What is CELTA?

What is CELTA?

The CELTA is an intensive TEFL - Teaching English as a Foreign Language - qualification designed for people with little or no previous English language teaching experience or training. It is highly regarded and recognised internationally and can lead to a thoroughly rewarding and life enhancing experience through helping students achieve a vital language skill for their own life goals.

When you take the CELTA you will go on to become a successful English language teacher. You could also later become a teacher trainer, academic manager, and even a director of a school. The CELTA is also used as a steppingstone to other careers in teaching, such as marketing or course book writing. It is a key to many doors and the career path is entirely up to you.

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Why should I do the CELTA?

An established and reputable qualification

There are many choices when it comes to TEFL qualifications. They range in price and course content, whether they are delivered online or in person, and whether they are certified by an official body. The CELTA is an established qualification, recognised globally and highly regarded across the TEFL industry. It will equip you with the essential requirements needed to land your first TEFL job and offers opportunities to develop your skills later if you choose to advance your teaching career.

Ready to apply for new jobs

Once you’ve completed your CELTA, you’ll be in a great position to be able to apply for teaching jobs around the world. You’ll soon see how rewarding a career in teaching can be – no two days are the same, and the work is very people focused with lots of interesting interaction and sharing of ideas. Helping someone to learn a language can mean you have a direct role in them changing their lives for the better. It might allow them to do a job they couldn't do before or pass an exam that allows them to study abroad. Better still, after the CELTA, you will get to learn and grow too, as there are plenty of opportunities for further professional development and improvement as you gain experience in teaching.

Career opportunities

CELTA is an amazing springboard into a lifelong career in the industry and numerous different areas and roles within it. You may discover you’re interested in teaching methodology, academic management, writing materials, teacher training, marketing, business development – there are no end of long-term prospects.

Transferable skills

Taking the CELTA and standing up in front of a class will also help you to develop some transferable skills. Whether you continue in the world of education, or ultimately move on to another area, being able to deliver a class and present to an audience will certainly help you in the future.

Incredible life experiences

The incredible life experiences associated with the CELTA and teaching abroad shouldn’t go without a mention. A CELTA qualification allows teachers to apply for work in many different countries and experience the lifestyle and culture that goes with each place. The certificate trains new teachers to be able to teach classes both in situations where there is no common tongue amongst students, and where the teacher is unable to speak the local language. Of course, we certainly recommend teachers learn the local language and integrate themselves in the local culture once they have settled in their adopted country, but there aren’t so many jobs out there that don’t require being fluent in the local language to start with.

Making new friends and meeting people you wouldn’t otherwise have met, taking yourself out of your comfort zone, trying new things, exploring new languages and cultures – these are experiences that will enrich your life and that you'll remember forever. The CELTA and teaching abroad is full of these experiences!

Training with the experts

CELTA was first developed by International House in 1962 as the International House Certificate “IHC”. The pioneering course was the first of its kind in how to teach a foreign language interactively and communicatively. It was a ground-breaking, practical short course, and was the first to incorporate compulsory observed teaching practice. It had teacher development, classroom observation and idea sharing at its core.

The International House Certificate rapidly set the standard for qualifications in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, with thousands of teachers worldwide becoming IH trainees and teachers. From 1977, the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and then the University of Cambridge developed the course and it evolved into the CELTA, the qualification that is so widely recognised and respected today. 

Cambridge Assessment English


Advantages of a worldwide community

Taking the CELTA with International House also means you can benefit from all the support and materials that we offer to our students. This extends to our alumni community too when they become teachers. We host a Wellbeing Season in March, with workshops focusing on tips and advice on the mental wellbeing of teachers, and a Teachers Online Conference in May, with a series of sessions on anything teaching-related, including young learners, classroom games and technology.

How do I know if the CELTA is right for me?

If you’re serious about wanting to teach abroad and would like to gain a qualification which will prepare you extensively, the CELTA is for you. The intensive nature of the full-time course covers everything you need to know in four weeks, as well as preparing you for the real thing with teaching practice in front of real students. If it all sounds a bit daunting, then please rest assured that most CELTA trainees feel the same! Preparation before the course is key and will ensure your time actually doing the CELTA is well spent and you won’t fall behind. 

After you’ve passed the course, you will be in the best possible position to get a job teaching English abroad based on the hard work that goes into the CELTA.

If you’re still curious about whether the CELTA is right for you, read some of our TEFL Stories from teachers who started out getting their qualification with International House. 

What does the CELTA involve?

Standing up in front of a class full of students for the first time is a daunting prospect, so you need to make sure you have the skills required to teach effectively. The CELTA course has the following core components to prepare you for the classroom.

  1. The course is 120 hours in total and you will receive a lot of input from your tutors on teaching methodology, lesson planning, language analysis and language skills.
  2. You’ll have the opportunity to observe experienced teachers in a real-life language classroom situation and learn about the different skills and techniques they use.
  3. You will teach real language students throughout your course and by the end you will have had 6 hours of observed and assessed teaching practice. This practical experience is invaluable when you start your first job.
  4. As well as being assessed in the classroom, you will complete four written assignments based on the input you receive. There is no final exam; you are assessed throughout the course, so you can learn and improve as you progress.

Every course is moderated by an external assessor, appointed by Cambridge English, so you will receive a certificate from Cambridge English, part of the University of Cambridge.

How long is the CELTA course?

You can either take the course intensively over 4 weeks (standard) or 5 weeks. You can also take it part-time over 12 weeks. Some centres also offer a blended version with some input delivered online.

Am I eligible for CELTA?

The entry requirements for a CELTA course are quite straightforward:

1. You must be at least 18. 
The Cambridge English Assessment minimum age is 18, but most schools recommend that you should be at least 20. As you will be standing up and teaching in front of a class of students, there is a level of maturity that will help you to feel more comfortable doing this, so do have a think about whether you would be happy to do this. 

2. You must have finished high school or secondary education, and you must have qualifications of a high enough level to give you entry to a degree course. 
Many people will have a degree, although it’s not a requirement.

3. You must have an advanced level of English, equivalent to C1 or IELTS Band 7. 
You should also have an awareness of language, but there is no requirement for English to be your first language. 

All schools will give you advice and guidance before accepting you onto a course. Taking the course will be a big commitment for you, so no tutor wants to accept people who they don’t think will have a good chance of passing.

This is why there is a detailed application form and an interview. All schools will want to reassure themselves that: 

  • You really want a career teaching English.
  • You want to take a course which will help you practically in the classroom, not just be a highly theoretical academic qualification.
  • You want to learn the skills to become an effective teacher.
  • You have the right personality to relate well to your future students.
  • You understand something about English grammar or are keen to learn it.
  • You can reflect on your own strengths and weaknesses and are willing to improve. 
  • You are able to complete written assignments.
  • You are prepared for 4 weeks of hard work. 

How much is the CELTA?

The cost of a CELTA, or the course fees for a CELTA, will depend on whether you want to take it in the UK, Europe, Asia, or somewhere else in the world. To compare prices please see the full list here.

Remember! CELTA is one of the best courses to start your career of teaching English abroad. There are many “TEFL courses” out there at cheaper prices, but as with many things in life, you get what you pay for. Would you be happy if:

  • You were not prepared for teaching. Think about how scary and stressful it will be when you have to stand in front of your first class with very little idea of what to do. 
  • You had difficulty getting a job. When recruiting, many employers will prefer to shortlist candidates who have a more highly recognised qualification.

The CELTA course will open up the possibility of the best international English teaching jobs and an interesting and rewarding career. 

Taking a CELTA course will give you: 

1. A qualification which is recognised. If you want an English teaching job in Thailand, Italy, Mexico, China, or anywhere else in the world, you can’t give yourself a better start than by taking a CELTA course.

2. Content which has been revised and developed over nearly 60 years. The CELTA has been finely tuned for decades. Hundreds of thousands of teachers have landed an international teaching job after getting a CELTA certification.

3. Small class sizes. The ratio of teachers to students on a CELTA is 1:6. The teachers have lots of time to get to know you and give you personalised help.

4. Teaching practice. Your school will organise classes of real students who need to learn English, and you get experience of teaching them right from the first week. You get individual feedback on every session. It’s invaluable and you have the best opportunity to feel confident when you land your first dream job.

A world of possibilities

With a CELTA, a career in TEFL can open up a world of possibilities. There are hundreds of thousands of TEFL jobs around the world. You can travel and teach abroad, and have a fulfilling and rewarding career meeting people of different cultures.

What is amazing about teaching in TEFL is that you can travel the world without being fluent in the local language. With what other job do you get the opportunity to live and work in the country of your choice, regardless of whether you can speak their language?

Why take the CELTA?


How can I prepare for the CELTA course?

There are plenty of things you can do to get prepared for the CELTA. Listen to the advice of some tutors, and follow these simple steps. 

1. Brush up on your English grammar skills. If you book your course through our website, you will receive free access to our Grammar Course which will teach you everything you need to know prior to taking the CELTA. There are also many resources on the internet where you can learn the basics and test yourself.

2. Get reading. Another great way to get prepared is to do some course-related reading.

3. Observe a language class. If you’re unsure about whether teaching is for you, seek out a local language school and ask if you can observe some classes. Sitting in on classes teaching different language levels is best so that you can compare the teaching methods for elementary vs advanced, for example. 

4. Read our CELTA testimonials and watch our videos. We have lots of feedback and advice from course tutors and CELTA trainees who have completed the CELTA. If you don’t know anyone who has taken the course, this is the best place to go for guidance and information. We are mindful not to sugar-coat anything; what you hear from our trainees and tutors is 100% real!

5. Clear your schedule. While on the CELTA, you won’t have time for much, or probably anything, else. When you’re not in lessons or revising at the school, you will be completing essay tasks at your accommodation and planning your lessons. The best way you can prepare for this is to ensure you have a clear schedule ahead for the 4 weeks so you can maximise your time during the course. 

6. Be organised. This is advice for before and during the course. Have an organisation system that is easy to follow for everything, from essay writing to lesson planning. This will also help with your time management during the course. If you’ve been accepted for the course, make sure you finish the pre-course task before starting.

How hard is the CELTA course?

A CELTA course is designated as a level 5 UK qualification. All accredited qualifications in the UK are given a level on the Qualifications and Credit Framework for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

As a comparison, A levels are level 3, the first year of a degree is level 4, the second year of a degree is level 5, and the final year of a degree is level 6. 

This means a CELTA course is about as hard as the second year of a degree. But as it’s only a 4-week course (usually), it is not as big a qualification as year 2 of a degree. Simply put, if you have successfully passed a degree, you have the intellect to successfully pass a CELTA. If you don’t have a degree, then you are not too far from the level of a CELTA.

The main reason why some people find the CELTA quite tough is because it’s an intensive course. If you take the full-time course over 4 weeks, there are lectures or input sessions each week day, teaching practice to prepare for and complete, and assignments to write. Unlike a degree, where you may have only 12 hours of contact time a week and plenty of time to work on your essays, CELTA may seem hard.

However, CELTA wouldn’t exist in its current format if it wasn’t achievable. We interviewed some CELTA trainees about how they were finding the course 2-weeks in and this is what they had to say. 

7 Reasons to invest in CELTA

We know that investing in CELTA is a significant commitment, taking four weeks to complete full-time, but it is also the most important investment a teacher can make early on in their TEFL career. Read our blog post for seven reasons why you should invest in a CELTA.

How can I prepare for my application and interview?

The application form, interview task, and actual interview may seem hard. Don’t be put off! Your tutors just want to get to know your abilities and what you are capable of. 

Many English nationals can struggle with the grammar questions, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t become excellent teachers. You may know more than you think, although the terminology may be a bit too specific for you. The interviewers will judge this and are likely to accept you onto the course if show that you have the basics and a willingness to learn.

Similarly, your interview task will probably ask questions about how you might teach some vocabulary or a point of grammar. If you have never taught before, do some research on this and formulate some solutions to some classroom situations that may arise. Again, the interviewer will not expect you to know exactly how to deal with everything but doing some research and having some good ideas in your head will certainly be helpful.

And just remember: if you knew everything already, there would be no need to take the course. Most of all, the interviewers want to know that you have the capability to deal with the demands of the course, including coping with stress, managing your time, and working with people.

I’m worried about the teaching practice (TP) element, what does it involve?

People who have not taught at all before may find the teaching practice on the CELTA hard – and the thought of it even more daunting. It can take a lot of nervous energy and preparation.

But there really is no need to worry. Your tutors are there to help you through – there is no expectation that you have taught before, so they don’t expect you to be good from the start. The point of the course is to teach you how to teach, so your first teaching practice sessions probably won’t be perfect, but as long as you put into practice what you have learnt by the end, you will be successful. 

The general teaching practice (TP) set-up is that you will be put on a TP team with a set of TP points. Each member of the team will take on one of the points and create a lesson plan around it. A teaching rota is prepared and then on your given time and date, you will teach your TP point to a group of real students while your CELTA tutor and team observe. After your lesson, you will meet with your tutor for feedback which you can then take on board to improve your next lesson. You will be surprised at how quickly you advance and become more independent.

The history of CELTA and International House

International House founders, John and Brita Haycraft had two big ideas - raising the standards of English teaching, and the practical training of teachers for the classroom. In 1962 they desiged a teacher training course to prepare people to face multi-lingual classes with confidence and skill. This course has become the CELTA, and more people take one with IH than any other school group in the world.

What better choice than to take CELTA with the people who invented it! 


How is CELTA graded? 

There are four grades for a CELTA course. The highest grade is Pass A, then Pass B, Pass, and Fail.

A fail is only awarded to students whose assignments just do not reach the required level. With the personalised support you will receive on the course this is VERY unlikely. 

Statistics from Cambridge University English Assessment show that for 2018, the fail rate for all CELTAs (wherever taken around the world) was just 0.6%.  

So, CELTA is not hard to pass. 

In 2018, 66.1% of CELTA candidates were awarded a “Pass”, 23.9% were awarded a “Pass B” and 5.4% awarded a “Pass A”. 

Is accommodation included in the course price?

Accommodation costs are not included in the price of the CELTA. The course fee includes the cost of enrolment and all tuition, so you will need to pay for your own accommodation. However, the school will be there to help you arrange where you will be staying and will usually have a list of approved options for you to choose from, e.g. a home stay family or a room in a house share. The accommodation type you choose will really tailor your study experience, especially if you choose to do the CELTA in a new country or somewhere further afield, so you should think about what kind of lifestyle you want to have while taking the course.

What happens if I fail the CELTA?

The likelihood is that you will not fail the CELTA. As mentioned above, the fail rate in 2018 was just 0.6% and this is usually from people dropping out of the course. The school will not accept you onto the CELTA unless they believe that you are capable of passing it, and while you’re on the course you will receive a lot of support and guidance. The tutors will be there for you if you have any questions or concerns. The best way to ensure you won’t fail is by clearing your schedule so that you can dedicate yourself 100% to the course, preparing yourself by reading up and knowing what to expect during the lessons, and brushing up on your grammar.

If you book your CELTA through our website, you will receive free access to our Grammar Course which will cover everything you need to know prior to taking the CELTA. We also have many articles with advice and information on our blog pages for you to read.

If the worst happens and you do fail the CELTA, it might be that you weren’t prepared enough. Take some time to assess whether the course, and teaching English, is definitely for you, and if you decide it is, you will have to take the necessary preparations before you take the course again.


Why wait? Apply for your CELTA now!

CELTA from an IH school will boost your job chances.

Whether you want to study and work locally, or travel and have an adventure, we have a location to suit! Why wait?

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If I take the CELTA, can I get a job with International House?

Absolutely. Our Jobs board is updated on a regular basis with career opportunities from around the International House worldwide network, from EFL teachers to academic managers. Once you have gained your CELTA qualification, you can get started with TEFL!

As a minimum, all English teacher jobs with International House must…

  • be externally validated by a reputable examination body (e.g. a university, recognised examination board or other body with Royal Charter);
  • have 6 hours of observed and assessed teaching practice (i.e. teaching practice where a qualified assessor observes the trainee teacher teaching real students and gives feedback on his or her performance);
  • include at least 100 hours of face-to-face ELT input from a suitably qualified trainer.

The CELTA will equip you with all these basic requirements.

Will the school help me find a job afterwards?

Yes, certainly your school will give you lots of guidance on how to land your first TEFL job and while you’re studying there, you will be able to ask for tips and advice on gaining teaching English work. With the CELTA, you are properly qualified to teach English anywhere around the world, and definitely at International House schools. When searching for your TEFL job, be sure to check our jobs board for the latest available positions at IH.

Current Jobs with International House.

I’ve done the CELTA… what’s next?

International House offers opportunities to further your knowledge and experience, whether that’s by taking the Delta (Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages) for experienced language teachers or specialising by taking an online course through the IH Online Teacher Training Institute. You can specialise in teaching Young Learners and Teenagers, teaching one-to-one, or in Business English. You can improve your theoretical knowledge of teaching by taking the IH Certificate in Advanced Methodology. You could eventually become an academic manager. Some certificates are also offered in our schools. You can take a look at the further development opportunities here.

But you can also choose to take your teaching skills and transfer them over to another sector or career path, such as writing and developing course materials, marketing, teacher training, academic management, or something completely different!