CELTA v TEFL – A Big Decision

Once you have made your decision to try to teach English as a foreign language, you will need to research what qualifications are required to successfully obtain a job in your desired location. During this research, you will often come across two qualifications that employers desire; the CELTA and the TEFL. 

Which one is better, CELTA v TEFL, TEFL v CELTA, is a commonly discussed question amongst prospective ESL teachers. It is also a question that can only be best answered by your own individual circumstances and aspirations. Read on and allow us to explain.

TEFL and CELTA – What are they?

The 120 hour TEFL certificate is often considered sufficient to gain a work visa in most Asian countries. The courses are generally well designed and give you sufficient knowledge to begin teaching abroad. The costs are generally between $250-$500, depending on the provider and quality of the course. This qualification will equip you with the basic knowledge that you will need to design and deliver good lessons to your new students.

The CELTA course is a more highly regarded certificate, and may be desired by employers at private and international schools. Although the focus of the course is on teaching English to adults, a lot of the principles are easily transferable to a young learners environment. However, at $2000+ it is considerably more costly than the TEFL certificate

CELTA v TEFL – Which is better?

Whilst the CELTA is the more highly regarded qualification, it is not always the best option for new teachers. If you are new to teaching, or you think that your TEFL career will be limited to just a couple of years, then a 120 hour TEFL certificate will mostly be enough  for your purpose. 

The exception to this would be if, as a new teacher, you are determined to land a position in a specific school, country or training center that requires applicants to have two or more years of experience. Employers may ignore your lack of experience if you hold a CELTA certificate. In Vietnam, for example, it is common practice for the leading training centers to allow this.

However, if you are an experienced teacher who wishes to progress to senior positions within an international school or training center then you really should consider a CELTA qualification. Having the CELTA can help to set you apart from your peers. It also opens the door to further study, as you can then study for the DELTA certificate (Diploma inTeaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).

Tom Bogues

Tom is the Director of ESL Job Center. He has been working in the TEFL industry in one form or another since 2016 and is now using that experience to match quality teachers with quality schools across China.