Fred O’Rourke took the part-time CELTA course at IH London February - April 2015. Here he reflects on training to teach English as a foreign language.
This isn’t going to be one of those ‘CELTA takes up every aspect of your life… you’ll have no social life… etc. etc. etc.’ kind of blogs. While that may be true, this isn’t going to be about that. It’s about my impressions of what it’s like to study for the CELTA.
I wasn't able to do the full-time CELTA course and opted for the 12 week part-time option. This took up two evenings of my week, plus seven Saturdays over the 12 week period. I’ve just finished my course and have now had time to reflect on what just happened...
How CELTA training is structured
The CELTA is a combination of instruction (being taught how to teach), teaching practice (practising how to teach) and reflection (thinking about how you teach and what you have learnt).
It asks a lot of you because there is a lot to learn in a short time. But, if my experience is anything to go by, you will come out of it with the skills you need to become a teacher – and full of excitement and enthusiasm for what’s ahead of you in your new career.
You’ll be assessed on six hours of teaching practice and four written assignments over the course of the CELTA, and study everything from the different motivations of adult learners, to how to organize a classroom, to identifying differences between spoken English and written English.
Plus, you will watch and learn as others on your course practice their new teaching skills – and get feedback on your own teaching from both peers and tutors. It can be quite daunting, but totally invaluable.
Some of the key areas on the course
What is input? For those who are interested in taking the CELTA course, input is where you will learn EVERYTHING to do with teaching.
This is where methodology comes into play and learning the general ins and outs of teaching English as a foreign Language. For me, these classes are full-on and you will definitely feel tired by the end of it, but the knowledge you gain and the information that has been given to you from the fantastic tutors makes them more than worth it.
As someone who has not had any pre-training in the classroom, these sessions have been a huge eye opener into the ways of teaching. I have had many lightbulb moments in these sessions and it’s fantastic when you can see all your hard work come together.
As well as expecting to teach once a week on the part time course, you will also observe your fellow class mates and professional teachers as they teach. I found this extremely handy as you can pick up tips from each other and also learn new techniques. The live observations I experienced from IH staff were really useful as well.
I found the teachers really engaging and it was an excellent way to question methodology, as well as see it in action. Also it is always nice to see someone teach professionally, as I was able to pick up some tips with regards to professional practice.
Probably the bulk of your time will be creating your lessons. Seriously, this will keep you so busy. You will spend hours going over the timing and naming of tasks, even before you have actually set out what you want to do precisely.
A general English class at IH London
There are many parts to planning the lesson, as well as the paperwork to go with it, but it’s really rewarding when you get to see the students being engaged with what you have planned for them.
A word of advice to those who are looking to do a CELTA at IH - make sure your lesson plans literally set out every detail of the lesson step-by-step. It will help so much in the long run when you actually teach your class.
What do we mean when we talk about ‘Language Skills’? Well, reading, writing, listening and speaking.
Over the course I looked mainly at and taught reading, speaking and listening, and the methodology of teaching a writing class. This will form the main part of your lesson and if teaching grammar, it will take up most, if not all of it.
Filling out the language analysis forms, thinking of CCQs (Context Checking Questions) and drilling and dealing with MFP (Meaning Form Pronunciation) will form the bulk of your lessons.
Just remember while you are doing your CELTA, or after you have finished, that any handouts you have on these things are your friends for life. Do not lose them!
And when it's all over...
Well I could sit here for hours writing about the ins and outs of what makes the course actually so rewarding, but I suggest you all go do it. For me the course was tough but I learnt so much. It was an intense journey that was worth all the effort I put in.
If anyone is reading this and looking to take up a CELTA course, I wholeheartedly recommend it. And for those who have already done the CELTA, congratulations!
Interested in TEFL?
If you'd like to know more about the CELTA course in general, or about taking the course at IH London, visit our CELTA page.