What’s the Difference Between TEFL, TESOL , TESL, CELTA, DELTA?

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Many teachers approach asking us what the best certification for teaching ESL is; with so many acronyms and choices, it can get quite confusing.

Here we decipher all the terms and get to the bottom of what the variation is between all the certificates.

TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language)

This acronym does not refer to a specific certificate but refers to the industry of ESL. For example, you can state you are a TELF teacher and also state that you have a TEFL certificate. Under the TELF industry, you will find ALL the certificates you can obtain to Teach English as a Foreign Language. However, many providers will advertise their courses as TELF, this is especially common in the UK

TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)

The acronym TESOL is popular and commonly used throughout North America, Canada, and Australia. However, there’s no difference between TEFL and TESOL. You get certified in a classroom setting or online (or a combination of both). TESOL courses are flexible and affordable and you must be at least 18 years old to enroll and a native level ability in English.

There are courses of different lengths. A course’s value is usually dictated by its hours. There are 20, 40, 60, 80, 100, and 120-hour or more courses. More hours usually means more value.  To teach ESL in the Middle East, 120-hour minimum is required. To teach in Korea, a minimum of 100-hour minimum is preferred. However, 120 should be the benchmark that you aim for when searching for a course.

You may also encounter many specialized TESOL courses such as Business TESOL, Children’s TESOL . For example, The TESOL teaching business English certification course focuses on a variety of TESOL methods geared towards teaching foreign business people.

TESOL for children certification course focuses on teaching methods for age groups two through seventeen, and the different developmental stages of children. Instruction includes a variety of TESOL methodologies, classroom disciplinary methods, and which combination of methods works best in TESOL classrooms.

It is important to get the TESOL for Business and TESOL for children in ADDITION to the Standard TESOL as it will buff up your CV and open more opportunities.


TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language)

A TESL Certification is used interchangeable with the TESOL and TEFL. However, it may also be used to refer to teaching English to someone who lives in an English speaking country, but whose native language is not English. For example, teaching someone who recently immigrated to an English speaking country.

CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults)

The Cambridge CELTA is a special type of TEFL certificate as it is affiliated with the prestigious Cambridge University in the UK. It is highly standardised and courses are run in person in centres all over the world. It is more intense than a TESOL and more expensive. Moreover, to enrol in a CELTA course you need to be at least 20 years old and have formal education qualification as it is very demanding. You must pass a written test and interview to apply.  The curriculum involves 6 hours of in class teaching practicum plus 4 written assignments.

DELTA (Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults)

DELTA can be taken when you are a qualified English teacher with a few years teaching experience as a way of advancing your qualifications. It is a bit similar to the CELTA qualification because it is standardized and intensive.  To apply you need an initial teacher-training qualification (e.g. CELTA) is preferred, an undergraduate degree, a minimum of two years full-time (1200 hours) teaching experience of ELT to adults within the past five years is preferred.

With that being said, do not assume every CELTA course is great and TESOL course is inferior. There are excellent TESOL courses out there that meet the standards set out by the British council. We are proud to say our partner agency; The International TEFL Academy is one of those offering 170 hours worth of training. To view more, visit http://www.seekteachers.com/articles.asp?id=190