How does the online CELTA compare to a face-to-face CELTA?

If you are thinking about taking the 100% online CELTA, you might be wondering how the course compares to the face-to-face version. In what ways are the courses the same and how are they different? Are there any advantages of taking the CELTA online?

We spoke to two experienced CELTA trainers from IH Sydney, Yulianto Lukito and Jo Roberts, and asked them for their thoughts on the 100% online CELTA. 

In what ways are the face-to-face and online CELTA courses the same?

Both delivery modes involve teaching second language learners of English wishing to improve their spoken and written communication skills. In terms of teaching principles, the communicative approach to language teaching covering a range of productive and receptive skills as well as language systems is employed. This includes lesson staging and their accompanying teaching techniques such as task setting, conducting meaningful monitoring and feedback, clarification strategies, balance of interaction patterns, etc. 

Using the CELTA 5 booklet as a reference for our assessment criteria, all the requirements for successful completion of the CELTA course including 6 hours of observation, assignments, lesson planning, tutorials, final grading procedures, etc. are identical. 

The only components of online CELTA that deserve more attention are as follows:

  • All the interactive input sessions are executed via the zoom platform, which means that the existing content needs to be tailored towards an online learning environment. It goes without saying that reasonable confidence in utilising technology such as organising whiteboard work, weblinks, etc. plays a bigger part of the overall effectiveness of the delivery.
  • The inevitability of some limitations such as more limited variety of feedback and error correction techniques, less spontaneous whiteboard use, obstacles to conducting kinaesthetic activities, potential technical issues, and insufficient synchronicity of choral drilling, etc. necessitate more anticipation to ensure that the dynamic and organic nature of the face-to-face lessons can still be replicated in the online context.

What advantages does the online CELTA hold over the traditional face-to-face course?

Although some in the industry will undoubtedly maintain the superiority of the face-to-face teaching environment, there is little doubt in our minds that the online mode boasts an abundance of possibilities for new teachers and the learners that they teach. Moreover, many of the characteristics of face-to-face teaching have their corresponding equivalents in the online context and the same ELT principles can be replicated, provided the teacher is able to exercise their own judgement and enhance their creativity, adaptability, and flexibility.

Nathan Poulter (2020) stated, “Many of the other skills an individual develops through virtual delivery such as lesson pacing, careful listening, learner observation and related skills still transfer to face to face classes, albeit with some alteration based on the new context.” There are many merits of a virtual instruction setting, including being able to reach out to a wider international audience, accessibility to all learners across the globe, exposure to the richness and diversity of world-cultures, and the convenience of zero transport.

Find a 100% online CELTA course here.

With thanks to Yulianto and Jo.

Yulianto Lukito has been an ELT educator (teacher/trainer/examiner) since 1997. He holds an MA in Applied Linguistics, MA TESOL, and Cambridge Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (DELTA). In addition to teaching all levels and a wide range of English courses over the years, he has contributed to various professional development events such as conferences, webinars, and journals both locally and internationally. 

Jo Roberts holds a BA (Hons) in Modern Languages and Marketing, and a Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE/ PCET) in TESOL. She has taught at private English schools, universities, Further Education colleges and community-based centres focussed on new migrants and refugees. She has been training on Teacher Training courses (CELTA, CERT IV, FE for ESOL subject specialists) since 2005. She is also a Cambridge CELTA assessor and IH World Inspector.