TEFL vs TESOL

What’s The Difference Between TEFL, TESOL, and TESL?

TEFL, TESOL, and TESL mean the same thing!

  • TEFL: Teaching English as  a Foreign Language
  • TESOL: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
  • TESL: Teaching English as a Second Language


There is absolutely no difference between TESOL, TEFL, and TESL courses. These acronyms mean the same thing and any institute trying to differentiate their courses based on acronyms is very misleading. Some organizations say that if you want to teach English abroad, you should go with a TEFL course, but you should take a TESOL course if you want to teach English immersion programs at home. This is not true, so this page will present more information about TEFL, TESOL, and TESL.

Video: What is TESOL, TEFL, and TESL?

Are There Any Differences Between TESOL, TEFL, And TESL Methods?

The methodology of TEFLTESOL, and TESL is the same. Whether you want to teach English abroad or teach in an English immersion program in North America, the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) method prevails all over the world. In fact, the CLT method can be used to teach any language! (Read: OnTESOL graduate teaching German in Switzerland).

There are different approaches that branch off CLT. The main one is the Communicative Approach, which is commonly used for classes of up to 20 students, as is the case in immersion programs in North America as well as in professionally run language schools all over the world. The Task-Based Learning approach is more commonly used in English for special purpose classes, such as young learners and business English programs.

International TEFL, TESOL, TESL Accreditation Overview:

The TESOL, TEFL, and TESL accronyms do not infer any meaning on quality. For example, TESL Canada is the leading accrediting organization in Canada and one of the most reputable organizations in the world. They have set standards all the way from standard 120-hour courses to master degrees. TESL Canada recognizes institutes and universities that offer TESOL, TEFL, and TESL courses. 

Course providers are free to choose the accronym they want and a wide range of TESOL, TEFL, and TESL courses meet the same TESL Canada standard, regardless of the acronym the course provider has selected for their program. 

What matters is meeting the standards set by TESL Canada and providing quality training.  TESL Canada is equivalent to the UK-based CELTA and Trinity CertTESOL certification, so you can use your TESL Canada certification to teach English abroad or in a native-speaking country.

Trinity CertTESOL is the renowned certification course accredited by Trinity College London. You can use your Trinity CertTESOL certification to teach English abroad or teach English at home. As with TESL Canada, Trinity accredits TESOL, TEFL, and TESL courses all over the world. For example, some Trinity CertTSOL courses in Europe run by the name of TEFL, while the 5-week on-site course offered in Toronto by Coventry House International is a TESOL course. Moreover, the same TESOL course offered by Coventry is recognized by both TESL Canada and Trinity CertTESOL.

Any organization saying that there is a difference between TEFL, TESOL, and TESL is not telling the truth. What matters is the quality of the program, the tutors, and the accreditation.

Read More: What is TESOL certification?

Read More: Why Accreditation Matters

So, Which TEFL, TESOL, TESL Course Is Right For You?

Entry-Level Courses For Gap-Year Teachers

OnTESOL developed entry-level certification courses for gap-year teachers who want to teach English abroad. These courses cover core grammar, phonology, and methodology modules for teachers interested in going to countries where there aren’t strict requirements for certification.

If you want to get certified quickly to teach English abroad, the 120-hour Advanced TESOL certification course is enough to meet job and visa requirements. This course is also recognized by TESL Canada at their Standard Level 1 so you will also be certified to continue teaching at home, provided that you meet all of the requirements set by TESL Canada.

The syllabus of the 120-hour Advanced TESOL certificate course is very similar to the Trinity CertTESOL / TESL Canada on-site course offered in Toronto by our parent school Coventry House International.

Read More: What Type Of TEFL Certification Do I Need To Teach In…?

TEFL Certification - Get Certified Online to Teach English Abroad

Courses For A Professional Career

OnTESOL also offers advanced TESOL diploma course developed that is recognized by TESL Canada for their Professional Standard 2 certification. The syllabus of the 250-hour Advanced TESOL Diploma program is more comprehensive than the 5-week Trinity CertTESOL / TESL Canada course offered by Coventry House International.

We also offer specialist courses for people who want to be better prepared for teaching English to young learners, Business English courses, or IELTS preparation courses!

creating ESL handouts

Read More: Career Opportunities Guide

Get A TEFL / TESOL Certificate That Matches Your Career Goals And Qualify For Jobs Worldwide!

Our online TESOL courses have been accredited by TESL Canada since 2003. Earn a credential that is accepted abroad and in native English speaking countries.

FAQ’s: Why Take a TEFL / TESOL Course with OnTESOL?

Can OnTESOL Graduates Take a Practicum After The Online Course?

OnTESOL is one of the only online institutes that offers graduates the option of completing a full Practicum module with real ESL students. In this module, you will get to teach full classes with real students and you will get to create your own lesson plans for each class, so you can see how all the theory that you learned in the online TESOL course applies in the classroom.

Take an advanced TESOL / TEFL course online and complete the practicum anywhere in the world!

How Does OnTESOL Compare with CELTA?

The online portion of the 120-hour course covers all the material included in a 4-week CELTA certification course and the assignments are as advanced. The online portion of the 250-hour course is much more comprehensive than CELTA. The separate Practicum module also meets the same standard of the in-class CELTA course because trainees get to teach full classes with real ESL students and plan lessons for each class.