Marta, English Language Teacher at BSC York

There are several different ways to become an English Language teacher. The main accepted paths are through a CELTA, a TEFL or a TESOL qualification. These qualifications will allow you to teach at a British Council-recognised school or college all over the world.

Here at BSC, we provide CELTA courses. This is because we think that CELTA courses offer more hands-on teaching practice than other English Language teaching qualifications. This could make it easier to find a job at a British Council accredited institution, or in a country such as the UK or Australia.



What is CELTA?

CELTA stands for Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults/Other Languages. It is a great way to become an English Language Teacher if you are at the beginning of your career, and is the most widely-recognised English Language teaching qualification in the world. CELTA courses are accredited by Cambridge English, and cover basic teaching principles and structured lesson planning sessions. Most importantly, you will have the opportunity to practice your teaching! You will be able to observe experienced teachers as well as get feedback from teacher trainers to help you gain confidence in the classroom.


How is a CELTA different to other English Language teaching qualifications?

CELTA courses are only taught at centres which have official approval from Cambridge English. These centres have to follow guidelines and regulations set out by Cambridge English. Therefore, teachers and trainers at these locations have the correct knowledge and experience to support you. You also have significantly more teaching practice than on other English teaching courses, as well as opportunities to observe experienced teachers.

Other terms you might hear are ‘TEFL’ (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and ‘TESOL’ (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).¬†These are often used interchangeably. TEFL is an overall term used to describe teaching English to speakers of other languages, and there is no overall accreditation board. This means that courses vary greatly in quality and are not always recognised by schools and colleges. TESOL is more commonly used in countries where English is the first language – such as the UK, Australia or New Zealand.

Many schools and colleges that teach English as a Foreign/Second Language require potential candidates to have an official EFL teaching qualification. Lots of online courses offer cheap, quick-fix opportunities which are not properly accredited. This will mean that many colleges and schools will not accept any these courses as proof of training and experience.

Make sure that you choose a provider which is internationally recognised and approved by the British Council.


Is English Language teaching a good career move?

Having an English Language qualification such as a CELTA will open up many opportunities for you, both in the UK and overseas. You won’t be limited by location, as you will be able to work all over the world – or teach online.

Even when you become an English Language teacher in your home country, you get to meet and learn from people from all over the world.

No one day is ever the same! Even if you are teaching a language point or unit from a book that you have taught before, the people in your class(es) will be different. This means contexts and conversations are also different.

English language teaching can be really flexible. Many centres having rolling enrollments, rather than fixed term dates, meaning that you have greater choice when taking holidays or working around your family.


What do English Language teachers do every day?

English Language teachers do many things in addition to helping their students learn English!

You could be helping students to develop 21st Century Skills, such as collaboration and problem solving in order to prepare them for the modern workplace.

Depending on where you work, you could be asked to take part in your college or school’s social programme. This could involve taking students to local cultural sights, and encouraging them to speak in English. You might be asked to lead or support an additional club, focusing on a skill such as grammar acquisition or conversation practice.

You could be developing your own practice through CPD (‘Continuing Professional Development’) or planning new lessons. Your college or school might give you the chance to observe other teachers – this really helps to improve your teaching practice!


What makes a good English teacher?

There are many different qualities that a good English teacher can have.

Having a welcoming classroom is important. Your learners may feel self-conscious about making mistakes. This means creating an environment where mistakes are a part of learning is vital. You could incorporate making mistakes into your lesson: or maybe show you can make mistakes too!

Another important quality is having good subject knowledge. This is where having a CELTA qualification can really help, as you will have better understanding of how to support your learners. Great teachers will also be good learners, so keeping up with CPD through your school or via the British Council is a good idea. Your students will also help: lots of teachers find they learn as much from their students as they teach!

Being open and enthusiastic are great qualities for teachers to have. Your students will take inspiration from you and you can make a huge difference to their lives.


What are some common mistakes that trainee teachers make?


“I’ve taught English before: it will be easy!”

Even experienced teachers can learn new practices and principles from completing a CELTA course. For example, you might find that you talk too much, rather than letting your students speak. Are your instructions clear or confusing? Do you have good lesson organisation and give your students enough time to practice? These are all topics that you cover when on a teacher training course.


Grading your language.

Remember that you are going to be working with English language learners. This means that if you become an English Language Teacher, it is vital that you use language appropriate for their level. Additionally, you are likely to be working with adults. One common mistake is for new teachers to ‘speak down’ to students as if they were children. Ways to avoid this include planning the language that you are going to use before class. Is there any vocabulary that you think might cause a problem? Can you use students to help you pre-teach new words? What about using visual aids to support your teaching?


The teacher is always in charge of the lesson.

One of the joys of teaching adults English is that often your lessons will involve ideas your students have given you. For example, a student might as you how they could use new vocabulary in a work context. They could also ask for additional examples for a new grammar point, or want to discuss an idea common in their country. Remember: you are there to help the students; if a lesson doesn’t go completely according to plan, that’s okay (and completely normal!)


“I’m a native English speaker: I don’t need to learn grammar rules”.

Some of our most effective English language teachers are non-native speakers of English. This is because they have spent time learning grammar rules, as well as knowing what it is like to be a language learner themselves.

Many native English speakers may not have studied grammar when you were at school. It’s important to be able to explain when, where, what, how and why (!) grammatical structures are used and to be able to give examples. Again, this is where taking a CELTA is vital to support you as a new teacher.


“I’ve got no teaching experience, I can’t become an English Language Teacher”.

The CELTA course is designed both for people of all experience levels – from beginner to advanced. As part of your training, you will have classroom practice (online or face-to-face, depending on the course you choose). You will work with experienced teachers who will support your training and give you helpful feedback to help you become the great teacher you would like to be. Additionally, you will get to practice teaching with real students. This will help improve your confidence in the classroom.


Thinking about taking the leap into English teaching?

BSC offers a range of CELTA courses (in person, online, or a mix of both) to fit your lifestyle and schedule.