I completed my Cambridge CELTA in June 2015. With regards to the full-time course, when they say it’s an intense course, you’d better believe it. Before I started my course, I was rummaging around the internet to find any information I could on what I would be expecting from the course and good advice to enable me to have the best possible chance of passing the course.
Now, I want to give back to the community a little bit and help any trainees in need of support as they embark on this journey. Here are some tips to keep in mind while navigating the course.
Consider your motivation(s) before enrolling on the course
CELTA is a very intense course. Your tutors will get you through a lot of content, you will need to complete a lot of assignments, and you will be expected to practice your teaching from the get-go. This may go without saying, but it’s very important that you ask yourself before the course if teaching is something you really would like to explore as the course demands a lot from you.
Make sure you have an idea of what you want to do after the course with the certificate later in hand. A lot of graduates go on to work in schools in their country and/or abroad. You will hear of other courses such as Dip-TESOL and Delta, but don’t be confused as I often see on social media of candidates not knowing if they should get a CELTA or Delta. CELTA is just your initial teaching qualification. It will get you in the door. Those other certs are diplomas to help you pursue careers in management, teacher training, publishing etc. As you can guess, you need to have been in the game a fair bit before taking those courses.
The Cambridge CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is a pre-service teaching qualification for those who want to teach English as a foreign language. CELTA is recognised and required by a lot of employers around the world when you are looking to step into the industry.
I completed my CELTA in June 2015 and have written a few blog entries on my experiences:
The course is great for those who are complete beginners, like I was, when it comes to teaching. The course provides you with the knowledge, skills and practice you will need to be a successful and confident English language teacher. Experienced teachers who are looking to provide evidence to prospective employers that they meet the required standard for teaching or those who are looking to improve their skills also take the course.
I enjoy working with students one-to-one just as much as I do in the normal classroom environment, but at first I was thrown by how different it is. That’s why I devoted my Delta Module 3 assignment to this context so I could understand the context properly.
If you are getting into the context of one-to-one teaching for the first time and not sure what to expect (or if you are already working in it and things are not going as well as you had hoped), have a look at my tips below to help you get accustomed to the change.
Understand the context you are walking into
One-to-one teaching is a completely different animal from the group settings you may be used to. You need to understand this, as does your student/client. Firstly, it is more intense for both parties. The student will be on task for a majority of the lesson. The teacher will be monitoring, making notes for feedback, going into a lot of depth with regards to systems and skills work, stepping into different roles not normally fulfilled in the normal classroom e.g. coach, mentor, shoulder to lean on, and you will find it difficult to find those moments to breathe and prepare for the next task as you do normally in the grouped setting. It really is all systems go from start to finish, so energy levels will need to be managed. Having a short five minute break can really help. Head to the toilet or grab a coffee to give your student some respite as your presence can often mean ‘work time’ and your absence for a brief time can give them a breather mentally whilst also allowing them to work well independently from you.
2017 was without a doubt a whirlwind of a year for me. It was a year where I felt that I had fully spread my wings in the teaching world and things were really starting to click.
If you remember from my review of the previous year, I had spent some time travelling around South America. It was an amazing experience, memories I will cherish forever. When my girlfriend and I got to Peru, she received word of a job opportunity back in Dublin that was hard to pass up. Just when you think you have escaped the rat race, they find a way to reel you back in. So, we made a collective decision – a surprisingly quick one – whilst eating food in a bus station, that we would stop travelling and head home. For me, I would take my next step in my career – post-primary teaching; something that I had initially planned to do at some point while teaching English but was putting it off until I felt comfortable in my role as a teacher. I needed to apply for a Masters and was going to go with Hibernia. I was very sad to scrap our plans to travel around South America, and I hope we can pick up where we left off again some time in the near future.
After Christmas, we were back in Dublin, my girlfriend was settling into her new job, and I applied to Hibernia. The next thing for me was to find a job. I applied to four schools: Delfin, Berlitz, Atlantic, and The English Academy. I didn’t bother with Kaplan as I knew I probably wouldn’t get the hours I needed to pay for my college tuition fees. My first interview, with Atlantic, was awful. I was given a coursebook and was asked how I would go about planning a lesson from one of the book’s two-page spread. I drew a blank. I didn’t know how to go about it. I was offered really low-pay based on my interview, which was fair enough because that interview was an absolute stinker. I just needed to blow off a few cobwebs and get my head firmly screwed on that I was back teaching and not travelling.
At the time of writing, it has been 3 months since I started this blog and there are still things I want to tweak and add to it, so it is still very much in its infancy, but I am enjoying this journey very much. However, it has been 3 weeks since my last blog entry which makes me a bit uneasy. Granted, I have been putting my efforts into renovating my house (at the flooring stage at the moment) and don’t have much energy and motivation to write in the evenings, but I also realise that I am somewhat off the tracks and need to get myself back on it.
Now, I may have periods like these when I don’t, or can’t, sit down and write something, and I just need to accept that, but I hope I don’t leave it for too long, otherwise I fear this blog will turn into a lonely, inactive place like my Instagram account. Having said that though, leaving the blog alone for a week or two allows past entries to shine.
If you are blogging for the first time or suffering from a lack of motivation to write, I have noted down some traits in my routine that have helped me to knuckle down and write that you may wish to incorporate into your routine. I’d love to hear yours as well, so do get in touch and comment below.
I enrolled on this course in January 2021 and finished it a month or so later. I should have done this course earlier in my career because of the urgent transition to online work that occured thanks to the global pandemic, but better late than never. Given how important online teaching was during this pandemic era, the main thing I wanted to gain from this course was to see how capable I was at teaching online. Jen and Lucie, the course tutors, over at International House are amazing and they gave me the confidence I needed to keep on keeping on in this online game. I would recommend this course to anyone who feels the same as I did. If you are interested in doing this course, you can find out more here.
Here are three major takeaways I got after reflecting on the work I done on the course:
Plethora of synchronous and asynchronous tools
Throughout the course, my coursemates and I were inundated with handy tech tools which we could use inside and outside of the classroom to help boost learning. I was very grateful and blessed to have met some great teachers around the world who were ready to offer up what they had been using online with their students during the pandemic era. Our course tutors, also, demoed a lot of tools and we as a class dissected each one to see what ones could be of real use and benefit to our students online. Here is a list of tools we used throughout the course, hopefully there will be a few that you haven’t used yet:
Bamboozle – really fun, interactive, ready-to-use games
After coming off a 4-week online German course with the German Language School (GLS) in Berlin, it gave me a unique perspective on what life is like for a language learner. Here are ten things that I learnt and will remember going forward in my career as a teacher.
Speaking and listening practice is paramount
Completing tasks in the coursebook or online tasks from websites are really satisfying when you get it right. It’s a nice dopamine hit. But nothing compares to the level of satisfaction you get when you perform well during a speaking or listening task. The opportunities to practice and develop speaking and listening in the classroom is really important for learners, and sometimes they are criminally marginalised with grammar and vocabulary exercises taking up a lot of the time. A majority of the tasks prescribed in your coursebook can be completed outside of the classroom in your own time, but the practice of speaking cannot realistically be done without a partner or group of the same level, and the immediate feedback you get from your teacher. When these tasks are set up in a safe and scaffolded manner it allows learners to throw caution to the wind in the construction of their sentences and meaning; something that isn’t always available outside the classroom when talking with native speakers who can often be impatient and unforgiving.
We were introduced to our fourth teacher this week and she is lovely. I’ve been truly blessed with having four great teachers during this course. They are all very professional, approachable, patient and competent; the things I really need from a teacher as a language learner.
We also had a new student enter the ranks so it’s nice having someone to bounce ideas off.
We did a lot of production today so I was absolutely knackered by the end of it.
We revised the content we studied last week, but with a bit more focus on speaking and writing, and emergent language that came out of those practices. This kind of practice is very important as we get to recycle what we could recall and then analyse what language is not coming through automatically. It’s good that I recognise that language (a syllable here and there), and hopefully with further exposure and practice it’ll get that automaticity I desperately want.
The Akkusativ case is becoming much clearer with repeated viewings and practice, which gives me a sense of relief, and my teachers have told me that it is a case I’ll be using a lot more than say the Genitive case. We will be looking at this case in more detail this week so I’m looking forward to getting to grips with it more.