I’d already Googled it four times that day, but I was too nervous to send off my CELTA application without checking one last time. Was it really going to be as intensive and fast-paced as people had told me? Could I handle this?
I stumbled upon CELTA almost by accident. While studying at university and searching for career inspiration, all I knew was that I wanted to travel and carry on learning languages. If I could exploit some of the teaching experience I’d picked up working as a classroom assistant in a Yorkshire school, then that would be a bonus.
Eventually, I discovered that my dream job really did exist – in the form of English language teaching (ELT). I also found out that it had a notoriously rigorous first qualification, which I would have to pass in order to have any hope of being a reasonable English teacher.
CELTA – the myth, the legend
Sitting in the café at International House (nerves had caused me to arrive at least an hour early on my first day), I could hear the table next to me deep in discussion:
‘Apparently they fail ten per cent of candidates, no matter how good you are!’ ‘My friend told me doing CELTA was harder than her university degree.’ ‘I know someone who’d been teaching for eight years and failed it!’
Myth, myth, myth…
I’m not sure exactly what I’d expected prior to the course, but I certainly didn’t expect our course tutors to be so lively, witty and encouraging; to believe we were capable even when we doubted ourselves.
I didn’t expect to be happy to lose sleep in favour of planning lessons, writing about our students and coming up with fun classroom activities.
I definitely didn’t expect to make friends with more than a handful of people on the course. After all, CELTA is only four weeks long. Now I have 14 friends in eight different countries from London to Tokyo!
Back to reality
Throughout your CELTA, you’ll be amazed by the sheer amount of knowledge you’ll absorb and apply to your teaching in a matter of weeks.
Forget progress made over the month – sometimes you’ll see noticeable improvements in your teaching after just one day.
The mornings are spent learning methodology. Your tutors will cover lesson planning, learning styles, language analysis, concept-checking, receptive skills, phonology, the list goes on… They’ll model real lessons for you, and help you plan your own.
The afternoons are spent teaching. It’s a real lesson, in a real classroom, with a real teacher observing you and giving you personal feedback afterwards.
CELTA won’t teach you to hide behind coursebooks and essays; it’ll train you to be the best version of yourself you can be in the classroom.
Tips and advice for CELTA trainees
The reality of CELTA is that you have to put your life on hold for four weeks if you want to give yourself the chance to do your absolute best.
You’ll spend your evening’s planning lessons and writing assignments, but it’s all worth it the next day when you’re able to teach an informative, engaging lesson.
As for the secret to passing the course, it isn’t a secret at all – they’ll tell you on day one! Apply every methodology lesson to your teaching, and work on every development point from your observed lessons.
It’s simultaneously that simple and that challenging, and that’s what makes CELTA such a rewarding and worthwhile experience in the end.
About the author
Sanchia completed the CELTA at IH London in August this year, passing with an ‘A’ grade. She is currently preparing to travel to Ecuador where she will be taking up a teaching role in Quito.
CELTA training at IH London
Whether you’re a recent graduate or looking for a career change, CELTA will give you the skills and confidence to teach English to adults.