There are two main internationally recognized initial teaching qualifications: TKT and CELTA. The main difference between TKT and CELTA is that TKT is a test so it’s quite theoretical, whereas CELTA focuses on practical skills with real-life teaching experience.
“Why do I need a qualification if I’ve got a Bachelor or even a Master’s degree in Languages?”, you may ask. Well, there are many reasons for that:
- Prove your knowledge of methodology and English language teaching’
- Structure and extend your knowledge;
- Develop your teaching skills;
- Build your confidence;
- Get a globally recognised certificate;
- Travel and teach English!
Below, I will tell more about both certificates in detail.
TKT is a series of modular tests that check your knowledge of English language teaching. There are 5 modules: 3 core modules about the principles and practice of English Language Teaching and 2 specialist modules.
Module 1 — Background to language learning and teaching.
This module tests your knowledge of terms and concepts in ELT; things that influence the language learning, learning factors.
Module 2 — Lesson planning and use of resources for language teaching.
This module checks what teachers should keep in mind when planning their lessons. It also covers the linguistic and methodological resources that help teachers in lesson planning.
Module 3 — Managing the teaching and learning process.
This module covers the language used, the classroom managements, interactions, roles the teacher can take, etc.
TKT: CLIL — Content and Language Integrated Learning.
This module checks the knowledge of CLIL approach: aims, the reasons to use, how to plan and assess such lessons, learning strategies and demands.
TKT: YL — Young Learners
This module tests the main concepts of teaching young learners and developing their language skills: how to plan and assess their work.
You can take any modules you want, in any order, over any time period. You will get a Cambridge English certificate for each module you pass. You can prepare yourself or take on offline or online course. You need at least CEFR Level B1.
Here you can find the TKT Handbook.
Here you can find sample papers, glossary and official preparation material.
I would say CELTA is the most widely recognised teaching qualification; it’s quite often required by employers. You can take it offline (full-time or part-time) or online (a blended course, combining online self-study with teaching practice). You need at least CEFR Level high C1.
CELTA covers the following topics:
- Learners and teachers, and the teaching and learning context
- Language analysis and awareness
- Language skills: reading, listening, speaking and writing
- Planning and resources for different teaching contexts
- Developing teaching skills and professionalism
You can read the summary here.
You can also download the CELTA syllabus.
Throughout the course you will have:
- input sessions on the theory
- tutors’ consultations
- supervised lesson planning
- 6 hours’ assessed teaching practice
- peer observation
- observations of lessons of ELT professionals
The assessment consists of your teaching practice and written assignments.
You will teach 2 classes of different levels. There will be certain criteria against which your performance is assessed.
There will be 4 written assignments (each 750–1,000 words). The topics are:
- analysing and responding to adult learner needs
- analysing language for teaching purposes
- teaching language skills
- reflecting on classroom teaching.
This is a helpful book to use for preparation.
I also recommend reading the following books before the course:
- The Practice of English Language Teaching, J. Harmer, Longman
- Learning Teaching, J. Scrivener, Macmillan ELT
- Practical English Usage, M. Swan, OUP
- Grammar for English Language Teachers, M. Parrott, CUP
- Teaching English Grammar. What to Teach and How to Teach it, J. Scrivener, Macmillan
In conclusion, I would recommend choosing CELTA if you work mainly with adults and you want to have an immediate practice of new knowledge of methodology. Choose TKT if you want to test and confirm your knowledge of methodology or if you specialise in working with young learners or you have CLIL classes and you need to extend your knowledge in this specific area.