CELTA TEFL which is better

What’s the difference between CELTA and TEFL?

When embarking on a career in teaching English abroad, the first thing you will probably realize is there are so many different options out there! Therefore, it can be difficult to know what to  look for when choosing a qualification in teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL). So, what's the difference between CELTA and TEFL, and which will get you a better job? 

What is CELTA?

The CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults), is an internationally recognised qualification in teaching English as a foreign language. It is usually regarded as the most prestigious TEFL-related qualification to have because it requires in-class learning and teaching practise and takes one month to complete. In addition, it is accredited by Ofqual (UK exam regulator).

A key factor of the CELTA is you undertake hands-on teaching experience – something which can only be taught by those who are CELTA-certified. If you are after a high quality course, the CELTA might be the course for you.


  • Hours: 120 hours
  • Duration: 4 weeks, Monday – Friday (full time, classroom based)
  • Delivery: Face-to-face/classroom based. However, some providers do offer online and combination courses, although these are less popular options.
  • Cost: Varies from provider, on average it costs around £1,400 (£1250 at Foyle International)

The CELTA course covers 5 main areas:

  1. Teaching Practice: CELTA trainees spend time each day on the course teaching real students over the period of 4 weeks – (2 weeks teaching one level i.e. Beginner and another 2 weeks teaching another level of English i.e. Advanced). Therefore, you get experience in teaching different levels of English.
  2. Classroom observation: 6 hours of the course is when you observe other teachers – giving you the chance to gain notable skills from others.
  3. Written Assignments: Throughout the course there are 4 written assessments, as well as on-going homework.
  4. Methodology of Language, Teaching and Learning: A key part of teaching English as a second language – how to implement classroom management techniques and effectively communicate and convey meaning to students
  5. Language Awareness: CELTA ensures teachers will have a strong foundation in grammar, structure and content.

What is TEFL?

When we refer to a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate, the terminology is quite broad. Unlike CELTA, there is no central authority which offers TEFL courses. There are literally hundreds of providers in the marketplace, and in addition, many of the TEFL courses you find online are not actually accredited by any notable institutions.

Because of this, it can be confusing, and somewhat problematic) to know where to start when looking for a course!

..There are so many TEFL courses out there! 

There are some key providers out there who are more recognized than overs, and unlike CELTA, TEFL courses can be taken online, in-class or a combination of both.

Each TEFL course varies in length, but most commonly either a 120 hour or 150 hour course.

The course varies widely depending on the number of hours, method of teaching (online/classroom based/combination) and which country it is offered in.

CELTA vs TEFL: Which will get me a better job?

In a nutshell, there is no denying that the CELTA qualification offers significantly more opportunities in comparison to generic TEFL certificate. It is internationally recognised and schools all over the globe appreciate how intense the course actually is.

The English Language teaching space covers a wide range of education levels, from Kindergarten to University level, across private and public institutions. The most prestigious jobs – in bilingual schools, private international academies, universities or within business organizations, generally require the CELTA as a benchmark to get a job.

FACT 3 out of 4 English teaching jobs require a CELTA.*

With CELTA you are much more likely to get teaching jobs that offer better salaries at the top of the pay-scale. Even if you have your heart set on a less competitive job at a public school, your application will stand out from the crowd with a CELTA certificate.


Time is a big factor to consider when deciding which certificate is right for you. A CELTA course will require a full month out of your schedule, as you need to complete it in class.

A TEFL is much more flexible as it has several modes of delivery, with variable durations in length.

FACT Some providers offer CELTA part time (over the course of a few months) and some also offer a blended/ combination delivery. However, face-to-face 4 week course is the most popular.


Cost is of course an important factor to consider. The CELTA costs on average, £1400, as well as 4 week commitment to the course. As the course is most commonly delivered full time, Monday – Friday, with evenings usually taken up with homework and assignments, full time and even part time work may not be possible.

On the other hand, TEFL courses vary widely in cost, with some costings as little as £100, and are flexible in how much time you can spend completing.

So, CELTA or TEFL? What's the verdict?

To conclude, both CELTA and TEFL will kickstart your English language teaching journey, both have their own advantages and disadvantages.



  • Internationally recognised
  • Prestigious reputation
  • Hands on teaching experience
  • Access to better and higher paid jobs
  • Access to jobs worldwide
  • Intense course, equips you with all you need to excel in EFL teaching


  • More expensive than TEFL
  • Time commitment – 4 weeks Monday – Friday, full time most popular form of delivery) is not accessible to everyone
  • Usually need to take work sacrifices to complete the course as full (and usually part-time work) is not possible



  • A lot cheaper in cost
  • Still job opportunities with a less recognized qualification
  • Flexible methods of delivery
  • Variable duration of courses


  • Less recognized internationally/by academic community – less access to jobs and countries in comparison to the opportunities with CELTA
  • Although there are some TEFL certificates available that cost £100 or less, it is worth remembering that a course at that price is unlikely to be accredited by a notable institution and may be of lower quality – for example, you may be viewing pre-recorded videos.
  • So many different courses in the market place – varying prices, durations, methods and locations – meaning it can be difficult to find the best course for you

Ultimately, it is recommended that you research the type of jobs and countries you want to work in. A specific country or school may have such high demand for teachers they don’t even require teachers to hold a certification. But for those who would like to keep their options option to be able to work across different schools and education levels, anywhere in the world, the CELTA really is your passport to the world.

*Read more

CELTA testimonial

What our CELTA graduates say about the course

For years, we have been successfully helping students to begin their journey to teach English as a foreign language and kickstart their career as English teachers. The CELTA qualification is the most widely recognised teaching qualification in the world and is awarded by Cambridge English. See what some of our CELTA graduates have to say about heir experience of taking the CELTA course at Foyle. "The course content is excellent, every area was covered and I particularly appreciated the attention given to professional development once the course is finished, for example with tips for interviews and useful websites. This aspect felt very supportive and genuinely caring of our success, something I have rarely seen in other courses or universities. The centre had very good facilities and a lovely IT team to help any time, so big thank you them. Everyone was always available to help or even just to have a friendly chat, I particularly want to thank reception, who have been wonderful all along this bumpy road. Our tutors were fantastic: passionate about their profession and incredibly supportive. Watching them teach was an inspiring experience. Their feedback was always constructive and oriented towards personal growth and the inputs were carefully tailored towards our needs. I cannot thank them enough for their dedication and patience."

Marjorie Frick

Completed the CELTA in 2019

"I completed CELTA in Foyle International in the summer of 2019. I had already completed an online TEFL. After much deliberation I chose to enrol on the CELTA course. I’m very happy I did enrol on the course as it helped build best practice into my teaching ability. Although it was difficult, it was a rewarding and challenging course for me. The tutors that delivered the course were the best. After completing CELTA, I realise now how superior this course is to any online version of TEFL. The difference is night and day.

My only advice to anyone considering CELTA is to be really sure you want it and when you realise it is what you want, put your heart and soul into it. If you enrol for the month long course, cancel everything in your diary for that month and focus 100% on CELTA. The difficulty of the course will be rewarded by gaining the qualification, as CELTA has opened up doors for me from the moment I started the course. I am now working in a language school in Spain.

Foyle International is a great school to deliver it. The facilities are great, it’s centrally located, the staff are the best and they deliver an excellent course with top notch tutors. I would consider CELTA THE door opener for your career as a TEFL teacher."

Martin Mullan

Completed the CELTA in 2019

"Although I had previously obtained a degree in teacher English as a foreign language, to actually teach English I required a qualification that assessed my practical teaching skills. Therefore, I chose to take a CELTA course, so that I could receive a qualification that is world recognised and that would provide me with opportunities to teach and also travel the world. The CELTA course is a compact course that lightly covers different teaching methodologies and learners’ learning styles as well as a great amount of practical teaching skills, teaching preparation, classroom management and a whole lot more! I loved the teaching practice sessions where we could apply the skills we had learnt in a real classroom situation with real students. Another great opportunity was being able to observe experienced teachers work their magic in the classroom. Despite being a huge amount of information packed into a very short space of time this system gives you an idea of what it is like to be a real teacher, planning and teaching with limited time Foyle International provided with everything we needed and every member of staff was very helpful and friendly. I had brilliant tutors, they were very helpful and had a great sense of humour. Such a beautiful team, together with my course mates. It was such an amazing experience!"

Victoria Duddy

Completed the CELTA course in 2018

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If you are interested in applying for the CELTA, please get in touch with kelley@foyle.eu

Do you still have questions about CELTA and/or TEFL courses? Check out this blog post. 


TEFL or CELTA – What is the difference, and what is best?

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language and is the umbrella term for many different types of courses that prepare you to teach English. CELTA is one type of TEFL course. Firstly, we’ll look at TEFL courses in general before looking more in-depth at the CELTA course.

Which course? There are so many to choose from! 

Just as if you decided to learn to cook, there are hundreds of different cookery courses for you to choose from. Some courses are short introductions or focus on one area of cookery while others are longer and are more in-depth. Some courses provide demonstrations but offer no practice, but other courses do both. Courses can be online, face-to-face or a combination of these. You could do a cookery course that offers in-house certificate by the provider, or you could decide to look for an internationally recognized certificate, diploma or degree that would take you further afield and offer wider opportunities.

And the same goes for TEFL courses, there are hundreds to choose from, this makes it all very confusing! 

EFL teacher TEFL tourism On top of this is TEFL tourism – this is a growing sector which offers “package deals” often combining an online TEFL course with work placements and exciting holiday experiences abroad. While these can have instant appeal, especially to those who are eager to travel, the teaching qualification within the package does not always mean that you can get work outside of that organization or group of schools, and it almost certainly means you will not be able to teach in every country, including the UK and Ireland, or in the “better quality” or accredited schools worldwide. This means that if you wish to pursue teaching as a career, or if you simply wish to work for schools or organizations that offer better pay and contracts, then you will need to get a reputable and recognizable qualification. TEFL courses vary considerably in what they offer TEFL courses vary considerably in duration and price, and whether they offer any face-to-face classes, or most importantly, if they provide actual teaching practice. Cheaper courses tend to be shorter (10 hours upwards), or online, or with very little, if any, real teaching practice. While all TEFL courses will teach you something, and while all have some merit, what good employers look for are teachers who they know are able to stand in front of a class and to deliver well-planned and useful lessons. And, students want this too!

CELTA – hands on teaching experience 

What a CELTA certificate flags to employers is that you are able to do just that. If you choose CELTA as your TEFL qualification, not only will you be gaining the most internationally recognized certificate accredited by Cambridge ESOL, you will get to turn all the theory you learn into practical skills by teaching real English language learners for a minimum of 6 hours. You tutors will observe your teaching and offer you feedback and advice so that, by the end of the course, you are ready and able to apply for the better TEFL jobs the whole world over, and to get them! If you are considering teaching English and would like advice on CELTA or other TEFL courses, then feel free to contact us. We have a team of experienced, well-travelled TEFL teachers and teacher trainers who are happy to answer your questions. We can also advise you on the job opportunities available to our CELTA graduates.

For more information, please get in touch with kelley@foyle.eu or give us a call on +44 (0) 28 71 371 535


CELTA: Frequently Asked Questions

Thinking of taking a qualification that will enable you to teach and travel? A CELTA is your passport to the world, and here are some of the most frequently asked questions..  

1.What is the difference between TEFL, TESOL, EFL, ESL, ESOL, EAL?

All the acronyms can be very confusing – don’t let them put you off!  If you live in a country where English is not an official or national language, you study English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and if you are involved in teaching EFL you work in TEFL.  What about the fact that English is perceived as an international language?  English hardly feels ‘foreign’ to many learners any more, and so we can call English a ‘second’ rather than a ‘foreign’ language.  Thus, we get ESL. 

People who have come from other countries to live in an English-speaking country need English as a Second Language.  In colleges of further and higher education, the term English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) is preferred.  In mainstream primary and post-primary schools, English as an Additional language (EAL) is the preferred term.  Some think the plethora of terms is a case of political correctness gone mad, but all the variations reflect the widespread and complex role of the English language around the world.

2. What is the difference between CELTA and other TEFL courses?

CELTA is a course run and assessed by the University of Cambridge.  This is probably the best known certificate level qualification available.  Also well-known is the Trinity Cert-TESOL, and in Ireland the ACELS CELT.  All of these confer the eligibility to teach at official language schools in the UK, Ireland and beyond.  They all meet British Council and ACELS criteria in terms of input hours, validation, teaching practice, lesson observations and quality assurance.

CELTA is the most commonly taken accredited TEFL course in the world, and also has the advantage of being the best known internationally.  The name ‘University of Cambridge’ confers a certain prestige and badge of quality.

3. Will a weekend/one-week course give me a teaching qualification?

Not one recognized in UK or Ireland. Accrediting bodies here require courses to include at least 100 input hours, plus teaching practice and observations.

However for places such as China, Thailand, Vietnam and other parts of Asia an introductory TEFL course may be accepted.

4. Will an unaccredited course give me a teaching qualification?

In the UK and Ireland, qualifications are verified by the National Qualifications Framework and the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland respectively.  To teach in Britain and Ireland, your course must be accredited by a university, examination board or another reputable authority.  Therefore, you should make sure that the course you choose will in fact qualify you to teach and fulfils the criteria required by the British Council, ACELS or the regulatory body in your destination country.

5. Is CELTA as intensive as everyone says?

Yes!  It is a demanding course.  It is very difficult to take CELTA full-time and balance a job and other commitments.  There is a lot to learn, and as teaching practice and assignments are required during the course (not just at the end) you have to keep up with the workload for the duration.  The pre-course assignments are an important preparation to help you experience a slightly less steep learning curve. 

If you are worried about the intensive nature of the course, feel free to contact us for an advisory chat, or consider our foundation course as a first step.

6. How do I apply for the CELTA?

You can request an application pack from us.  This can be sent electronically, or if you prefer, by post.  Some sections can be filled in quite easily, such as personal details.  The second part of the application pack consists of pre-application assignments.  You will need to take more time over this part of your application.  Use online resources and your local or college library to help you.  

7. Is there an application deadline?

Applications are rolling.  However, if you want to apply for a particular start date, you should apply as soon as possible as we keep class sizes small in order to keep a good tutor: trainee ratio.  In any case, you should apply at least three weeks before your preferred course starts.

8. Why do TEFL courses vary so much in price?

Obviously, online courses and weekend courses held in conference centres are much more cost effective than an intensive course in a language school with several qualified tutors and a small group of trainees.  Perhaps rather than looking for the cheapest course, you might think in terms of value for money.  CELTA is externally assessed and validated by the University of Cambridge ESOL.  We provide all the materials you need for the course.  Furthermore, this is a professional qualification which should be seen as an investment and a step towards a rewarding career.

9. Do I need to speak another language?

No, although you will find it useful to draw on your knowledge and experience if you do.  We train you to teach English through English, even at beginner level.  More important than knowledge of another language is the ability to be creative and explain things simply, clearly and effectively.

10. I am already an experienced teacher. Should i take a TEFL course?

It depends on what you plan to do.  If you want to teach English to speakers of other languages, then a TEFL qualification is a must.  There are a few exceptions.  The British Council accepts a PGCE in Modern Languages as the equivalent of CELTA, provided that you teach the age group you are qualified to teach in mainstream schools.  

11. Is CELTA suitable for mature students?

Yes, the course is suitable for students of all ages 20+.  More mature learners bring a wealth of life experience to the course and most schools like to have a mixed team of teachers in terms of age and experience.

12. Do I need a degree?

Not to take the CELTA course.  You should be educated to A-level standard or the equivalent, i.e. your qualifications should be sufficient to get you onto an undergraduate degree course. However, to teach in the Republic of Ireland and many other countries, you need a degree (in any subject, not necessarily related to education, English or modern languages).  To teach in UK language schools, a degree makes it much more likely that you will find a job. 

If you don’t have a degree and would like an advisory chat about taking the course and your options afterwards, please contact us.

13. Can I teach children and teenagers with CELTA?

The ‘A’ in CELTA stands for Adults.  However, in practice, schools accept CELTA as a teaching qualification for learners of all ages.  There used to be a separate course like CELTA but specifically to teach young learners.  Today, however, you can take a short add-on course after completing CELTA.  Few teachers of children and teenagers actually have a specific course for their chosen age group.

14. How good should my English be to take CELTA?

Your English must be good enough that you can realistically teach a wide range of language levels, from A1/Beginners to B2/Upper Intermediate.  A rule of thumb is that your English must be a level above the highest level you can teach.  If your level of English is an issue, please contact us for more advice.

15. Do I have to take all the units and attend every class?

You must complete all five course units in order to pass the course.  This applies also to TEFL teachers with prior experience, who have previously studied a foundation course, and to mainstream teachers with QTS.  Cambridge ESOL do not grant exemptions.

16. How likely am I to get a job after completing the course?

This really depends on how flexible you can be.  Locally, you have a fair chance of getting work as a substitute teacher and/or evening or weekend classes to begin with.  Every summer there is an influx of students and seasonal staff is required.  If you are prepared to look elsewhere in Ireland and the UK, your chances increase significantly.  If you are happy to work abroad, you could have a job within a week!

17. What is the best way to find a job?

jobs are advertised in the press, in professional publications and online.  As part of your course, we will give you advice on where to find a job.

In addition, we are frequently approached by partnering schools and colleges across the world with job opportunities and placement offers so by signing up to our newsletters we can keep you informed of these opportunities and positions.



Interested in taking a CELTA or finding out more? 

Applications are now open for our next course which is running 8th June - 3rd July 2020. 

Contact us on info@foyle.eu or read more on our CELTA course page.