CELTA is a Level 5 (UK) Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. It is moderated, assessed and accredited by the University of Cambridge, guaranteeing reliance on its quality and accreditation. At present, it is the most highly recognised and regarded TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course, sought after by employers worldwide.
I opted to complete the CELTA in its intensive full time format which is comprised of 4 weeks, weekdays from 9-5. It was segmented into 4 parts:
1. Language Analysis
The ability to analyse language with regards to its meaning, form, usage and sound was encouraged and developed here, with specific focus devoted to grammar and pronunciation.
Classroom management along with various approaches to teaching language with the different techniques used for presentation and the practice of a new language was explored in this methodology section. Along with this, lesson planning with the use of authentic materials was taught simultaneously with the development of listening, reading and writing skills.
3. Teaching Practice
We as trainees were required to complete a minimum of 6 hours teaching adult learners whilst being observed by our teachers and peers.
4. Observation of Experienced Teachers
Trainees were also required to complete 8 hours of observing experienced teachers teach adult learners. These observations were carried out in person and also through watching videos of experienced teachers (from other language centres).
Assessment was based primarily on the the lesson planning and how performance was carried out during the teaching practices along with the ability to self evaluate our own performances in the lessons that were taught. Furthermore, the contribution and participation to the course also determined the final grade, along with the quality of the written assignments (there were 4 in total) and finally, attendance, which was expected to be 100%.
The format of CELTA courses being offered in different language centres may vary from the format of content I have just described.
My experience completing the CELTA course was rewarding in every sense of the word. In addition to it being insightful and inspiring, it instilled in me a newfound sense of motivation and urgency to do all I can in order to teach in a manner that would prove to be effective.
A couple of years ago, my mother invited home a French woman who spoke very broken English. Communication was carried out using gestures and objects to aid the messages attempted to be delivered by both parties to each other. Before she left, she turned to me and said, “next time, my English better.” It reaffirmed to me that my goal in life to teach English as a foreign language was without doubt my calling because the next time I would see her, I did want her English to be better. I wanted her life to be easier and her opportunities to be abundant due to possessing the knowledge on how to effectively communicate using the second most popular language in the world. This is the case for not only the French woman, but for millions of individuals on this planet who struggle daily due to being deprived of an English speaking tongue.
When we are where we are meant to be in this life, working towards and fulfilling our life’s purpose, we are naturally overwhelmed with euphoria. Our being feels at peace. The first day on the CELTA course, whilst observing an experienced and qualified teacher, I witnessed students from an array of different cultures and backgrounds collectively repeating words in English after the teacher and it truly warmed my heart. The sound of different accents with their own, distinct ways of saying the same English word was fascinating to hear. To know this was going to be a small part of the career I intended to pursue thrilled me beyond words.
The month long experience was one that I will forever owe gratitude to for several reasons. Not only was I presented with the opportunity to gain more knowledge and learn, I crossed paths with a handful of charismatic individuals who truly contributed to making the experience be one that I shall always look back on with nostalgia.
Teaching is a career that will introduce to you, a newfound sense of devotion. I decided to put together a collection of my discoveries upon completing my CELTA with the intent for anyone to take it as advice (for anyone considering a CELTA) or even inspiration.
1. Teaching practice will begin almost immediately. I was the first to teach the very next day and although it was very nerve wrecking, it was a relief to finish prior to the rest of the group. Try to apply any relevant, preexisting knowledge you already possess and see where in your lesson it can be made relevant.
2. Always keep a bottle of water with you when you teach.
3. Do not feel discouraged when your students tell you they do not understand. Always remind yourself that English is not their first language and so it is going to take time for them to grasp the concepts you are explaining to them. It does not mean you are not doing a good job at teaching.
4. Adopt a routine to balance both your lesson plans and assignments to ensure they are completed when they need to be. A total of 750 – 1,000 words are required for each assignment and a maximum of an hour and a half would be enough to dedicate towards each one. However, the time may vary when lesson planning (depending on the context of your lessons).
5. Familiarise yourself with the learning theories you shall touch upon in your teaching sessions as it shall be beneficial for you to use this knowledge to apply in your teaching practices and also in your assignments.
6. Watch teaching EFL/ESL videos online for inspiration. You shall watch videos during your CELTA course to fulfill the aspect of observing experienced teachers, however it may be useful for you to watch teaching videos on subjects that you may have to teach for your own teaching practices.
7. Your feedback for your teaching practices shall never be personal. Take your constructive criticism as advice from your teachers and peers and be grateful that they are presenting you with various techniques to enhance yourself.
8. Write everything down. Your teachers are teaching you how to teach. They have been doing it for years. They are sages in this field. Learn from them.
9. Maintain virtuous relationships with your teachers and your peers. Doing so will truly allow your experience to be perpetually fruitful. Your CELTA group shall be made up of individuals you are to see everyday for an entire month and by maintaining healthy relationships, you shall most definitely contribute towards a better quality of the experience.
10. You are investing time and money into this course. If you ever feel at some point, you are beginning to feel discouraged and disengaged, revisit your intentions from when you decided to begin this journey. Why did you choose to complete a CELTA? What made you want to do it? What are you going to do with it? Why do you want to do xyz with it?
Your experience during the CELTA course will bless you with the opportunity to encounter and befriend individuals from all walks of life, belonging to many different cultures from places you may not have even considered visiting. Your achievement of the CELTA certificate will then present and bless you with the entire world. It is a timeless qualification and I am honoured and proud to have achieved it. It has always been a milestone I envisioned completing for as long as I can remember.
Teaching English as a foreign language enables you to see the changes you gradually make in people’s lives by equipping them with the knowledge on how to communicate using the English language. I truly believe that part of our purpose in life is to serve others by making uplifting differences on their journey, and so I hope by sharing my experience with the CELTA course, I may have inspired some, if not many, individuals to consider a career that allows you to play an active and effective role in the lives of others.
Thank you for reading.