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TEFL/TESL Certificate and Distance Learning Programs

Those who decide not to begin their teaching career with a TESL/TEFL/TESOL degree or endorsement may choose to pursue a shorter term certificate program, such as Trinity, CELTA, SIT TESOL Certificate, or an independent certificate program. An independent TESL or TEFL certificate program, which is a program that is neither accredited nor affiliated with an accredited postsecondary institution, can serve as a gateway to the field and profession of ESL/EFL teaching for those who have proficiency in English.

Standards for Short-Term TEFL/TESL Certificate Programs

In response to the proliferation of short-term TESOL certificate programs around the world, TESOL International Association has developed a set of standards for entry-level short-term certificate programs.

The standards are intended to provide a framework for organizations to use in developing, implementing, and evaluating programs that prepare candidates to teach English as a second or foreign language that require 120–180 interactive hours. Please note that TESOL International Association does not provide recommendations or endorsements for degree or certificate programs.

To purchase the standards and program​ assessment tool, please visit the TESOL Bookstore.

CELTA, SIT TESOL Certificate, and Trinity

Other short-term certificate programs include
  • the CELTA program, administered by England's University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate
  • the SIT TESOL Certificate, a NEASC-accredited program of SIT Graduate Institute, administered by World Learning
  • Trinity courses, operated by Trinity College in London
These certificate programs are standardized programs that regulate the selection of candidates, adhere to a standard curriculum, and ensure that trainees receive quality instruction and are graded objectively. Similar to other certificate programs, these programs alone lack the sufficient qualification to teach in most institutions in the United States, although the practical training required as part of the certification process greatly enhances one's teaching skills.

Distance Learning Programs

Degree programs as well as certificate courses in TE​FL/TESL are also offered via distance learning programs. This educational format is well suited for those who are already in the field or teaching English abroad and want to pursue a degree while continuing to teach.

A good TEFL certificate program should focus on practical training. Employers are not interested in credentials from a distance education program that does not incorporate practical teaching experience.

Programs geared toward experienced teachers, such as the RSA Diploma (open to those with certain TEFL/TESL certificates and 2 years of teaching experience) and MA and PhD programs from accredited institutions, are viable options for distance learning. TESOL recommends that you contact the schools directly to obtain contact information for the accrediting body.