The debate between two of the most popular English teaching certification programs – CELTA vs TEFL – is as old as the programs themselves. And while each has its own strengths and weaknesses, both CELTA and TEFL can help you get a job teaching English as a foreign language.
So what’s the difference between CELTA and TEFL and which one should you do? We take a closer look at what each program has to offer, so that you can pick the best one for you.
What’s the difference between CELTA and TEFL?
When it comes to teaching English abroad, there are a few different types of certification that teachers can have. The most common type of certification is the TEFL certification, which stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language.
There is also the CELTA certification, which stands for Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults. However, CETLA is now known as Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.
If you’re looking to teach English as a foreign language, or teach English second language, it’s important to know the difference between CELTA and TEFL. Both certifications are internationally recognized, but there are some key points that set them apart.
So, what’s the difference between these two types of certification? Let’s take a look at the two courses, so you can decide which is the best fit for you.
What is CELTA?
CELTA (The Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is an internationally recognized level 5 qualification. Earning a CELTA is an ideal way to either start or further your career in teaching English as a foreign language.
The CELTA is administered by the University of Cambridge and offered through authorized training centers around the world. It is a rigorous, four-week course that covers both teaching methodology and practice, which trains you on all aspects of teaching English. This ranges from grammar and vocabulary to lesson planning and classroom management. You must complete a minimum of 120 hours of study in order to receive your certification. This involves intensive coursework, plus 6 hours of observed teaching practice.
The CELTA is widely accepted as the gold standard for TEFL certification. Successful completion of the course will give you all the confidence and skills you need to teach English.
To find a course near you or abroad, visit the Cambridge English Language Assessment website.
What is TEFL?
TEFL, or Teaching English as a Foreign Language, is an umbrella term that refers to all types of teaching English abroad. In the context of CELTA vs TEFL we are thinking about TEFL qualifications. So, what we need to consider here are TEFL courses.
There are many different TEFL courses available, ranging from 100-hour online courses to full-time four-week courses. This includes the CELTA course!
Yes, you read that right, the CELTA course can be classified as a TEFL certification. This is because TEFL can refer to any certification program that trains people to teach English to non-native English speakers. So, in that sense CELTA and TEFL are one of the same. You could say that CELTA is essentially a branded TEFL course. However, a CELTA course is not the same as a standard TEFL course.
Unlike a CELTA course, where the course content is standardized no matter where you take it, what you cover in a TEFL course can depend upon a number of factors. These include how much you pay for it and whether you take an online TEFL course or in person TEFL course.
In person TEFL courses are usually completed over a period of 4 weeks and include teaching practice. Whereas online courses can be completed at your own pace over a period of several months.
TEFL courses can be offered by many different organizations, and usually consist of 120-150 hours of coursework. As a rule of thumb, this comes with a focus on English teaching theory. You’ll learn how to teach English speaking, writing, reading and listening. You’ll also cover lesson planning and effective classroom management. Whether or not you get teaching practice will depend upon what TEFL course you go for. This is because TEFL courses come in a much wider variety than CELTA courses. They can be online, in person and at different TEFL qualification levels.
You could end up doing a TEFL course with any level between 0-5 depending upon your choice. Although ideally you need to be looking for TEFL courses at level 3 and above.
You can learn more about the difference between a TEFL level 3 or TEFL level 5 course here.
CELTA is always a level 5 TEFL qualification.
How do CELTA and TEFL compare?
CELTA and TEFL are both English language teaching certifications (commonly known as TEFL certifications), but they have some important differences. The TEFL certificate generally focuses on teaching theory, while the CELTA emphasizes hands-on practice.
TEFL courses are typically cheaper and available online, while the CELTA is more expensive and earned in person. So, if you want to avoid a high TEFL certification cost you might be better off going with a TEFL course.
A TEFL course can be done either in-person or online and usually takes 120 hours to complete. When done online you can have up to 6 months to complete the course. In the classroom you’ll have to follow the course schedule, which is often around 4 weeks long.
CELTA also tends to be done over a 4 week period, and it’s more intensive than your average TEFL course. Especially with the 6 hour days and a heavy homework load! Although, there are in person TEFL courses with similar workload.
More recently, some online CELTA courses have started appearing. However, they still require you to complete the course within a short time period. This is in sharp contrast to the flexibility offered by an online TEFL course.
Which option is right for you will depend upon your goals and budget. With that in mind, the cost of CELTA vs TEFL could certainly be a factor.
The cost of CELTA and TEFL
When choosing a TEFL program, it is important to consider two things. One is what you hope to get out of the certification and the other is your budget. Let’s take a look at what you can expect to pay for CELTA and TEFL.
Cost of CELTA certification
The cost of the CELTA can range anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 depending on the country in which you take the course. This price may seem a bit daunting, but it is an internationally recognized, prestigious program. An employer will know that anyone with CELTA on their CV will have completed high quality teacher training.
Another option is to take the CELTA course online. This costs less than taking it in person and you don’t have to worry about traveling to a different city or country. However, you can’t beat the full in-class CELTA experience.
If price is a concern, there are some ways to offset the CELTA cost. These come in the form of scholarships and grants but you have to seek them out.
Cost of TEFL certification
When it comes to the cost of TEFL certification, there is a wide range of prices. The most affordable option is an online TEFL course, which can cost as little as $100. In-person courses, on the other hand, can be much more expensive, with prices ranging from $1,000 to $4,000. This varies depending on the program and country in which you study.
Needless to say, what you pay for TEFL course can determine its quality. At the more budget end of the scale, online TEFL courses often don’t include teaching practice or tutor support for example. This doesn’t necessarily make these options a bad choice, as there are some good cheap TEFL courses out there.
However, you should be aware that many employers and language schools around the world can request some form of teaching experience. This makes teaching practice a highly desirable element of a TEFL course if you want to have a good chance of getting a TEFL job.
In-person TEFL courses tend to include teaching practice. So, although they are normally more expensive this can be one of several reasons why you should take a TEFL course abroad.
If you want to do this and then teach English abroad, just make sure to research the cost of living in your desired destination country.
If studying abroad doesn’t appeal, some of the best online TEFL courses will also include teaching practice.
Is TEFL accreditation a cost factor?
Another important factor to consider when it comes to the cost of a TEFL course is TEFL accreditation. Whether or not the TEFL course provider is accredited can significantly impact price.
Very cheap TEFL courses may seem appealing but there is a chance that they’re not accredited. Although TEFL accreditation is not mandatory, it can help ensure that you are getting good quality training and value for your money. Employers may also request that you have completed an accredited TEFL course.
If you’re strapped for cash but looking for an accredited TEFL course, check out these cheapest TEFL courses online.
Ultimately, the cost of TEFL certification depends on the type of course you take and where you take it. However, there are many affordable options available, so there is no excuse not to get certified and start teaching English abroad or online!
Just make sure you do your research on any requirements employers have as well as the contents of the TEFL course before taking the plunge.
Why choose a CELTA course
CELTA is a highly prestigious qualification and is ideal if you’re serious about teaching English as a career. If you complete it successfully you’ll stand out amongst your peers and have access to the best TEFL jobs available.
People who take CELTA receive the best possible training and are rewarded with an unforgettable experience. This equips them with the skills they need to become a great English teacher.
Why choose a TEFL course
One of the biggest benefits of taking a TEFL course is its affordability. It can give you the necessary training and knowledge to teach English successfully without having to break the bank.
This training will give you the confidence you need to start teaching English classes right away. You will learn about different teaching methods, how to plan your lessons, and how to deal with different types of students.
TEFL courses can also offer job placement assistance. So, once you obtain your TEFL certification, the course provider will help you find a job teaching English in a country where you want to live and work.
Finally, if you’re looking for flexibility, an online TEFL course can be done in your own time.
Should you pick CELTA or TEFL?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The best choice for you will depend on your individual needs, goals and budget.
In general, CELTA courses are more rigorous and focused on teaching methodology and practice. TEFL courses are more broadly focused on language teaching theory.
So, If you want a more affordable certificate that will teach you how to teach English, go with TEFL. If you want a certificate that will give you practical experience teaching English, choose CELTA.
CELTA vs TEFL FAQs
In terms of qualification level, both CELTA and TEFL level 5 sit at the same level based on the UK qualifications framework. This classifies both qualifications as equivalent to a foundation degree. However, although they share the same level the contents of each course can be different. So, this is something that you should be aware of.