Is CELTA better than TEFL? Answers to this FAQ
At EBC, a question that comes up quite frequently is:
“Is CELTA better than TEFL?”
Without wanting to sound rude, the question is rooted in ignorance about four week English teacher training courses and associated English teaching acronyms.
The question cannot be answered without a clarification of teaching related acronyms. Once these are clarified, the question must be replaced.
Three key teaching acronyms
- TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language. A technique used in a non-English speaking country.
- TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages aka. Teaching English as a Second Language. A technique used in an English speaking country.
- CELTA – Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults.
Why “is CELTA better than TEFL?” has no answer
TEFL and TESOL refer to the area of teaching English to non-native English speakers. CELTA is the name of a certificate for teaching English to non-native English speakers.
TEFL and TESOL have their differences but for the sake of brevity, we will now refer to TEFL and TESOL only as TEFL.
The answer to the original question, “is CELTA better than TEFL?”, is that CELTA cannot be better or worse than TEFL, because a four week CELTA course is a four week TEFL course.
The correct question to ask
When posed to EBC, the question that should be asked is:
“What is the difference between a CELTA certificate and the EBC TEFL and TESOL certificates?”
This question now asks for a comparison between two TEFL certificates and their respective courses.
The term TEFL courses refers many different programmes. Asking about different TEFL courses is like asking about different degrees in, for example, business and management. Many higher educational institutions offer a bachelors degree in business and management. These programmes are designed to prepare for you for a career in business and management, however, the curriculum, teaching techniques, approaches, extra services and fees will not be the same in each institution.
The same holds true for TEFL courses. They all state that they will prepare you to be an effective English teacher, they all claim to be internationally recognised and they will all have a different curriculum, teaching techniques, approaches, extra services and fees.
The CELTA course is no different. Every CELTA centre runs a different curriculum. They abide by a global syllabus that has generic guidelines but the course itself is different in every centre. CELTA does not have a standard curriculum, it does not have a standard teaching practice schedule and the recommended teaching practice classes are limited to two of the six English language learner levels. This information is taken from the CELTA course guidelines.
Despite these and other shortcomings, CELTA usually has a higher price-tag than other peer level TEFL courses, like EBC’s, that provide a higher quality training programme and superior extra services especially regarding job help.
There is also a “scare factor” argument perpetrated by CELTA attendees. The message frequently results in comments like, “Your course looks very good but my friend has told me that if I don’t have a CELTA, I will never get a job.” When we hear this it just makes us smile and feel sorry for the person who has fallen for the myth. Especially later on when they contact us and ask us to help them find work because the CELTA course they decided to attend will not help them. It is a shame because they fell for the illusion without doing any research.
Here are 4 job qualification requirements taken at random from pages on the Tesall job pages: A TEFL Certification, TEFL or TESOL are desirable, teaching experience (TEFL/TESOL), TESOL/TEFL certificate at least 100 hours. No mention of CELTA anywhere.
A CELTA course is a TEFL course so the question, “is CELTA better than TEFL?” makes no sense.
A CELTA course is a TEFL course so it should be compared against its peer level courses.
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