What\\\'s the Difference Between TEFL Certificate and Diploma Courses?
Mar 6, 2010 Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) 3713 Views
There are basically two types of initial TEFL training - taking a weekend certificate course plus optional add-on modules or taking a longer intensive 4-week course. After qualifying and gaining at least one year's (preferably two years') experience, you will have the chance to extend your qualifications by taking a diploma course. There are also online TEFL courses, but these are not discussed here. Please search on the main menu for information about these. Below are some typical details about each type of face-to-face TEFL course to help you understand the comparison more fully.
20-hour Weekend Certificate courses
- Great if you want to travel on a gap year to teach abroad.
- Helpful if you aren't sure how much of your life you want to commit to TEFL teaching
- A good taster to give you an idea if are suited to teaching.
- Represent superb value for money and a relatively short time investment
- Need some support in their first job
- Be able to plan lessons on their own after some initial help in the first few weeks
- Deliver fun, interesting and informative lessons
Many schools abroad and some in the UK accept teachers with this type of training. Various agencies, for example Cactus or i-to-i [see below] offer training courses and can find teaching placements abroad for you. Some of these schools will also ask that you have a Bachelor's degree in any subject, but many well accept teachers who have no additional qualification.
There is no formal exam at the end, but it is still possible to fail this type of course depending on the tutor's assessment of your capability and suitability. Assuming you pass, you will have a good launch pad from which to start teaching and you will gain experience very quickly in your first job.
Course content includes all the basics on a Trinity or Cambridge Certificate course (see below) but in slightly less detail. All lesson teaching and observation tends to be done with peers rather than with foreign students. In addition, time constraints mean that you will probably finish the course without having taught a whole lesson. All the same, you will have had several opportunities to stand in front of others and present some new language to the class. You are likely to get some practice at organising the class and setting up activities. Many tutees decide to take extra qualifications alongside a practical weekend training course. In fact, companies such as i-to-i offer further certificates in a variety of subjects such as grammar, teaching large classes, teaching with limited materials and so on.
Is it worth it? Yes - many people gain enough insight into the teaching process to lead happy and successful lives as TEFL teachers, especially abroad, following this type of course.
4 or 5-week certificate courses (Cambridge CELTA or Trinity Certificate in TESOL)
- Great if you want to find a more permanent job teaching in the UK or worldwide
- Helpful for those who feel more certain that TEFL teaching is a career they want to pursue.
- Represent a greater financial and time commitment, but give an excellent grounding for someone who is serious about TEFL teaching as a longer-term career move.
The courses feature assessed teaching practices and a short written examination at the end. Whilst it is still possible to pass this type of course if you fail one or two teaching practice assessments, you will still have to satisfy an external moderator or examiner of your suitability to teach at the end of the course. As in the weekend course, the majority of trainees pass, and one reason for this is that they have to pass a suitability interview before being accepted onto the course in the first place.
A language school will have very similar expectations for people who had either type of training. Schools realise that this type of training will be enhanced by the actual practice of teaching classes on a regular basis. They are very likely to offer a good level of support to the novice teacher. The price and time commitment required is considerably higher than weekend courses, but you will have the opportunity to teach real language students as part of the training and you will be expected to complete a total of 6 hours of teaching practice prior to qualification.
Cambridge RSA DELTA and Trinity Licentiate Diploma in TESOL
- Great if you have several years of TEFL teaching under your belt and you want to further your career, perhaps aiming to earn promotion or take on more responsibility at work.
- Helpful for honing your teaching skills further and gaining much greater insight into why you do what you do as a teacher.
- Knowledge, understanding, and competency level is expected to be much greater. A diploma teacher should be capable of taking some responsibility at the school and is expected to produce well-designed and effective lessons as a matter of course.
Passing at Diploma level isn't straightforward, so the failure rate is far higher than at certificate level, but many teachers do manage to pass first time around! There are assessed and observed lessons to be taught, plus assignments and written examinations to do. Some teachers choose to do their Diploma part-time or by distance, alongside a regular teaching job. This is a very helpful way of charting your progress, as you are working with your normal classes as part of the process. It may take the best part of a year to become qualified in this way or you could search for an intensive 10-week course and do it full-time. A typical language school obviously has much greater expectations of a Diploma-qualified teacher.
A lesson attaining diploma level should feature the following attributes:
- have very clear aims and objectives, both overall and stage-by-stage
- be timed reasonably accurately so that stages are not missed unless it is justifiable
- include features of pronunciation training being clearly demonstrated and understood
- have motivating, engaging and interesting materials
- be very communicative and interactive
- ensure plenty of productive Student Talking Time with appropriate correction techniques
- be appropriately self-evaluated by the teacher afterwards to demonstrate an understanding of the learning that occurred and why any problems may have been encountered.
All of these courses are designed to ensure that the TEFL teacher is equipped to pass on knowledge in an interesting and informative way to their learners. Each course requires time, money and commitment in order to pass with flying colours. Each course will ensure that the teacher is able to evaluate their own performance and think how future lessons might be improved upon. If you are just dipping your toes in to test the water, go for the Weekend Course. If you are certain teaching is for you and that you definitely want to work at a private language school in the UK, go for a CELTA or Trinity Certificate in TESOL. If you have an initial training qualification already and some teaching experience behind you, then why not take the next step and consider doing a Diploma? Getting appropriate training is empowering for the teacher and an incredibly rewarding and interesting experience in itself.