CELTA Course for Non-native Speakers: Can you pass?

CELTA Course for Non-native Speakers: How hard is it to pass?

CELTA Course for Non-native Speakers: What to expect?

First things first: expect a lot of work! Why do I say that? Because the CELTA course is one of the most intensive and demanding courses you will probably ever do.

It certainly was the most challenging course I’ve done, and I am a native English speaker!

On the flip side, it is only for a relatively short, but intense, period. It will be over quickly.

How hard is it to pass the CELTA course if English is not my first language?

The CELTA course requires a lot of hard work regardless of your language. Do NOT think it is a lot harder because your first language is not English; it is hard for everyone!

For more detail, I have broken down the pros and cons of the CELTA course for non-native speakers (some points might surprise you!)

How is the CELTA Course for Non-native Speakers: Pros

Grammar: You have the advantage


English native speakers are not taught English grammar in school. This means that, although we know the grammar instinctively, many of us have trouble explaining English grammar.

Compare this with your experience: you have probably learnt (yes, that’s British English spelling!) the grammar over several years. That means you probably also know many more rules.

What this means in real terms on your CELTA course is that you will probably be helping the native speakers with grammar! So many of the native speakers on my course had no idea about the rules. They got really stressed and confused as a result.

Less pressure on you: The students are more forgiving

Because many of the students will realise you are not a native English speaker, they might also be more forgiving.

For example, if they ask a native speaker a grammar question, they expect them to know it every time. If you don’t know the answer, they can relate to why that is (Tip: always say “I’ll get back to you on that soon!” if you are struggling).

Remember – this is a point to use to your advantage, think of it as a strength, not a weakness!

How is the CELTA Course for Non-native Speakers: Cons

Teaching with native speakers can be hard

When team teaching with native speakers, some students might automatically think you are worse than a native speaker.

Unfortunately, this is part of life as a non-native English teacher. I have worked with many English teachers who are not native speakers and they make fantastic teachers.

Don’t let the students get you down: remember, you are on the CELTA course because your English is good enough. You are also there because you have shown enough ability and willingness in your pre-interview task and interview.

If the CELTA trainers think you are at the right level for the CELTA course, then you are!

Written assignments are more challenging

The written assignments aren’t that long but they are clearly more challenging when doing them in your second language.

If you are like me, you probably want every word to be perfect and convey your meaning exactly. Well, that is a good goal but it may not be absolutely necessary.

When your CELTA trainers mark your assignment, they will be looking for you to show what you have learnt. They are not expecting you to write like Shakespeare.

You could ask someone else on your course to proofread your work, or just a friend who is a native speaker if you are really worried about this.

PS You may also like to get your assignments or application checked by Scribendi – an online proofreading service (affiliate link) I used to work for that provides high-quality work.

Useful Links

Many non-native speakers have shared their experiences of the CELTA course, so below are some links to show you that is can be done – you can pass the CELTA course, even if English is not your first language!

CELTA Course Non-Native Speaker Experience

A forum post where a non-native student asked for advice (a few years old but the advice is still useful today!):


An article about how the CELTA course is different for non-native English speakers:

Still have a question about doing the CELTA course as a non-native English speaker?

If your questions still haven’t been answered, leave them in the comments below and I will get back to you ASAP!

CELTA course for non-native speakers

Stephen Beale

After taking the CELTA back in 2007, I have since gained over 11 years' experience of teaching English in various countries. I have also worked in EAP for several years and like sharing what I've learnt along the way here.

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