What's the Difference Between TEFL, TESOL and CELTA?
What is the best qualification for teaching English?
CELTA vs TEFL vs TESOL? What do all these acronyms and abbreviations mean???
TEFL, ESL, ESOL, TESOL... it all means the same thing really, but first let’s unpack these terms that float around the internet:
- ESL= (abbreviation)English as a Second Language
- EFL=(abbreviation) English a a Foreign Language
- TEFL=(acronym)Teaching English as a Foreign Language
- ESOL=(acronym) English as a Second or Other Language
- TESOL=(acronym) Teaching English as a Second or Other Language
So what do these English teaching abbreviations and acronyms mean in real terms?What we see here are general terms that describe some of the different scenarios for teaching English. I've worked in all these situations, except as a teaching assistant, and here is my take on the industry:
1. You are the English teacher in a non-English speaking countryIf you are teaching English in Spain, where English is the foreign language, then we in the industry refer to that as TEFL, or ELT. Your class will be mono-lingual, and often mono-cultural, depending on the country. Unless you are a local who is the English teacher, you’ll be in the position of the foreigner and your learners are the locals. The context can be fun because you learn a lot about their world. Make a lot of the learning about giving them a chance to communicate their realities and culture with the world.
It's not all about spreading "English Speaking Culture". It's about enabling communication with the world.In the past, teaching English was about bringing English culture into these classrooms. But whose English culture? My English world is from the South Pacific, there are no red double decker buses there! My accent is different too. That's perfect. English today is multi-cultural and multi-local. The students need to know that. Also, statistics show that a non-native English speaker is more likely to use English with other non-native speakers than with natives. And what is "native" anyway? English is global, multi-layered and has multiple-ownerships!
In Company or In SchoolYou'll be working for a private language provider, either in private language schools after school and work, or going into companies at a time of the day to provide English classes for employees. Some private companies have contracts to provide after school classes at a school to the students there. You could also be giving one-to-one classes, or even teaching online.
Language AssistantsThere are also programmes to be a language assistant. I would check these carefully. In my experience, employers often don't expect these teachers to have any training. (Yikes!). Many employers, and the communities they are serving, still think that being a “native speaker” is enough (such a frustrating misperception!). As a result, and despite not having any training, schools will throw these untrained teachers into a class and expect them to teach 30 kids (now that's hardly assisting, is it?).
What will you be teaching?
- English for Academic Purposes (EAP) - students who need to be able to write assignments in English - writing skills, presentations etc.
- English for Specific Purposes (ESP) - students will need to perform a task in English - speaking on the phone about products, client services, tourism, developers working across countries on projects etc.
- Exam Preparation - in Europe, students in university are expected to gain a B2 (upper intermediate) level in a foreign language. They sit official exams to prove this.
- Young Learners - this is a massively growing area especially in Europe and Asia. It is highly likely that a private language school will have you giving classes to kids. A CELTA course or similar will prepare you for adults, but children have different things going on. The very first classes I taught post CELTA were to children. I would have found them more satisfying, effective and fun had I known a few things. I highly recommend that you check out the Teaching English to Young Learners Course that I put together with Anna Hasper, a Young Learners guru.