With so many different courses available for potential new English teachers, it can be confusing to understand which one is the best for you. There are so many institutes and universities that offer qualifications for teaching English as a foreign or second language, both in-person and online. But choosing a course can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack without proper research. So, let us help you to break it down to see which TEFL course is best for your needs.
What is the difference between a CELTA qualification and a Level 5 TEFL certification?
A CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) qualification is a very prestigious one. In order to get certified, a teacher must complete a 120-hour course alongside 6 hours of observed teaching practice with real students. The vast majority of CELTA courses are held over 4 weeks and are full-time, although part-time courses are also popular. This type of course is geared towards teaching adults rather than young learners.
Level 5 TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) courses prepare you for the cream of the crop TEFL jobs across the world and at home. With 180 hours of study, these internationally recognized courses can be completed in as little as 15 weeks right up to six months. They can also open up a lot of teaching doors for you, but they do require a lot of work.
Both UK CELTA and UK Level 5 TEFL courses are regulated by Ofqual (The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation) according to their qualifications framework. As part of this framework, there are 9 qualification levels. Essentially, the higher the level, the higher the difficulty and better the qualification. Both of these courses are the equivalent of a diploma of higher education (DipHE), a foundation degree or 2 years at university. In simple terms, both qualifications sit between an A Level qualification and a Bachelor’s degree.
In terms of the level of qualification, a CELTA qualification and Level 5 TEFL certification are each other’s equivalent. However, there are other key differences that might help you choose which one is better for you. Both qualifications will appeal to certain teachers based on how long they want to spend learning. A CELTA course can be completed in 4 weeks full-time, but even on a part-time basis it usually must be completed within 3 months. A Level 5 TEFL qualification can be finished relatively quickly but the flexibility with this type of course suits a lot of teachers because you typically have up to 6 months to complete it.
When it comes to the prices of courses, studying for a Level 5 TEFL certification will generally come cheaper than a CELTA qualification. Does that mean that a Level 5 course is a lesser quality of course? Not necessarily, no. Because of the affordability of Level 5 courses, they often become a more attractive option than a CELTA qualification.
Can I study for a CELTA qualification or TEFL certification online?
You can study for both these types of qualification in-person, however, CELTA and Level 5 TEFL courses online have become increasingly popular for new teachers who want to be able to study in their own time online.
An online CELTA qualification is usually a blended learning course that combines online self-study and hands-on teaching practice. So, a CELTA qualification is technically a TEFL, but a regular TEFL is not a CELTA unless you look for an equivalent top-shelf TEFL such as a Level 5 course. The TEFL Institute 180 hour Level 5 course fits these requirements and will tick off every box you could ever hope for. In the TEFL world, it is the new golden standard qualification. This can be studied wholly online and you have up to six months to complete it.
Which course should I choose?
There are so many ways to become a TEFL teacher and be certified to teach English. So, there are a number of factors that should be considered when deciding which course you are going to take.
This will include how long you envisage yourself teaching English for, and whether you see this as a long-term career goal or a side-gig that allows you to earn some extra money. You should also consider how much time you have to commit to study and how quickly you’d like to be qualified, as both courses differ in length.
A Level 5 TEFL qualification is a great investment that will allow you to teach children and adults, both online and abroad. But CELTA qualifications are usually geared more towards career-seeking teachers with adult students. So, if you are looking for something long-term, maybe a CELTA qualification is for you. Otherwise, a Level 5 TEFL course is generally a cheaper and more flexible option for teachers.
Some people may assume that because a CELTA qualification is much more expensive that it is a better quality than any other course. But this isn’t the case. It always depends on what type of job you are looking for. Whilst CELTA certainly is widely respected, the vast majority of English teachers who land jobs online or abroad, most of them don’t possess a CELTA.
Instead, many teachers choose to take a TEFL course because it gives them a qualification that will allow them to teach English online and abroad. So, when you look at the available opportunities for new English teachers, you will realize that having a CELTA doesn’t necessarily make you any more hireable than a TEFL certification does.
If you want a career teaching English, investing in a CELTA course should definitely help. But if you want to focus on teaching young learners, then a TEFL course is an affordable, quick way to get certified. But regardless of whether you choose a CELTA or Level 5 TEFL course, you will come away with an internationally recognized qualification to teach English.