Have Cambridge lost interest in the CELTA and Delta?

I’ve been flicking through the Cambridge English annual review (as you do), and was surprised to find just one very brief mention of the CELTA (in Ukraine “Teachers who complete TKT or CELTA can apply for an exemption from the English language teaching module…”) and not a single mention of the Delta.

Obviously there haven’t been any major changes to those qualifications to announce and the markets for qualifications aimed at state school teachers and students of English are much bigger, but you’d think they’d have something or the other to say about their top level teaching qualifications, say an expansion of people studying online or courses in a new country or two. If no such thing is true or they think such changes are so insignificant to not be worth mentioning at all, I think it’s fair to fear about the future of these qualifications, given how ruthlessly cut-throat such UK “non-profits” tend to be nowadays.

The next thing I did was therefore to wonder what a world without the Cambridge CELTA and Delta would be like (as you do). The utopian outcome would be all those course providers banding together and producing their own joint qualification that had a lot more basis in how people should teach and learn while skimming off less course fees. The more likely outcome is a continuing replacement of CELTA by the much lower level TKT and an increasing proliferation of other providers who consist of little more than dodgy marketing copied from each other.

Seen any good annual reports or had any good teaching qualification-related dreams recently? Views about Cambridge English? Please share below.

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3 Responses to Have Cambridge lost interest in the CELTA and Delta?

  1. CT says:

    Hi Alex, I’ve certainly noticed a lot less interest from Cambridge in promoting the CELTA and DELTA. I’m not sure whether this is really strategic institutional indifference though, or just typical of the way that Cambridge is run at the moment. Cambridge exams and Cambridge university press have both spent the last 5-10 years demonstrating just how easy it is to throw away a strong market position when competitors evolve to meet demand and you just stick your head in the sand and do nothing. When they do make changes they tend to be ham-fisted, already outdated or mired in bureacracy (e.g. the computer-based FCE/CAE exams, online DELTA or offering a distance ‘half and half’ CELTA course about 10 years after the horse bolted).

    As far as CELTA goes, I can only really comment on Australian ELT, and I don’t have numbers for CELTA and DELTA participation over here but I have a strong suspicion that they have declined steadily over the past 5-10 years. There seems to have been several factors which have contributed to this:

    1. CELTA courses have never really made money, at least not in Oz. Many providers used them as an easy way to get low-step teachers (as teachers are paid here according to their teaching experience post-entry level qualification). Our centre used to hoover up any CELTA grads from our courses with significant overseas experience, who would typically get pass A/B grades but only qualify for starting teacher salaries under the federal award. However, as student numbers in Oz have declined, and the number of CELTA-qualified temporary working holiday visa teachers increased there was no advantage to anyone doing it anymore, meaning many of CELTA centres who used to just about broke even decided it wasn’t worth it anymore.

    2. CELTA courses have always been a PITA to organise and manage, and high-quality local alternatives have become cheaper, more attractive and easier to access. The Certificate IV in TESOL (accessed through government colleges, universities and private training colleges) has always been a strong local competitor to CELTA (despite not being recognised overseas) and provides much the same content and outcomes, and is far easier for a school or training provider to set up.

    3. Many universities which offer MA TESOL courses have structured these courses so that participants can take the first two units of these courses, which include a practical teaching component, and exit with a post-graduate certificate in TESOL, and then go back to complete the remaining (typically) 6 units at a later date to gain a full MA. At the same time many unis have been very coy about recognising the CELTA or DELTA at all when potential candidates apply for MA courses.

    4. Recent changes in the regulatory environment have reduced the amount of oversight English colleges experience, and in particular, the chances of being audited. Despite a CELTA (or equivalent) + degree being the legal minimum requirement, more and more of the bottom feeding colleges will ignore this and employ teachers with non-compliant qualifications (e.g. online TESOL), knowing that they will likely never be caught.

  2. raccontando says:

    When I was weighing up whether to take the DELTA or the post-graduate certificate in TESOL (which could later be added to in order to gain an MA) I found that the DELTA was not really well-known or very useful in my country of residence (Italy). I expect this is a common experience.

  3. alexcase says:

    I suppose Cambridge have always treated these two as a bit of a cashcow, rarely publicising them or doing anything else to boost their recognition. Not even mentioning them in your own annual report seems extreme though, which is why I wondered if they could actually be on the way out. Don’t have any previous years’ annual reports to compare, though, so this neglect may also be typical.

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