TEFL, TESOL, CertTESOL, CELTA, CELT-P, TEFL-YL – what does it all mean?
What’s accredited and what’s not? Most importantly, what will help me get my dream job and allow me to travel the globe teaching English? In this post, we’ll go over some terms from the English Teaching world that may seem strange and confusing to someone just getting started as a teacher of English as a Second Language (ESL).
First of all, there is a difference between a term like TEFL or TESOL and a recognised accredited course like the CELTA, CELT-P or CertTESOL. TEFL literally just means “Teaching English as a Foreign Language” and it refers to teaching the English language to students with different first languages. TEFL can occur either within the state school system or privately, at a language school or with a tutor. TEFL can also take place in an English-speaking country for people who have immigrated there (either temporarily for school or work, or permanently). TEFL teachers may be native or non-native speakers of English – although in practice most employers will require you to speak English at a “native-level” which basically means that you make so few mistakes that no one can really tell the difference between you and a native speaker.
Other acronyms for TEFL are TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language); ESL (English as a Second Language, a term typically used in English-speaking countries, and more often referring to the learning rather than the teaching) or more commonly, TESOL (Teaching English as a Second or Other Language). EFL (English as a Foreign Language) is the term used for non-native English speakers learning English in a country where English is not commonly spoken. It simply refers to the order in which the language was learned, but the term ESL can be a misnomer for some students who have learned several languages before learning English.
So, to review what we’ve covered so far: TEFL and TESOL are just terms used (more or less interchangeably) to refer to non-native speakers of English learning English. They are not certificates. If you see someone offering you an “online TEFL Certification” for just “three easy payments of $99.99” that can be completed in “21 days or less”, that’s not a certificate that will be taken seriously by any employer in the ESL sector – you may as well print one yourself at home and save yourself the three easy payments of $99.99! I’m not trying to be mean: speaking as a long-time professional in this field, that is the way these certificates are regarded.
So if TEFL and TESOL are just terms, then what’s the most important thing about any qualification? Observed hours. Think about it for a second: learning to teach via an online course is a lot like trying to learn to drive by reading a book. I know that those “do it all from home” online courses look quick, tempting and inexpensive, but trust me: the certificate doesn’t really mean anything to potential employers unless an experienced teacher has seen you manage a classroom and given you feedback on how to improve your teaching skills.
So, now on to the qualifications…
The Trinity College London Certificate in TESOL (CertTESOL) is an accredited professional qualification awarded in the teaching of “English for speakers of other languages” (ESOL) by Trinity College London. It is a commonly taken teaching qualification in the field of English language learning and teaching (ELT). The Trinity CertTESOL is Level 5 on the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), with Level 5 being regarded as comparable in difficulty to the second year of an undergraduate degree.The Trinity Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CertTESOL) is a TESOL or TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate designed for those with little or no experience of teaching English. It equips candidates with the basic skills and knowledge needed to take up a first post as an ESOL teacher. It gives an introduction to the theory and practice of English teaching and an insight into the challenges facing the learner and the role of the teacher. The CertTESOL is accepted by the British Council as an initial TESOL or TEFL qualification for teachers in its accredited teaching organisations in the UK and in its own teaching operations overseas. Credits are also awarded towards degree programmes offered by universities in the UK. Most importantly, it includes 6 hours of observed teaching practice.
The Cambridge CELTA (Not to be confused with the all-new 2017 Chevrolet Celta!) or Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, is an initial teacher training qualification for teaching English as a second or foreign language (ESL and EFL). It is provided by Cambridge English Language Assessment through authorised Cambridge English Teaching Qualification centres all around the world and can be taken either full-time or part-time as quickly as 4 weeks or as long as 9 months, depending on the provider. CELTA was developed to be suitable both for those interested in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and for Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) and is designed for candidates with little or no previous English language teaching (ELT) experience. CELTA is regulated at Level 5 of the Qualifications and Credit Framework for England, Wales and N. Ireland and is suitable for teachers at Foundation and Developing level on the Cambridge English Teaching Framework. Like the Trinity CertTESOL, it also includes 6 hours of observed teaching practice.
The Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching – Primary (CELT-P) is the equivalent of the CELTA for young learners, those still in primary school. Primary school teachers can develop their classroom skills and teaching confidence with the CELT-P as it is a practical English teaching qualification that gives teachers the relevant skills to get the best from 6–12 year-old learners. CELT-P is at Foundation to Developing stages on the Cambridge English Teaching Framework. Like the CELTA, it is provided by Cambridge English Language Assessment through authorised Cambridge English Teaching Qualification centres all around the world as well as state departments of education as in-service teacher training. It can be taken either full-time or part-time as quickly as over 8 weeks or as long as over 9 months, depending on the provider. CELT-P was developed to be suitable both for those interested in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and for Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) and is designed for candidates with little to some previous English language teaching (ELT) experience. Most importantly, it includes 6 hours of observed teaching practice.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language to Young Learners (TEFL-YL) is a newer field. There are some TEFL-YL courses offered by reputable providers such as International House, the British Council, and Trinity College London. It was this general lack of TEFL-YL courses that inspired the English Teacher Training College to offer our own TEFL-YL course. What we have done at the English Teacher Training college is work with the Austrian local and state authorities to provide student teachers with over 30 observed teaching hours in real classrooms with real students (being observed by a course tutor, observing a course tutor, observing a peer or even observing themselves on video) combined with the accreditation and world-wide recognition of the Trinity CertTESOL and Cambridge CELT-P (which are embedded in their respective courses). These course at the English Teacher Training College will give graduates the same certificates that they would get directly from Cambridge University or Trinity College London but with the added benefit of detailed feedback from these extra observations. Most importantly, that detailed feedback will be based on over 30 hours of observed teaching practice – that time really means something to future employers. Finally, there is a job placement program at the end of each course that ensures our graduates avoid TEFL scams and get the job they want in the location they want.