Fifteen years ago, when I decided to move to Thailand to teach English, I knew I had to take either a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or a CELTA (Certificate in English Teaching To Adults) certification program so I could be better qualified to teach in the country.
Doing research online, I found some people who said the CELTA was a better certification to have, while others said the TEFL was the certificate to take. Confusing at the very least.
In reality, which of the two certification programs is actually better, or are both perfectly fine when it comes to getting a teaching job in Thailand?
Which is more useful for teaching in Thailand – CELTA or TEFL – Even though some people still maintain the CELTA is better for Thailand, it’s not.
That is because most teaching jobs in Thailand are teaching children and, as the CELTA is a certification course for teaching adults, much of what they teach you on the CELTA course isn’t valid for teaching in Thailand.
The TEFL, on the other hand, teaches you to teach both adults and children, so is useful no matter what age of student you end up teaching.
Does the CELTA have more value than the TEFL in Thailand? – No. In fact, most Thai employers don’t know the difference so it does not matter if you have a CELTA or a TEFL.
Plus, as the Thai government now requires a TEFL in order to give you a work permit (although a CELTA will suffice), I have even heard of teachers with CELTAs interviewing for jobs only to be told by the Thai school that they are not qualified to teach.
Do Thai Employers Ask About CELTAs in Job Interviews? – In my experience? Never. I’ve had more than 25 job interviews in Thailand in the 14 years I’ve lived here, and was offered every job I interviewed for with just my undergraduate BA degree and TEFL certification.
During all that time, not one employer has asked me why I didn’t take the CELTA. I’ve asked many other teachers I have met in Thailand, and not one of them was ever asked about having a CELTA certificate either.
In fact, the only thing all the schools I interviewed with did care about was did I have TEFL certification and could I give them a copy of the original certificate?
In fact, the only thing you really need to be sure of when it comes to taking a TEFL or CELTA certification program is that it includes teaching practice, as that is now required by the Thai Ministry of Education in order for you to get a work permit.
And as far as the rumour you will occasionally hear that some Thai schools mandate a CELTA (I swear that must have been spread by one of the places that runs a CELTA course) the only school I have ever heard of that requires a CELTA is British Council and. as they work their teachers harder than most other schools for not much more money, I stayed away from them anyway.
As for salary, in the nine years I taught in Thailand, I always found myself making as much money with my TEFL, and often more, than teachers working alongside me with CELTAs.
So, if your heart is set on a TEFL, take the TEFL certification course in Thailand and don’t worry about not having a CELTA. It won’t negatively affect your teaching career in Thailand one small bit.