This is going to be a short and easy post. If you’re thinking about teaching English, be it abroad or at home, and you’re a little confused by all the acronyms, then this guide is for you. Note that I’m just going to be covering three of the most common qualification types; there is much more to be said on the subject, but this is a useful jumping off point.
So let’s begin with a rundown of some of the most common qualifications you can obtain when entering the world of English teaching.
This is the starting point for most English teachers. If you don’t have experience of some of the finer points of grammar, pedagogy, and basic classroom manner, a TEFL certification can be a sound first step. It can also open doors to entry level jobs and give you a grounding in the industry. However, they are unregulated, vary wildly in scope, and as such, are often not held in as high esteem as a CertTESOL or CELTA. That said, a few well known providers, and some sensible advice, can be found on GoOverseas.com.
THE GOOD: Easy to obtain, cheap, can be done either online or in-class, gives an overview and introduction to English teaching.
THE BAD: Seen by some as too easy to obtain (especially a 20 hour online course!), doesn’t indicate a high level of proficiency, often seen as inferior to Trinity or Cambridge’s offerings.
When you hear Cert.TESOL or TESOL certificate, it’s usually in reference to the proprietary certificate offered by Trinity College London. A more rigorous, standardized and brand-name qualification, TrinityTESOL takes a minimum of 130 hours completed on-site at a Trinity centre.
THE GOOD: Recognised and respected, provides a sound introduction to teaching English methodology, and includes plenty of assessed practice.
THE BAD: Can’t be completed remotely, commands a higher price, often confused with TEFL and subsequently undervalued by employers (speaking from experience).
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CELTA is probably the most prestigious of all entry-level teaching qualifications, and in East Asia anyway, it’s often the benchmark. While some employers say CELTA (or TEFL equivalent)…there’s not really a TEFL equivalent that matches CELTA in intensity and quality. CELTA is administered by Cambridge English, an arm of the University, which helps considerably with reputation. This certificate shows that you’ve undergone a one month training programme with significant assessed practice, administered by well-qualified teacher trainers. Note that the CELTA also has a supplementary extension for young learners (CELTYL), but this is being phased out as of December 2016, to be replaced by the TKT: Young Learners (Teacher Knowledge Test).
THE GOOD: Often required by high-end employers, rigorous, and a quality qualification assured by Cambridge English.
THE BAD:Challenging, time-consuming, and costly. With fees clocking in at $1 – $2000 USD, this is often unfeasible for someone looking to pick up some extra teaching work on their travels abroad. For those who really want to do Teaching English, and possibly as their future career, you’ll have to see it as an investment, not an expenditure.
In summary, those are the three main, broad categories of qualification. Two of which are recognised, and the third category being a little more of a wildcard. The key is to do some research and find what’s right for you and your ambitions.