TESOL Diploma or Certificate: Which Teacher Training Program Is Right for Me? (Part One)

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TESOL Diploma or Certificate: Which Teacher Training Program Is Right for Me? (Part One)


At Greystone College Vancouver, we offer two TESL Canada recognized TESOL programs: TESOL diploma program and TESOL 130, a certificate program. The following three-part series will compare the programs and help you find the one that is right for you.

In this first post, we will look at classroom content and peer teaching.

Classroom Content

The classroom content of each program is virtually identical. Both TESOL programs are broken down into three modules. Module A covers how to teach speaking, listening and pronunciation. It also covers teachers’ roles and learner types, multiculturalism and different ways of presenting new language. Module B covers teaching grammar, reading and writing. Module B also covers classroom management techniques and teaching methods. Module C covers vocabulary and planning integrated skills lessons. It covers computer-assisted language learning, language acquisition, sociolinguistics, cultural awareness, testing, teaching children and curriculum development. Each module also covers/reviews how to give instructions for task-based activities and the ESA method of lesson planning.

Duration and Presentation of Classroom Content

One of the biggest differences between the two teacher training programs is the duration. The diploma program runs for three months while the classroom component of the 130 daytime program runs for one month. They both cover essentially the same material but the pace and intensity is different.

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TESOL Diploma program

This program is recognized by TESL Canada as Standard 2.  This is a 360 hour program.

In the diploma, there is more time for review and consolidation. Generally, class time is the first and last week of each month with a module exam at the end of the final week. The exam covers one third of the total material. There are three exams total.  Both programs require the same amount of reading but there is more time to do it in the diploma program.

The diploma program is also a continuous intake program. At the beginning of each module, new students join the class and the fundamentals are re-introduced. As a student in your second or third month, you get an opportunity to review these fundamentals and to act as a resource for new students. This is beneficial for your own understanding and it’s a great opportunity to put your teaching skills to use.

TESOL Certificate program

This program is recognized by TESL Canada as Standard 1.  This is a 130 hour program.

Daytime Full Time Schedule: In the 130 daytime program, each module lasts approximately a week and there are readings to do every night. The final exam covers all three modules as well as the reading. Since there are no new students joining there is less review. If you have some experience teaching, have previously taken related courses, or are the type of student who loves a challenge, the advantage is that you can be done the classroom component much sooner. However, if you have no experience and/or are the type of learner who needs time to review or more time to absorb you may prefer the pace of the diploma program.

Evening Part Time Schedule: The 130 program is also offered as a part time evening class. It is organized essentially the same way as the 130 daytime program but it is split over three months with three hour evening classes three times a week. Each month covers one module. The speed at which material is presented is the same as the daytime program but you will have more time for the reading and for independent review. The 130 part time evening program is also a popular choice for those who work during the day, though it still requires a significant commitment.

Peer Teaching

Both programs offer you a chance to put your new-found skills to use in a mini lesson taught to your peers. Peer teaching is a great opportunity to practice in a safe and supportive environment. In the diploma program this usually occurs about midway through each module and you generally have at least two days to prepare your lesson plan, your teacher’s discourse (what you plan to say), your materials and to practice. In the 130 daytime teacher training program, peer teaching occurs almost every week while in the evening TESOL program it occurs once a month. In both you are expected to do more preparation outside of class time.

Constant Feedback

In both programs, after you teach your lesson, you’ll get one-on-one feedback from your instructor. He/she will give you areas to improve for next time and also let you know what you’re doing well. Watching your peers in action will also give you lots of ideas for activities and materials.


Before choosing a program, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much experience do I have? If you’ve never taught, have never taken a related course and/or have never been a student in a language class, the diploma program is probably the best fit for you. If you have some teaching experience, have taken a TESOL course that was not TESL Canada approved or have previously taken related classes, the 130 day or evening class is probably a good fit.
  • The second question you should ask yourself is, what kind of learner am I? Some of us require more time to review and consolidate information. We prefer a little more time to plan and prepare. Even if you have some experience, if you’re this kind of learner, you may find the diploma program a better fit. However, if you’re the type of learner who picks things up very quickly and prefers a rapid pace, you may enjoy the challenge of the 130 program.
  • Finally, you will of course need to consider how much time you have. If you have a limited amount of time, the 130 daytime program will help you meet your goal sooner. If you are currently employed or in school, the 130 part time evening program provides a little more flexibility. Keep in mind, you’re preparing for a new career. All the programs are fairly demanding so don’t spread yourself too thin.


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