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What is a TEFL Certificate Really Worth (EFA's Certificate too)?

Is it possible to provide an honest answer to this question?

First, let’s define the terms, because they’re important. The term “TEFL” means “teaching English as a foreign language.” In theory, then, a TEFL certificate refers to certificates that claim that their holders have been trained to teach English as a foreign language.

And so, if any certificate can be considered a TEFL certificate, it is the CELTA.

And yet…

I cannot count the times that I have been asked if we, English for Africa, a CELTA center, offer a TEFL certificate… as well. Meaning that for many people, there are TEFL certificates, and then there is the CELTA (or Certesol, which typically enjoys the same status). So what is the difference between them?

To OfQual or Not to Regulate

At a very basic level, the CELTA can rightly claim to be qualitatively superior to most other TEFL training courses out there, for a number of different reasons—but here is not the place to go into them.

The CELTA is also marketed far better than other courses, including the mystique that is carefully cultivated around the course. The fact that the certificate is produced by

Cambridge University also, quite certainly, helps.

And finally, there is the fact that it, like the Certesol, is an OfQual regulated course.

OfQual is the English and Welsh government body that regulates training in the UK. It is their job to evaluate training offered by organizations in the UK, and to rank them. The CELTA and Certesol have been ranked at Level 5 (equivalent to post-high school studies) and the DELTA at Level 7 (the equivalent of studies undertaken at a Masters level).

These are not the only OfQual regulated courses out there, but they are the best known of them.

The overwhelming majority of TEFL courses out there are not OfQual regulated.

What is an Accredited TEFL Course?

So who regulates or accredits all the other TEFL certificates out there? The short answer is… whoever wants to.

The fact is that the TEFL industry is, generally speaking, unregulated (the CELTA’s success is in large part due to the fact that it is the exception to this rule). In an unregulated field, a company that spends the right amount of money, and sends the right message, will acquire a certain amount of legitimacy in the eyes of the market. The courses offered by these companies will claim to be accredited, and if they play their cards right, the market will believe them.

What about EFA’s TEFL Certificate?

EFA has decided to offer a TEFL certificate for the following reasons:

  • Due to a variety of factors, the CELTA is very expensive—too expensive for most prospective English teachers in our part of the world to afford.

  • It is overkill. Many believe that too much is crammed into a single 120-hour course; most of what CELTA candidates learn from the course is learnt after the course is over, when candidates transpose their lessons to their teaching contexts. In other words, it takes more than 120 hours to learn what is taught you on the CELTA.

The quality of our course is guaranteed by… me, basically. I designed the course, and I will either train on it, or train the trainers on the course, and periodically assess them myself to ensure that the courses they are running meet my personal standard.

I’m nobody special, by the way. I’m just a teacher trainer with high standards—CELTA standards, to be precise.

Who Accredits EFA’s CELTA Course?

But because I’m nobody special, nobody who hasn’t dealt personally with English for Africa will have any reason to believe our certificate is worth much.

This is why we’re also offering the Westminster College 120-hour TEFL certificate, for the same per-candidate price that we are paying for it. Because in an unregulated industry, value is projected by marketing and a name. Both prospective candidates and employers who haven’t heard of us may have heard of Westminster College.

For a much higher price, we are also offering the OfQual Level 5 regulate Focus Award certificate.

The same course can obtain for candidates three different certificates. The quality of the certificate determines the price of the course.

Quality in Africa

However, the quality of the certificate does not determine the quality of the course. Highly reputable certificates can be obtained for low quality courses, and vice versa.

I have no illusions about the image portrayed by any certificate with the word “Africa” in it, and I knew this when I decided to call our company English for Africa. We never aimed, however, to follow people’s opinions, we aim to change the world—people’s opinions will, eventually, follow. We believe that our TEFL certificate is one more step in that direction.


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