What is a CELTA course?

The CELTA course is an English teaching training qualification that is suitable for those wanting to get into TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to the Speakers of Other Languages). It is also suitable for those who wish to build upon their existing teaching experience if they have not had much formal training. The CELTA course is provided by Cambridge English Language Assessment via authorised Cambridge English Teaching Qualification centres.

What does CELTA mean?

CELTA stands for Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults. Although it is now also known as Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Who is a CELTA course for?

Even though the name of CELTA implies a focus on adults, the material can actually be applied to all learner types. What you learn in CELTA is particularly useful if you wish to teach at a language school, secondary or university level education, at companies, or as a private tutor. It thus acts as a great foundation for English teaching and can also form a stepping stone to the Delta (or the equivalent Trinity DipTESOL).

The Delta course is a qualification which English teachers will normally take if they wish to further their career.

If you’re thinking about specifically teaching younger learners it might be worth checking out the CELT-P (Certificate in English Language Teaching – Primary) here.

Are there any entry requirements to do the CELTA course?

In order to take the CELTA course you should be at least 18 and have the necessary education level to enter university, although having a degree is not a requirement for taking the course. However, it is recommended that anyone looking to take the CELTA course should have an English level of C1, based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), or an IELTS score of at least 7.5.

Your course entrance is always at the discretion of the course provider. If you apply for CELTA you’ll firstly be asked to complete a written task, which focuses on language awareness and consideration of issues related to teaching English. This will then be evaluated to see if you have the appropriate level to pass the CELTA and if you’re deemed to have this you’ll be invited to an interview. The format of the interview varies depending on the training provider. They will generally want to see how you think about language learning and teaching English, again to determine if you’ll be able to successfully complete the course.

Provided you pass the entry requirements and are accepted onto the course, CELTA itself can be taken by people both with no previous English language teaching (ELT) experience and by those who have had experience but want to gain an internationally recognised English teaching qualification.

How can you study for a CELTA course?

CELTA courses are mainly classroom based and can be studied full-time or part-time. They can be offered as fully face-to-face courses or in a blended format where some online study is combined with practical teaching experience. As a result of Covid there are now also some fully online CELTA courses that you can take.

A full-time CELTA course is usually done in a training centre in intensive format over a period of four to five weeks, with 120 hours of class time including at least 6 hours of teaching practice and continuous assessments throughout.

In the blended format of the CELTA course the online materials can be accessed at any time allowing for greater flexibility, and the course can be conducted over a minimum of 10 weeks or the maximum of 1 academic year. Like the classroom course there is 6 hours of observed teach practice and whilst studying online, support and evaluation is provided by an online tutor.

For a general overview check out the information on the Cambridge English website.

Where can you take a CELTA course?

CELTA courses can be taken through authorised Cambridge English Teaching Qualification centres in many different countries all over the world. According to Cambridge, there are over 300 approved CELTA centres in over 60 countries, providing over 850 courses per year, so you won’t be short on options. Just make sure you do your research and confirm that the course provider is authorised to offer and give the CELTA course before going ahead.

You can also take CELTA in an online blended course via the course provided by Cambridge English Language Assessment, which is detailed more here.

What content is covered in a typical CELTA course?

As per Cambridge English the CELTA course covers the following:

“Syllabus overview

The syllabus consists of five specific topic areas:

  • Topic 1 Learners and teachers, and the teaching and learning context
  • Topic 2 Language analysis and awareness
  • Topic 3 Language skills: reading, listening, speaking and writing
  • Topic 4 Planning and resources for different teaching contexts
  • Topic 5 Developing teaching skills and professionalism.”

You can read more about the contents of the CELTA course here

How long is a CELTA course?

The typical duration of a CELTA course is a minimum of 120 contact hours (classroom time), and it is expected that you’ll need to dedicate at least 80 hours for the required reading, research, session tasks, assignments and lesson preparation.

What do you get at the end of a CELTA course?

Upon completion of the CELTA course you’ll be awarded a CELTA certificate. This is proof that you have successfully completed the course and met the assessment criteria for all written and practical assignments.

As per Cambridge English the overall assessment aims for each topic within the CELTA course are that you should be able to:

  1. Assess learner needs, and plan and teach lessons which take account of learners’ backgrounds, learning preferences and current needs
  2. Demonstrate language knowledge and awareness, and appropriate teaching strategies
  3. Demonstrate knowledge about language skills and how they may be acquired
  4. Plan and prepare lessons designed to develop their learners’ overall language competence
  5. Demonstrate an appropriate range of teaching skills at this level and show professional awareness and responsibility.

This will rely upon you completing the assessment framework, of which there are two components:

  • Component One: Planning and teaching
  • Component Two: Classroom-related written assignments (of which there are four in total)

You can read in more detail about the syllables and their assessment here.

Should you do a CELTA course?

If you are considering a career in TEFL, the CELTA course offers you one of the most comprehensive and rigorous introductions to English language teaching on the market. It is fair to say that you’d be hard pushed to find a course that better prepares you for your time in the classroom.

As CELTA is a standardised course it provides a set level of quality, equipping you with the confidence and know-how to teach good, effective lessons helping both you and your students. Subsequently, it has become the golden standard for employers. If they see that you are CELTA qualified, they will likely put your CV above someone who just has a TEFL certificate.

It’s worth noting that CELTA courses don’t come cheap and can cost anything from £1000 or $1200 upwards. This may be prohibitive for some potential teachers. Therefore, if you just want to give English teaching a try or if you’re purely looking at teaching abroad for an opportunity to work and travel, it might be worth looking for a good quality, reputable 120-hour TEFL course before committing a serious amount of cash on the CELTA. This should be enough to secure you your first TEFL job.

However, if you’re serious about starting a career in English teaching the CELTA course could be the one for you. By taking CELTA you’ll obtain a qualification that is recognised around the world by leading international English Language Teaching organisations and key industry players, and you’ll have a greater chance of landing that dream job.