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What training course should I take?


Be careful, be very careful

You do not want to spend money on a course that won't get you a job.

Do not be tempted to take an unrecognised, wholly on-line course, whatever its claims.  It will not be recognised by anyone worthwhile and you will waste your money.
There are probably hundreds of courses out there.  Some last only a weekend, some are part time and spread over months and there's everything in between.  Some of these course providers make overblown, extravagant claims about being accredited, regulated and recognised.  Confused?  You needn't be.
Fundamentally, there are two widely recognised qualifications to consider.  Courses for both cover the same sort of ground and lead to proper certificates you can actually use to get work.
This site contains a basic ELT training course, linked in the list at the end, but that will not get you a certificate (or a job, probably) although it will prepare you for a classroom if you are a novice.

The Cambridge CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Validated by the University of Cambridge, this one of the two benchmark qualifications for people starting out in English Language Teaching.
Click here to go Cambridge's website to learn more.
The Trinity CertTESOL (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) This is an equally reliable and professionally validated qualification for people starting out in English Language Teaching.
Click here to go Trinity College's website to learn more.

This isn't the end of the story, of course.  Both these qualifications are described as initial.  If you are serious about English Language Teaching, you will have to upgrade your knowledge, practice and qualifications at some time.  The usual route is to go on to taking the Cambridge Delta or the Trinity DipTESOL or taking an MA TESOL.


Frequently asked questions and answers

If your question isn't answered here, feel free to use the contact page to ask it.

Q: I have seen a course advertised which costs half as much, takes less time and is 'recognised'.  Why shouldn't I go for that?
A: Ask who recognises the course.  In many countries, schools are inspected and accredited by external bodies and they won't recognise a lot of qualifications (especially ones which don't include supervised and assessed teaching practice).  A course provider may claim that the qualification you will get is 'internationally recognised' but that's marketing-speak for having a friend in New York who has vaguely heard of it.
Courses like these are interested in your money, not your professional development.
You may be able to get a job somewhere with a certificate like this but what happens if you want to move on to a better, and better-paid, job somewhere else?
Be careful, too, to understand the words 'regulated' and 'accredited' if you see either of them attached to a course offering.  There are courses, apart from the two listed above which are, indeed, regulated by external bodies (such as Ofqual in Britain) but you need to look at the level of such courses.  Both Trinity and Cambridge certificates are recognised as being at level 5 on the Ofqual scheme.  Anything below that level will be less demanding and easier to pass but also, as is the way of things, less useful.

Q: I have seen a course advertised which is entirely online, is cheap and says it is 'recognised' and/or 'accredited'.  Why shouldn't I go for that?
A: It is now possible to take a Cambridge Assessment English CELTA course which is delivered fully online.  This is a comparatively new development which grew out of the responses forced on providers by the Covid-19 outbreak.  Nevertheless, the course is delivered to the same standards as a face-to-face course and that is regularly checked by Cambridge-appointed assessors.  You need a practical and properly accredited qualification that an employer can trust.  Good employers do not recognise mickey-mouse online courses.

Q: People say 'if you can speak English, you can teach English' so why do I need a qualification at all?
A: Ask yourself a question.  If you wanted to learn a language would you rather learn from someone who knows something about language and methodology or would you be happy learning from anyone on the street who happens to speak that language?
Yes, that's the response of most learners and is why schools exist for language teaching.

Q: Why are these courses so expensive?
A: Good tutors, who are experienced and properly qualified in the profession, do not come cheap.  Tutors should, of course, hold a qualification substantially above the level of the one you are aiming for.  Distrust a training provider whose tutors hold anything less than a diploma-level qualification in the profession.  One quite well-known training centre based in the UK has boasted during an online chat that "All of our tutors have at least a CELTA".  CELTA, you should understand, is a short, initial qualification only and not a proper teaching qualification at all.  This is the equivalent of your being taught for a first university degree by someone who has no more than a BA or a BSc.  The blind leading the blind is another way of putting that.
Setting up and running good courses also requires considerable investment in people, resources and systems.  Additionally, the accrediting bodies for the qualifications require payment for their work inspecting and advising their centres.  It all costs money, unfortunately, and you get, more or less, what you pay for.

Q: Do I have to be in Britain or an English-speaking country to take a course?
A: No.  Courses are run all over the world, and some have an element of on-line learning and some are now fully online.  If you take a course near where you live, you'll avoid the costs of travel and accommodation but it may be less fun.

Q: Which is better – full-time, part-time or with some on-line work?
A: There's no 'better' way to take a course.  What you choose will depend on your circumstances, your finance and your preferences for learning modes.  All courses leading to properly recognised qualifications will result in the same certificate.

Q: Can I fail a course?
A: Yes, and you almost certainly won't get your money back.  But if you work hard and have the basic personality and language skills, you'll pass.

Q: What level are training courses?
A: Good initial training courses (such as the two explained at the beginning) are at Level Five on the national qualification frameworks in the United Kingdom.  This is the same level as the second year of a first university degree.
There are other courses which also claim to be regulated but which have been assessed at a level below Level Five.  They are probably worthless.

Q: How do I choose a centre?
A: You need to consider a few things:

Q: I only want to teach for a couple of years.  Do I really need to spend so much money on a course?
A: Even if this is true, remember that a proper certificate will get you work with good employers in interesting places rather than in back-street schools that don't care about you or the students much.  It gives you choice.  Also consider how many months' salary for a teacher that the course costs – probably just a few weeks, in fact.

Q: I'm not young.  Can I still take a course?
A: Why ever not?  If you are flexible and willing to learn, go for it.

Q: What can I do to prepare myself before I take a course?
A: There are links below to guides on this site which will certainly make your life easier if you do some of them before you take a course.
If you want to judge your current knowledge of grammar, there is a pre-course grammar quiz on this site.  If you can't score better than 50% on that, you need to follow some of the guides on this site.  Click here to do the quiz.
There is also a pre-initial (pre-CELTA) short, four-part grammar course.  It is listed in the links below.
In addition, linked below, there is a eight-part course on this site described as a CELTA teacher's toolkit which will cover some crucial classroom behaviours.

Q: Is it hard work?
A: You bet.

Q: Is there help and support on ELT Concourse?
A: Lots:

An Introduction to English Language Teaching This is a short guide to the area for people wholly unfamiliar with what language teaching involves.
It opens in a new tab.
A basic training course This won't get you a certificate but will prepare you well before you take a proper course.  It covers both background knowledge and methodology.
Language analysis This is a 10-unit course covering the elements of pronunciation, word class, content and function words, subjects and objects, tenses and aspects, modality, sentences, phrases, clauses and text structures.  If you do this course before you take a training course, you will know all you need and can focus on teaching.
Grammar pre-CELTA This is a shorter, 4-part guide to some essential components of English grammar.  If you don't understand anything much about word class, syntax and tenses, do this first.  It will repay you.
CELTA teacher's toolkit This is short course in teaching on a CELTA course.  It covers first impressions, focus, presenting and practising, using materials and aids, eliciting and questioning, monitoring, giving feedback and summing things up.
TKT Course TKT stands for Teaching Knowledge Test.  This is a Cambridge University qualification which covers language and methodology.  There is no assessed teaching.  This link takes you to a free course covering the three core modules.
CELTA This section of the site is specifically designed for people taking or preparing to take a Cambridge English CELTA course.  It covers the whole syllabus.
Initial plus training Here you will find lots of guides to grammar, vocabulary, methodology and background theory.  It's designed for people with little or no experience who seriously want to learn about language and teaching.
The Bridge This is a set of guides forming a bridge between initial and in-service training.  The guides are usually slightly longer than the former but less technical than the latter.
In-service training The guides in this section cover things in a bit more detail and are sometimes rather technical.  Go here if you already have quite a lot of knowledge and experience.
A-Z index Browse the links on this page to follow guides to areas that interest you.  If you don't understand the title of the link, it may not be a good place to go now.