CELTA Certificate: The Good, the Bad, & How it Differs from TEFL

by Published

The world of English language teaching is big and full of seemingly-identical acronyms: TEFL, TESOL, ESL, EFL, CEFR… Yet, before you lose your head and fall face first into some alphabet soup, arrange some of those letters to form CELTA to get your one-stop certificate to teach around the world. 

The CELTA certificate, stands for the Certificate in Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages and is provided by Cambridge English Language Assessment (Yes, the same Cambridge as that prestigious British university you may have grown to love or desperately envy). Getting your CELTA certificate, whether in an exotic locale or from your couch is a strong step into the landscape of English language teaching jobs that are available on every continent. 

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Be sure to take notes! This info will all come in handy as you decide which teaching certificate is right for you.

What is a CELTA certificate?

A CELTA certificate is one type of certificate in teaching English to speakers of other languages. The CELTA is a standardized course that is offered at language schools and via online courses around the world for easy availability and flexibility wherever you might be and in whatever learning environment you prefer. As a CELTA student, you will go through the foundations of being a strong English language teacher, including modules on:

  • The learning context of students
  • Key linguistic aspects of the English language
  • The four major language skills
  • Strategies for lesson planning and using available resources
  • Professional aspects of teaching

CELTA courses consist of a minimum of 120-hours of instruction, with teachers and language centers that have been certified by Cambridge to teach the course. As a student, you will be need to complete 4 written assignments about course materials, as well as 6-hours of teaching practice in the classroom with real students, in order to successfully graduate with your shiny certificate. Then, with your qualifications in hand, your CELTA program might even assist with job placement in order to put your knowledge of both English language teaching theory and practice into front-of-the-classroom action!

[Get matched with the right certificate program for you]

The good

The CELTA certificate is an amazing opportunity to prepare and get set for all the possibilities of English language teaching. Here’s why:

  • Quality Standard: The CELTA is by-far the most standardized English teaching certificate out there. Each course provider is certified by Cambridge to ensure that students like you are receiving the top-of-the-line instruction in teaching English. In addition, to take a CELTA course you must be at least 18 years old, have formal qualifications to enter a university, and either be a native English speaker, or at the CEFR C2 or high C1 level. As a result, CELTA students are not only prepared for an intensive course but also motivated students who are ready to take the classroom by storm. 
  • Job Prospects: Because CELTA as a course is so standardized, it has become a golden standard for employers around the world. While many employers may not discriminate between CELTA vs TEFL, a CELTA certification might bump your resume to the top of the pile, due to its renowned recognition. The CELTA is a great option for those who want to teach in language schools with mainly adult learners. 

[Teach English Abroad: A Step-By-Step Guide for Beginners]

girl in jean jacket with backpack, wearing headphones, carrying books

Get ready to hit the books, before hitting your students with them (just not literally, of course!).

The bad

With the great power of the CELTA, also comes the great responsibility of taking on such a dedicated and hardcore English teacher training course. Here’s why:

  • Expenses: You didn’t think something so prized would be cheap (or easy), did you? A CELTA course can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of US dollars, depending on the school and destination. Before you apply, consider whether a CELTA is worth your investment, depending on the length of time you foresee as an English teacher abroad. Then, do your research to find both an affordable teacher training school and destination for your CELTA course in order to reduce costs. If you’re in it to win it, you can look forward to reaping the benefits when you get your first, great salary offer because of your high-level CELTA qualification on your resume. 
  • Focus on Adults: Although the modules and the principles that you will learn as a CELTA student are applicable to many types of English language classrooms, the CELTA curriculum were created with a focus on teaching adult language learners. If you plan to teach at a language school, a university or advanced secondary school, at companies, or as a private tutor, the CELTA is a great way to prepare for these environments. Otherwise, you might consider taking Cambridge’s Teaching Knowledge Test for Young Learners to prepare for a teaching role in a kindergarten or elementary school.

[CELTA not for you? Read this: Should I get TEFL or TESOL Certified?]

The showdown: CELTA vs TEFL

How is a CELTA certificate different from a TEFL certificate? Looking back into our alphabet soup, CELTA might be considered a brand name, while other TEFL courses are the generic brand. TEFL, standing for teaching English as a foreign language, essentially means the same thing as CELTA, however it does not have the fancy overarching body of Cambridge English Language Assessment calling the shots on the curriculum and style of the course. As a result, TEFL courses are typically cheaper and can vary widely in terms of length, structure, assessment, and deals for additional add-ons. 

How to weigh CELTA vs TEFL certification

Mainly, this comes down to your motivation and budget for your English language teacher training. If you’re looking to make English language teaching your career, then CELTA is worth the investment for the job flexibility to work on different continents or at different schools. If you’re just venturing into the teach abroad field for an opportunity to travel and work abroad, then stick with a TEFL course for a widely recognized qualification that won’t break the bank. 

[Save & compare your favorite certificate programs with MyGoAbroad]

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You can still do part of your CELTA certificate course online, but there is a required teaching practicum.

Recommended CELTA certificate programs to consider

Once you’ve decided that a CELTA certificate is the right match for you, take a look at some programs to break into the teaching world, alongside other passionate future teachers!

You CAN'T Get Your CELTA Certification Online

Because of the CELTA standards and combination of both in-class and teaching practice, there is no purely online CELTA course (a key difference in CELTA vs TEFL). To increase access to CELTA certification, some teaching programs offer a hybrid course that involves online instruction and learning, combined with some in-person classroom dates or orientation, as well as the active, in-person teaching component. Take a look at some of the programs below to see if they also offer an online option. 

But You Can Get Your CELTA Onsite Abroad

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International House: Barcelona

International House is a worldwide language school and language teaching center that provides both TEFL and CELTA certifications. Head to BCN’s La Rambla for your CELTA in order to get an in with the teaching English scene in Spain, which heavily favors the CELTA as an English teaching certification.

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StudyCELTA

With locations in Australia, England, Malta, New Zealand, Spain, and more, StudyCELTA provides a host of exciting destinations for your CELTA course. Lookout for special offers on their website to take advantage of reduced costs for your certification at one of their many centers. 

Students sitting in class in Lagos, Nigeria

The goal (of any certification) is to get here—teaching English abroad!

Or Get Your CELTA Onsite in the USA

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Teaching House

Operating both internationally and domestically, Teaching House is one of the most well-known CELTA course providers. Check out different course options to decide between an intensive, part-time, or weekend course to suit your schedule and current work or study commitments. 

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St. Giles International

With CELTA programs in New York City and San Francisco, St. Giles International brings its longstanding traditions of quality language and language teaching instruction to both coasts. Since 1955, St. Giles has provided small group instruction to make sure future teachers are prepared and maintain the integrity of a CELTA qualification. 

Next steps to get a CELTA certificate & teach English abroad

Satisfied with CELTA and ready to start your teach abroad career? For more CELTA programs and the opportunity to compare programs side-by-side, create an account on MyGoAbroad. GoAbroad Online Advisors are also available to give you free, customized program advice based on your interests and goals. Then some program ideas in your pocket, the sky's the limit with these articles:

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CELTA will open you up to a wider variety of teaching opportunities (at home, and abroad.).

Certified for… adventure!

While a TEFL certification will get you overseas, a CELTA certification will prepare you for a rich, diverse career as an English language teacher abroad. If you see yourself reaching many students and growing personally through your travels as a teacher, then get on board with a CELTA certificate to start you on your journey!

Keep reading: 5 TEFL programs that basically guarantee job placement