CELTA? TESOL? TEFL? What’s the Difference?

Harassed Henry Day 3

With all these acronyms flying around, it can be difficult to know what’s what. Important to note is that only one of the above is actually a teaching qualification.

So what do these acronyms actually mean? Here’s a summary:

CELTA  (originally Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults, now Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)  is an internationally recognised initial teaching qualification awarded by Cambridge English Language Assessment. It’s the most common teaching qualification for teaching adults and can be taken in most parts of the world.

TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. It is generally used for teaching adults and covers both EFL (English as a foreign language learnt in a non-English-speaking country) and ESL (English as a second language learnt in an English-speaking country).  For example, a Spaniard learning English in Spain comes under EFL whereas if he was living and learning in the UK, it would be seen as ESL. TESOL is not a qualification but CertTESOL offered by Trinity College London is.  This is an alternative to Cambridge’s CELTA.

TEFL is another acronym for a field rather than a qualification. You can get a TEFL certificate e.g. CertTESOL or CELTA  which is a qualification in Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

There are several high-quality teaching qualifications out there. If you’re considering becoming qualified, beware of any certificate that does not offer classroom teaching and is a purely online course. The practical teaching aspect of a course is essential!

Which qualification have you got or will you do?




Author: Amanda Momeni

A CELTA tutor, English language tutor and co-author of The Ultimate Guide to CELTA

5 thoughts on “CELTA? TESOL? TEFL? What’s the Difference?”

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