What is TEFL, TESOL, CELTA, DELTA? And Which TEFL Certification Do I Need?

Do you want to teach English abroad or online and heard about that you need a TEFL certification? And now you want to know: What is TEFL, and which one of the various available types is the right one for me? This post explains everything you need to know about TEFL certification in simple terms.

Researching teach abroad options can be confusing enough without having to tear your hair out over the different certification types. TEFL, TESOL, CELTA, and DELTA can look like major alphabet soup if you haven’t encountered the acronyms and their meanings before. How are you supposed to know which one to choose?

The good news is that once you read our crash-course on the various certifications, you’ll be well-versed in the teach abroad options and ready to choose the best certificate for you.

What is TEFL Certification?

TEFL stands for “Teaching English as a Foreign Language.” If you plan to move abroad and teach English in a foreign country, then you’ll need a TEFL certification. The vast majority of English teachers abroad have a bachelor’s degree in addition to a TEFL certification, although there are a few places where it’s possible to teach without a degree.

The most important decisions you’ll make in regards to your TEFL certification are what provider to use, and whether to attend classes in-person or online. The cost is noticeably higher for in-person classes, although the teaching practicum component is crucial for learning to lead your own classroom. Even if you choose to get certified online, you should ensure that you get real classroom experience before moving abroad.

The Let’s TEFL online course is a great option if you want to earn your TEFL certification. It is available for an unrivaled price including lots of benefits.

Is There a Difference Between TEFL and TESOL?

TESOL stands for “Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages,” which is an umbrella term that encompasses all the other acronyms. Unlike TEFL, TESOL does not only connote teaching English in a foreign country. It can also refer to teachers who work in their home country, and teach English to non-native speakers (also known as TESL, or “Teaching English as a Second Language”).

The certifications for TEFL, TESL, and TESOL are similar – and some employers may accept them interchangeably. If you got a TEFL certification to teach abroad and then moved back home – you may still be able to use your certificate to teach non-native speakers domestically (and vice versa). It all depends on the employer, and how strict they are about the specific strategies you learned to teach EFL and/or ESL learners.

What is so Special About CELTA Certification?

CELTA, short for Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, is a type of TEFL and TESOL that is exclusively administered by Cambridge University. It has the strictest standards out of all of the programs, and the quality is always guaranteed.

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CELTA is the most expensive TEFL certificate, mainly because it’s considered the “gold standard” out of all of the programs. It typically costs between $1,500 and $4,000, although the supposed payoff is that teachers with a CELTA certification may able to get higher paying jobs and more teaching opportunities.

Certain countries with high teaching standards and lucrative job offers, like the UAE, Qatar, and Kuwait, are more likely to hire teachers with a CELTA than those with a run-of-the-mill TEFL certification.

And What is DELTA?

DELTA is similar to CELTA, except that it’s a full-fledged diploma instead of a certificate. It stands for “Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults.” It is also administered through Cambridge University and has the same international recognition and prestige as the CELTA. You must obtain the CELTA before the DELTA, since prior teaching experience is a requirement for the latter.

The diploma is most appropriate for English teachers with a few years of experience who want to strengthen their qualifications and skill-set. Typically, people do not obtain the DELTA unless they plan to focus their career on teaching English to non-native speakers. It is also common for people to pursue the DELTA if they want to become managers, directors, or teacher trainers. The cost for the DELTA is much higher than the other certifications, although lower than a Masters in TESOL – typically, the minimum you’ll pay is about $3,500.

Which TEFL Certification is Best for Me?

Now you’ve learned what is TEFL and what different certificates are available. In order to figure out which certificate is the right fit for you, you must first decide how you plan to use it. Do you want to move abroad and teach English for a few months or years? Consider getting your TEFL. If you’d rather stay at home and teach English domestically, then a TESL or TESOL is a more appropriate option.

If having the best certificate and most competitive skill-set is important to you, then you should pay the higher price tag and get your CELTA. You won’t need to consider the DELTA until you’ve already gotten a certificate and have taught English for at least two years. Only then, after you’ve decided to build a career out of teaching English, does it make sense to pursue your DELTA.

If you still aren’t sure, it’s okay to start small. You can get your TEFL or TESOL first to see if teaching is the right fit for you, and then move on to the CELTA if you want to deepen your knowledge and enhance your resume. You may find that you absolutely love teaching, and want to educate yourself to the point of obtaining the DELTA.

Also read: Which TEFL Online Course Should I Choose?

There’s no set path that you must follow when it comes to teaching English, so choose what makes sense for you at the moment. You can always continue learning and pursuing higher certifications if it makes sense for you in the future.

Brooke Matta is a girl in her mid-twenties who loves her home in the U.S. but still leaves as often as possible to explore the world beyond. She’s lived in Costa Rica and Spain, and has been teaching with her TEFL certification. Read her Upbeatatlas Blog or follow her on Instagram.

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