Thursday, July 19, 2012

Confused about which certification to get? Don’t know what any of these acronyms mean? 

Want to skip all the in depth information and just look at the bottom line? Scroll down to the bottom! If you want some detailed information, read on.
So what is the difference between TEFL, TESL, TESOL, and CELTA courses? First let’s look at what they are and then explore some differences.

TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course: This prepares teachers to teach English in a country where English is not the primary language. For example, John from the USA goes to China to teach English.
TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) course: This on the other hand would prepare a teacher to teach in an English speaking country to students whose first language isn’t English. For example, John from the USA stays in the USA and teaches English to students who want to learn English.
TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) course: This encompasses both TEFL and TESL and can mean either one or both. Basically this prepares a teacher to teach a student whose native language isn’t English. For example, our good friend John from the USA is teaching a student who didn’t learn English as their first language.

CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) course: This is a specific brand of TESOL course operating under the umbrella of Cambridge University. You can think of TESOL as the type of product and CELTA as a specific brand. The CELTA course is the best known and some consider it the most respected of TESOL courses.


Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) involves teaching adults and children whose first or main language is not English. This can be done either in the UK or abroad and the students may be learning English for either business or leisure reason.

Typical work activities

Teachers of English as a foreign language use a range of course books and materials and also a variety of audiovisual aids. There is a strong emphasis on dialogue and role-playing, but more formal exercises, language games and literature are also used.

The content of lessons varies depending on the reason why the students are learning English, e.g. whether it is for business use for adults, school work for children, etc. The aim of each lesson is to encourage the students to communicate with each other using the structures and vocabulary they have learnt, and to improve the four basic language skills: listening; speaking; reading; and writing.

Typical tasks that may be carried out include:

  • classroom management;
  • planning, preparing and delivering lessons to a range of classes and age groups;
  • preparing and setting tests, examination papers, and exercises;
  • marking and providing appropriate feedback on oral and written work;
  • devising, writing and producing new materials, including audio and visual resources;
  • organising and getting involved in social and cultural activities such as sports competitions, school parties, dinners and excursions;
  • attending and contributing to training sessions;
  • participating in marketing events for the language school;
  • preparing information for inspection visits and other quality assurance exercises;
  • freelance teaching on a one-to-one basis;
  • basic administration, such as keeping student registers and attendance records.


  1. Hi Gonzalo.
    Your blog is very interesting, and this topic of the international english examinations is exactly what I was looking for... Although I'm going to take the ECPE examn in November!!

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Hi Jayro
    Thanks for you comment,I hope you have a successful examn!!
    So long....