"Someone asked me if I had done CELTA in the past. I told them that I went the TEFL route. She just gave me a pitiful look and carried on drinking." - Jefferson
A CELTA course is known as a "reputable" TEFL course that focuses on teaching English to adults. It has one of the best reputations in the TEFL industry which may be rightfully so, but it is not perfect or immune to lies and marketing hype.
In TEFL its reputation is similar to that of Ivy league schools as far as universities go and having such a reputation breeds some snobbery like Ivy schools can.
There seems to be a number of "type A" types and snobs that take the course or is it that the course itself breeds snobbery?
As good as it may be it's not all that it seems and it isn't a ticket to teach English anywhere. Some of its reputation may be deserved, but some people take it too far. It may be the best TEFL course in terms of reputation.
But a CELTA course like some of the other TEFL courses is just a short term course that lasts 4 weeks or so. CELTA courses aren't a VIP card to teach English everywhere and at every school.
"The stories of "I'm fresh off the plane and look I can speak English and I've got a CELTA, so why won't anyone give me work" are legion round here." - Oommph's comment in regards to teaching in Europe.
Where it fails
Here are a few examples.
To teach English in a public school in Taiwan, Dubai and UAE you need to be a certified teacher. That is you need to have a license to teach. A CELTA course won't cut it. A CELTA also won't replace a normal degree neither. Most countries require an ESL teacher to have a degree. A CELTA won't replace one.
To teach in most international schools you need to be a licensed teacher. A CELTA doesn't replace a license. To teach English in universities in Taiwan or Japan you usually need a master's degree. A CELTA won't help you there as well.
Aside from some of the above most schools will prefer experience (especially in-country) to certificates or degrees. So let's say that "Joe" is in Taiwan and looking for a new job. He has experience teaching, but no certificate. The other applicant "Sally" has no experience teaching, but has a CELTA certificate. Well, employers have preferences, but the majority of schools will pick "Joe" over "Sally".
And believe it or not a lot of schools out there are not going to know the difference between a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA course. I am not here to discount the course I am just here to help stop the snobbery and offer some real world info.
The snobbery gets pretty dogmatic as you can see in the pics. I think it's unfortunate that people (newcomers) believe and trust these opinions as if it's a fact. "The better jobs require a master's degree," says one. I'd say that some of the best jobs require a master's degree, but they make up a pretty small percentage of the ESL teaching job pool. I'd say less than 5% in Asia.
Most people thinking about teaching English abroad for a year or so will never have the chance to teach in these schools.
"The CELTA is an incredible qualification and gives us the license to drive; but with the benefit of hindsight, I can honestly say nothing prepares us more for the challenges of being a full-time teacher than the everyday experiences we have in school." - Lewis
License to drive?
You could possibly fail the CELTA and if you do you won't get your money back or a certificate. That's kinda like university, so I guess that's not necessarily a bad thing.
But I guess you have to consider if the extended effort and trouble will be worth it.
"...Celta - it was just off the scale in terms of pressure. A total level of commitment and effort is expected by course tutors and the workload, once you have taken lesson planning and assignments into account, is easily a 14 hour day." - Anonymous
"I did a Celta program in Bangkok at IH. The course started out with around 12 students. 7 dropped out before completing the course. Not one of them got their money back." - Austin
Sounds a little like a horror story.
Is CELTA the best course for teaching children?
Some of what you may learn in the CELTA may prepare you to teach children, however the "A" in CELTA is for adults. If you are planning on teaching primarily children then I would take a course focused on that.
"Agree!:) I failed Celta mostly because I thought it was the best for me, when actually children were my target group.." - Ksenija Gulina
"Pseudo" in-class training with "observed feedback"
In-class training with observed feedback is considered the paramount of TEFL training. CELTA normally offers 6 hours of in-class training. This is good as it's a good way to get some feedback on your teaching from someone - possibly a certified CELTA snob, lol.
Feedback may be good, but it's only 6 hours. Do you think you'll be set for life as a teacher after that? I don't think so, but the snobs seem to think so. A TEFL or CELTA course is just a start for most, it's not an end.
It's true that if you are new to TEFL then you probably don't know much about teaching. But... I can say from experience that everything useful that I learned about teaching wasn't acquired by some rigid instructor giving me feedback.
I learned best by observing. I observed other teachers (which you can also do with video), went to workshops and read books. It's not like the "CELTA gods" are privy to information that no one else has access to.
Many in-class courses - CELTA or TEFL make a big deal about their classroom training. But something that you should keep in mind is the fact that this training takes place in a classroom with students who will be unlike the students you actually teach.
In fact most of the time the students are not real students at all. They are pretend students like yourself taking a course.
Is that expensive CELTA going to make you a higher wage or salary?
In some situations a CELTA or most any TEFL course may get you a higher salary. Based on my experience it can be a bargaining point and it depends on the school, but it's not usually going to make much of a difference or be a guarantee.
And schools, at least many of the ones that I have interviewed at and seen in Asia are normally going to choose the teacher with experience (especially in country) versus a teacher without who has a certificate.
The snobs suggest that all other courses are totally inferior to a CELTA. Which I think is nonsense. Yes there are courses out there that may not be up to par or worth the money they sell them for.
There are some courses out there that also lie or stretch the truth and trick consumers into buying. Some CELTA providers do this too though. In that post you'll see that CELTA is not immune to the marketing hype used by many TEFL providers.
"If you do have a certificate in TEFL or CELTA, it will only make you slightly more marketable. Correspondingly, you will only be paid slightly more if you are TEFL certified - and I mean very slightly." - Baluda (CELTA certified), referring to teaching in Korea
Is CELTA worth it?
I am sure that you will find many people who will say yes. But I am going to add this:
- If you are not in it for the long term and only teach abroad for a few years then I'd say no, unless...
- Are you prepared to shell out a bunch of cash - as much as $2000? If not then I'd say no.
- If you are not totally committed then remember if you fail you get nothing.
- Are you going to be teaching adults?