How do the Trinity CertTESOL and CELTA compare?

The Trinity CertTESOL and CELTA are the two best known and widely accepted TESOL/TEFL certificates globally.

They are the “gold standard” for all TESOL/TEFL certificates, and they are highly regarded in the TESOL/TEFL industry.

These qualifications produce high-quality teachers who are dependable and whose knowledge and skills can be trusted by employers worldwide.

Both qualifications involve some very intense, high-stakes training.

Trinity CertTESOL vs CELTA comparison

They are remarkably similar in many ways, but what is the difference?

Is it possible to choose impartially between these benchmark qualifications in the industry?

In this help guide, we will start by ticking off all the similarities and then looking at the subtle differences because the differences will influence your choice between one or the other.

Trinity CertTESOL and CELTA similarities

  Trinity CertTESOL CELTA
UK National Qualifications Level Ofqual level 5 Ofqual level 5
Public domain course syllabus Yes Yes
Published quality control requirements Yes Yes
Minimum entry age 18 18
Admission requirements Native and non-native speakers with a C1 English level Native and non-native speakers with a C1 English level
Minimum education requirements Standard required for entry into higher education Standard required for entry into higher education
Pre-admission interview and assignment Yes Yes
Input hours 130 hours 120 hours
Additional study 70 hours 80 hours
Total qualification time 200 hours 200 hours
Approximate fee range in USD $1,300 to $1,900 $1,300 to $1,900
Hours of assessed teaching you give to English language learners 6 6
Internationally recognised and accepted qualification Yes Yes
Automatic British Council recognition and acceptance Yes Yes
Face to face courses Yes Yes
Blended learning courses Yes Yes
Online courses Yes Yes
Part-time/full-time study options Yes Yes
Continuous assessment Yes Yes
Final exam No No
Pass condition All units must be passed All units must be passed
External moderation Yes Yes
Moderator can fail a trainee Yes Yes
Grades Pass, Referral ★ or Fail Pass A, Pass B, Pass, Fail
Ofqual grade 6 course Trinity CertPT – Continuing Professional Development (CPD) No
Ofqual grade 7 course Trinity DipTESOL DELTA
Mentioned by name in job advertisements Yes Yes

★ A Trinity referral means that a trainee failed one or more units but can retake the unit(s) to get a pass. The most common unit for referrals is Unit 4: Materials assignment.

Trinity CertTESOL and CELTA main differences

  Trinity CertTESOL CELTA
Summary The CertTESOL course teaches you the essential skills and shows you how to bring out your in-born teaching skills. If you like learning by guided discovery, the CertTESOL is for you. The CELTA course teaches you the essential skills and ensures that you teach using the CELTA method. If you like learning by being told what to do, the CELTA is for you.
Teaching style
  • Controlled assessment
  • Guided learning
  • Trainee focussed
  • Controlled assessment
  • Prescriptive learning
  • Trainer focussed
Approach CertTESOL assessment criteria are thorough. Centres are allowed limited flexibility. Trainees have more freedom to develop their teaching styles to bring out their innate skills rather than following a set of “how to teach” instructions. CELTA is more prescriptive. Grading criteria and performance expectations are more tightly defined to control each trainee’s delivery and performance.
Syllabus Trinity CertTESOL syllabus CELTA syllabus
Number of course units 5 5
Course unit titles
  1. Unit 1: Teaching Skills
  2. Unit 2: Language Awareness
  3. Unit 3: The Learner Profile
  4. Unit 4: The Materials Assignment
  5. Unit 5: Unknown Language
  1. Unit 1: Learners and teachers and the teaching and learning context
  2. Unit 2: Language Analysis and awareness
  3. Unit 3: Language Skills: reading, listening, speaking and writing
  4. Unit 4: Planning and resources for different contexts
  5. Unit 5: Developing teaching skills and professionalism
Young learner modules Yes No
One to one teaching module Yes. Unit 3: The Learner Profile No
Moderator involvement Checks grades, interviews trainees, the moderator can refer and fail trainees. Checks grades, interviews trainees, may ask to see a teaching practice class, the moderator can fail trainees.
Moderator grading Grades unit 4: materials assignment based on the material and a 15-minute interview with each trainee No
Assessment style Focusses on assignments, observation, self-assessment, teaching practice performance and self-reflection Focusses on teaching practice performance
Written assignments Four work portfolios for units 1, 3, 4 and 5 containing from 2,000 to 6,000 words. Trainees undertake practical research and an in-depth case study with a real learner, giving an extended analysis of their language issues and teaching a 1-1 lesson based on their identified weaknesses. There are four assignments of approximately 1,000 words each, with a needs analysis/recommendations for a real learner and writing reflections for every taught lesson.
Language and phonology test Yes No
Unknown language study Four hours learning an unknown language, e.g. Norwegian, Polish, Shona, etc. Trainees write up a reflective journal of their experience (Unit 5). This learning experience puts the trainees in the shoes of their English language learners, thus creating a sense of empathy. Not covered in much detail.
Teaching material preparation Trainees create their own under guidance. The creation of lesson materials from textbooks is allowed.


The Trinity CertTESOL and the CELTA will lead you to one of the two best known and widely accepted TESOL/TEFL certificates in the world.

They are both outstanding certificates. They both require commitment and hard work.

The difference is how you get there, and the choice is over style rather than substance.

All things being equal, your choice comes down to your preferred learning style.

  • If you like a more rigid learning style geared towards showing you what to do and copying it, the CELTA is for you.
  • If you like a more flexible learning style geared towards developing your innate teaching skills, the Trinity CertTESOL is for you.


Trinity College London, Cambridge Assessment English, TESOL training, Oxford TEFL, Pass the CELTA, Xplore TEFL.