What is the difference between TEFL and TESOL and CELTA

Understanding the meaning of common TEFL terms

This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions for people looking to get a teaching qualification. There are so many courses available that potential teachers are left confused as to what course to take – and the differences between the courses available – and all the other acronyms in the TEFL world!

Let’s try and make it clear for you:
TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language and involves the teaching of English to non-native speakers.
EFL stands for English as a Foreign Language and involves the acquisition of English by non-native speakers.

TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and involves the teaching of English to non-native speakers.
ESOL stands for English to Speakers of Other Languages and involves the acquisition of English by non-native speakers.

TESL stands for Teaching English as a Second Language and involves the teaching of English to non-native speakers.
ESL stands for English as a Second Language and involves the acquisition of English by non-native speakers.

All of the above are supposed to be for people with little or no previous teaching experience. The main difference is what we mean by English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and English as a Second Language (ESOL or ESL). The ‘T’ always stands for teaching and is the qualification given to teach that particular field.

EFL is for non-native speakers learning English in a non-English-speaking environment (typically learners in their own countries). ESL is for non-native speakers learning English in an English-speaking environment (typically students on a language holiday or immigrants in an English-speaking country). However, in practice, many teachers make little distinction between the two terms, and some are not even aware of the distinction. You will also find that the term EFL is commonly used by British teachers whereas American teachers instinctively use ESL.

TEFL courses are supposed to be for people with little or no teaching experience. There are lots of different courses you can take, ranging from a short intensive weekend course to an advanced 140 hour online course. TEFL courses are certainly the cheapest teaching qualification available today, on average you will pay £300 for an advanced course which means you can see what the TEFL industry is about without spending lots of money.

CELTA stands for Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults and involves the teaching of English to non-native speakers.

Like TEFL, it is supposed to be for people with little or no previous teaching experience, although many posters in online forums have stated that they think it would have been better to have some teaching experience before taking the course. A full-time CELTA course will take four to five weeks, while a part-time course can take a few months to over a year.

The main difference between TEFL courses and CELTA courses is that CELTA does have a body who oversees the program. This means that there is little variation in the courses in each centre and they all offer the same syllabus and assessment criteria. The amount of work you do should also be the same. This means that all CELTA courses offer the same programme.

The CELTA is awarded upon passing the course, which includes six hours of assessed teaching practice to real EFL classes at least two different levels of ability. The course grade is determined primarily by the performance of the candidates in this teaching practice; there are also four written assignments throughout the course, which are graded on a pass/fail basis only. The grades awarded are Pass, Pass B and Pass A. (TEFL is just pass or fail)

The full-time four-week course is very intensive. Even the part-time version of the course can take up more time than a full-time job for many candidates, especially those with no teaching background. All CELTA courses cost £1000+ so it requires a serious investment of time and money to complete.

Most overseas employers are happy with a TEFL certificate, if you are looking to teach in the UK you may want to think about taking the CELTA at some point.

But wait, there are more….
The TEFL world is full of acronyms; here are some more types of lessons you may come across:

  • EAL – English as an Additional Language (for primary and secondary schools)
  • ELT – English Language Teaching (the umbrella term that covers everything)
  • EIL – English as an International Language (using English in with both native and non-native speakers all over the world)
  • ESP – English for Specific Purposes (for example Business English)
  • EAP – English for Academic Purposes (for students studying at University)

And once you start teaching you’ll certainly hear about various exams – many schools all over the world offer exam classes for their students and you will probably be asked to teach an exam class at some point in your career.

It is certainly worth learning a little bit about them, here is a short guide to help you:

  • IELTS – International English Language Testing System (it is designed to test the English ability of candidates and is recognised by universities and employers in many countries, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK and the USA.)
  • TOEFL – Test of English as Foreign Language (the essential exam for entry to universities in the United States.)
  • TOEIC – The Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC test questions are based on real-life work settings in an international environment, for example: meetings, travel, telephone conversations, etc)

All of these are Cambridge exams:

  • PET – Preliminary English Test
  • KET – Key English Test
  • FCE – First Certificate Exam
  • CAE – Cambridge Advanced Exam
  • CPE – Cambridge Proficiency Exam

If you would like more information on the LoveTEFL Online TEFL Course then visit the official webpage here

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