CELTA vs TESOL in Australia

Should I choose a CELTA or a Certificate IV in TESOL? Know The Difference

There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding whether to take the CELTA or the Certificate IV in TESOL.

Both certificates qualify you as a teacher willing to teach English as a second language.

However, there are some slight differences which means you need to consider certain factors like the level of recognition, where you intend to teach, who you intend to teach and pathways to further study before you decide.

Let’s begin from the basics.


TEFL is an acronym that stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. TEFL may also mean teaching English in a country where English is not the primary language.

There are a lot of TEFL qualifications and certificates available by many different providers across the world. Some are purely online, some are physical and some are a combination of both.

TESOL is also an acronym. It means Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. TESOL is very similar to TEFL but used more often in certain countries like Australia and the US.

TESOL is used to refer to teaching English in a country where English is the official or primary language.

Accreditations and Recognition

The Certificate IV in TESOL certificate is a brand of TESOL qualification accredited by the Australian Government as a qualification for individuals willing to teach English as Second Language to students in Australia and overseas.

While the CELTA is both a TEFL and TESOL certificate accredited by the Cambridge Language Assessment and recognised as an initial teaching qualification in most countries across the world.

Now, what are the factors to consider when choosing between the CELTA and the Certificate IV in TESOL?

Factor 1: Where do you want to teach?

Do you wish to teach in Australia or abroad?

Teaching in Australia: If your primary goal is to teach English to international students in Australia, the Certificate IV in TESOL may be your first choice.

Since the Australian Government itself accredits the Certificate IV in TESOL, it will be more suitable for individuals willing to teach English as a second language in Australia or work in language centres with international students within Australia.

This is not to say that the certificate is not recognised overseas or cannot be accepted in countries where employers recognise the quality of training the holder of the Certificate IV in TESOL has received.

Teaching Abroad: If your aim is to teach abroad, then you may want to find out about the general and specific requirements for English teachers in your country of choice.

Generally, CELTA meets the requirements of most countries across the world. It is one of the most recognised English teaching certificates for employers in the ESL industry in most countries, including Australia.

A lot of employers regard CELTA as the international benchmark for TESOL/TEFL courses.

Factor 2: Who do you want to teach?

Who do you want to teach? kids, adults?

CELTA, known as the Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, was previously the Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults.

Hence it may be more suitable if you aim to teach English to adults. Although nowadays, the course is considered to be useful to teach both young and adult students, it still maintains its reputation for been more suitable for adult ESL students.

If your primary aim is to work with kids, then you may consider another TEFL certificate with certification specialised in Young Learning.

Also, if your primary aim is to teach English to non-native speakers in a native English speaking country, you should most likely consider a TESOL.

Factor 3: Pathway for further study

After the Certificate IV in TESOL, one may proceed to take the Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as an Additional Language while a CELTA graduate may proceed to take the Cambridge DELTA (Diploma in teaching English Language to Adults), Young Learners, and Business English. Both certificates allow you to proceed to take an MA in TESOL.

Higher qualifications like the DELTA gives you the chance to work as an administrator, teacher trainer or a director of studies. Generally, taking a CELTA and proceeding to take a DELTA offers you a wider chance within the ESL teaching career.

If you would consider teaching children later or diversify into a specific aspect of ESL, then you should take a certificate course like the Young Learners and Business English after your CELTA.

You can also proceed to take an MA in TESOL, however, this is more suitable if you would like to teach in universities.

Factor 4: Are you a native speaker?

The Certificate IV in TESOL is specifically designed for non- native English speakers while CELTA can be taken by both native and non-native speakers.

Non-native speakers taking the CELTA need to demonstrate a level of English proficiency around CEFR C1+ or upper intermediate level is sufficient.

If you are a native speaker and would like to teach English in Australia, then you should consider a Certificate IV in TESOL.

However, while the Certificate IV in TESOL may offer you better chances in Australia due to its direct connectedness to the Australian Government, it is more suitable for non-natives and usually less recognized outside Australia than the CELTA.

Therefore if you are a native or non-native speaker with the aim of teaching English in Australia and abroad, you should consider the CELTA.

If you have a specific country in mind besides Australia, you should check with the appropriate body to see if the country has any specific required certificates for ESL teachers.


Conclusively, when choosing a course, consider the quality of training you have been offered and be sure that the course meets international standards.

A credible TEFL /TESOL course should include;

  • A minimum of 100 hours of contact hours
  • Practical teaching with real-life ESL students usually a minimum of six hours
  • Teaching observation and input/feedback sessions.
  • Also, check that the course providers and tutors are accredited by the appropriate bodes, if you choose CELTA, it has to be accredited by Cambridge Language Assessment and if you choose Certificate IV in TESOL, be sure that it is at a Registered Training Organization (RTOs) and accredited by the Australian Government.

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