualification.
We often say that a CELTA is a key/passport because it opens up opportunities all over the world to countries that you previously may not have even had a chance to work in.
Why the CELTA is the only option to become an English Language teacher
As you have realised by now we are huge champions of the CELTA program.
Simply: because it’s the best.
“We’ve had countless students come to do the CELTA with us because language schools were no longer accepting their TEFL certificates… even after 12 years + teaching experience!”
Many TEFL courses promise a lot but the reality is they often don’t deliver. Others are simply scams.
Don’t get us wrong, there are some good programs out there, but the quality of teaching and strength of the qualification is often unpredictable.
Cambridge on the other hand, has strict guidelines to be followed for training centres offering CELTA programs. This means that students and employers can feel confident that their qualifications are backed up by a reputable institution.
In fact, every single course will have a Cambridge assessor sent out to ensure that the quality is maintained throughout the whole world.
In short: the CELTA you do in Belfast, Northern Ireland carries the same weight and quality of a CELTA in Brazil, Hong Kong, or Cambridge itself.
Why International House Belfast is the perfect place to get your CELTA
That’s the end of our guide to the great debate of CELTA vs TEFL: Which is better + what’s the difference.
We highly encourage anyone thinking of pursuing a career in language teaching to check out the CELTA program. In fact, if you’re serious about teaching English as a foreign language, we think that taking a CELTA course is a no brainer. Put simply, it’s the most reliable way to access TEFL jobs all around the world.
You can do it anywhere, but if you would be interested in coming to Belfast, Northern Ireland here are some reasons why you should do your CELTA here.
1. We offer a 30-day crash course program
You get qualified in 4 weeks. It’s that simple.
“The course is intense… but not as intense as ending up in Cambodia in front of 20 language learners have never stood in front of a class before!” – IH Belfast Alumini
But don’t worry, we’ll walk you through it each step of the way.
2. Belfast is Lonely Planet’s top destination for 2018
We love our city so much and were so pleased to see it recognised by Lonely Planet as the best place to visit in 2018.
There’s so much to see in Belfast and Northern Ireland, it really is a great mix of stunning nature, vibrant cities and tight-knit communities with the best folks you’ll ever meet.
3. We offer accommodation options
We help take the stress away from finding a place that will suit your needs with our apartments located just a few minutes away from the school. International House offer a number of accommodation options to suit different lifestyles and budgets. If you prefer to arrange your own accommodation, our advisors are also available to help.
That way you can spend more time planning what you’ll explore and do while you’re here instead of worrying where you will live.
4. Our teaching team is world-class
Not only do we have years of experience delivering the CELTA program, but we also have over 150 years of teaching experience in 50 different countries!
Plus our tutors are great fun, very personal and as we say here… ‘down to earth.’
5. We have real-life English classes you will practice with
International House Belfast is a fully functioning language school, with loads of different courses for non-native speakers.
During your CELTA experience, you will teach 8 lessons to these classes and receive direct feedback from your tutors to help you become the best teacher you can be.
TEFL vs CELTA: the obvious choice
Whether you decide to do your CELTA here in Belfast, Northern Ireland or somewhere else, we hope that after reading this guide you will see what the obvious choice is between a CELTA vs TEFL. The bottom line is that, with no fixed standard for TEFL courses, there’s really no way to know which ones are genuine, and which ones are just a money spinner.
By contrast, CELTA is a recognised standard for teaching English all around the world. As such, you can be confident in its value.
Make the right choice for your future teaching/travelling career today by requesting further information about the CELTA program.
If you have any more questions in regards to a CELTA vs TEFL, please feel free to contact us at any time.
Thanks very much for reading, we hope you found the information useful and hope to see you soon.
All the best with your English teaching career.
– Paul McMullan, Director Of International House Belfast.