CertTESOL – Frequently Asked Questions

Teacher talking to her class

If you’re thinking about doing an English language teaching qualification but have a few questions, keep reading! These are some of the most frequently asked questions from people enquiring about our CertTESOL course.

What’s the difference between TEFL, TESOL, CertTESOL and CELTA?

You may have come across a number of different acronyms when researching English language teaching courses, and these can all be very confusing.

The terms TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) are often used as umbrella terms to talk about the industry as a whole (e.g. ‘He’s a TEFL/TESOL teacher’). These terms are often used interchangeably, although TESOL sometimes refers specifically to teaching learners who are living in an English-speaking country and need to improve their English help them to integrate.

CertTESOL (Trinity) and CELTA (Cambridge) are both TEFL/TESOL qualifications that you can work towards if you would like to become an English language teacher. The only real difference between them is that they are run by different examining boards.

They are both level 5 qualifications, they both have the same focus on lesson planning, pronunciation, and teaching skills (and much more!) and they both include 6 hours of observed teaching practice. This observed teaching practice is a requirement for anybody who wants to go on to look for work with an accredited language school in the UK, and it’s something that cheaper, shorter courses don’t tend to include.

You can find out more about the CertTESOL qualification on Trinity’s website here and about the Lewis School’s CertTESOL course here.

Will I be much older/younger than everyone else on my course?

English language teaching courses always used to be associated with gap-year students who wanted to travel and teach at the same time. Although we do still have university graduates sign up, there is a much broader demographic these days, with trainees coming from a range of backgrounds and with a range of motivations.

This includes retirees wanting to do some voluntary work in their free time, former military personnel who are retraining to find civilian work, state school teachers who are thinking about branching out into a different type of teaching, and some people just looking for a career change. This diversity collectively brings a great amount of life experience and skills to the course, where everyone has something to learn and something to contribute.


What if English isn’t my first language? Can I take this course?

Absolutely! You do not need to be a native speaker of English to join this course, but you do need to have a C1 level of English in reading, writing, speaking and listening.

We often have a mix of native and non-native speakers, and while the non-native speakers tend to worry about their own level of English, they often have a great grasp of grammar, having studied it for many years themselves. On the other hand, the native speakers usually have an instinctive understanding of what is ‘right or wrong’ but are unable to explain why. The key thing is that you have an interest in language and a curiosity to learn more about it!

What if I’ve never taught before?

CertTESOL is an initial qualification course, which means that you don’t need to have had any teaching experience prior.

There is in-depth focus on how to plan a lesson from scratch, how to create engaging materials and activities, and teaching techniques that ensure your classes are student-centred and your learners are actively involved. There are also plenty of opportunities to practise these techniques with your peers, with your ‘guinea pig students’ and with support and feedback from your tutors. Even those who do have prior teaching experience find there is a lot to learn on this course, especially if they haven’t taught in an EFL context before.

How much work is involved?

As well as the contact hours with your tutors, there is a lot of written work, research and lesson planning to do in your own time.

On a part-time course, you can expect an average of 9 hours of individual study each week, so time management skills are essential in order to attend the live sessions and complete the written assignments whilst keeping up with your day-to-day responsibilities. All deadlines are communicated at the start of the course, and if you’re prepared to put the time and work in, then it is achievable, but it takes commitment! You can find out more about the course assessment on our website here.

What is the pass rate like?

The thorough interview process means that trainees are only offered a place on the course if we think they have the potential to pass.

The programme is very intensive and the volume of work to complete is high, so it’s important that trainees know what to expect and are able to set a good amount of time aside each week to focus on lesson planning and writing assignments. However, sometimes there are factors out of our control – like illness or family emergencies – and in this instance, if not all of the work has been completed to a passable standard, there is a referral process. This is basically a short, extended period of time to work on any assignments that need to be improved upon in order to pass. If that doesn’t seem achievable, then a trainee might withdraw from the course. However, with tutor support, the majority of our trainees go on to pass (our current pass rate is 90%).

You might want to watch the video below, where some of our graduates talk about what it feels like to pass the course!

Will you help me to find a job afterwards?

Although we don’t actively help graduates apply for jobs, we do include a course session which focuses on careers, where to look for work and how to prepare for the job interview process.

We also like to stay in touch with our trainees beyond the course itself, and offer advice and support whenever we can.  Many of our graduates have also gone on to work with us here at Lewis School of English.

How do I sign up?

 The application process is quite thorough and consists of an application form, a pre-interview task, an interview, and 2 short written tasks.

This gives us the opportunity to assess your English, your motivation for doing the course and your language awareness. It also means that you get to find out all about the course before committing – we certainly don’t want anyone signing up without knowing what they’re signing up for!

For more information

If you still have some unanswered questions and would like to find out more, feel free to email our course leader, Abby Croucher, at abby@lewis-school.co.uk for more information!

Visit our CertTESOL page >

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