Home Resources Qualifications for ESOL teaching

Qualifications for ESOL teaching

NATECLA's guide to becoming an ESOL teacher

NATECLA recommends that all staff teaching English to speakers of other languages, whether in ESOL, Literacy or Functional English classes, should be trained as a specialist teacher of ESOL.

If you are interested in teaching ESOL, or are already doing so and would like to take a training course leading to a teaching qualification, there are several different routes you can take: 

Initial ESOL teaching qualifications

Cambridge CELTA and Trinity Cert.TESOL are initial qualifications that provide a practical introduction to ESOL teaching.  Many employers prefer teachers to have these certificates even though they are not part of the English national framework of teaching qualifications.

The nationally recognised generic teaching qualifications for the Further Education and Skills sector have a variety of names: Diploma in Education and Training (DET, previously DTLLS), PGCE, PGDE and Cert Ed are all common titles. Since 2013 these qualifications have not been compulsory for teachers, but employers such as FE colleges normally require them and will probably ask you to take a generic PGCE, Cert Ed or DET to follow on from your CELTA or Cert TESOL.  

Full ESOL teaching qualifications

Full ESOL teaching qualificationsThere are also subject specialist teaching qualifications available in some places. These have been available for around 15 years but there are now fewer centres offering them. If you want to become fully qualified to teach ESOL in the Further Education and Skills sector in England, the most comprehensive option is an integrated specialist ESOL qualification or a specialist pathway in ESOL – a Diploma, Cert Ed or PGCE in ESOL. This is a general teaching qualification as well as a specialist one, available in a few universities around the country.  Some providers are offering combined Literacy and ESOL teaching courses rather than ESOL alone.  


Standalone specialist course

Specialist qualifications for ESOL teachersIf you already have a general teaching qualification such as a PGCE, DTLLS or DET, you can take a standalone ESOL or Literacy and ESOL diploma.  This course is only offered at a few centres and may also be labelled as a CPD diploma or additional diploma.

The FE Advice website has more information about all the generic and subject specialist options, and can provide lists of courses in your region of England by email: feadviceline@etfoundation.co.uk 

In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland?

The training requirements are slightly different in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but similar types of course are available.


And what about a DELTA  or Diploma in TESOL?

These qualifications are internationally recognised and follow on from the CELTA and Certificate in TESOL, for teachers with some experience.  In the UK public sector they may be seen as an advantage when applying for ESOL posts, and now that the qualifications mentioned above are less commonly available, can be a good way to extend your knowledge, skills and understanding of English language teaching.  The Cambridge DELTA or Trinity Diploma in TESOL are normally required if you want to get into ESOL Teacher Training, or if you are looking at leadership posts in the private sector. 


>> Find out more about the Trinity Diploma in TESOL


Find out more

For more information, contact a course provider from the list below.


** Course providers: to add your course details here, contact info@natecla.org.uk. You must be an institutional member of NATECLA



 Contact name  Contact email  Qualification offered  Region
 City Peterborough College Sarah Perkins SPerkins@citycollegepeterborough.ac.uk

East of England
 Highbury College, Portsmouth  Anna Noble  anna.noble@highbury.ac.uk  South East
 South & City College,   Birmingham Christine Tudor Jones  e104302@sccb.ac.uk 
 West Midlands
 UCL Institute of Education

 Ealing, Hammersmith and West   London College  Sarah Hall  celta@gspace.wlc.ac.uk   London
 Greater Brighton Metropolitan   College  Valentina Long
(CertTESOL Course Director)
 valentina.long@gbmc.ac.uk  East and West Sussex (course delivered in Brighton and Worthing)
 The College of Haringey, Enfield & North East London (CONEL)  Maralba Jani  mjani@conel.ac.uk  London
 CONEL  Maralba Jani  mjani@conel.ac.uk  London
 CONEL  Maralba Jani  mjani@conel.ac.uk  London
 Waltham Forest College  Clare Coleman  clare.coleman@waltham.ac.uk
  •  Diploma In Education and Training unit – Literacy, ESOL and the learners
 York St John University  Jess Mosley  celta@yorksj.ac.uk  North Yorkshire