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Want to Teach English as a Foreign Language? TEFL, CELTA, and DELTA Explained

By Sandra Roussy July 18, 2023 Managing Money

Do you want a job that will let you travel the world and meet new people? Teaching English as a second language is a great way to see the world and discover new cultures.

I had a complete reset about seven years ago and decided that I wanted to pursue my longtime passions – traveling and writing. I wasn’t at the age of retirement yet and researched how I could sustain myself in this new life. Teaching English seemed like the perfect solution for me. Little did I know how much I would grow to love it!

I completed the CELTA certification where I learned how to create lesson plans and teach, and I then volunteered at a local school in Ecuador for a few months. I then traveled to Mexico and quickly found a job in a local language institute and at an online teaching school. Both jobs provided enough to live well and gave me the time to pursue my writing projects.

Getting certified to teach English as a second language is quite easy and you don’t need many prerequisites. Being a native English speaker (or equivalent) is basically all you need.

There are a few certifications that you can take which will permit you to gain access to good jobs. From the quick online TEFL certification, the 4-week CELTA, to the DELTA diploma. Each course will give you the requirements needed to start teaching English as a second language.

What’s the Difference Between TEFL, CELTA, and DELTA

Let’s break down the difference between the certifications.


Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a certification for native and non-native English speakers to teach English online or abroad.

TEFL courses typically cover topics such as language analysis, teaching methods, and lesson planning, as well as practical skills such as classroom management and handling student feedback. The course may be taken online or in person, with varying lengths and costs.

Visit the TEFL website for more information.


Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (although not limited to adults) is a widely recognized qualification offered by Cambridge Assessment English.

CELTA courses focus on hands-on teaching experience and provide a comprehensive technique for teaching English as a foreign language. The total course covers a minimum of 120 hours of study and several hours of practical teaching while supervised.

Topics covered include language analysis, teaching methods, and lesson planning, as well as assessment and feedback. CELTA courses are usually 4-5 weeks long and are typically taken full-time in person.

Read more about the CELTA.


Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults (although not limited to adults) is an advanced level certification also offered by Cambridge Assessment English. It focuses on developing teaching skills and knowledge of language education theories.

DELTA courses are designed for experienced English language teachers who want to grow their teaching skills and knowledge. They cover advanced topics in language education and focus on the latest theories and practices in the field. DELTA courses are usually taken part-time over several months and can be completed online or in person.

Get more information about the DELTA certification.

Where to Learn How to Teach English as a Foreign Language

TEFL, CELTA, and DELTA courses are offered by various institutions, such as:

  • language schools and training centers,
  • universities and colleges,
  • online language schools and certification providers,
  • Cambridge Assessment English (for CELTA and DELTA).

Courses can be taken in-person at locations around the world or online from the comfort of your own home. It’s recommended to research and compare different options to find the best fit for your needs and goals.

Who Can Teach English as a Second Language

The TEFL is open to first-language speakers and also non-native English speakers (with a C1 level English) who want to teach English abroad. No prior teaching experience or language education background is required.

The CELTA is a more comprehensive and intensive certification that also requires a native level of English or a minimum of C1 level English proficiency.

The DELTA is for experienced English language teachers who want to further their careers and improve their teaching skills. It’s usually required to have a minimum of two years of English language teaching experience and a recognized certification such as CELTA.

Note: Requirements for each course may vary, so it’s recommended to check the specific requirements for the course you are interested in taking.

Types of Jobs for an English as a Second Language Teacher

With a TEFL, CELTA, or DELTA certification, you can pursue a career in teaching English as a foreign language. Here are some common job opportunities that you can expect with each qualification.


  • English language teacher in non-English speaking countries
    • Language schools
    • Online language schools
    • International schools


  • English language teacher in language schools
    • Online schools
    • International schools
    • Private tutor


  • Senior English language teacher
    • Teacher trainer
    • Curriculum developer
    • Language school manager
    • Academic manager

Note: The job opportunities and requirements may vary depending on the country and institution you are working for. Additionally, having a TEFL, CELTA, or DELTA certification is not a guarantee of employment, as other factors such as work experience, language proficiency, and cultural fit also play a role in getting hired.

Teach English Online

You can teach from practically anywhere in the world where you have access to a good internet connection. Here are some popular online language schools to teach English as a second language.

These schools offer a platform for English language teachers to connect with students from around the world and provide flexible, online English language instruction.

I worked with both Cambly and Open English over several years, and I enjoyed both for different reasons. Cambly is a one-on-one conversational type of platform with students from all over the world. At Cambly, teachers are paid by the minute.

Open English concentrates on students in Latin America and offers practical course lessons with classes ranging from a few students up to over 20.

Remember, online Chinese schools are in significantly different time zones (if you are in the USA). I have teacher friends who get up at 3 a.m. to teach in the middle of the night.

Teach English Abroad

The best countries to teach English as a second language depends on personal preferences, qualifications, and job prospects. Here are some of the more popular destinations for English language teachers:

  • South Korea
  • Japan
  • China
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Mexico
  • Brazil

These countries have a high demand for English language teachers and offer competitive salaries, benefits, and opportunities for travel and cultural immersion.

Remember to research and compare the working conditions, cost of living, and cultural expectations before choosing a destination, as these can vary greatly between countries.

How Much Do English Teachers Make

The pay rate for online English language teachers varies depending on the platform, country, qualifications, and experience.

On average, online English language teachers can expect to earn between $10 to $30 per hour. As you can see, it’s not a way to get rich quickly, but when you are traveling in a country where the cost of living is low, it’s more than enough to make a decent living.

Some platforms and schools may offer a higher rate for teachers with advanced qualifications and experience, such as a CELTA or DELTA certification.


Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you interested in teaching English abroad or online? Will you take a TEFL, CELTA, or DELTA course? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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The Author

Sandra is the middle-aged woman you hear about who sheds everything she owns and sets out into the world to rediscover and redefine herself. After more than twenty years spent in the fashion industry designing collections for brands such as La Senza, Victoria’s Secret, and JACOB Lingerie, she shifted her path and pursued her longtime passion for writing, traveling, and photography. Sandra was published in the NY Times best selling book Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It. A deeply personal essay hand-picked by Elizabeth Gilbert about loss, facing fears, and going after dreams. Visit her website:

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