Online TESOL or CELTA?
- Author: Louisa Walsh
- Date: Friday 30th November 2012
- Associated Links:
Online TEFL or CELTA?
It is a key question for the thousands of new entrants to the TEFL profession each year and one we are asked a lot at Global English. Now as the owner of a TEFL company that mostly specialises in online courses you can probably guess which way we lean, although you may be a little surprised at the outcome if you read on... and I promise I will try to be objective! In fact, I do have experience of both training routes, having originally completed a CELTA and subsequently being heavily involved in the writing/delivering of online courses.
Let's start with the CELTA.
Firstly, what is a CELTA?
Well it's the Certificate in Teaching English Language to Adults course run by the Cambridge exam group. You can do a CELTA in various locations across the world. Typically it lasts for 4 intensive weeks and is a practical 'hands on' way to learn about TEFL methodology, grammar, lesson planning etc. Often there is a workshop atmosphere as you are learning with other TEFL trainees, planning and delivering lesson segments. You will be observed and critiqued while teaching 6-8 hours of classes with real foreign language learners. You also observe and comment on lessons given by experienced teachers. According to Cambridge, 10,000 people take this qualification each year. You can now take an online CELTA in certain locations although you must still take the in-class element at a local school.
What are the alternatives?
Years ago doing the CELTA or the Trinity Cert TESOL alternative - a similar 5 week taught course - were about the only way to enter the TEFL profession. But the last 10 years have seen a real growth in the different ways you can study for a TEFL qualification, along with an explosion in the number of course providers all around the world.
So it is now possible to do online courses, weekend courses, TEFL courses in exotic locations and to take specialisms in business, 1-1, young learner or even online teaching at the same time as your initial qualification. These courses offer you alternative ways to study, especially useful if you haven't got £1000-£1500 and cannot afford to take 4 weeks off to do a face-to-face course. The online or distance options come with the flexibility of studying when you want to, from the comfort of your own home.
The choice is staggering. It can also leave potential new entrants very confused. They can see that the online courses may be cheaper or more convenient, but what about their status when compared to the trusty old CELTA? How can you be assured of quality if you choose an alternative?
Centres offering the CELTA/Trinity qualification may try to maintain that they remain the only recognised course worldwide. There is perhaps an element of truth in this in places where competition for teaching work is fierce. For example, In the UK and Australia, it may be more difficult outside of the busy summer months to gain regular work with a language school without a CELTA. The British Council which regularly inspects UK English language schools, will look for a significant portion of the teachers to hold a CELTA or Trinity certificate before they will accredit or re-accredit the school.
Teaching in the UK without a CELTA
However, there is more to teaching in the UK than English language schools. and many online TEFL graduates are freelancing, teaching immigrants and hosting and teaching English in their own home and teaching English online. Most of these positions will not require a CELTA. Newly trained TEFLers are in great demand in many locations up and down the country and the increase in demand for English learning means that there is a strong demand for teachers throughout most of the UK. For example, Global English graduates have been employed by Colleges of Further Education, Local Councils to assist with English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). See http://www.lifelonglearning.co.uk/esol/r03.htm and Primary schools to help out in teaching English as an Additional Language (EAL). http://www.naldic.org.uk/ITTSEAL2/teaching/Workingwithnewlyarrivedlearners.cfm
Teaching English worldwide
While some employers may still ask for a CELTA and accept no other, the real truth is that the demand for qualified English language teachers abroad is absolutely huge. There are different geographical preferences, but if you have English as your native tongue (especially English/American /Canadian/Australian accents) then there are few limits to where you can teach. If you have a university degree as well, then you will have access to work in most countries all around the world.
Hold your arms out as wide as you can. This represents your chances of employment worldwide as an EFL teacher if you have a CELTA + degree and are a native English speaker. Narrow your reach slightly, and you've now got your chances with a good online TEFL certificate + degree and native speaker ability.
In short, if you're flexible about where you go, there's not much in it.
But what about the teaching practice?
The other concern that many people have is that online courses don't provide any teaching practice. This is true, and there is no getting away from the fact that some real experience of a classroom is a distinct advantage - especially in terms of your nerves as you enter the classroom for the first time.
Thankfully there are some simple ways of getting some teaching practice. Most of the quality online course providers will offer Teaching Practice options for candidates. So if the CELTA is not for you but you still desire cost effective TP in combination with your online course, you can do a TEFL weekend, stand alone teaching practice abroad or volunteer at home or overseas.
Bear in mind that with most CELTA courses you only get 6 hours of teaching practice which, while useful, hardly makes you a perfect teacher.
What about the quality of online courses?
This is where online industry can let itself down. Whatever course you choose, you want to be sure you have the skills, methodology, and let's face it, the confidence to take money for your teaching services. It is not always clear in an unregulated online market which courses are good and which courses offer poor value. This may have you running for the CELTA were it not for a few organisations that exist in the UK, seeking to raise standards in the distance TEFL industry. The established organisations that concentrate soley on TEFL are:
You can be sure that any UK-based distance TEFL organisations with either of these accreditations have had to meet strict external criteria. Therefore you can be much more sure of course quality. Be careful though, some online organisations claim to be a member of the College of Teachers. This doesn't mean they have been accredited - they have just paid a fee to the College of Teacher's for use of the crest.
Your certificate is also issued by one of these organisations and ACTDEC even publish a pass list on its website for employers to see.
Cost and convenience
The CELTA can be convenient as there is likely to be a centre near to where you live or near to where you want to teach. This again can be doubly convenient as you can step out of your front door in Milan armed with your new CELTA and straight into a job! But much depends on whether you are able to afford to give up work or other commitments to do the CELTA. It is certainly an intense experience and you will live, eat and breathe teaching for the duration. This can be enormous fun but be sure to stay healthy and take nothing else on during this time - you will need to be able to assimilate a lot of new information within the relatively short-time frame.
Cost is also an issue. Typically a CELTA costs between £850-£1000 depending on where you do it and the online version is around £1500. Good online courses can start from around £200.
A final word
The CELTA certainly has its place if you can afford both the time and expense involved. If you want every possible work guarantee and can learn intensively, then it could be a good choice for you.
But if you prefer to have more flexibility in the way you study, online courses with customised optional specialisms can suit your pocket and get you where you want to go. Distance learning is not without its pitfalls, as anyone who finds it difficult to motivate themselves will tell you! However, choose an externally accredited course provider and you'll have made a good choice, completing with a certificate that stands up to employer scrutiny.
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Thank you for such an informative article.
I had made a decision recently that I would like to make a career move and go into teaching English abroad since my own children have grown up and I have finally completed my OU degree. Now seems to be the perfect opportunity for me to complete a Teaching English as a Foreign Language course. I looked at a number of job vacancies and noticed that only a small number of potential employers (especially in Dubai) ask for a CELTA, most ask for a lot less.
Therefore I started looking at the available courses. Then I came across this article, which has answered a lot of my questions.
I am not fussy where in the world I work, I just want to get out and about; I can do distance learning and I don't have the time or the money to do a f/t CELTA. So this article has consolidated everything in my head, I shall now go ahead and go for a good TEFL!
Thanks, Caroline for your comments. I am glad the article was useful and we were able to clarify a few things. There are some great alternatives to CELTA, including our accredited online TESOL courses: http://www.global-english.com/courses/-tesol-training-tefl-training-tefl-courses-accredited-tesol-tefl or feel free to get in touch directly if I can help further: firstname.lastname@example.org
Good article. I don't possess a Celta. I did complete an Online Certificate and managed to find 5 years work in Eastern Europe.
I decided to return to the UK, but am concerned that my chances will be limited here in the UK.
Any suggestions would be welcome.
Thanks, Geoff. Your chances may be limited in the UK but that partly depends on where you are in the country. Also, in many areas of the UK, work dries up outside of the busy spring and summer months anyway - regardless of your TEFL qualification. I would advise being creative in the job search locally and we have a few ideas on teaching English in the UK in our fact sheet here: http://www.global-english.com/travel-teach-english-in/United_Kingdom_UK/travelandteach. Do click on the comments tab because our online TESOL course graduates have written about how they are making their Global English TESOL qualification work in the UK. Really hope this helps.
I found the info on this site interesting and helpful in confirming my decision in the choice of TEFL that l have recently made. I decided to go for a TEFL home study course that gives me two certs which takes 10 months. One for the course as well as a level 3 cert as once completed means l will be trained to Practitioner Level. Would be interested to know what people think.
I Keep seeing this CELTA thing cropping up ,I only have a BA and a TEFL , BUT have been teaching since 1997 and have even managed a language school ,surely with ALL the experience i have over this many years ,i DO NOT need a CELTA !!!!
Louisa Walsh Global English TESOL
Thanks for your comment, Brian. I would expect you don't need a CELTA at your stage but for new entrants to the profession it is a valid question and one I hope we have addressed in the article. As mentioned, we have good online CELTA alternative in our accredited level 5 TESOL:
I want to enroll myself. I would rather choose CELTA. I am from the Philippines. Do you think if i take an online CELTA course, will I have a job from my chosen country, which is the Netherlands?
Louisa Walsh Global English TESOL
No, Leedail. I'm afraid it is unlikely. A CELTA or any TESOL qualification will not help unless you have the legal right to work in the Netherlands.
The Dutch tend to speak English very well and so competition is high even for those that do have the legal right to work there
Id like to enrol the course but I have a doubt:
I have a 3 years Degree in Tourism Management in Spain, now I live in England and I was wondering if I get this certificate, could I teach abroad with it?Eg. China, Thailand, these kind Of countries.
Do I need any other previous certificate in english?
Thanks in Advance.
I'm already an experienced English teacher in FE. GCSE & A-level but lots of my students have ESOL issues. I'm retiring early, sick of the exam treadmill and want to diversify by teaching EFL-lots of opportunities & needs where I live. Can afford to do CELTA fulltime but do I need the classroom training element? If I do online it would fit in with summer working/travel plans. Please advise which would be best for me?
I am a retired naval administrative petty officer that has recently completed my BA in General Studies (Minors in English, History and Business). I also have an AA in Secondary Education and Business Administration. The concentration of my studies (60sh) is in English, yet the University of Mississippi does not offer a degree in English. I have, however, completed 4 education classes including SPED. I would like to complete the CELTA online and teach in Asia, as I spent most of my career in Japan and the Philippines. I am currently a substitute teacher, but I still have limited classroom experience. I work two jobs so online would be most convenient. Which test provider would you recommend if I wanted to immerse myself in the program?
Thank you for the informative article! I am an experienced teacher, native English speaker, with two Master's degrees--one in Reading and a second in Special Education-- I was laid off five ago and have not been able to get back into teaching in the public school. I have taught adult ESL for two years and found that to be a wonderful experience! I would like to pursue my TEFL certification and hope to teach online. How likely would that be? I am afraid to invest more time and money into pursuing teaching without feeling certain that I would be able to work. Do you have any idea of possible earnings?
I appreciate any assistance you might provide,
Thanks for your comment. Firstly, there are lots of opportunities to teach online so it is a realistic possibility. Often you can set your own timetable which is a bonus - although it often does not pay so well. I would also look to freelance in my local area and offer Skype lesson in that capacity, too. Do see how our teacher, Lea Hook found teaching English work online: http://www.global-english.com/news/i-teach-english-online-and-by-skype I hope you find this helpful.
When you say "university degree", do you mean just any degree? Or is it a language degree? I have a Bachelor's degree in English.
Hi…the article was great, but I'm still so undecided about which way to go as I pursue a TEFL/TESOL Certification.
I have an MSW degree, have worked in many African countries as a Social Worker, and have also taught Social Work & Sociology (both Undergrad and Graduate courses) at 2 US based universities...as Adjunct Faculty.
I'm semi-retired, and hope to return for several months a year to Zambia, where I have many friends, to teach at one of the many International Schools.
I've looked into ATI, i-to-i, and read every thing I can find online in regard to the many different programs out there.
Any further suggestions anyone??
Louisa Walsh Global English TESOL
Thanks for your comments and questions - The key for you is that you have contacts out there already and while a TESOL or CELTA is not normally enough for international schools that teach the school curriculum in English - you also mentioned some of the teaching you intend to be doing in your email to me. So with a good, accredited TESOL, you will have the qualification you need. I know you have just signed up with us on a Global English TESOL and so welcome! We look forward to more news as you seek to return to Zambia.