Maximize Your Potential: Why OCELT Certification Maintenance Matters

by Reza Mazloom-Farzaghy, Accreditation Services Manager, TESL Ontario 

Did you know that in order to maintain your certified status, OCELT (Ontario Certified English Language Teacher) certification must be renewed annually? This annual renewal process isn’t merely administrative; it’s serves as a gateway to a host of advantages that benefit teachers, employers, learners, and all stakeholders involved in language education.  These benefits enable employers and funders to ensure the high quality of their language instruction services, motivating teachers to regularly upgrade their knowledge and skills, while also staying abreast of the latest developments in the field of TESL.  OCELT is awarded to qualified English language teachers of adult learners by TESL Ontario, and is valid for twelve months.  Like many professional certifications, OCELT requires renewal at the end of each certification cycle to ensure the association can verify the continued professional development of OCELT holders.

Officially Registered and Trademarked Professional Designation

OCELT, which is officially registered and trademarked as a professional designation with the government of Canada, is the highest level of certification for English language teachers of adults in Ontario. OCELT recognizes the certificate holder’s professionalism and integrity, and enhances respect for English language teachers of adults in Canada and international settings. This professional designation can be used only by TESL Ontario certified members. Standard members of TESL Ontario and those with lapsed OCELT certification are not entitled to use the OCELT designation. 

Continuous Professional Development

OCELT holders are required to engage in at least 10 hours of professional development (PD) every year to be eligible for annual renewal. PD enables teachers to expand their knowledge base and expertise in different areas, and gives them an opportunity to step out of their routine — they get to be the student instead of the teacher. PD nurtures the talents of teachers and allows them to learn from experienced leaders to become effective future leaders themselves. While all members of TESL Ontario have access to a variety of live and recorded PD opportunities provided by TESL Ontario, standard members are not required to do PD hours. Let’s not forget that it is easy for teachers to become burdened by the grind of teaching and numerous other responsibilities, and end up postponing participation in PD endlessly. TESL Ontario is aware of the importance of PD for teachers and audits holders of valid OCELT certification for PD annually.


Valid OCELT certification enhances the certificate holders’ employability. OCELT designation is backed by an innovative professional association that is a leader in certification services in Ontario and beyond.  TESL Ontario continuously promotes the value of language training profession, the power of hiring OCELTs, and endorses the professionalism and integrity of the TESL Ontario certified membership.  This vast community of practitioners collectively strengthens and advances the profession through their dedication and commitment to excellence in language education.

Professional Registry

Teachers with valid OCELT certification are listed in TESL Ontario’s online registry, which is accessible to all members of the public. The registry is a reliable source for employers and language learners to verify the credentials of a language educator and to search for highly educated and knowledgeable TESL professionals. Standard members and those with lapsed OCELT certification cannot be found in the Rregistry.

Professional Standard

OCELT has been established as the standard for English language  instructors in Ontario.  Provincial and federal funders require that service provider organizations employ qualified English language educators, making OCELT certification a mandatory qualification in the majority of these employment settings. 

The majority of Ontario employers acknowledge that mandating a valid OCELT certification demonstrates their commitment to hiring staff with a high level of professionalism and expertise in the field of TESL, viewing their employees as skilled and dedicated professionals with long-term career goals.

Teaching Excellence

Maintaining valid OCELT certification gives teachers in the TESL field confidence in their knowledge and skills, and inspires high standards among them. On top of that, it builds a commitment to the profession and encourages educators to continue developing and growing in their profession.

The value of maintaining OCELT certification resonates across all facets of the teaching profession, enriching not only the educators themselves but also their employers and students. By upholding this professional designation, educators cultivate confidence in their abilities, fostering a culture of excellence and commitment within their ranks. Employers, in turn, reap the rewards of a highly skilled and dedicated workforce, while students benefit from the enriched educational experiences provided by certified TESL educators. Ultimately, the commitment to maintaining OCELT certification elevates the entire English language training field, setting a standard of professionalism and excellence that benefits all involved. As we collectively strive for advancement and growth within the profession, the value of OCELT certification stands as a testament to our shared dedication to quality English language education.

For more information about OCELT certification, visit the TESL Ontario website at . You can also contact us by email at or by phone at 416-593-4243, ext. 205.


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