Your guide to TEFL qualifications and certification bodies

By Frank Bolger - Last update

Get Daily news and updates directly to your Email

If you are going to invest time and money in gaining a TEFL qualification, then it makes sense to gain a certification that is respected and accepted at English language schools throughout the world.

There are a number of different TEFL qualifications available at Irish schools and colleges. People with little or no previous teaching experience can do these. A TEFL qualification open up a whole world of exciting teaching opportunities. These courses must conform to a certification body’s guidelines.


ACELS, the Advisory Council for English Language Schools in Ireland, provides the CELT qualification. It is the most popular TEFL qualification. This is because anyone with this qualification can teach in any English language school in Ireland that has Department of Education & Science recognition. CELT is also recognised internationally. As a result, holders of the award are can work in accredited schools in the UK and Australia for example.


One of the most popular global TEFL qualification, internationally speaking, is the Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA). The University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES), which is part of the prestigious University of Cambridge in the UK, awards this qualification.

The CELTA qualification features continuous assessment and has no final examination. An external assessor, appointed by Cambridge ESOL, moderates each course. Students must have taught for a total of six hours, working with classes at two levels of ability. In addition, students complete four written assignments. These focus on adult learning, the English language system and language skills as well as classroom teaching.


Trinity College London awards the certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (Cert TESOL). The British Council accepts Cert TESOL as an initial TESOL qualification for teachers in its accredited UK teaching organisations as well as its teaching operations overseas. Credits are also awarded towards degree programmes offered by the Open University in the UK.

The Cert TESOL has five units covering teaching skills, language awareness, learner profile, and unknown language. Students must complete six hours of teaching as well as keep a journal including lesson plans, self evaluation and materials assessment. They must also undertake a test or practical project; prepare a simple linguistic profile and needs analysis; and undertake an interview with a Trinity moderator.

Other Awards

While the CELT, CELTA and TESOL are the three most recognisable TEFL qualifications available to potential teachers, there are far from the only useful qualifications on offer. The ODLQC (Open and Distance Learning Quality Council) is an example of another international authority that oversees TEFL qualifications.


Graduates looking to get into TEFL as a career can even go on and study Teaching English as a Foreign Language as a postgraduate course. St Angela’s College and other Irish higher-level institutions offer fourth level qualifications in TEFL. Other related subjects such as Applied Languages, Applied Linguistics and English can offer opportunities for students interested in the TEFL area, with research masters and PhD courses all potential choices.

Frank Bolger

Learning a Language? Immerse Yourself
IT Courses for Managers