Many different types of organizations accredit, regulate, recognize, or otherwise oversee the quality of TEFL training programs, including government bodies, quality assurance agencies, professional associations, and educational organizations.
Accreditors of language centres such as Languages Canada and the British Council, although they do not accredit TEFL courses directly, set requirements for teacher qualifications at the English-teaching centres that they operate. Those standards indicate what types of training employers seek.
The organizations listed below, organized by country, provide directories of ‘recognized’ or ‘accredited’ educational institutions. Use their search tools to find recognized TEFL course providers.
TEQSA – Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency
TEQSA defines itself as “Australia’s independent national quality assurance and regulatory agency for higher education”. The website states that “All organisations that offer higher education qualifications in or from Australia, must be registered by TEQSA. Higher education providers that have not been granted self-accrediting authority (almost all of the non-university providers) must also have their courses of study accredited by us.” At the moment TEQSA’s search tool seems to be broken, but you can search Google for ‘TEQSA’ and ‘TESOL’ and find listings for accredited programs on TEQSA’s website.
CICIC – Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials
CICIC is not an accreditor, it is “an agency of the Council of Ministers of Education of Canada”. Their website pulls together links to government departments, professional associations, legislation, and other resources related to qualifications in Canada. The occupation profiles section indicates the provinces and territories in which a profession is regulated– that is, whether it requires a licence or certification. For teaching ESL at the college level, see the occupational profile for “language instructor.”
You can use CICIC’s Directory of Educational Institutions to look up a TEFL training school to see if it is regulated or registered– it doesn’t necessarily need to be. In Ontario, for example, schools are exempt from having to register as “private career colleges” under certain conditions. See Fact Sheet #1 : Exemptions Under the Act (PDF) on the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities website.
Languages Canada is an organization recognized by the Canadian government which, among other functions, maintains an accreditation scheme for English and French language schools in Canada. Languages Canada does not accredit teacher training programs, however, part of the accreditation for language schools includes meeting standards for teacher qualifications.
- Read about teacher qualification at Languages Canada Quality Assurance > Accreditation Manual > Section A.2
- See also: Languages Canada Quality Assurance > Guidance Documents > Orion List of Accepted TESL [Programs] and Degrees
TESL Canada is a non profit, membership-based professional association. TESL Canada accredits training programs in Canada for teaching adult ESL learners. It also provides accreditation to individuals who have completed TEFL training outside of Canada or through a course provider which is not recognized by TESL Canada. TESL Canada notes that while certification is not required to teach in Canada, many employers consider it a prerequisite.
TESL Ontario describes its role as one that “provides support and direction to professionals, government bodies and learners involved in English as a Second Language in Ontario.” TESL Ontario is not a member of TESL Canada and maintains its own accreditation process.
- Read about TESL Ontario Accreditation.
- See TESL Ontario’s List of Accredited TESL Training Programs.
- See its List of Accredited CTESOL Training Programs.
The British Council does not accredit TESOL courses. However, it does accredit language centres that teach English as a Second Language to international students.
- Go to Accreditation > Information for centres to download a copy of the “Accreditation UK Handbook” where you can read an outline of the teaching qualifications the British Council considers valid.
Cambridge Assessment English
Recognized by Ofqual – Cambridge English, part of the University of Cambridge, offers the English language teaching qualification known as CELTA, one of the most well-known TEFL programs. CELTA courses are offered in accredited centres worldwide.
Ofqual – Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation
Ofqual is a “non-ministerial government department” which “regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England”. Ofqual regulates several ESL teacher training qualifications. If a qualification is regulated by Ofqual, its register will list the number of hours required, assessment methods, which level it maps to in the nation’s qualifications framework, and so on. You can compare up to three qualifications at a time.
Training Qualifications UK
Recognized by Ofqual – TQUK is an “Ofqual Awarding Organisation” which has existed since 2013. The TQUK LEVEL 5 Certificate in TEFL is one of a number of qualifications which they award. They also offer “endorsed” courses in various subjects. An “endorsed” course is not the same as “regulated” qualification. Read up on the difference at the TQUK website and read all course provider claims carefully to know what you’re getting.
Trinity College London
Recognized by Ofqual – Trinity College London offers an initial teacher qualification known as CertTESOL. The British Council accepts the CertTESOL qualification for teachers in schools that it accredits in the UK and abroad. CertTESOL courses are offered worldwide.
ACCET – Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training
Recognized by USDE and CHEA – ACCET describes itself as “a voluntary group of educational organizations affiliated for the purpose of improving continuing education and training”. To find all TEFL course providers in ACCET’s membership directory, search separately for ‘TEFL’, ‘TESOL’, and ‘CELTA’ in the “Program Name” field.
CHEA – Council for Higher Education Accreditation
CHEA is not a government organization, it refers to itself as the “Largest institutional higher education membership organization in the United States”. CHEA reviews and grants recognition to accrediting organizations in the United States. It also provides information resources about accreditation and separate directories of recognized programs, recognized institutions, and accreditors (both in the US and international).
- Read about accreditation.
- Search for US accreditors, accredited institutions or accredited programs in one of CHEA’s directories
- Search CHEA’s international directory of quality assurance and accrediting bodies and education ministries.
DEAC – Distance Education Accrediting Commission
Recognized by USDE and CHEA – DEAC is a non-governmental, non-profit organization established in 1926 to accredit institutions that offer distance education at all levels. From 1994 to 2015, it was called the “Distance Education and Training Council”. When searching DEAC’s list of institutions, enter ‘TESOL’ and ‘teaching’ in the subject field separately to see all results.
- Read about DEAC accreditation.
- See DEAC’s list of course providers with Approved Quality Curriculum Status.
- Search DEAC’s list of institutions.
USDE – U.S. Department of Education
In the US, government bodies do not accredit programs or institutions. However, the Department of Education “provides oversight over the postsecondary accreditation system” by recognizing accrediting institutions (accreditors).