Online TESOL Course or CELTA Course?

Online TESOL Course or CELTA Course?

Online TEFL or CELTA?

It is a key question for the thousands of new entrants to the TEFL profession each year and one we are asked a lot at Global English. Now as an online TESOL provider you can probably guess which way we lean, although you may be a little surprised at the outcome if you read on... and I promise I will try to be objective! In fact, I do have experience of both training routes, having originally completed a CELTA and subsequently being heavily involved in the writing/delivering of online courses.

Let's start with the CELTA/Trinity TESOL.

Firstly, what is a CELTA/Trinity TESOL?
A CELTA is the Certificate in Teaching English Language to Adults course run by the Cambridge exam group. Typically the CELTA is completed in class over 4 intensive weeks. A key component of the course is that trainees teach 6-8 hours whilst being observed and critiqued. You can do a CELTA in approved centres across the world. Often there is a workshop atmosphere as you are learning with other TEFL trainees, planning and delivering lesson segments. According to Cambridge, 10,000 people take this qualification each year. You can now take an online CELTA in certain locations although you must still take the in-class element at a local school. During the pandemic, live practicums have been conducted online.

The Trinity Cert TESOL is 5 week intensive taught course, similar to the CELTA in that it is classroom based, only available at approved centres and observed teaching is a core component of the course. Years ago the CELTA/Trinity courses were about the only way to enter the TEFL profession. 

Here’s an overview of both the positives and negatives of the CELTA/Trinity. 

CELTA/Trinity positives:

  • Both are well-known across the world.
  • Courses are likely to be of a similar standard across the world, no matter where you take them.
  • The course is usually completed in one month or 5 weeks. 
  • Teaching practice is helpful. 

CELTA/Trinity negatives:

  • They can be expensive: £1000-£1500 depending on where/how you take them. Plus you will usually need to give up work to complete them. A significant online course will cost much less.
  • They can be very intense, which is not good if you need longer to consolidate information, don’t react well under pressure or a significant life event occurs that means you can’t complete the course.
  • They don’t lead to more money necessarily. Whether you have a CELTA or good online course, your earnings are not likely to be greatly different.
  • In English speaking countries which tend to prefer the CELTA/Trinity – much of the work is seasonal and so this qualification will not guarantee you year-round teaching work.

Online alternatives to the CELTA
The last few years have seen an explosion in online options to get TESOL qualified. These courses offer you alternative and less expensive ways to study. The online options come with the flexibility of studying when you want to, from the comfort of your own home. You can also add on young learner or business elements, making your training more customised. Increasingly, courses are now looking at more specialised areas, such as teaching English online. None of that is available within the strict confines of the CELTA or Trinity TESOL courses. 

But what about their status when compared to the CELTA? How can you be assured of quality if you choose an alternative?

Quality of online courses
This is where online industry can let itself down. Whatever online course you choose, you want to be sure you have the skills, methodology, and let's face it, the confidence to take money for your teaching services. It is not always clear in an unregulated online market which courses are good and which courses offer poor value. This may have you running for the CELTA were it not for a few organisations that exist in the UK, seeking to raise standards in the distance TEFL industry.

The most well-established organisation among these that accredits TEFL/TESOL courses is 
. Any UK-based distance TEFL organisation with this accreditation will have had to meet strict external criteria. Therefore employers can be much more sure of course quality. With institutions accredited by ACTDEC, you do have the option to purchase a certificate awarded by the accrediting body direct upon successful completion. This prestigious certificate is extra proof of course quality.

For a premium online course, the Global English TESOL Professional course, accredited by ACTDEC to their Level 5 standard, is one of the most advanced, accredited, entry-level course possible online. While this is not a CELTA qualification, in some areas it goes further than the CELTA, looking at areas such as phonetics, phonology and linguistics, teaching English online and to business people,  leading to advanced certification.

For much of Asia and online teaching, employers will want to see a good, accredited TESOL course of 120 hours minimum. A CELTA is usually not necessary for these large teaching markets. 
For such markets, the Global English 120 hour TESOL Premier course is recommended and is most popular.

Where can I teach with a good online TESOL?
As well as private language schools, many online TEFL graduates are freelancing, teaching immigrants, hosting and teaching English in their own home and teaching English online. Most of these positions will not require a CELTA. A good online TESOL provider will assist with links to TESOL jobs with international schools and agencies. At Global English TESOL, our newly trained teachers are in great demand by international employers across the globe. 

While some employers may still ask for a CELTA and accept no other (more so in English speaking countries) the real truth is that, pandemic aside,  the demand for qualified English language teachers abroad has always been absolutely huge. There are different geographical preferences, but if you have English as your native tongue (especially English/Irish/American/Canadian/Australian/NZ/S. African passports) a good quality TESOL and a degree, much of the non-English speaking world is open to you.

Hold your arms out as wide as you can. This represents your chances of employment worldwide as an EFL teacher if you have a CELTA + degree and are a native English speaker. Narrow your reach slightly, and this represents your chances with a good, online TESOL certificate + degree and native speaker ability. In short, if you're flexible about where you go, there's not much in it.

A final word
The CELTA certainly has its place if you can afford both the time and expense involved. If you want every possible work guarantee and can learn intensively, then it could be a good choice for you.

But if you prefer to have more flexibility in the way you study, an in-depth online course, with an accredited certificate and possibly customised optional specialisms can suit your pocket and get you where you want to go. An advanced online certificate of good length and verifiable quality should stand up well to employer scrutiny.

------------------------------------- might also like:

TEFL or TESOL - what do employers want? 
My teaching life with an advanced TESOL qualification – graduate Lea Hook in Thailand
250-hour TESOL Professional course: a real online alternative to a CELTA
* An innovative, cost-effective teaching practice option option


Watch the video with Global English TESOL tutor and CELTA trainer Steve Button, about the differences between taking a CELTA or a Global English TESOL course...


Need more advice on TESOL/TEFL?

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  • Author: Louisa Walsh
  • Date: 05/09/2019

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