Is CELTA Better Than TEFL?


When deciding to follow the path of an English Language teacher, it’s not uncommon to get a little confused about the various different teacher training courses that are out there.

You may be wondering which one is right for you, which is more highly accredited, and what on earth all these qualifications are anyway. Thankfully, this easy-to-understand comparison will have you clued up on which course to choose in no time.

The term CELTA refers to a specific and highly accredited TEFL certificate – the Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults, created by the University of Cambridge.

TEFL is more of a broad term, which stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. There’s a wide variety of TEFL certificates out there, which range from around 20 hours to 300 hours of classroom instruction, and tend to vary in price and recognition. So which one is better?

If you’re serious about a career in ESL teaching, and don’t mind paying just a little extra, I strongly recommend the CELTA. Here’s why:

  • CELTA is arguably the most highly accredited TEFL certificate in the world.
  • Many employers who are seeking teachers will list a CELTA as one of their minimum requirements.
  • It doesn’t matter where you do the CELTA, the qualification is exactly the same, and will be recognised equally by employers.
  • TEFL courses can vary significantly and you can never be completely sure as to how worthwhile they will be.

With all this in mind, it’s important to remember that CELTA isn’t a great fit for everyone, and a TEFL certificate can often be just as beneficial. There’s a number of factors that come into play when it comes to deciding which course is right for you, which I’ll list below.

Jobs

Many newly qualified English Language teachers struggle profoundly when it comes to finding work. This is because a high volume of employers are only willing to employ teachers that have 2 or more years of full-time teaching experience and a university degree. Having the CELTA can help you with this, as it’s appreciated tremendously by employers, and shows them that you’re hard-working and have the right amount of knowledge and practice to teach effectively with minimal support. If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, your best bet for finding work as a teacher is definitely the CELTA, however a good TEFL or TESOL course can be just as effective given the right circumstances.

Visas

Unfortunately, neither a CELTA nor a TEFL certificate will help you when it comes to getting a visa for working abroad. Generally, this comes down to whether you have a university degree, but there are some countries that will allow you to work as an English teacher without one.

Price

Price will most likely play a key role in whether you choose a CELTA or TEFL course. A CELTA typically costs anything between $1000 and $2000, however I’ve come across courses that cost as little as $700 and as much as $4000. These types of figures really depend on the school that’s offering the course, and whether you decide to take the course in peak season or in off season. Most TEFL courses tend to be quite a bit cheaper than the CELTA, with prices as low as just $300 for a 120-hour certificate. But try not to let this be the deciding factor in your decision, as you may find that this type of course is practically useless compared to a more highly accredited one.

Earnings

There is little to no difference between the typical salary of a CELTA-qualified teacher and that of a non-CELTA-qualified teacher, however you’re more likely to get a highly paid job if you have a CELTA than any other certificate, and many high-paying employers now look for a DELTA (Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults), which some might call CELTA’s more advanced and prestigious older sister.

Recognition

The Cambridge CELTA, along with the Trinity Cert or TESOL, is the most highly accredited and recognised TEFL certificate in the world. As far as other TEFL certificates from lesser-known providers go, it’s quite unlikely that you will have much luck finding work after completion. This is because employers specifically look for candidates who hold the CELTA or TESOL. That being said, if you simply wish to work as a volunteer teacher after completing your course and don’t have any plans to seek employment as a paid teacher in the near future, a TEFL certificate from a less recognised provider could be enough for you. Also, employers in some countries such as China which are always desperate for English teachers tend to not even require a teaching certificate, and list a university degree as their minimum requirement.

Time

Most employers will expect you to have completed a 120-hour TEFL certificate, so the clue (most of the time) is in the name. There are, however, some courses that take as much as 300 hours to complete, and if you’re looking to do a less recognised certificate for some volunteer work or just for an interesting experience, a 20-hour course can be done either online or in person over a weekend. 120-hour TEFL courses, including the CELTA and TESOL, tend to happen over a period of 4 weeks and occasionally include accomodation, however always include a lot of hard work. An online alternative is almost always available for TEFL courses, and if the 4 weeks of full-time learning sounds too stressful for you, you may want to opt for a part-time course that will take place over the course of 3 or 4 months.

Restrictions

I’ve come across many websites and blogs that seem to claim that the CELTA has minimum requirements which must be met in order to take the course, most of which are simply not true. Some sites state that the CELTA requires for candidates to be at least 20 years of age and hold a university degree, or sometimes just to have finished high school/secondary school. But don’t worry! This information is 100% untrue. I completed my CELTA when I was just 18, having had no previous qualifications from any secondary school or university. So please check with the school that’s providing the certificate what their specific minimum requirements are, as it can vary between different providers.

Related Questions

Is there a course which is more suited to teaching younger learners?
Yes and no. While the CELTA is a course that is specifically tailored for teaching adults, (that’s what the A stands for, by the way) most employers will accept it for a position which includes teaching children. The TESOL, however, includes an entire module that focuses on teaching young learners.

Can I teach English as a foreign language without a university degree if I have a CELTA or TEFL certificate? Yes you can. Although many job adverts list a university degree as a minimum requirement, you’ll come across loads that simply require a CELTA, TESOL, or other 120-hour teaching certificate. Some countries also have restrictions on working if you don’t have a degree, so be sure to check out the visa requirements for whichever country you’d like to go to.

I’m already a teacher. Is it still worthwhile doing a TEFL/CELTA course?
Of course! While the main thing that employers are looking for tends to be a great deal of experience, CELTA or another certificate such as TESOL will look amazing on your resume and really improve your employability. Plus, you’re bound to learn loads of useful tips and tricks that will help you along in your career.

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