HomeBlog ➞ CELTA or certTESOL? 4 pieces of advice to help you decide

CELTA or certTESOL? 4 pieces of advice to help you decide

It can be a little overwhelming to decide which qualification is the best to do when trying to start out teaching English as a foreign language. There are so many terms and abbreviations that it’s difficult to know where to even begin. So here’s some advice to help you narrow down your search and, hopefully, choose the best certification for you, whether that be a TEFL course online, a blended course or a course learning TEFL abroad. To begin with, the two most internationally renowned courses are the Cambridge CELTA and the Trinity certTESOL. That’s not to say that other qualifications are not valid, it’s simply that these two are the most widely recognised among employers all over the world – and as a result we’re going to focus on these two. However, the first piece of advice can actually be applied to any qualification that you are considering.
1. Research Your Preferred Destination
If you know more or less where you would like to use your TEFL skills, for example teaching English in Spain, then reach out to some of the schools or academies that you would like to work at. They may already have information available on their websites for the types of qualifications they look for in prospective teachers, and if not you can always contact them directly to request this information. Doing this with a number of different schools can give you a better understanding of the qualifications that are valued in your chosen destination, and you can make a more informed decision as a result. To help discover different teaching institutions you can use TEFL.com, theteflacademy.com or just google the TEFL schools along with the name of the area you would like to be in.
2. Style of Learning
In the modern world we are fortunate that there are so many options available to us with regards to education. You can gain the CELTA certification online using a live online learning environment or face-to-face in a traditional classroom or as part of a blended course utilising both virtual and physical classrooms. No one option is ‘better’ than any other, they are simply available for you to choose depending on which best fits your circumstances. The same is true of the Trinity certTESOL course. Learning in person, online or a mix of the two are all possible. Maybe the best deciding factor would therefore be the locations that are available for the face-to-face and blended courses if that is what you prefer. Cambridge currently has over 350 centres spread across over 80 countries, while Trinity has more than 100 course providers spanning Europe, South America, Asia and Oceania. Specific information is easily available on their websites and you find the links to their interactive maps for the CELTA here and the certTESOL here.
3. Length of the Course and Assessment Style
Another consideration is the length of the course. Your preferred course style will obviously depend on your current situation and, fortunately, it’s possible to do both courses either full time or part time. For the CELTA a full time course will typically run for 4 or 5 weeks and involve 120 hours of learning which is assessed by written assignments and monitored teaching practice. Their part time course functions similarly and can take from a few months to a year to complete. The Trinity certTESOL on the other hand is a Level 5 Qualification (equivalent to completing the second year of an undergraduate degree) and so it requires slightly more time in terms of learning hours to complete. Their courses feature a minimum of 130 hours learning plus an expected 70 hours further required study, so 200 in total. Their course is also assessed by a mixture of observed teaching practice and written assessments.
4. Entry Requirements

One consideration that can easily be forgotten is the requirements to begin each course. Both accredited TEFL courses require the following: to be at least 18 years old; to have a standard of education equivalent to that required to enter into higher education (i.e. a university undergraduate degree); and, if English is not your first language, an overall ability at C1 level or higher (CEFR).

The CELTA course will also require you to complete an interview prior to you being accepted onto the course – tips for handling the interviews can be found here. A pre-admission interview will typically be a requirement for the Trinity certTESOL course as well and a breakdown of the interview process can be found here.

Finally, the Trinity website also stipulates that to enter the course you must demonstrate:

  • an ability to learn how to explain the relevant features of English to learners and teach these in a communicative context.
  • a willingness to work cooperatively as a member of the training group and respond constructively to feedback on personal performance.
  • the potential for combined study, including language analysis and also rigorous practical training.

With these four considerations you should be able to break through all the confusion and choose the course that’s best suited to yourself and your situation. Whether you choose to do the CELTA course in Spain or a certTESOL part time blended course or even your TEFL training online through a different certification altogether, provided you do your research first then you’re going to have an amazing time taking those first steps into your new career.