The CELTA certificate is one of the priciest (if not the priciest) TEFL certificates available on the market. Why did I decide to go with it? I could’ve easily saved $1,500 by taking another, generic TEFL course. Here are my reasons for doing so.
Believe it or not, there is no universal accrediting body for TEFL certificates. This makes it difficult to assess the legitimacy of these certificates. Heck, if you wanted to create your own TEFL course and provide certifications, there are accrediting bodies that would let you do that with very low barriers to entry. One of the best points about the CELTA is that it is accredited by Cambridge English Language Assessment, which is part of the University of Cambridge, so there is no question about the legitimacy of the training they provide.
Without further adieu, here are my reasons for taking the CELTA:
To stand out as an applicant
I plan to teach English abroad in the near future. I don’t have a degree in Education and I’ve never worked as a teacher. Since everybody can get a generic TEFL certificate nowadays, I wanted to get the “gold standard” of TEFL certificates to stand out.
Some people have had to go back and get the CELTA after they obtained a generic TEFL certificate because their employer required it. So I wanted to avoid this kind of a scenario in case I stick around for a while in the English teaching world.
Side note: In most European countries, CELTA is highly sought after. In South Korea – not at all. I plan to do some country hopping (Japan, South Korea, Spain, Czech Republic), so having a CELTA was a safe bet in terms of the reputation of the certificate.
I’m already in NYC working full-time. So doing a part-time CELTA course doesn’t require me to pay extra rent or relocate.
With a CELTA, I can work at language school in the USA, Canada, or Great Britain. Not many generic TEFL certificates allow you to do that. For example, check out job postings to be an English teacher in Montreal, Canada or to work for the British Councils. They’re all asking for a CELTA or a certificate that is widely recognized.
This certificate’s reputation and accreditation opens up opportunities for more than just ESL teaching jobs. This is because the CELTA course is set up as a franchise, which means I can work at one of the training centers where I received my qualification (for example, International House or Teaching House). Or I can apply to run one of those centers myself on day, too!
Language learning business
For someone who has plans of starting an ESL school/online language learning business, I want to see what a “gold standard” education looks like. So I see this as an investment in my business.
Having a certificate that is accredited by Cambridge University has huge benefits. It’s like having a reputable brand behind you. This makes a lot of sense for me and my Path2CollegeUSA project. When I travel abroad and organize English classes, I can leverage the Cambridge University accreditation of my CELTA certificate in my marketing materials to prove the legitimacy of my credentials to people.
I get it – it’s not so much about the course, but more about you becoming a better teacher. Does the Cambridge University accreditation automatically mean you’ll become a great teacher? Absolutely not.
At the end of the day, it’s what you make of it. The CELTA alone is not a panacea. You have to put in the work and hours to learn. You actually need to have the desire to be a good teacher. In fact, you can become a great teacher even with no certificate at all.
Lastly, I also get the point about your level of experience – after your first ESL job, what matters more probably is your experience and not where your certificate is from. But given the circumstances I’m in and my future plans, I still think it makes sense to take the CELTA for me.
Quick update: The CELTA course I was initially going to take in NYC at the beginning of March 2020 was canceled due to COVID-19. It was a part-time, in-person course. I paid $2,800 for it and ended up getting a refund. A couple of months later, I found out that International House London was offering a fully online (which has never been done before, I believe), part-time CELTA course for $1,800. That checked all the boxes for me and even saved me an additional $1,000.
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