University of Cambridge ESOL

Qualifications provided by: University of Cambridge ESOL


The TKT (Teaching Knowledge Test) is a new award from Cambridge. Its focus is on the core teaching skills and requirements needed by teachers of English and provides a foundation for new or prospective teachers who could then progress on to CELTA or ICELT awards.


The Cambridge CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) is the longest established qualification for English language teachers and has over 8,000 student-teacher enrolments per year. It was developed by the University of Cambridge ESOL and managed around the world by the University of Cambridge Local Examination Syndicate (UCLES).

The CELTA is a pre-experience course, usually run on a four-week intensive basis, though some schools do run part-time courses. CELTA is run in over 40 countries around the world and is externally validated by University of Cambridge ESOL; a course normally costs between £700-1000 ($1300-1900).

A CELTA course is normally a 4-week intensive programme, with an examination at the end (the fee for the examination is normally included as part of the course fee). There are a few part-time CELTA courses, but these are very much the exception.

CELTA courses are, like the Trinity College London Certificate course, based on practical teaching – with observed teaching practice integral to any course. Pass rates are generally high, since applicants are carefully selected: when applying, you will be interviewed and might have to take a language awareness test. Candidates are assessed over the duration of the course (with moderation by external examiners), and there is no final examination. Successful candidates are awarded a Pass, a Pass B or a Pass A.

Many candidates are recent university graduates, but the course attracts a wide range of applicants, including mature professionals looking for a change of career or even an alternative to retirement. Although certain levels of previous academic achievement are recommended by the administrators, there are no specific entry requirements, and admission is at the discretion of the course provider. Most centres will accept non-native speakers who can demonstrate an acceptable level of written and spoken English.

The course is available throughout the year in more than 50 countries, and is taken by more than 10,000 candidates annually. It consists of a minimum of 114 hours, and includes an element of teaching practice to genuine ESOL students.


Cambridge CELTYL (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Young Learners) is administered by the University of Cambridge Local Examination Syndicate (UCLES). This course provides a course in teaching age groups of 5–10, 8–13 or 11–16. Some candidates are new to TESOL, others are practising teachers who wish to develop their skills. Most of the details given above about the CELTA also apply to CELTYL. As an alternative to the full CELTYL course, successful CELTA candidates can take a Young Learners extension course (CELTYL Ext).


Cambridge COTE (Certificate for Overseas Teachers of English) is a pre-experience course that is taken as an alternative to CELTA by non-native-speakers who already have teaching experience in their own language. You will probably still see this in brochures and advertisments, but it has now been replaced by the similar ICELT examination (below).

ICELT (In-service Certificate in English Language Teaching)

An in-service award for practising teachers who want to improve their skills in the context in which they are currently working. Candidates taking ICELT courses are normally assessed teaching their own classes. A modular option enables courses to focus on language for teaching purposes only or for the full award to be gained in two phases. ICELT replaced the broadly similar COTE (Certificate for Overseas Teachers of English) from the start of 2004.

University of Cambridge
ESOL Examinations
1 Hills Road
Cambridge, CB1 2EU, UK

Tel: + 44 (0)1223 553355
Fax: +44 (0)1223 460278




Filed in: Examination Providers