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You often hear teachers praise the CELTA as the be-all-end-all certification to teach English as a Foreign Language. But is the CELTA worth all the hype?
As an experienced TEFL teacher who began my teaching journey five years ago at just nineteen years old, I have accumulated some knowledge about this industry that I want to share. I’ve also taught at multiple online ESL companies, built my own teaching businesses, and know how to make a good income teaching online.
What is a CELTA?
A CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is a qualification for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. It gives you the skills you need to become a confident ESL teacher to teach abroad or online.
Myths about the CELTA
It’s time to debug some of the common myths you hear when people talk about a CELTA.
1. You need a CELTA to get a good job
Some teaching jobs state that they require a CELTA, Trinity TESOL, or equivalent in their job description. However, I was told at my TEFL course teaching practice that I should apply for those kinds of jobs anyway, and I did.
I never had any problems getting a teaching job, and this is coming from someone who has the unfortunate track record of failing every job interview for what I am actually degree-qualified (NFQ Level-8 International Commerce degree).
I have even applied to jobs in the U.K. that very specifically requested a CELTA in the job description, yet I still got the job.
Many teachers say the CELTA is what got them the job (probably because that is what it says in the job description). However, it quickly became clear to me that my TEFL certificate and teaching experience I had gained at another school had also deemed me worthy of the job.
And now, with my teaching business, I make much more hourly than most CELTA-qualified teachers.
2. CELTA teachers are better
The CELTA course is certainly more intense, but that does not mean they are better!
Think of it like this. If you completed a bachelor’s degree, but your friend is qualified with a master’s degree, does that necessarily mean that your friend will be better at the job than you? Not necessarily; that is not the deciding factor.
I have had seasoned teachers attend my classroom to observe. They were stunned by my ability to manage and control my classroom and asked me how I could do it.
I am not trying to brag at all (I wish I had a better example); I just wanted to give my personal experience to show that you don’t necessarily need a CELTA to do your teaching job.
Therefore, the ability to forge relationships with students and provide a quality classroom experience is not defined by your certification, although a CELTA would help, I am sure.
Advantages of Getting a CELTA
I am not anti-CELTA or anything, it is a really good course and definitely one to consider!
- More job opportunities
- Gain teaching knowledge
- Level-5 qualification
More Job Opportunities
It may be easier to get more jobs because of the teaching practice you gain by completing your CELTA, and the CELTA is a well-known qualification.
If you are starting off in this industry with no teaching experience, the teaching experience you gain from the CELTA course will stand to you when applying for your first job.
Gain Teaching Knowledge
The most important reason to take any course is to better yourself and your skillset.
A CELTA gives you the teaching knowledge you need to perform the job, and you can find courses for new and experienced teachers alike.
All CELTA courses consist of a minimum of 120 hours. They are also a level-5 qualification as per the Regulated Qualifications Framework in the UK.
They allow you to gain real live practice as an ESL teacher, which gives you the skills you need to be confident in the classroom.
Disadvantages of Getting a CELTA
Some cons that people don’t always talk about.
- Expensive course
- Language schools accept the “equivalent” of a CELTA
- There are much cheaper, alternative methods to gain information
There is no question about it; it is an expensive qualification and the most costly out of all the other TEFL courses.
Prices vary wildly from country to country, but you are still looking at a price tag of $1200-$4000. You definitely want to be committed to this job for the long run.
“CELTA Qualification or Equivalent”
Many TEFL courses are reasonably priced and faster to complete than the CELTA. Regulated TEFL courses are level-5, which means that they are the same level as a CELTA, without the hefty price tag.
Some schools state they want candidates who have “CELTA or equivalent” qualifications. As TEFL courses become more known and regulated in the industry as time progresses, they also stand for that “equivalent,” which is enough to get you the high-paying ESL job.
It’s not the only way
We are living in the digital age where we can learn for free or at a very low price.
You can find much of what you need to know about ESL from the library; for example, pick up a book about ESL methodology or teaching theory, and you will already know more than the vast majority of teachers.
You can also gain teaching experience by volunteering for free or starting out small for a couple of hours each week until you achieve the teaching practice you need when starting your career.
Who Am I?
My name is Caitriona Maria, and I completed my TEFL course in 2016; and have since traveled to Spain, the UK and now teach online full-time. I am the proud owner of TPRTeaching and write inspiring content about teaching online so that you can gain a job teaching ESL.
The whole point of this post to show that while a CELTA may be worth it for some people, you don’t need a CELTA to succeed, and I think many TEFL courses have caught up to a similar (if not the same) level.
Saying that, if you have a CELTA, it looks really good on your resume because it is such a well-known course. But like anything else, your qualifications or certifications don’t define your abilities. It’s how you do your job that counts.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Let me know in the comments section below!
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I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.
I love learning new things about the English language and how to teach it better. I'm always trying to improve my knowledge, so I can better meet the needs of others!
I enjoy traveling, nature walks, and soaking up a new culture. Please share the posts if you find them helpful!