English teacher
Teacher Trainer
Lifelong Language Learner

My Top Recommended Qualifications for English Language Teachers

This is a list of qualifications that I would recommend to teachers who had questions about professional development and which courses they should take.

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My Top Recommended Qualifications for English Language Teachers

Celta / Trinity CertTESOL

These two courses are for pre-service teachers. That means that it is not expected for you to have any teaching experience at all. Admittedly it does help to have a bit of experience, but if you have too much you may find you have to “unlearn” a few hold habits to make it through the course. In my opinion, both of these courses are excellent places to start as an initial qualification. Unfortunately, the requirement for the teacher’s English proficiency will bar most of the world’s teachers from participating. You will need high C1 level of English to get onto one of these courses.

Both are very practical and involve 6 hours of observed teaching (of adult learners) with feedback. There are certain ways you will likely be expected to teach. Experienced teachers who have taken these courses sometimes have criticisms but also often acknowledge that these two certificates are one of best the starting points for any serious English teacher.

For teachers who expect to be teaching in one context for their professional careers, they should see the Trinity CertPT below.

To find a Celta course provider click here. To find a Trinity CertTESOL provider, click here.

Trinity CertPT (Trinity Certificate for Practicing Teachers):

Most teachers of English around the world have lower than a C1 level of English. Courses like Celta and Trinity CertTesol are designed to prepare teaches for working anywhere in the world. However, they are not very context-specific. Since most English teachers will work in one teaching context through their career, it makes sense to get a qualification that is can be more specialized to teaching in their own school.

The Trinity CertPT is designed for teachers with a B2+ level of English who are already teaching. It can also be delivered for online teachers.

This course would likely be much more appropriate to the majority of teachers I’ve worked with in China over the past few years.

Language Point offers a course.

Celt-P/ Celt-S / Train the Trainer (TTT)

Like the Trinity CertPT, these courses are for in-service teachers who work with primary and secondary learners (ages 6-12 and 12-18 respectively). TTT is for trainers who will be training Celt-P and Celt-S teachers.

Celt-P and Celt-S has teaching practice that is assessed and there are 8-9 portfolio tasks that involve planning lessons with a focus in mind (e.g. adapting materials) teaching these lessons and reflection. Teachers use their current students for teaching practice assessment rather than students who have been organized by the course provider (like Celta and Trinity CertTESOL).

In my opinion these courses have a lot of potential for candidates to dig very deep in terms of professional development. From working on Celt-P and Celt-S (and Celta) courses, I feel that the expectations are a bit lower for Celt-P and Celt-S courses in terms of passing. On a very positive note, the teaching practice occurs within a specific teaching context and the developmental feedback you get will helps you within your own context.

TTT is a short 5-day course (but it has an online option). As stated earlier, TTT prepares experienced teachers for delivering Celt-P and Celt-S courses. The training and requirements involved with becoming a Celt-P/Celt-S tutor are not as rigorous compared with what tutors go through for Celta or Trinity CertTESOL.

These courses have been designed so they are accessible to the majority of the world’s teachers. The course content for TTT is B2. For Celt-P/Celt-S the materials are designed for B1 ability.  

You can take an online Train the Trainer course with Lexis TESOL.

For a Celt-P or Celt-S course, you can email New Oriental in Beijing to see about their courses: celtabj@xdf.cn         

Delta / Trinity DipTESOL

These are higher level qualifications that require at least one year of teaching experience. Most experienced teachers highly recommend only taking these courses after two years of teaching post Celta or Trinity Cert-TESOL. If you apply you will likely only be admitted if you have followed that advice (and passed an interview).

You’ll need a high level of English and significantly more time than the other courses. Delta is modular and can be completed all at once (over 2 months f2f) or longer (up to a year or more blended learning). Trinity DipTesol, like Delta, is often completed with blended learning and takes a similar amount of time. Most teachers spend about a year completing these courses and it’s not uncommon to have to retake parts that have not been passed.

Teachers who have passed these courses are able to teach effectively and they have much more awareness. With a Delta or Trinity DipTESOL you are able to become a Celta/ Trinity CertTESOL instructor or become a first choice candidate when applying for management positions at schools.

To find course providers for Trinity DipTESOL click here. English for Asia also provides a good course in Hong Kong (for those of you in East Asia).

To find course providers for Delta click here. Nile ELT allows you to do Delta at a distance. General Plan in Shanghai offers Delta (if you are in China).

TYLEC (Trinity Young Learner Extension Certificate)

This is a teaching qualification for Young Learner teachers from Trinity. Unlike the Celt-S or Celt-P, you already need to have completed a Celta or a Trinity CertTESOL. If you are serious about teaching Young Learners and getting really good at it, you should consider this course.

English for Asia has a particularly good course that can be completed online (if you are in East Asia).

MA TESOL

I recommend that you get a Celta or a Trinity CertTESOL before you take an MA TESOL so that you have some practical skills and experience to fall back on. Most MA TESOL programs are much more theoretical as opposed to practical (although this of course varies). You need both theory and practice for teaching. I believe that it’s better to be told how to teach (like on the Celta or Trinity CertTESOL) and then you learn more about teaching and the theory behind it. This will allow you to build up a core set of skills to use and you will be able to add or supplement techniques and approaches in a more principled way later on.

An MA TESOL is a must-have for many teachers around the world. For example, I would need this to teach at most schools if I returned to the States. I have a colleague who recommends having an MA TESOL and a DELTA/Trinity DipTESOL so that you are well-balanced and able to work internationally wherever you go. Of course this all depends on what you want to do and an MA TESOL is not for everyone.

Other Quick Mentions

These are other noteworthy qualifications. Courses from International House World Organization or The Consultants-E are practical and reputable.

Notable courses at The Consultants-E

Teaching One-to-One: This is a short course for teachers who find themselves teaching one-to-one classes and need help. There is an art to reformulation and you will learn that here.

Teaching Live Online: This will give you practice and confidence with using web conferencing technology and help you transition from f2f teaching to online teaching.

Notable courses at IH World

IH Teacher Trainer Certificate: This is a very good course for teachers who are either working as teacher trainers or wish to work as teacher trainers. The writer of the course material/trainer is very knowledgeable and helpful. He’s provided me with useful tips and support over the years.

IHWO Diploma in Academic Management: This course has an optional module about Young Learner Center Management that looks particularly interesting.

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