Share Your Thoughts: CELTA vs. TESOL Programs

Fellow traveler, Aimée, writes in to ask a bit of advice on CELTA versus TESOL teaching programs:

I’m focusing on confronting my fears of navigating a path in the world alone and getting a plan of action into place. I’ve been investigating teaching English in Asia and South America and have decided to get certified abroad – my first baby step.

As far as I can deduce from the world wide web, CELTA and TESOL programs are everywhere. I can’t seem to get an answer about which program might be the better choice. Or perhaps there’s another I haven’t considered?

Any articles from the past or recent opinions out there about teaching abroad with either a TESOL vs. CELTA certificate? Is one worth more than the other?

Very very best to y’all
~ Aimée

Anyone have any thoughts on either of these programs? Which one might be more appropriate or worthwhile? Any pertinent resources? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

About The Author

Founding Editor

Mike Richard has traveled the world extensively since 2008. He's camped in the Jordanian desert with Bedouins, tracked African wild dogs in South Africa, and survived a near-miss shark attack in Mexico. He loves the great outdoors, good bourbon, and he (usually) calls Massachusetts home. He also enjoys speaking in the third person.

16 Responses

  1. Carlton

    According to my students and friends in Central Africa, it is the TESOL, which, at least there, is the basis for language education. One of my dear friends runs a translation and language learning center for officials and personnel of the various N.G.O. institutions located in Goma, North Kivu, D.R. Congo: the AMANI LANGUAGE CENTER.

    And he, along with others, mentioned recently this fact. He is fluent in English and about 7 other languages.

  2. Jessica

    It depends on where you want to travel with your certificate and how much you want to earn. Theoretically, you *could* get a job anywhere with a basic TOEFL degree, but a lot of places–mainly europe–will prefer or even require a CELTA, or its equivalent. (and example of its equivalent would be the BridgeTEFL “IDELT”, which you can look up at

    The reason some employers want CELTA certification is pretty simple: The “C” in CELTA stands for Cambridge, so the classes are Cambridge certified and overseen, so the employer knows exactly what kind of training you´ve been through. Also, it´s pretty rigorous: 4-weeks and practically 12-16 hours a day, when you throw in classes, teching practice, planning, and outside class work.

    If you´re just getting your feet wet, I´d suggest trying an online certification (which, although just basic, is cheaper and you can still find jobs with it) to make sure you really like the TEFL path before you drop the $2000 on a CELTA course (+ expenses!) I personally got mine online certification through BridgeTEFL and will probably get my IDELT or CELTA (i´m still deciding which, too!) through them when I graduate college next year.

    So yes, it can be a tough choice, but rest assured that no matter what your decision, you´ll be able to teach SOMEWHERE with WHATEVER you do. If you find you need CELTA certification or just want it, you can always go back and get it.. ;)

    I hope this helps! :D

  3. Aimee

    Hey – thanks to you both!

    Jessica – i think it makes sense to go whole hog when it comes to education. I’m going to find as reputable a program as possible. Online courses on the internet look like a crap shoot…

    Does anyone out there have an opinion about courses with SIT?

    The CELTA or the SIT…

    and particularly – the courses offered in Chiang Mai?

    this is my specific and particular dilemma.

    I live in the US and will eventually return to the US – does it make sense for me to pursue the CELTA?

    Of course – teaching in Europe would be a dream…

    Any American ESL experts out there who advise for or against the CELTA for eventually seeking work in the US?

    Or are these certificates really interchangeable??

    Still wondering ~


  4. Kevin

    On reading that IDELT and CElTA are like programs I would love to hear from Jessica what her research has found. Is IDELT seperate from a TEFL certification. Should I get both certifications TEFL and IDELT? Or does IDELT include TEFL? I am trying to map out what I wish to do. Thank you

  5. Chris

    The “C” in CELTA stands for Certificate not Cambridge. CELTA means Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults. It was designed by the University of Cambridge.

    IDELT means International Diploma in English Language Teaching.

    I’m trying to decide which is better, or if both are equivalent.

  6. edwin

    TESOL/TEFL/TESL is the generic name and Cambridge CELTA is a particular brand of tesol/tefl/tesl, just like the Trinity Cert TESOL. Another “brand” is the SIT TESOL which claims to be an equivalent of the celta and trinity, although based on my recent research the latter two are more widely recognized.

  7. Lisa Stomprud

    Anyone know of any programs that I can get financial aid from U.S. Gov’t for certification?

  8. Si Knight

    Trinity cert TESOL and Cambridge CELTA are almost identical in nature. The trinity course is more reflective, in that they are ask you to think more about why you chose to teach certain things and not others. CELTA is more dogmatic and, in my opinion, a little behind in the times in terms of approach and the methods they favour.
    SIT tesol is the American cousin and it is even more reflective than Trinity and utilises a variety of different methods especially task based methods.
    People say CELTA is better b/c they see adverts asking for CELTA – all three qualify as an initial teaching qualification – but it is really a short form of asking for a known 120-30 hour course with supervised teaching practice.
    Believe me, if 3 newbies are being interviewed for a job and they each have one of the 3 qualifications listed above, then the person who impresses the most at the interview will get the
    position not the CELTA.
    Don’t believe the hype – choose a course that suits YOU!

  9. Aimee

    I should follow up on this post:

    I decided to pursue the TESOL at the AUA program through SIT in Chiang Mai.

    The course was extremely challenging. I am no stranger to academics – and this was one of the most grueling months of my life.

    I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The instructors were top notch and I walked away knowing how to approach this work in a confident, creative and intuitive way.

    The CELTA program in Chiang Mai was just too far outside the city. And it seemed too cushy – designed for the gap year crowd. I expected to be a little coddled there.

    The AUA program demanded independent and adventurous thinking. We were working in the classrooms in the first week.

    Hands on training – trial by fire.

    Happy with the choice.

  10. Rachael

    Hi Aimee,

    Please update us on how your program in Chiang Mai is going.

    I did some research earlier this year about all the certifications that will enable me to teach English in Asia.

    I did find out that SIT TESOL has a lot more hands on training versus just lecture and theoretical explanations of how things should be done.

    When do you start??

    Take care!!

  11. Cassidy

    The C in CELTA does stand for certification, but it is a course designed by Cambridge. If you want to go to Europe, that is the certification to pick. It is EXTREMELY intensive, but by the end of it you will feel very confident. Anyone can get the TEFL, but for CELTA you must apply, pass a long grammar/vocab task, pass a 60 minute phone interview, and that just gets you in. To actually get the cert, you must complete 4 papers, teach for 6 hours, and 6 hours of teaching observation. You put all these things into a portfolio, and a Cambridge prof reviews it. That prof has the final say of you passing or failing the course.

    I am currently doing the CELTA (Aug 2011) course. I am in week 2 and its tough. Prepare for 8 hours of class, and 4-5 hours of homework every night. But like I said, by the end you will feel very confident.

  12. Cassidy

    If you wish to go East, you don’t even need a certification. Korea, Japan and China will take Americans without certification. Europe, however, is very competitive.

    2500 isn’t that much, considering how much a college degree in English teaching is.

  13. courntey

    Those of you who have taken the CELTA course, was is worth it? Did you find immediate job placement and continue to work teaching English? Or did you find that it wasn’t for you?

  14. Aaron

    I’m interested in the AUA SIT TESOL Chiang Mai or Bangkok locations. I’ve made numerous attempts to contact both locations, both through email and phone calls. Bangkok’s phone rang but no reply, and Chiang Mai’s phone was disconnected. I went one step further by contacting the SIT TESOL main campus in Vermont, USA by email, but so far…nothing. Looking at the websites and displaying the available dates for courses as “To Be Announced.” Anyone know if these locations are still in operation?

  15. Pamela

    Anyone know anything about the 1 to 1 program? It sounds much like the Bridge program but slightly less expensive? I have to do it online due to my job and financial position. I want to work in Italy or Spain but would consider eastern Europe as well. I have a BA and MBA and have done sub teaching. Currently train adults in use of hospital related equipment.

  16. Carlos

    It’s quite hard but totally worth it. It really teaches you how to teach from scratch, and a bonus is that when you receive your certificate it reads
    “University of Cambridge” on top.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Let\'s Make Sure You\'re Human ... * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.