CELTA and Trinity: Which TEFL course is for you?

What is the difference between the Cambridge CELTA and Trinity TESOL?

Both the Cambridge CELTA and Trinity TESOL are English language teaching certificates that are accredited and recognised all over the world. As a result there are actually more similarities between the two courses than differences, but we shall look at the finer details of both.


–          Both are accredited by highly respected institutions: TESOL by Trinity College London and CELTA by University of Cambridge English Language Assessment (formerly University of Cambridge ESOL)

–          Entry criteria for both includes: being over 18 years of age; having a standard of education equivalent to that required for higher education; a good level of spoken and written English; a good level of language awareness

–          Both include 6 hours of teaching practice with real English language students

–          Both courses comprise 5 units of learning

–          Non-native English language speakers with CAE PASS or IELTS 7.0 can apply to both

–          There is no final exam for either and assessment is continuous throughout the course

–          Both courses have a duration of a minimum 4 weeks


–          The CELTA must last for a minimum of 120 hours, the TESOL for 130 hours

–          The 5 units of learning for Trinity are:

  1. Teaching skills
  2. Language Awareness
  3. The Learner Profile
  4. Materials Assignment
  5. Unknown Language

–          The 5 units of learning of CELTA are:

  1. Learners and Teachers/Teaching and Learning
  2. Language Analysis and Awareness
  3. Language Skills
  4. Planning and Resources for Different Contexts
  5. Developing Teaching Skills and Professionalism

–         An external moderator will mark unit 4 for the TESOL and the whole course will be moderated by an external assessor for the CELTA.

–          For TESOL the final grades are either pass or fail. For CELTA the final grades are Pass A, Pass B, Pass or Fail.

Which one should I take?

Given the similarities between the two courses and that they carry the same weight in terms of international recognition, the main three deciding factors when choosing between the CELTA and TESOL are:

1. Price

The TESOL generally tends to be a little cheaper than the CELTA, although this is not always the case.

2. Location

When it comes to location, large cities will have centres that offer both the TESOL and the CELTA, but smaller cities may only offer one of the courses. If location is a key factor then this may limit your choice or options.

3. Facilities and reputation of the centre

All TESOL and CELTA centres are externally moderated and inspected, and must adhere to the standards and criteria set out by Trinity and Cambridge. However, not all centres are exactly the same in terms of facilities and reputation, and this is often reflected in the price. If you are looking for specific facilities such as air conditioning throughout, a good on-site café or a maximum group size of 12, then you need to look in detail at the specifics of what each centre offers and this may determine which course you choose to go for.

student and teacher looking smiling at the libraryCactus TEFL is an admissions and advice service for quality teacher training courses worldwide. Cactus works with well-known course providers to offer CELTA, TESOL, equivalent and online courses in over 90 locations across 36 countries. Cactus TEFL also offers free post-course careers advice and support, as well as access to our very own TEFL jobs board and job alerts.