TEFL, TESOL, CELTA. Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Certification of English Teaching Language to Adults.
…What the heck is the difference between these three, very similar sounding, certificates?
When I began thinking about getting my certification to teach English, I was really confused about the difference between TEFL and TESOL. It made no sense to me! After doing a bit of research before jumping into a program, I learned that they are pretty interchangeable with a few slight differences. CELTA, on the other hand, is quite different than the other two in certain regards. However, by obtaining any of these 3 certifications, you will be able to teach English to people who do not speak the language.
Before we start exploring which certification is right for you, I want to make you aware that you can opt for either an online or an in-person certification course. All three certifications offer both of these options, so the decision depends on your lifestyles and wants.
If you want to learn more about online vs. in-person courses, take a look at the article I wrote a few weeks back which determined the pros and cons of each.
Below we will investigate the similarities and differences between each certification. We wil explore which might be the best for you and we will learn how each certification process works.
TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Language
Probably the most commonly used acronym for the field, the term TEFL refers to the act of teaching English abroad. Abroad from where? Abroad from any native English speaking country, ie the US, Canada or the UK. Although the term TEFL is most widely used in the US, it doesn’t only apply to people from there.
When you opt for a TEFL certificate, you will be trained on how to teach English to people in countries where English is not the native language. A TEFL certification refers to the training that most institutions around the world require English teachers to have. There is a huge demand for TEFL teachers across the globe right now. If you are a native speaker, I highly suggest getting your TEFL certification. As I mentioned earlier, you have online and in-person course options. Here at TEFL Express, we offer multiple online TEFL certification courses. If you’re looking for an in-person course, there are so many great ones available, too. All it takes is a little bit of time navigating the web to find the right one for you.
TESOL: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Very similar to TEFL, this refers to teaching English to speakers of languages other than English. With this, you are trained to teach English in countries where English is the native language. However, you will be teaching students whose first language is not English. If you live in the US and teach English in the US, you can consider it a TESOL course. However, in order to do this, it is not necessary to have a TESOL certificate. a TEFL or a CELTS certificate will do equally as well.
For example, I am a US resident and I teach English within the US. I obtained my TEFL degree, yet I am still able to teach inside the native-English speaking country. It is also common to hear the acryonyms ESL and EFL within the US, too. These stand for English as a Second Language and English as a Foreign Language. In fact, sometimes my classroom was termed “EFL”, however, for legality issues we also called it a TESOL class.
Now you can see how TEFL and TESOL are used pretty interchangeable.
CELTA: Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults.
CELTA is a particular brand, specific to TESOL. It functions under Cambridge University in the UK. CELTA is widely-recognized across the globe as a leader in English language instruction certificates. You can think of this certificate as the most rigid and intensive of all. The curriculum is a little bit more intense than a TEFL certification.
Although CELTA is well-known and well-respected, it doesn’t necessarily mean that its the right certificate for you. First of all, it is less available than a TEFL certificate. Fewer schools offer CELTA instruction, so it will take a little more work finding a program that works with your schedule.
Also, as you can see from its name, this certification only qualifies you to teach adults. So if you want to teach young learners (which is really fun!), you should not do CELTA.
Which Is Right For You?
Now that you know a little bit about these certificates, it’s time to figure out which is the best for you.
What I want you to know is that by obtaining any of these certificates, you will be able to teach English around the world! The acronym won’t matter much when it comes to finding a job. However, the training you receive will be different in each.
In my opinion, I am very happy that I did a TEFL training. I felt as though I received a thorough and thought out education. I was ready to stand in front of my classroom and teach English. I encourage any of you to comment and ask me any questions you want about what it was like. My career in English teaching has thrived over the past 4 years and I owe a lot of it to my initial TEFL instruction.
Some things that I received in my instruction, that you should look for too are:
- Practicum teaching hours
- 100-150 hours of instruction
- Experienced instructor
These aspects made a huge difference for me and they will for you, as well.