What is TESOl, TESL, TEFL, TESOL, CELTA, ELL & ESL: How does it differ from English as a Second Language (ESL)? And ELL What’s the difference? What do they mean?

Teachers who want to teach ELL students online or in a public classroom will need a minimum of a state teacher certification and an ELL Endorsement to be qualified to teach ELL students. This article will discuss the differences between the acronyms listed in the title. Also,  keep in mind that is important to get a certification that will meet the teachers’ goals and to do that, ask the following questions:   What do I want to do with the certification?  Where do I want to teach?

Let’s begin with   acronyms, ELL and ESL and how they are connected to teaching students who are second language learners.  The acronyms ELL and ESL are not certifications, it is shorthand to determine if a student requires specialized instruction and whether the organization and their teachers are properly accredited to teach them.  These abbreviations are used to identify students who are non-native English speakers.  An English Language Learner (ELL) is a student who is a non-native English speaker and therefore requires specialized instruction in an ESL or an English as a Second Language (ESL) Classroom. These will be the acronyms used in this article as we seek to determine which certification is best for an online ESL teacher.

Now it is time to answer the questions:What do I want to do with the certification?  Where do I want to teach?” Once those questions are answered then you will know which type of certification make the most sense and will fulfill your teaching goals. Some of the endorsements will get you in the door and others will keep you in the organization, plus advancement.    

 TESOL: (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Language) A TESOL course draws on broader elements of each of teachers’ certification to provide the base for teachers to teach in both nonnative English countries and within English speaking countries.    

TESL: (Teaching English as a Second Language) TESL prepares teachers to teach English to non-English speakers. The significant difference in this certification is the intended teaching location. A teacher with this certification would teach nonnative English speakers in an English-speaking country.

CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults, now known as Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).

TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) TEFL courses aim to equip teachers with the knowledge as to how to teach English to students living in a country where English is not the native language

Still Confused?   There is a difference between each of the certifications, however minor.    The accreditations vary between the type of course and the length of time invested in getting your certification.  Some accreditations involve coursework and practicums that will take up to 18 months and others will take as long as a week.  Let’s begin by breaking down each certification by answering the first question: “What do I want to do with this certification?”

 If the answer to this question is vague, i.e. “I just want to teach ELLs and I need to be certified.” “I need for my online job.” or along those lines.  The TESOL: (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Language) certification is your answer. This training will allow you to teach students who are English Language Learners and help you determine your direction. The course will take about a week to complete and the fee is usually $50 – $100. This doesn’t mean that once the payment for the course is completed, you will receive the certification. It means that the course to will teach the broad elements of how to teach nonnative English learners in either a country where English is the first language or in a country where English is a not a first language.

The other certifications require a definite answer to the second question: “Where do I want to teach?” In other words, “Yes, I plan teaching ELL students online.” Or “Eventually I plan on traveling abroad and want to teach English.”   The TESL (Teaching English as Second Language) certification would meet your goals if you just want to teach online or in an English-speaking country.  A teacher would be able to work with ELL student in an online classroom or in a public school in a country where English is the first language. 

However, if you want to teach in another country, where English is not the first language, then TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults, now known as Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) would be your best bet. This certification takes into consideration that the teacher speaks English, has a teaching certification and doesn’t know the language of their students. The TEFL programs vary greatly: they can be as short as one intensive weekend, or about 20 hours of class time. The training can also include several months training, which includes up to 300 hours of class time. The training doesn’t usually require the participant to work with students who are second language learners.

TEFL will not take as long to attain as a CELTA, but of the two the CELTA endorsement is the most recognized and respected.    In order to receive a CELTA certification, the requirements usually include a combination of theory and deep understanding of the English language. CELTA requires students to complete 120 hours of class time and six hours of student teaching (practicum) with real ELL learners. In addition, it will take about four weeks in order to conclude the training.  This certification is usually required by organization who hire the ESL teacher for their employees or students, inside or outside of the country.  This endorsement is considered the most through training for teachers who want to make teaching ELL students their careers.  The CELTA course provides a comprehensive understanding of the different stages of the English language, but the training emphasizes working with adults, The TESL training is not as intense and at the most will require about 9 hours of training and 2 hours of using those skills in a classroom.

At the end of the day, an instructor who requires training in order to learn how to teach students in either an online ESL classroom or in a public school. They will need a certificate to document that they have received this training.  Do your homework and seek out a reputable TESL, TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA program. A portion of that research should include speaking with an individual who is doing the job that you would like when you complete your studies.  If you do all of this, in the end regardless of which certification you decide to pursue, you will get a great education.

Self Employment

Work at Home? Good and Bad

The dream has become a reality. You are working at home! Yeah!  The refrigerator is right there; all those little jobs are going to get down.  Plus, a paycheck, no matter where you are during the day. Want to go on a trip? Just pack your bags, grab your laptop and materials, and you are off?  Right?  RIGHT?

Not entirely, the reality of the situation is that you must keep yourself disciplined so that the work gets done and income is generated, but this isn’t always easy.  Not by a long shot.  So, the key is keeping yourself disciplined. A skill that God gave each of us when we were conceived.  Depending on your Bible that disciplined is synonymous with self-control.  How do you do that?  You work on this skill every day.  

Working at home is not like working for someone else or working in an employers’ building. You are in your home; your work is laid out for you, and you are not sleeping late. However, your family is there, the dog, the laundry, the home phone, in my case your husband who is also self-employed. Then there are all those chores that need to be done. In addition, not one person is around to keep you from getting up and going anywhere including the store or coffee shop. If you are sitting down at your computer, no one is keeping you from turning on your iPad which doubles as a TV or surfing the internet.  Again, DISCIPLINE, DISCIPLIne, DISCIPLine, DISCipline, Discipline, discipline, and more DISCIPLINE is the key.

There are many blogs, articles, and books that tell you how to overcome all the distractions and attain the discipline that you need to make working at home successful. I will say that I agree with their recommendation, they authors seem to know that they are talking about. The books are accommodating and are full of good advice.  However, there are some things that you need to do to successfully work at home. I have listed five items.

  1.  Planner

Find a planner that you like that has the timeline (or close to it) that works for you.  In my case, I use Michael Hyatt’s Full Focused Planner.  Each day has two pages, one for the day’s to do’s list, priority items, and timeline.  In the beginning of the planner, there is a place for the annual goals, an ideal week, monthly calendar, quarterly items, daily rituals, and daily routines. At the end of week there is a reflective week worksheet that will provide reflection and review of the week. I combine this planner with Fly Lady’s website which helps me set up my work life and personal life.  You may have to go through a couple of different planners or make your own before you find one that is companionable to your life. However the point is the planner must work with your life and help you, if it doesn’t get rid of it or modify to suit your needs. 

There is an old saying that “when men (and women) plan God laughs”. Make sure you bring him into your plan because I can tell you from personal experience that if you don’t, your week will fall apart.

2. Know You Don’t Work 8-5 All the Time

Just remember. There are times when you need privacy and quiet, but you know you won’t get at your home. This mean you will have to be creative with your time in order to finish your work.

This week is a good example. The week was completely planned out, mainly because I am looking for more work and need to find it NOW.

  It snowed! 

It is May, and it snowed. undefined

Plus I had promised to provide material for a writing event. It’s hard for me to work when my husband is home because he can’t stand not working.  He is self-employed and has a lawn, landscaping, and snow removal business, and once the snow is removed, he has nothing to do and is exhausted. Not to mention, my daughter is having issues with her work and on and on.  I just decided I needed to schedule events early in the morning (and I do mean right after midnight.) until everyone could get back on their regular schedule.  The people whom I met with didn’t mind because this time fit into their regular working hours, but when they found out it was between 2:00 to 3:00 am for me, they were a bit surprised. I usually will split the differences in the time zone.  

3. Have a Bolt Hole!

A bolt hole is a place you can go to and work without interruption.  

I have two places I can go to work, three if it is necessary. The library; if I know in advance, I can reserve a room with a white board for an hour or, so.   If I don’t have advance notice, they have quiet study areas in which I can set up my stuff and get to work: the local coffee place, either Starbucks or another coffee shop.  If necessary, the site where I exercise at has a vending area with tables and chair, it also a section with table and chairs.  I will work there if necessary.

Most important to me, all three places have internet!

Remember, the internet will go down. The appliances need to be fixed.  Everyone at home decides you need to help them. Since you work at home, your neighbors ask you to watch for deliveries. The dog needs to be walked and go outside. There is no quiet in your home period. Whatever it is, something has happened that requires YOUR attention, and you can’t shut out the rest of the household. Have a bolt hole!

4. Child and Elderly Care

My suggestion is that it is good to have more than one place that meets your requirements in order for you to complete your work.  Most importantly, please plan so that you know that you have what you need when you leave.  Deadlines don’t move, and work does need to get completed. Remember that the materials that are left at the house will not drive themselves to your current location.  There will be days that you need to leave your home office and work.  That is why you need to plan the day, so you already know what you need to bring with you.

If you have children who are home, they do need to be taken care of during the day.  It is essential that you have a way to do this when you are at home and still complete your work.  I know that there will be times that the children will sit on your lap as you work.  Caring for your children or elderly is not something that will be convenient to do all the time. It makes concentrating on your work very hard.  Have a plan in place.

If it is possible to hire someone; however, I have co-workers who work from 2:00 am, and it’s hard to find daycare. Perhaps you can rearrange your child’s schedule so that they now sleep or otherwise occupied during your work hours.   If they go to school, after-school care may be an option, afternoon babysitter or nanny, someone to care for children.  If you work for a company, they may require that you provide a plan that shows that your children will be cared for while you can work.

5. Enforce Boundaries

Remember you are working at home and the paycheck is important.  At least I find them important!  I work as an online ESL teacher, and I need my computer, stable internet, and headphones at the very least to do my job.  Besides, I have props and other items I use, so it is not convenient for me to leave my office; however, I do have a large packed suitcase that contains everything I need. I have this because my husband and I like to travel, and we have a cabin we go to on the weekend. My husband down to the dog know that if my computer top is up and I have my headphones on, I am working and cannot be interrupted.

The Full Focused Planner has a section for daily rituals, and the Fly Lady website provides you with suggestions on how to set up your day. Both products encourage individuals to make sure that individuals develop a morning ritual, workday startup ritual, in addition to workday shutdown ritual and evening ritual on each of the pages for each day. The two products I mentions provide assistance in developing these rituals, which I find that very helpful.

The rituals and routines provide times when you can do your laundry, plan meals or other household tasks. These rituals help make sure that you get the work done that you need to get done.

When I am typing on the computer and writing, developing content, or working on projects, my family know that I am working.  My daughter has a habit of coming up to me and start talking, although it also took an unyielding voice and steely eyes looking directly at her, I told her “are you dying, bleeding or need to go to the hospital, unless you are not, wait until I am done working or at least say excuse me.”  I have had to do this more than once and she still does it.  Also, since she works nights and is often alone, consequently she would call me during her shift.  Her brother used to do the same thing.  In today’s world of cell phones, mine doubles as alarm clock plus emergencies.  I go to bed very early so I can get six-plus hours of sleep at night before my classes start. They would call me to talk.  I love my children, but I had to tell them they needed to call when I was not sleeping because I need my sleep.  Again, if it wasn’t an emergency, I need my rest.  It took a while, and finally, I didn’t answer their calls, and they stopped calling, they texted, and I would answer their texts during my free time the next day.

Enforce your boundaries and keep work hours!


Most people who are working at home are doing the type of work that they love.  Yes, you can set your hours and determine how much work you need to complete. I like working at home, there is a lot more flexibility, and when I follow my advice, a great deal of work is completed. 

Set up your day so that you get the most done during your work time.  Also remember, there is a reason that most businesses give their employees sick time, personal days, and vacation time.  Just because you are working at home, this doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve the same privileges.  The difference is that you have a bit more flexibility to determine when, where, and how to take this time.


Enjoy your life!!

Disclaimer:  This is not a sponsored post. I receive no income from the products mentioned in this post.

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