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What is the CELTA?

The CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is a qualification by Cambridge English Language Assessment that combines theoretical and practical components to provide candidates with essential teaching knowledge and skills.

Why take the CELTA?

It can be an interesting option for teachers looking for a formal qualification, as well as for those who are looking to become teachers.

Considering its strong practical component, it can also cater for the needs of teachers who feel that their foundation course was too theoretical, and who are looking for ways to plan and deliver more effective lessons.

Finally, because it is recognised worldwide, the CELTA is particularly useful for teachers that want to work abroad. A number of language institutes list the CELTA and one of the requirements (or desired qualifications) when hiring teachers.

What are the requirements?*

  • Candidates must be 18 or older.

  • Even though no certification of proficiency in English is necessary, candidates are required to be at CEFR level C1 or C2, which can be assessed by the centre.

  • Candidates must also have a standard of education that would allow them to enter higher education.

*Centres can use their discretion to accept candidates that do not meet the requirements above under certain conditions, so make sure you check it with the centre where you intend to take the course.

What is the CELTA like?

The CELTA deals with five areas related to teaching:

  • Learners and teachers, and the teaching and learning context

  • Language analysis and awareness

  • Language skills: reading, listening, speaking and writing

  • Planning and resources for different teaching contexts

  • Developing teaching skills and professionalism

The course comprises 120 contact hours (including input sessions, teaching practice and feedback on lessons) and is offered in two formats: face-to-face and online. It is worth mentioning, however, that even the online version requires face-to-face teaching practice.

Candidates are also asked to write four assignments (750-1,500 words) tackling the four areas below:

  • analysing and responding to adult learner needs

  • analysing language for teaching purposes

  • teaching language skills

  • reflecting on classroom teaching.

Assessment of candidates includes their performance in teaching practice and assignment as well as professionalism. The candidate needs to meet a detailed list of criteria in order to receive the certificate. Successful candidates are awarded one of three marks: Pass, Pass B or Pass A.

How can it help in your professional development?

  • By providing an introduction to ELT-specific concepts and practices

  • By increasing your teaching repertoire

  • By prompting a degree of reflection upon your practices

  • By providing numerous opportunities to receive feedback on lessons and assignments

  • By encouraging collaborative work among candidates

  • By allowing useful networking with other teachers and tutors

  • By providing candidates with an international certification of their skills and knowledge

Cambridge English Language Assessment monitors CELTA courses around the world closely so as to ensure quality and standardisation of core processes and curriculum. However, there may be differences among CELTA centres in terms of price, qualification of tutors and fringe benefits, so asking around may be a good idea. You can check the authorised centres near you here.

Useful links, tools and bibliography to prepare for the CELTA:

Reference books:


Scrivener, J. Learning Teaching.

Harmer, J. The Practice of English Langauge Teaching

Ur, P. A Course in English Language Teaching


Parrott, M. Grammar for English Language Teachers

Swan, M. Practical English Usage

Thornbury, S. About Language



Time Management:


Rubens Heredia is a CELTA tutor at Cultura Inglesa São Paulo and one of the co-founders of What is ELT?

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