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What is the difference between CELTA, IDELT, TEFL, TESOL, TESL and online certificates?

Last Updated: Aug 12, 2019 09:40AM MDT

Whether you choose a CELTA, IDELT™, TEFL, TESOL, TESL or online course, you should know that all six programs are internationally recognized, all prepare you for a teaching position overseas, and all are good for life. There are, however, several significant differences among them.

Cambridge CELTA

The Cambridge CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) is the most widely recognized international teacher qualification. The CELTA is a standardized teacher preparation program, so no matter where you take the course, it is more or less the same. If you have a CELTA certificate, prospective employers know exactly what to expect in terms of your training. CELTA requires a minimum of six hours teaching practice time, a minimum of six hours of observation, four assignments, a pre-interview task, an interview in the application process, and a pre-course task once you are accepted.

Bridge IDELT™

The Bridge IDELT™ (International Diploma in English Language Teaching) is BridgeTEFL's flagship certification course. It is standardized and only run at BridgeTEFL Authorized Training Centers. The program is recognized by the State University of New York's National PONSI, and is recommended for 6 graduate-level credits at over 1,500 American universities. The course is 140-hours over four weeks, and includes a minimum of six hours of teaching practice with real Enlish learners. The Bridge IDELT™ will qualify you for hundreds of teaching jobs worldwide.


TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) courses are also teacher preparation certificate programs, but they are not standardized. Therefore, when evaluating an onsite or online TEFL course, it’s important to do your research.

First of all, you want to be sure that the institution is accredited and that this information is stated on your certificate. Another helpful check is to find out how long the institution has been in the language business. Bridge-Linguatec has over 20 years of experience and is accredited by ACCET (Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training), a U.S. Department of Education-recognized agency. Our  BridgeTEFL programs have been approved by ACCET.

Finally, the best way to be sure a TEFL course meets your needs is to ask the relevant questions, whether these involve practice teaching hours, the possibility of live or video observations, the amount of homework expected, or the number of written assignments required.


TESOL (Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages) or TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) courses are not standardized either and are usually offered through universities.

Online TEFL

Cost and convenience are the advantages of online TEFL certificate programs. The courses can be completed from any computer anywhere in the world and usually cost a fraction of on-site programs. However, the real-world experience of observing and/or teaching authentic language classes is not possible in most online courses.

If spending a month in another city or paying the tuition of an on-site course is not feasible for you, an online program is your best option. Online programs are likewise a good choice if you are unsure about teaching as a career and are not ready to invest the time and money in a regular TEFL course. Like on-site programs, online TEFL courses are not standardized and you need to do your homework. For help identifying a good online course, read the next FAQ.

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