If you have decided that you want to teach English to non-native speakers; great! Whether it is teaching English abroad during a gap year, something rewarding to keep you busy in retirement, or to change your career, TEFL is a great choice.

There are all these different acronyms; TEFL, TESOL, TESL, CELTA, DELT. This can be a bit overwhelming. What is the difference between all these? Before probing further into these acronyms, one needs to understand the difference between ESL and EFL.


  1. A) ESL – English as a Second Language

This acronym typically refers to English language education in countries where English is the official language. Examples of ESL students would be recent immigrants or foreign exchange students studying English in a country where they can be immersed in the language.


  1. B) EFL- English as a Foreign Language

It is usually used when referring to English language education in countries where English is not the official language (most of the world). Students in this situation often speak their native language in their daily lives and only encounter English in classrooms.


  1. TEFL – Teaching of 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 course and certificate that are commonly required by language schools and institutes around the globe, seeking to hire English teachers.

Be aware that “TEFL” does not refer to a singular body, company, certification, or school.


  1. TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

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 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.  The US does not have any domestic regulation for teaching English in private language schools, and therefore most US and European training would use the term TEFL for teaching abroad.


  1. TESL – Teaching English as a Second Language.

A TESL certificate usually refers to people who plan to teach non-native English speakers living in a native-English-speaking country. In other words, you would seek a TESL qualification if your primary interest is to teach in a country where English is the first language, such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, or Australia. However, if your primary interest is in traveling and teaching English overseas, then you should seek a TEFL certification.


  1. CELTA – Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults.

CELTA is a specific brand of TEFL certification that is awarded by the University of Cambridge’s non-profit assessment organization, Cambridge English Assessment.


The course is offered by a variety of different schools and educational institutions around the globe. It is the equivalent of a 4-week, intensive 120-hour TEFL certification, and trains you to teach English to adults only.


  1. DELTA- Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults.

A DELTA qualification is restrictive in the sense that it is only offered to qualified teachers who already have at least one year of teaching experience. Therefore, DELTA should be only be considered as an option for experienced teachers who are seeking more credentials from Cambridge English Assessment, specifically.


For further details, do read the link given below:



Written by: Sabina Victor (Panel Expert)

Areeba Jabeen

Areeba Jabeen

Account Manager

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