What Is The Difference Between CELTA Versus TEFL?

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There are few battles more hotly contested than that of CELTA vs TEFL. People from all over the world, with all different kinds of experiences, just can’t seem to agree on a few things when it comes to teaching English as a foreign language. 

  1. Is it better to have a TEFL teacher whose first language is English?? (Spoiler alert: it’s not) 
  2. Which is the best teaching method? (It doesn’t really matter which you use, as long as it’s effective)
  3. What is the difference between a CELTA and a TEFL? (This is the one we’re going to talk about today.) 

Read more: The Advantages of being a Non-native English Teacher

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First, let’s look at the acronyms for a second. What does CELTA stand for and what does TEFL stand for? CELTA stands for Certificate in Teaching English to Adults. TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Essentially they are both qualifications to teach English as a foreign language, but there are a few differences. 

TEFL refers to the general field of English language teaching, as well as the certification required to work in that field. CELTA is the name of a certification, but it can be thought of as a particular variety of TEFL. So how do you know which one to choose in order to get a TEFL certification? 

These are the factors we need to consider when comparing CELTA vs TEFL: cost, length, content, accreditation and reputation.

Cost: How much does CELTA vs TEFL cost?

This is certainly not the most important aspect of a teaching course, but it needs to be taken into account. We just want to point out one thing: more expensive does not always mean better quality. A CELTA course is much more expensive than any TEFL course. A CELTA course can cost you between $1,500 and $3,000. A TEFL course can cost between $200 and $500. 

This might seem like a huge discrepancy but when it comes to CELTA, you are paying for the Cambridge label attached to it. Many people believe this means that the CELTA is a better qualification. It is not. The quality of a qualification is more about the content and the execution of the course than its price tag.

Read more: 5 Reasons to Avoid a Cheap TEFL Course

Which TEFL course should I take?

Length: How much time do I need for CELTA vs TEFL?

A CELTA course will always be 4 weeks full-time (or 8 to 12 weeks part-time) study, face-to-face in a classroom. It is a 120-hour course with six hours of teaching practice. There is a blended learning CELTA course which includes online learning and practical teaching. 

A TEFL course, on the other hand, can take many forms. It can be a 4-week full-time course, just like a CELTA course. A TEFL can also be done part-time, online or a blend of both online and face-to-face. It can be 120 hours or 168 hours or even 180 or 300 hours, but these are often TEFL courses with additional modules added on. 

The bottom line for a TEFL qualification is 120 hours. If you see a course for 10 hours, don’t pay it any attention – you can imagine that it is not going to do much for your confidence, let alone your CV. If you want TEFL employers to take you seriously when you are applying for jobs, you should do nothing less than a 120-hour TEFL course. 

Read more: How Long Does a 168-Hour TEFL Course Take?

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Content: What’s included on the CELTA vs TEFL course?

A good teaching qualification will introduce you to the most common teaching methods and techniques and teach you the different theories of learning and teaching. It will provide you with tips for lesson planning, classroom management and dealing with discipline. It will help you refresh your English language knowledge and show you how to teach vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and the four skills, to someone who doesn’t speak the language. 

Essentially, a TEFL course and a CELTA course should cover the same things. But this is where it can get slightly complicated.

Read more: The Basics of Teaching English as a Foreign Language

The content of a CELTA course will be identical no matter where in the world you take the course. The only difference will be in how your tutors carry out the course content, but the assessments are all externally assessed. All your course materials are stipulated by Cambridge English Assessment and your tutors are Cambridge-trained, which means they are on the same page when it comes to teaching English whether they are in Bangkok or Bolivia.

On the other hand, no two TEFL courses are the same. In theory they should cover the same as a CELTA course but they may or may not. There are more TEFL providers all over the world than you can shake a stick at and you can be guaranteed that each TEFL course they offer is different. 

To make sure you are not going to waste your money, you need to know what the course includes, who your teachers are and what support you will be given. You need to make sure the TEFL course you choose is accredited, internationally recognised and highly reputable.

Why you should choose a TEFL course from The TEFL Academy

At The TEFL Academy, all our tutors and trainers are EFL professionals – and really nice people! Like Wikus van Rensburg. He’s one of our South African trainers. He’s worked in South Korea and China but is now based in South Africa. He enjoys sleeping, art, coffee and hamburgers, and he still can’t eat with chopsticks without making a mess of things – but we won’t hold that against him!

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Then, our accreditation is no secret – you can read more about it here.

But possibly the most important factor is our reputation. Former students from The TEFL Academy – who are now teaching and travelling the world – have given us rave reviews all over the internet: an average 9.39/10 from almost 500 reviews on Gooverseas.com, an average 4.6/5 from 1,164 reviews on TEFLcoursereview.com, and an average 4.92/5 from 395 reviews on Hellopeter.com – and those are just a few!

Read more: The TEFL Academy Reviews – from Our Students’ Mouths

Hopefully by now you understand better what the difference between CELTA and TEFL is. If you’re keen to get going and get your own TEFL adventure started, check out our courses to find out which course is best for you.


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The TEFL Academy was the world’s first TEFL course provider to receive official recognition from government regulated awarding bodies in both the USA and UK. This means when you graduate you’ll hold a globally recognised Level 3 (120hr) Certificate or Level 5 (168hr) Diploma, meaning you can find work anywhere and apply for jobs immediately.

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