What is a Cambridge University CELTA certificate?

This is the first of three chapters about the Cambridge University CELTA. To complete this reader, read each chapter carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.   

– Introduce the concept of the Cambridge CELTA certificate

– Describe the what, who, why, when and where

– Provide guidance about completing successful applications

Chapter 1

Teaching the English language as a profession is certainly not new, and in the past thirty years this field has grown considerably – both in demand and in qualified practitioners. What was once considered a ‘gap year’ or cultural experience by many is now a life-long career path for some. While that path may have various entry points and stops along the way, the vast majority of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) tutors will find themselves needing a teaching qualification on their CV.

The most common qualification of significance for English Language Tutors (ELTs) is the Cambridge University CELTA. Should you be a tutor that has any interest in pursing a career in teaching English overseas and are looking for the next move that will make you a more competitive, competent and qualified teacher, then begin completing this short three-chapter reader. Chapter 1 walks tutors through the what, who, why, when, where and how of a CELTA before discussing the application process in Chapter 2. In Chapter 3, we complete the reader by offering ten tips for surviving and succeeding at this qualification. For those who stay in the field, the CELTA is arguably the most valuable early qualification on the market.


What is a CELTA?

The CELTA was once called a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults, but is now referred to instead as the Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. A CELTA entails:

  • face-to-face classes (usually over four or five weeks) OR part-time enrolment (with weekend face-to-face sessions over a number of weeks) OR part-time blended enrolment (with a part online and part face-to-face course over weeks or months)
  • observing a CELTA trainer teach
  • assessed and non-assessed teaching observations
  • peer observation and feedback sessions
  • professional examiner feedback and grading
  • coursework (lesson plans and reflective essays)
  • course fees of between £1,300 and £2,000

Who is the CELTA for?

The CELTA is intended for all who are new to (or at least who are lacking qualifications in) teaching English as a foreign or second language. While a tutor doesn’t have to have teaching experience before applying, this course is not recommended for those who aren’t sure whether they wish to be English teachers as it’s quite intensive. Commonly, this internationally recognised qualification is taken by adults who have had some limited teaching experience – whether voluntarily or in a casual environment. This certification can ultimately be for anyone however, from a recent bachelor’s or master’s graduate to someone looking for a career change. Whatever the motivation, all CELTA applicants should:

  • have a strong desire to learn
  • have a willingness to adapt to the training
  • be 18 years+, educated up to the point of university entry level
  • be C2+ proficient in English in the European Common Framework (if non-native)

Why is this qualification necessary?

The CELTA is designed to ensure that any teacher who passes has been exposed to the pedagogical practices that the field deems necessary to ethically and professionally tutor a non-native speaker of English. While you’re not expected to become an expert of the field in this short intensive course, teachers will have to demonstrate that they have the awareness and ability to create lessons, manage classrooms, stage activities and deliver content in a way that reflects a sound pedagogical approach. Due to this foundation of knowledge and skills, CELTAs (or the equivalent Trinity or TEFL qualifications) have become a prerequisite for most teaching jobs all over the world. Without such a certification, you will likely find yourself in an irreputable and short-term position.

When’s the best time to complete a CELTA? 

The best time do a CELTA is very dependent on the individual, yet the risk of failure means that this consideration should be carefully made. To help decide when the best time is, budding teachers should consider the following four questions:

  1. Can I afford the course?
  2. Will my career benefit from this qualification?
  3. Do I have the time in my schedule to commit to the course?
  4. Am I living somewhere I can access the course? Visit Cambridge’s website to check for which testing centres are near you.


Where is the best place to do a CELTA?

There are CELTA courses being run in many of the cities around the world, and you may be surprised at some of the locations – English teachers love to travel! While for practical reasons you may simply complete the nearest course to your current home, do consider whether you can combine this learning experience with a truly authentic and immersive experience abroad.


How do I get started?

While formal application packs are available through the Cambridge CELTA website, please note that most CELTA courses now require that the applicant passes an interview process also. The CELTA is rigorous, and trainers don’t wish to take on trainees that are likely to become over-burdened and fail. With this in mind, continue reading on to Chapter 2 of this short reader to learn the top ten tips for acing these interviews and getting accepted onto the course.

To reference this reader:

Academic Marker (2022) Cambridge University CELTA. Available at: https://academicmarker.com/careers-advice/getting-qualified/cambridge-university-celta/ (Accessed: Date Month Year).

1 of 3 Chapters Completed


Once you’ve completed all three chapters in this short reader about Cambridge University CELTA qualifications, you might then wish to download our Chapter Worksheets to check your progress or print for your students. These professional PDF worksheets can be easily accessed for only a few Academic Marks.

Chapter 1 explores the topic: What is a Cambridge University CELTA certificate? Our Chapter 1 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button. 

Chapter 2 explores the topic: What are 10 steps for successful CELTA interviews? Our Chapter 2 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button. 

Chapter 3 explores the topic: Which top 10 tips achieve an A grade in the CELTA? Our Chapter 3 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button. 

To save yourself 2 Marks, click on the button below to gain unlimited access to all of our Cambridge University CELTA Chapter Worksheets. This All-in-1 Pack includes every chapter, activity and answer key related to this topic in one handy and professional PDF.

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Autumn 2022