CELTA Programs, TEFL Certificate Programs, and Distance Learning Programs

Those who decide not to begin their teaching career with a TESL/TEFL/TESOL degree or endorsement may choose to pursue a shorter term certificate program, such as Trinity, CELTA, or an independent certificate program. An independent TESL or TEFL certificate program, which is a program that is neither accredited nor affiliated with an accredited postsecondary institution, can serve as a gateway to the field and profession of ESL/EFL teaching for those who have proficiency in English.

TESL or TEFL Certificate Programs

TESOL recommends that an independent TESL or TEFL certificate program should offer a balance of theory and practice regarding pedagogy and methodology, be taught by qualified teacher educators, and include a minimum of 100 instructional hours plus a supervised practice teaching component.

CELTA and Trinity

Other short-term certificate programs include the CELTA program, administered by England's University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, and Trinity courses, operated by Trinity College in London. Both CELTA and Trinity are standardized programs that regulate the selection of candidates, adhere to a standard curriculum, and ensure that trainees receive quality instruction and are graded objectively. Neither the CELTA nor Trinity alone is sufficient qualification to teach in most institutions in the United States, although the practical training required as part of the certification process greatly enhances one's teaching skills.

Distance Learning Programs

Degree programs as well as certificate courses in TESOL are also offered via distance learning programs. This educational format is well suited for those who are already in the field or teaching English abroad and want to pursue a degree while continuing to teach.

A good TEFL certificate program should focus on practical training, making distance education less favorable in the eyes of employers, unless you incorporate the distance courses with practical teaching experience. Programs geared toward experienced teachers, such as the RSA Diploma (open to those with a CELTA and 2 years of teaching experience) and MA and PhD programs from accredited institutions, are viable options for distance learning. TESOL recommends that you contact the schools directly to obtain contact information for the accrediting body.


TESOL does not administer, evaluate, or accredit any teacher training program, so you will need to contact the institutions directly for information about location, admission requirements, tuition, dates, curriculum, and student services. Because TESOL does not evaluate these programs, TESOL cannot recommend a program or type of program for you.