Certification FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Regarding TESL Canada Professional Certification

1. My TESL/EFL training is not from a TESL Canada Recognized Program. Do I have to start over?

Applicants whose training was completed at an institution not on our list of recognized teacher training program can apply to TESL Canada for certification. You will not be eligible under our certification scheme because your training is not from a recognized program, but will be recommended to PLAR (Prior Learning Assessment Recognition). A PLAR adjudicator in TESL Canada will review your experience and training in order to determine equivalency. If they find a component(s) lacking from your portfolio they will recommend the course(s) that will be needed to meet our standards. Once you have been assessed through PLAR you will be granted certification if a) they deem your application is equivalent to our standards, or b) you satisfy the missing components in the prescribed length of time. The cost of the PLAR assessment is $290.

2. I have a Bachelor of Education degree and did my teaching practicum with children. Am I eligible for TESL Canada Professional Certification?

No. TESL Canada Professional certification is intended for ESL/EFL instructors teaching in adult learning environments. Please note that an adult classroom is defined as a classroom with five or more students where 80% of the students are aged 18 or older. Provincial Teacher Colleges and provincial government regulatory bodies govern the certification of public school kindergarten to grade XII teachers.

3. I have been teaching EFL overseas and would now like to be certified to teach in Canada. How should I apply?

If you completed a non-recognized program see FAQ #1. Essentially the same standards for professional certification apply. Ensure your TEFL/TESL training meets TESL Canada standards. Fill out an application form and include your official university transcripts, TESL certificate, documentation of your teaching experience, and positive performance reviews. If you are applying from overseas, you will need to become an International member of TESL Canada.

4. I completed a degree in another country. Will TESL Canada accept my foreign education credentials?

All applicants with university degrees completed outside Canada must provide a Canadian equivalency assessment of their university degree(s) as part of their application. Assessments must be completed by a credential assessment service recognized in Canada. Examples of recognized assessment services are ICES (http://www.bcit.ca/ices), CES (https://learn.utoronto.ca/international-professionals/comparative-education-service-ces), and WES ( www.wes.org/ca).

Please note, applicants do not need to provide TESL Canada with a copy of their foreign degrees (translated or not). The documented Canadian university equivalency is the required document. We use the standard, document-by-document assessment, and not the comprehensive assessment. Please note: if your degree(s) is/are in TESL/Applied Linguistics then a course by course assessment is required. 

5. How can I document my classroom teaching experience?

Applicants need to provide documentation of adult ESL/EFL classroom teaching experience if applying for Standards One, Two, or Three (Permanent). Documentation can consist of teaching contracts, employment records, letters from supervisors indicating the number of hours taught at the school, or pay stubs.

6. How long does the application process take?

We strive to have applications processed within six to eight weeks of receipt. Applications which are missing required documentation take longer. This is because contact has to be made with the applicant, the missing documentation or information requisitioned, then subsequent submissions added to the file. TESL Canada will keep applications on file open for a period of six months to wait for missing information or documentation, at which point certification may be denied and the file closed. Originals will be returned to the applicant. Materials such as transcripts that arrive without an application will be kept on file for a maximum of six months. 

7. What does “proof of membership in a TESL Canada Provincial/Territorial organization” mean?

TESL Canada certification is a service offered to its members. To qualify as a TESL Canada member, you must be a member of your provincial/territorial organization where available. If your provincial affiliate is not currently affiliated with TESL Canada (please verify with your provincial organization), you may sign up for a direct TESL Canada Membership on this website. For all other provinces, go to the provincial/territorial map on any of the pages of this website, and click on your province to find the relevant organization. 

8. Can I count my ESL teaching hours in a K-12 classroom if my students were over the age of 16?

No. The curriculum in the K-12 system is designed for youth, their needs and developmental stages. Adult curriculum addresses different needs and concerns.

9. I took a CELTA Certificate from a non-recognized institution, can I still be certified by TESL Canada?

Yes. If you have completed a CELTA Certificate Program at an institution not recognized by TESL Canada you can apply for certification through the regular application process. An additional administrative fee of $100 will be charged in these cases in order for TESL Canada administration to review information regarding the program that would have otherwise been submitted if the program had been through the TESL Canada Teacher Training Program Recognition process. Provided the CELTA Program is assessed at TESL Canada Standards, the applicant will be granted TESL Canada Certification without being referred to PLAR (Prior Learning Assessment Recognition).

10. What are the differences between the different Standards?

Professional Standard One is for those who have taken a program with a minimum of 100 hours of methodology and coursework and at least a 20 hour practicum. Professional Standard Two is for those who have taken a program with a minimum of 250 hours of coursework and methodology and at least a 50 hour practicum. Standard Level Three is for those with a Masters Degree in Applied Linguistics or TESOL. The distinction between interim and permanent relates to hours of experience whereas the distinction between standards one, two or three relates to TESL training.

11. I have a Master’s degree in TESL from a Canadian University. Can I get TESL Canada certified?

All masters/doctoral graduates in TESL or equivalent with a demonstrated background in adult education, with appropriate practicum, from a Canadian institution which is a member in good standing of the AUCC are eligible for TESL Canada Standard Three (Interim) upon application. These programs are on our list of recognized programs. Please select Standard Three (Interim) or Permanent (if you have the requisite 2,000 hours' adult ESL experience) when completing our online application form.

12. I am TESL Ontario certified. Can I use this certification towards TESL Canada certification?

TESL Ontario certificants are eligible to apply for TESL Canada certification through a streamlined process. If you have a TESL Ontario Certificate of Accreditation and are applying for Professional Standard Two (Interim) please complete the normal online form as directed. It will lead TESL Ontario certificants to the TESL Ontario Streamlined Registration Form. This application category is subject to a reduced application fee of $45 + HST ($50.85) that will cover the direct costs of the streamlined administrative process.

TESL Ontario certificants who have enough experience to meet the requirements of TESL Canada Standard Two (Permanent) or who have relevant Master’s degrees for Standard Three certification will follow the usual path for Standard Two Permanent or Standard III certification and pay the full $90 fee. However, their TESL Ontario certificate will be taken as the necessary proof that all essential academic and practicum requirements have been met, thus making the process less complex than it is for those who have not achieved TESL Ontario certified status.

13. Is membership the same as certification?

No. If you reside in Canada, you may wish to consider becoming a member of your provincial TESL organization to enjoy benefits such as member discounts on conferences and/or professional training activities. If you reside abroad, TESL Canada is open year-round to applications for international membership at a cost of US$58 for those residing in the United States and US$62 for residents of other foreign countries.

Certification is an additional process which recognizes your professional qualifications as an individual. It involves a longer application and providing supporting documents. Membership in your regional organization is required for TESL Canada’s certification process. If you reside abroad, you may purchase international membership at the time you pay for your certification.

14. I have lost my TESL Canada certificate. Can I be issued a new one?

Yes, please complete a certificate re-issue form following the instructions on the form. The cost is $20.00 plus applicable taxes. The form can be e-mailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if paying by credit card or sent by Canada Post if paying by cheque.