Note: We mainly use the term TEFL on these pages but in most cases the terms TESOL/TESL could equally well be used.

Frequently Asked Questions

Cambridge ICELT Course

NB: The CELTA is mentioned in many places below as it is also offered by Cambridge ESOL and so is easy to compare to the ICELT, but the same is usually true for equivalents such as the Trinity CertTESOL.

What does ICELT stand for?
In-Service Certificate in English Language Teaching

Do I need my school’s agreement to do the ICELT?
As people will be coming to your school to observe your lessons, you will at least need your school’s permission for that. The deadlines for written work are also strict, so make sure that you have the time available at the right points in the course. ICELT courses are often set up specifically for groups of teachers in the same school or education district, but this doesn’t always have to be the case.

My school places real restrictions on how I am allowed to teach. Will I still be able to take/pass the ICELT?
The ICELT is specifically designed to take these kinds of real-life situations into account. However, if there are very few changes that you can make to the way that you teach, there seems little point in doing the course.

I can’t find any course dates for the centre I want to study at. Why is that?
Some centres only run courses for specific groups of teachers, e.g. after they have made arrangements with the education ministry or the management of a chain of schools.

Why is there no price for the ICELT course on the website that I’m looking at?
It might be that all the courses are for public school (= state school) teachers and therefore that the costs are covered by the local education ministry. Contact the ICELT course provider to check.

Can I take the ICELT intensively, like the CELTA?
No. The ICELT is specifically designed to fit in with your normal working life and bases the observations on your normal classes. However, some centres do run part of the course intensively during a holiday, with the rest taken part time.

What are the differences between the CELTA and the ICELT?
The main difference is that with the ICELT you are usually observed and graded while teaching your own classes, whereas with the CELTA you teach a group of students who are put together for you to practise on. For this reason, the ICELT is always taken part-time, whereas with the CELTA the 4-week intensive version is much more popular. The CELTA is designed to be taken before you start work (although many people take it after they already have some experience) but the ICELT is an in-service course for working teachers (although it can be taken near the beginning of your career). The CELTA is also only about teaching adults, whereas many people who take the ICELT work with children or teenagers. Because they can enter the ICELT with a lower level of English (CEF level B2, as against C1 or C2 for the CELTA) and it more closely matches their teaching situations, the ICELT is commonly taken by non-native English speaking teachers. The course also has a specific element of language development for the teacher.

Is the ICELT equivalent to the CELTA?
It is offered by the same exam board (Cambridge ESOL) and based on similar criteria, but most schools (e.g. private language schools) who ask for a CELTA or equivalent will not accept an ICELT as an equivalent qualification. One factor is the lower level of English needed to enter the ICELT, so if you have a level of IELTS 6.5 or above (or Cambridge CAE or CPE) you should do the CELTA instead or mention your level of English on your CV.

Should I take the ICELT or the CELTA?
If you want to work in a private language school, you should probably take the CELTA. If you want to take a qualification before you look for your first job it will have to be the CELTA, as the ICELT is only available for in-service teachers. The ICELT is also not available as an intensive course, and there are many more CELTA courses run every year than ICELT ones. However, if your own classes are very different from those that you will do your teaching practice with on the CELTA (small classes of adults), you may find that the ICELT is better tailored to your needs. It is also available for people with a slightly lower (approximately Upper-Intermediate) level of English.

Why is the ICELT not as well known as the CELTA?
It is newer (although it was based on the earlier Certificate for Overseas Teachers of English) and is offered by fewer centres and for fewer courses per year. It is often arranged by and paid for by organisations rather than individuals, which perhaps also affects its name recognition.

If someone already has a national teaching qualification, why would they need to take the ICELT?
Much of the teaching that happens in the world is not very close to what is presently considered best practice, e.g. includes the over-use of grammar-translation and L1. Taking the ICELT is a chance to be exposed to more up-to-date techniques and to gain a certificate by an internationally-known organisation to prove that you are able to understand and use them.

Can I take the ICELT by distance/online/in another country?
Only partly, and it is much more common to take the whole thing in your own country. A core part of the ICELT is the four observed and graded lessons, so at least part of the course will need to be face-to-face. How the other course content is handled is up to the course providers. For example, one provider in London says that you can take Component 1 (Language for Teachers) in London, or that they can arrange for that, and the other parts of the course to take place in your own country (but only for pre-arranged groups of teachers).

There aren’t any ICELT courses near me. How can I take the course?
You could try contacting a local centre that offers other Cambridge teaching qualifications, e.g. the CELTA and/or DELTA, and asking them if they would consider running a course. It would help a lot if you already had a group of teachers who wanted to take the course together. If you have a sufficient number of teachers, course providers from other places may be willing to send a trainer for the length of the course. Alternatively, try another course such as a 4-week TEFL certificate or a preparation course for the Cambridge TKT.

Is the ICELT only for people who teach kids?
No, although most people who take the course do teach young learners. Course providers might also limit courses to one type of teacher in order to tailor the course to their needs.

What are the entry requirements for the course?
Cambridge ask for someone to be at least 18, to have 500 hours of teaching experience by the end of the course, to be a practising teacher, and to have a level of English good enough to do the course and teach a range of levels (at least CEF B2). Local course providers or organisations that provide funding might impose other entry requirements, such as teaching a certain kind of student, being eligible for funding, or having a higher level of English.

Is the ICELT also suitable for native speakers of English?
Cambridge specifically mention that it is, but most if not all of the people who take the course are non-native English speaking teachers. It is also difficult to imagine what native English speaking teachers could gain from doing the language development part of the course.

My English isn’t good enough to get on the ICELT course. What should I do?
It is possible to do specific language development courses for teachers, sometimes at the same centres that offer the ICELT. Your other option is the Cambridge TKT.

Is the course suitable for beginner teachers?
Yes, as long as you are already working and will have taught 500 hours of relevant classes by the end of the course.

How long does the course take?
This is entirely decided by the local course providers. It is usually between four and nine months.

Is it possible to take just one module of the ICELT?
Yes, although you need to take and pass both modules to get an ICELT certificate. For example, if you take and pass a Module 1 course, you will receive just the Cambridge Language for Teachers Certificate (pass, merit or distinction).

How long can you take to complete the whole course?
Most self-contained courses take between four and nine months, but if you take Module 1 and Module 2 separately you have up to three years to complete the whole thing. If it takes any longer, you will not receive an ICELT certificate.

Do you need to pass both modules to pass the ICELT?
Yes

Where can I take the ICELT course?
Cambridge ESOL list more than 35 centres in over 20 countries, but some will only provide courses for whole groups and you will need a provider who is near where you are or will travel to you.