Trinity Cert TESOL vs CELTA – which course should I choose?

This is often the first question a prospective TEFL teacher has and it can be difficult to find out information on TEFL and TESOL courses. The two main TEFL certification courses available are the Trinity Cert TESOL and CELTA courses – the two courses recognised by the British Council in the UK. So which one should a prospective student choose –  TESOL vs CELTA? What are the differences and similarities? Is one better than the other?

The most important thing to say is that the Trinity CertTESOL and the CELTA are more similar than they are different. They are both normally 4 weeks long and are intensive courses that lead to a TEFL certification that will allow you to teach both in the UK and abroad. They are both open to prospective students aged 18 and above, who are not necessarily native speakers and not necessarily graduates. The two courses both require prospective candidates to have qualifications that would allow them to study at degree level. The qualifications are equal in terms of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority’s National Qualifications Framework in the UK – both at Level 5 of this framework. Both courses are classroom based rather than online with input from TEFL trainers and experienced TEFL and TESOL teachers in terms of methodology and the opportunity to teach a minimum of 6 hours of observed and assessed lessons with constructive feedback given.

Although broadly similar, there are some differences between these two TEFL certification courses. The main difference is that on the Trinity CertTESOL, students are “moderated” by a Trinity “moderator” whereas on the Cambridge CELTA students are “assessed” by an “assessor”. This may seem like a trivial difference but there is a noticeable difference that can be seen in this area. On the Trinity CertTESOL the students are interviewed by the “moderator” both in a group and individually to check that they are ready to pass the certification and to “moderate” the assessment already made by the course tutor. On the CELTA however, students may be observed teaching a lesson by both the “assessor” and their course tutor on the day the “assessor” is visiting. This may seem like a small difference but it does show a distinction between the two TEFL certification courses.

There are some slight differences in the course content as well. The Trinity CertTESOL course places more focus on the learning of an “unknown language” and this is one of the way the students are assessed on the course – not their progress but their ability to reflect on the experience. There is also more variation between Trinity CertTESOL courses and CELTA courses. This is because Trinity CertTESOL centres have to submit a course proposal to Trinity to be able to teach this TEFL certification and therefore they are able to tailor their TESOL course more to their students’ needs. The only other difference is in the certification itself – the Trinity CertTESOL has two marks, Pass and Fail, whereas the CELTA has three marks, Pass A, Pass B and Fail. This means there is more of a distinction between students on the CELTA course but in reality this is a very small difference.

There are most definitely more similarities between the two TEFL certification courses than there are differences and therefore it is difficult to say that one is better than the other. If you are looking to teach in Asia then the Trinity CertTESOL is generally accepted to be the better certification as it follows more of the task based learning approach that is favoured in Asia. In other job markets there seems to be less of a preference. It is most important that you feel comfortable with the course content and the assessment structure.

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