What is the difference between CELTA and TESOL?

The Cambridge CELTA and Trinity CertTESOL are the two key qualifications recognised by the British Council and reputable English language schools worldwide.

They are the most prestigious English language teaching qualifications you can obtain, and will enable you to teach English almost anywhere in the world you choose.

In reality, there is little to differentiate the CELTA from the CertTESOL. Both courses can be done over 4 or 5 weeks full-time, or 12-20 weeks part-time, and the overall aim is for you to become a confident, competent teacher of English.

Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Min 120 hours over min 4 weeks Min 130 hours over min 4 weeks
Min 6 hours’ teaching practice Min 6 hours’ teaching practice
Accredited by the Cambridge University examining board Accredited by Trinity College London
Includes a component that teaches you a new language

Teaching practice is a very important component, as this takes place in front of your peers and/or real students, and gives you a real feel for what it’s like to stand up at the front of a classroom and deliver a class.  Whilst 6 hours is little time to actually spend teaching, the preparation involved in planning the lessons, as well as time spent watching your peers in action, ensures that you firmly grasp the process of lesson planning and gain the confidence and ability to teach in real life.

Your CELTA or CertTESOL will also work on your language (grammar) awareness. If you would like to brush up your English grammar and gain confidence in the language you are teaching, the Cactus online English Language Awareness has been specifically created to prepare teachers with the grammar they need to teach English. Normal price £95 / reduced price £50 when you book your 4-week course with Cactus TEFL.

Unless you are already set on a particular course, your decision as to CELTA versus TESOL may well boil down to factors such as location and price. For advice on these and other English Language Teaching qualifications, visit Cactus TEFL or call 0845 130 4775 to discuss the options available to you.

Cactus TEFL is an admissions and advice service for quality teacher training courses worldwide. We work with the majority of well-known course providers to offer CELTA, Trinity CertTESOL, equivalent and online courses in over 90 locations across 36 countries. You will receive free, impartial advice every step of the way, and you can trust us to help you choose the right English language teaching course for you.

Do I need TEFL?

An ELT qualification is your passport to teach English anywhere in the world, and this is why you need TEFL.

If you want to teach English abroad and earn any kind of living from it, you will need an English Language Teaching (ELT) qualification – otherwise known as Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) or English as a Foreign Language (EFL). This will certify that you have trained to be a teacher and understand at least the basics of lesson preparation, class management, language work and activities. These skills will also give you the confidence to stand in front of a group of expectant English learners and deliver a lesson that’s rewarding for both you and them.

As for the level of training you need, that depends on where you want to work. Language schools in popular countries where competition is high – such as the UK, Spain and Italy – will normally require teachers to hold either the Cambridge CELTA or the Trinity CertTESOL, which are the two most prestigious and internationally recognised teaching qualifications. Both of these provide a minimum 120-hour course with valuable teaching practice. If you intend to make a proper living from teaching, this is what you should aim for.

In other countries where demand for jobs is low, in more remote areas or if you only wish to teach on an informal or voluntary basis, you might consider an equivalent or an online TEFL course. These courses are often cheaper and shorter, but they do still prepare you to teach English and may be entirely sufficient for your teaching goals. Note that online courses do not include teaching practice, so these are better if you already have teaching experience.

In summary, you do need to take an ELT course if you want to teach English at home or abroad, but do some research and try to establish what your overall aims are – how long you want to teach for, where you want to teach, how much money you wish or need to earn – and that will help you decide what kind of course you need. Otherwise, the best bet is to take a CELTA or CertTESOL from the outset as this is the highest qualification you can obtain and will enable you to find work anywhere you choose.

Visit Cactus TEFL or call us on 0845 130 4775 to discuss the options available to you and get yourself off on the right footing. 

Cactus TEFL is an admissions and advice service for quality teacher training courses worldwide. We work with the majority of well-known course providers to offer CELTA, Trinity CertTESOL, equivalent and online courses in over 90 locations across 36 countries. You will receive free, impartial advice every step of the way, and you can trust us to help you choose the right English language teaching course for you.

Suzanne Furstner Scholarship 2014: enter now to win a TEFL course!

Thinking of taking a TEFL course? Look no further if you want to WIN a prestigious Trinity CertTESOL course in the historic city of Prague, Czech Republic.

July 1st marked the launch of the 2014 Suzanne Furstner Scholarship, giving would-be teacher trainers the chance to win a TEFL course in an exotic corner of the globe.

This year we’re delighted to announce that the beautiful Czech capital of Prague is home to our scholarship prize of a fantastic 4-week Trinity CertTESOL course, to be taken in 2015.

The scholarship assignment is to write a maximum of 1,000 words on the topic ‘My Dream Teaching Job’, in addition to a short language awareness task. Full details and an application form are available on the Cactus TEFL website, as well as examples of previous winners’ entries. The deadline for submissions is 1st October 2014.

Cactus is proud to run the Suzanne Furstner Scholarship each year as part of the Suzanne Furstner Foundation, which was set up in memory of our much-loved friend and colleague, Suzanne, who we tragically lost in a road accident in Spain in 2006. The Foundation aims to support language and educational projects across the world, a subject that was close to her heart.

Good luck to all those that enter – we’re looking forward to reading your entries and to sending one of you off to train to be teacher in Prague next year!

Cactus TEFL is an independent TEFL course admissions and advice service. We work with schools across the globe to deliver high quality, professionally-delivered teacher training courses.

TEFL courses in London & the UK: what you need to know

The world of TEFL can be daunting for those starting out, but with the right guidance and the right course it can open the door to a whole new chapter of life.

For many people, a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course is a great way to discover foreign climes whilst being paid for it. It is a passport to world travel that grants you real immersion in a culture and the ability to make a difference. From graduates to those taking a career break and retirees, TEFL is popular with all ages and walks of life.

You can of course take your TEFL course in the country where you hope to find future employment as a teacher. Many people choose to first qualify in their country of origin, and for those in the UK the choice is vast. With a large number of online, part-time and full-time TEFL courses on offer nationwide, and start dates every month, you can easily find a course to suit your needs, lifestyle and budget. The main qualifications to look out for are Cambridge CELTA and Trinity CertTESOL, as these are the two internationally recognised and accredited TEFL courses that many schools across the globe will expect from job seekers.

TEFL courses in London

One of the most popular UK locations to take a TEFL course is of course London. Each year the vibrant, cosmopolitan capital attracts students of all nationalities to its many teacher training centres spread across the city. Taking your TEFL course in London is guaranteed to be a brilliant experience, with world class entertainment on your doorstep – a welcome break from studies – and numerous course formats to ensure your needs are met. Whether you want an intensive 4-week TEFL course in London or a part-time 12-week course in London, the vast choice of TEFL schools in London will ensure there is something for you.

There is also the option to take a blended CELTA course (13 weeks part-time), which combines valuable face-to-face teaching practice with online CELTA training. This is a great option if you don’t have time to access the full face-to-face course, as online CELTA materials will be accessible any time that suits you. Saving on accommodation and travel costs may also be a consideration for some students.

TEFL guidance

With so many courses and locations on offer, you might be unsure which one is right for you or have questions as to the application procedure – all to be expected, especially if TEFL is new to you. Cactus TEFL is a great resource at this point, as it offers a unique admissions and advisory service to aspiring teacher trainees. Working with the majority of well-known course providers worldwide and allowing you to compare accredited TEFL courses and gain masses of impartial advice along the way, you can be sure that by the time you submit your application – which you can do through Cactus – you will fully understand the TEFL process and be confident of your chosen course. All this at no extra price: you pay exactly the same as if you go direct to the school.

Good luck on what is guaranteed to be an exciting, challenging and highly rewarding journey towards becoming a qualified English language teacher!

See below for a list of part-time, full-time and blended TEFL courses in London.


1. Trinity CertTESOL courses in London

Full-time courses:

4-week Trinity CertTESOL course in Russell Square

4-week Trinity CertTESOL course in Greenwich

4-week Trinity CertTESOL course in Bloomsbury

4-week Trinity CertTESOL course in Oxford Circus

Part-time courses:

12-week Trinity CertTESOL in Bloomsbury

13-week Trinity CertTESOL in Oxford Circus


2. Cambridge CELTA courses in London

Full-time courses:

4-week CELTA course in South Molton Street

4-week CELTA courses in Highgate

4-week CELTA course in Queensway

4-week CELTA course in Euston

4-week CELTA course in Oxford Street

4-week CELTA course in Covent Garden

4-week CELTA course in Barons Court

Part-time courses:

12-week CELTA course in South Molton Street

12-week CELTA course in Euston

12-week CELTA course in Covent Garden

12-week CELTA course in Soho

12-week CELTA course in Barons Court

13-week CELTA course in Oxford Street

Blended courses:

13-week blended CELTA course in Euston

13-week blended CELTA course in Covent Garden


For courses outside London, click here for a full list of TEFL courses in the UK.


Cactus Worldwide Blog: February 2014 – Focus On TEFL

Focus on: Cactus TEFL Special Offers


Hello, and welcome to the February 2014 edition of the Cactus Worldwide blog! And also, welcome to our agency – Cactus Worldwide – where our team of experienced course advisors are here every day to discuss options with you and help set up a varied range of unique language-learning or language-teaching experiences, all over the globe, throughout the year, for all of our fantastic students.

This month’s blog is all about the special offers we currently have available to those of you considering taking a TEFL course this year, in the U.K. or abroad.

If you have any questions about any of the special offers that you read about here, please feel free to contact our experienced TEFL admissions advisor, Peyman Shameli, directly via and he’d be happy to answer any questions.

1.      £47 off the Cambridge CELTA course in April in Krakow, Poland!

Now only £868 for the 4-week CELTA course starting 7th April (finishing 9th May).

Click below to find out more about this last-minute offer and apply now!

Full-time Cambridge CELTA course in Krakow in April with British Council and Cactus TEFL – now just £868

2.       £50 off the Full-Time March Trinity CertTESOL + £100 off the Part-Time April Trinity CertTESOL in Oxford Circus, Central London!

Established in 1962, St George International operates out of a new purpose-built centre, situated in the Fitzrovia district of Central London. Although only three minutes away from busy Oxford Circus underground, the school itself lies in a wonderfully quiet back street.

The centre is widely regarded as being a specialist in the field of EFL, having run high-quality, good-value teacher training courses in Central London since the summer of 1993. Since then, over two thousand trainees have successfully passed through their doors as newly-qualified English language teachers of the globally-recognised Trinity College London Cert TESOL.

Click below to find out more about the 2014 special offers and apply now!

Full-time Trinity CertTESOL in March with Cactus TEFL & St George International – now just £845

Part-time Trinity CertTESOL in April with Cactus TEFL & St George International – now just £895


St George International, Oxford Circus, Central London

3.       Free Course Book (Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener, worth £30) for every successful Trinity TESOL applicant in 2014 @ British Study Centres in Brighton! Exclusive to Cactus TEFL

BSC in Brighton was opened in 2008 and is located in a beautifully refurbished, four-storey Victorian house between Brighton and Hove, with a garden, a terrace and a 5-star cafeteria, and in an ideal location with the beach, Brighton attractions and city centre only 15 minutes away. The school has 15 spacious classrooms with large windows, a fully stocked study centre and library, a computer room as well as WiFi throughout the building. This school is not only newly-renovated, well-resourced and a pleasant training environment, it is also a real, thriving workplace where students can experience the reality of teaching.

Every little helps, and this year they are offering every successful Trinity TESOL applicant applying via Cactus TEFL a free copy of arguably the most highly-regarded text in the EFL industry – Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener – worth £30.

Click the link below to take advantage of this special offer!

Trinity TESOL in Brighton with Cactus TEFL & British Study Centres


The garden at British Study Centres in Brighton

4.       Free Course Book (Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener, worth £30) for every successful Trinity TESOL applicant in 2014 @ Athena Teacher Training in Bournemouth! Exclusive to Cactus TEFL

Just two minutes from Bournemouth’s long sandy beaches and city centre, Athena Teacher Training forms one of Bournemouth’s largest language schools and prides itself on offering a friendly, professional atmosphere in which to develop the teaching skills vital to all good teachers.

The school is offering every successful Trinity TESOL applicant applying via Cactus TEFL a free copy of arguably the most highly-regarded text in the EFL industry – Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener – worth £30.

Click the link below to take advantage of this special offer!

Trinity TESOL in Bournemouth with Cactus TEFL & Athena Teacher Training

5.        Discounted Part-Time Trinity Cert TESOL course in Oxford this March – now only £795!

ISIS Oxford are offering £55 off off their part-time Cert TESOL course starting 4th March – normally £850, now just £795.

This 14 week part-time course leads to the award of the Trinity Certificate in TESOL. Along with the RSA CELTA, this is the most widely accepted qualification for teachers of EFL/ESOL, with recognition from schools and colleges worldwide and bodies such as the British Council and the QCA. You can anticipate a demanding but enjoyable month, at the end of which you will have the tools and the confidence to take up a first TESOL position either in the UK or abroad.

If you’re interested in taking a last-minute Cert TESOL course this is a wonderful opportunity to study in the beautiful, iconic city of Oxford at a reduced price.

Click the link below to find out more and apply!

Part-time Trinity Cert TESOL in Oxford with Cactus TEFL and ISIS Oxford


6.       10% off a CELTA course in the Sevilla sunshine this March, with Cactus TEFL & Clic! – but be quick, offer only valid for applicants applying before Friday February 21st


The Andalucian ‘Clic Sevilla’ school building

Are you considering teaching English in Spain this year? If so, we highly recommend taking a course in-country, as this offers many significant benefits, such as a valuable in-country contact for jobs advice and support. Trainees taking their TEFL course abroad also benefit from teaching students native to that country during their teaching practice sessions, so they graduate from the course already highly equipped with knowledge of these learners’ specific academic and cultural learning needs.

This highly popular school in Sevilla, called Clic, is part of an international network of schools (for teacher training and teaching Spanish as a foreign language) located in the heart of the town, just 10 minutes’ walking distance to the cathedral and 2 minutes to Plaza Nueva. The building is a very well-equipped Andalucian house with a reception desk on the ground floor, training director’s office, teachers’ room, classrooms, internet access, kitchen, vending machines and common room on the second and third floors and a large roof terrace. The school also owns its own cafe/bar (serving drinks and tapas) on the same street. This provides an excellent meeting place for both teachers and students from all over the world.

Interested? Visit the link below to find out more about the course and download an application form for the 17th March CELTA course!

Cambridge CELTA in Sevilla with Cactus TEFL & Clic International House


The ‘Clic’ cafeteria in Sevilla

We hope this selection has been of interest, and may have given you some ideas for some bargain study options for the year ahead. Any Qs at all, please feel free to contact me directly and I’d be happy to help.

Happy planning 😉

Best Wishes,



Oliver Donovan
Agency Product Manager


Suzanne Furstner Scholarship 2013 Winning Entry: Rumina Iftikhar

We were thrilled to receive entries from all over the world into our scholarship this year. After careful deliberation by a panel of judges, we are delighted to announce Rumina Iftikhar, from Pakistan, as our overall winner. Many congratulations to Rumina who will take her prize of a 4-week CELTA course in Philadelphia next year. Thank you to all applicants for your inspiring entries.

Here is Rumina’s winning essay…

It’s seven fifteen in the morning and I’m on my way to work. I switch on the MP3 player and flip through the songs till I get to Rihanna’s “Diamond in the sky.” I sing along, loud and carefree. It may be Monday but that’s not going to get me down. I’ve got my planner for the week made, a pile of horribly written English language essays duly checked and I feel prepared to face anything. Even school! Nobody’s going to accuse me of shirking my responsibilities!

As an MBA who opted for teaching after my kids were born, because of the flexible hours and summer and winter breaks, I have often felt at a disadvantage because I have never received any formal training in teaching the English language. That’s the problem with Pakistan. A country that focuses more on long-standing feuds with neighbors than on education and training. Anyone who can speak the language fairly well becomes an English language teacher. Now, me! I’ve always loved this language! As a child I would devour story books. Enid Blyton was my favorite writer, followed by C.S Lewis and Louisa M. Alcott. I was happiest sitting alone in my room, nose stuffed into a book. So though I love the language and feel very passionately about helping my students, sometimes I feel, even after all these years, that I’m just groping in the dark. I’ve learnt on the job, I’ve had some fantastic people help me, but no formal training. And that is what I want more than anything else now. My MBA just won’t let me get very far in this field.

So, back to Rihanna. She helps me enjoy my long, long drive to school and it is with deep reluctance that I get out of my car when I finally arrive. Nevertheless, I stride purposefully into school and make my way to my class. The kids stand up as I enter and chant “Good morning ma’am,” with big grins on their faces. That is what I love about them, their unquenchable spirits. Even Monday can’t dampen those. They may not be the best at essay writing or figuring out the meaning of words from the context, but there is no lack of enthusiasm and good cheer here. They like their English teacher, though she can be a bit of a grouch at times, and they’re willing to try as hard as they can to please her. This week I want them to write a science fiction story. We’ve discussed different genres and the features of some of them. Science fiction appeals to me because there is so much scope for the imagination here. I’m sure they will enjoy it.

I’ve brought along an interesting sci-fi story that I downloaded from the net. We’re going to read that first and go over the features of a sci-fi story as we read. Next is the long brainstorming session. We think up several brilliant ideas and I show them how to turn these into a simple narrative essay. After 80 minutes of non-stop brainstorming, instructing, guiding, I feel they’re ready to fill in their sci-fi prewrite, duly photocopied and handed to everyone in the class. Then they should be able to write the story.

They work assiduously, silently. I walk around the room keeping an eye on them to point out any startling grammatical errors. I know they’re enjoying this, but I can only hope they churn out decent stories. The problem with these kids is that they come from families where English isn’t spoken very frequently and neither do they, as a general rule, enjoy reading. This makes my job even tougher. I don’t have a magic wand, and despite all my planning and researching, I still feel like there is so much more for me to learn. So much more that will equip me with real confidence in my own teaching abilities and will allow me to guide these children better. These children who look upon me hopefully, sure that I will put an end to all their language-related woes, something I would dearly love to do. I think longingly about the CELTA course being offered in Philadelphia. Six weeks of that grueling course would teach me so much, and I would come back so much more poised and in control, undaunted by the challenges of my exacting job, ready to face them head on. It seems like a dream right now, but it’s one I’m determined to achieve.

Cactus is proud to run the Suzanne Furstner Scholarship each year as part of the Suzanne Furstner Foundation, which was set up in memory of our much-loved friend and colleague, Suzanne, who we tragically lost in a road accident in Spain in 2006. The Foundation aims to support language and educational projects across the world, a subject that was close to her heart.

TEFL courses – which one is right for me?

There is little more disheartening than deciding on a specific short-term project or long-term change, only to find that there is no concrete information available to you on how you can make it happen.

I imagine that this is often the case with people whose projects and life changes centre around teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).

There are so many different courses available, and so much conflicting information on which are best and which will get you where you want to be, that it’s extremely difficult to know which one you should choose.

Included amongst the myriad of options, are four-week TEFL courses, weekend TEFL courses, online TEFL courses, combinations of online and weekend TEFL courses..the list goes on and on.

As is the general rule in life, the bigger the investment you can make, the bigger the reward will be. Anyone who is able to invest the time and money in doing a month-long (or part-time equivalent) course that will lead to either a Cambridge CELTA or Trinity Cert TESOL qualification is certain to have the most flexibility when it comes to where they can work and in what capacity. These qualifications have traditionally been the most widely recognised qualifications internationally, and are the only to feature within the UK national framework of qualifications (at level 4).

Anyone who is thinking of making a career in TEFL, of teaching in a range of different countries, or of teaching in the UK at any point would be advised to try to get one of these two qualifications if at all possible.

There are plenty of other, good-quality, four-week courses around that would provide you with a TEFL certificate too, but as a result of being moderated and examined in-house, they would not give you a Cambridge ESOL or Trinity College ‘stamp of approval‘. In many places, these would count as equal to the CELTA/Trinity qualifications, but amongst the more prestigious and traditional establishments you may still need to be prepared to justify your choice of course.

For those that cannot afford the time or expense of doing one of these month-long courses, the good news is that despite the general overriding preference for Cambridge CELTA/Trinity Cert TESOL or equivalent-length courses, the huge demand for teachers worldwide, and the lack of any real overseeing authority to dictate specific rules and regulations within the TEFL industry worldwide means that all is not lost. There are plenty of other options that will get you work.

Although online learning in the TEFL sense has its drawbacks in that no actual teaching practice is possible, there are definite advantages to doing your training this way. If you can couple this type of course with a weekend or short course to allow you some experience of standing up in a classroom, even better.

A lot of people who choose to take online, or weekend-type courses tend to be looking for a way to ‘dip their toe’ into TEFL waters, and for this purpose they are great. Starting off with a shorter and more flexible course to give you some basic knowledge will also give anyone hoping to do a more comprehensive course such as the CELTA/trinity Cert TESOL a definite head-start, and can be great for helping to achieve a really good grade on your final qualification.

Another category of people to be suited to courses like these, involves those whose TEFL plans are very short-term, and possibly even secondary to another project such as travelling or volunteering abroad for a few months. Weekend TEFL certificates and the like can be a great tool to carry abroad with you, just in case you need to top up funds along the way.

Although some TEFL courses are obviously more comprehensive than others, all will provide you with a variety of skills that will be useful not only within the TEFL sphere but in a more general context too. As long as you have the time, the money and the inclination, it’s also worth remembering that you can start with the basics and work your way up. The great thing about the range of courses out there means that you don’t have to take the leap and invest your savings in a comprehensive course until you know that it’s definitely for you.

Top 10 TEFL FAQs

With such a baffling amount of (often conflicting) information on the internet about TEFL and TEFL training courses, it can be difficult to clarify where TEFL can take you and what you need to do to get there.

This set of ‘top 10 FAQs’ should help dispel some of the myths and mysteries:

1.What is the difference between TEFL, CELTA and TESOL?

TEFL is a generic term used to describe the industry you would be working in – teaching English as a foreign language. In order to gain access to this industry, there are two key qualifications which stand out as being quite special in their international recognition – the Cambridge CELTA (Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults) and the Trinity College Cert TESOL (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).

2.Will a 2-day/one week course give me a certificate in teaching EFL?

Courses such as these do award a certificate of completion, however it is important to recognise that it is not the TEFL qualification that a lot of employers will require. When prospective employers ask, ‘have you got a TEFL certificate?’ what they are usually referring to is the Trinity Certificate TESOL, the Cambridge CELTA or a certificate gained from doing a course of equivalent length and value as these two.

The weekend course, however, is ideal if you want a basic introduction to TEFL, if you are looking to teach on a very informal basis, or if the kind of teaching that you are planning to do is voluntary. These types of courses are particularly beneficial to anyone who is looking to do a few months travelling, and perhaps pick up some casual work along the way. If you are looking at teaching as a way to totally finance your new life abroad it would definitely be wiser to do a more internationally recognised qualification as this will give you much more flexibility with regard to what schools you can work for, and in which countries.

If you are considering a very short course, such as a weekend TEFL course, you can always opt for extra modules to further increase your knowledge, such as the English Language Awareness Course.

3.Does it matter if my four-week course isn’t accredited by Cambridge ESOL or Trinity College?

There are many courses available today that have a similar syllabus and the same duration as say, a CELTA or a Trinity Cert TESOL course. The main difference really is that whilst a CELTA and Trinity Cert TESOL are provided by the Cambridge exam board and Trinity college exam boards respectively, ‘other’ four-week courses tend to be moderated and validated by the school that offers them itself.

Even though the course may not have the same global prestige as a CELTA or Trinity Cert TESOL, you should still be able to find work with it. Any course which involves at least 100 hours of input and six hours teaching practice is recognized under the British Council recognition scheme as a TEFL-initiated program. The main areas where you might lose out to CELTA or Trinity Cert TESOL trained teachers are those where competition for jobs is very high, or there is an overriding preference for the Cambridge/Trinity College qualifications (e.g the UK and Australia).

On the plus side, many of these ‘other’ four-week programs do have strong local employment prospects for trainees. They also often have interesting extras, such as training in the local language, or excursions to local tourist sights. They can be especially useful if you are looking to teach EFL for a fairly short period (six months/one year) and specifically in the place that you train.

4.Why do CELTA/Trinity Cert TESOL courses vary so much in price?

There can be quite a substantial price difference for the same course from school to school. Basically, each school sets the price of its Cambridge CELTA or Trinity Cert TESOL course itself. The price reflects factors such as the school’s costs and overheads, the facilities available for trainees, the length of experience and terms and conditions of the teacher trainers and also the level of prestige associated with the school.

At the end of the day, though, all schools are moderated and assessed rigorously to ensure that they conform to minimum requirements and standards of tuition as laid down by their respective external examining bodies.

In this sense it can be argued that a CELTA is a CELTA and a Trinity Cert TESOL a Trinity Cert TESOL irrespective of where you train. Many people therefore choose their course based on factors such as the price, the convenience of the location and course dates.

If, on the other hand, you are the kind of person who finds it important to have that little bit extra, in terms of the quality of the surroundings and the facilities, the reputation of the course providers or the extensive experience of your trainers, then it might well be worth paying more for your course.

5.Will I need to speak to local language to apply for a CELTA/TESOL course abroad?

The answer is no. On a CELTA or Cert TESOL, you are trained to teach English using only the English language. This is the case whether you are working with absolute beginners, or advanced level students. A clear reason for this is that when you are teaching English to international groups in the UK, it is actually impossible to start translating vocabulary and bits of the lesson into each student’s language. It is also very much a part of the TEFL ethos to stay in the target language. It also encourages you to find new, creative ways of getting across meaning – maybe through mime, drawing, using visual aids or real objects in class, or using other students to explain to their peers in English. There is almost always a way around having to use the student’s own language.

When you are teaching monolingual groups abroad, there is more of a temptation to use their language to help explain, and frequently older language learner feel more secure if you can translate for them. But you won’t help your own technique if you do, and the minute you move to another country whose language you don’t speak, you are likely to feel at a loss. Having said that, your stay abroad is obviously about more than teaching English all day every day. You are hopefully going to want to get to know some locals, blend into the culture, or at least be able to order a few beers and make elementary requests in shops. If you are to practise what you preach, it’s of huge personal advantage if you can speak even a little of the local language.

6.I am already an experienced teacher – should I do a CELTA/Trinity Cert TESOL course?

Much of the decision about whether you need to gain a specific TEFL qualification will depend on where you are looking to teach. You might find that in certain countries your existing qualifications and experience are enough to secure you work, but in others (particularly where the market is competitive such as the UK, Spain and Italy) you might struggle without an internationally recognised TEFL qualification under your belt.

As the basic ‘industry standard’ qualifications, the CELTA or Trinity Cert TESOL would be best to get you up and teaching English as a foreign language. Although you might consider that parts of the course will be irrelevant for you because you have already got a lot of teaching experience, you will probably still find it beneficial to do the course. Because the CELTA/TESOL courses run so frequently they are constantly revised, changed and updated with most recent teaching methodologies. Also the experience of learning to teach English as a foreign language will provide you with a lot of very interesting insights in the English language that will help you in your teaching career. Many teachers with teaching experience apply to CELTA/TESOL courses and due to their experience they usually make very good candidates.

7.What can I achieve with an online TEFL course?

Online or Distance TEFL courses are the most flexible way of learning about TEFL. You can do them in your own time and at your own pace. All online TEFL courses will cover roughly the same content, including planning classes, class management, skills and language work and activities to use with your classes.

While it is possible to study in depth about TEFL online and by correspondence, you do not get any teaching practice, and it is this fact which leads many employers to view these courses as inferior to 100 hour, face-to-face courses with teaching practice such as the Cambridge CELTA or Trinity Cert TESOL,

However, if you cannot find the time or the money to follow a longer course, and if you want to work in countries and contexts where formal qualifications are not required to teach English, or your aim is not necessarily to earn your living from teaching or teach in a formal setting or for any length of time, these qualifications are a great idea.

They also serve as useful ‘refresher’ courses for people who have taken TEFL training in the past, and need to get their teaching skills back up to speed.

8.What happens if I’m a mature applicant – can I still do the course/get work?

The impression given by the industry websites and many forums which discuss TEFL issues is that TEFL is an industry designed for the younger generation.

Generally speaking, the reason that TEFL seems to attract 20-something teachers fresh out of University is that pay and conditions in the TEFL industry are not particularly well-regulated. This means that it is generally the younger generation who, wanting the experience and excitement of living away from home, are not too much concerned about the money they receive or the hours that they work.

However, if you are flexible and open-minded, and you’re not intent on earning a fortune, then TEFL is arguably more suited to more mature teachers. As far as employers are concerned your wealth of experience will probably mean that you are more at ease with groups and individuals from diverse walks of life, and you will better relate to, for example, the life issues that students face. Also, a more senior teacher may have the business experience and knowledge which comes in very handy for a school’s company clients, who will not take too kindly to a very young teacher without much life experience.

There will of course however, be specific situations where schools will prefer younger staff, for example during summer residential programmes where students tend to be in their teens. There are also certain countries where you are unfortunately quite likely to encounter discrimination on account of your age.

9.Will I be able to teach young learners with the CELTA/Trinity Cert TESOL qualification?

It is almost a given, if you are going to work abroad, that at some point in your time teaching English you’re likely to encounter young learners (under 16s, and sometimes even under 6s!). Employers who insist on trained teachers are accustomed to employing teachers with no young learner training or experience, expecting them to transfer the skills they learn from the basic training course over to their young learners’ classes.

You may well find that you need more than the basic training course, however, and this is when we strongly recommend that you consider a module or add-on to teach English to young learners.

Teaching younger learners, if you are to enjoy it, really requires an understanding of this age group, their developmental stages, what motivates them, and above all, what makes them laugh. Even if you have seen children of your own grow up, the chances are you still need this sort of course, and if you have yet to experience children close up, it could transform a scary experience into something much more manageable.

10.Will I definitely be able to get work after I have done a course?

This is a question that is asked a lot, and is unfortunately impossible to answer! Getting the best possible qualification available, and marketing yourself as well as possible will always improve your chances of getting work, but your success when it comes to looking for work will always depend on:

– how flexible you are in terms of destinations

– the time of year that you are looking for work

– the type of TEFL qualification that you have gained

There is such a huge demand for teachers worldwide though, that it is extremely unlikely that you would not be able to find work. It may be that you end up teaching somewhere that you hadn’t initially considered, but sometimes this just serves to enrich your whole TEFL experience…