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Teach English

Decoding English Teaching Qualifications

TESL, TEFL and CELTA

Teaching English abroad is a popular choice for many career breakers and gappers and if you’d like to get paid to teach you’ll need to gain an accredited qualification.

There are a number of ways to complete your qualification:

  • Online when it suits you
  • Face to face over one weekend or,
  • As an internship whilst abroad

Courses differ in their expectations and requirements but most require you complete a certain amount of hours and observe teaching in a real classroom before receiving your qualification. One company that offers this option is Experience Teaching Abroad (www.experienceteachingabroad.co.uk).

You can also read Simon Stannard's tale of Teaching English in Japan to give you an idea of what it's like.

The Difference Between TEFL and TESL

"Both TEFL and TESL have no governing body and although courses are offered through different universities and institutions they are not standardised and can differ depending on your chosen institution."

TEFL (same as EFL) stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This course allows you to teach English to non-native English speakers who are usually living in a foreign country. TESL (same as ESL) on the other hand, stands for Teaching English as a Second Language and usually applies to teaching English to non-native English speakers who are living in an English speaking country. Both TEFL and TESL have no governing body and although courses are offered through different universities and institutions they are not standardised and can differ depending on your chosen institution. Some useful sites who offer TEFL or TESL courses and also offer paid teaching posts in exotic locations all over the world include, Love TEFL (www.lovetefl.com), Responsible Travel (www.responsibletravel.com), and i-to-i (www.i-to-i.com).

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Course

Both TEFL and TESL courses are not standardized so when picking a course you will need ensure the institution is accredited:

  1. Is the accrediting body reputable (look out for The College of Teachers, Trinity College UK and Cambridge/RSA, All UK Universities, MEI-RELSA for courses in Ireland and School for International Training in the USA)
  2. How long has the institution has been in the language business?
  3. Do they offer practical lessons either live or via video stream?
  4. Is there homework or assignments you need to complete?
  5. Are there testimonials from others who have taken the course?

What is CELTA?

CELTA is perhaps the most well known of the TEFL qualifications. It stems from Cambridge and will be extremely valuable to have on your CV as well as being very helpful when it comes to knowing what to do once you’re in the classroom. It is standardized and no matter where in the world you take the course it is more or less the same.

All CELTA courses consist of:

  • Pre-interview task
  • An interview in the application process
  • Pre-course task once you are accepted
  • A minimum of six hours teaching practice time
  • A minimum of six hours of observation
  • Four assignments

What is CELTA YL?

CELTA YL is specific for younger learners. Standing for Certificate of English Language Teaching to Young Learners, it allows you to teach younger learners whilst aboard and again is a great CV booster. There is always a shortage of specialised teachers and if you already know you’d like to work with younger learners it will give you a more hands on idea about what you’re doing in the classroom. Do note, however, that you can teach younger learners without a CELTA YL.

Face to Face vs Online Qualification

"An important part of the learning process is observation."

You definitely benefit from the convenience that comes with completing a course online, it also costs a fraction of the price of an on-site program. However an important part of the learning process is observation and this unfortunately you cannot do online. Completing an online course is perfect if you do not want to invest too much time and money as you are just taking the course for your career break or gap year and are not serious about a career in teaching. If you’d prefer to teach abroad with no qualification, read Teach English Abroad: What are Your Options for more information.