What's the Difference Between TEFL, TESOL & CELTA?

What's theESL - English as a Second Language

This acronym typically refers to English language education in countries where English is the official language.

EFL - English as a Foreign Language

While confusingly similar to “ESL”, this term is usually used when referring to English language education in countries where English is not official language (most of the world). Students in this situation often speak their native language in their daily life and only encounter English in a classroom.

TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language

TEFL is the most popular and common acronym used to refer to teaching English abroad. A “TEFL certification” refers to the training courses and certificate that are commonly required by language schools and institutes around the globe seeking to hire English teachers.

TESOL – Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

When it comes to teaching English abroad, TESOL, like TEFL, is simply an acronym that refers to teaching English to non-native speakers and to a large extent, “TEFL” and “TESOL” are used interchangeably.  In North America, “TESOL” is more typically used when referring to teaching English to non-native speakers in native English-speaking countries such as the U.S.

 Hence, if you want to earn a Master’s degree for teaching English as a second language at in your local public school system that degree will likely be in TESOL.  It is common for British, Canadian and Australian training centers to issue a certificate in TESOL as that is also used for domestic teaching and regulated by their governments. 

CELTA - Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults

The bottom line is that the acronym on your certification is not critical! You can take a certification course labeled as TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA and you will be earning a legitimate qualification, and this is critical, the course you take meets certain international standards set forth