What is a CELTA teacher training course like?

by ucclangcent

Are you interested in training to become an English language teacher? Our CELTA teacher training courses may be what you are looking for. Here you can read about Sarah’s experience. She has just finished our January to March course.

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  • Hey Sarah, thanks for taking the time to do this. Now that the CELTA course is over how do you feel?

Relieved, but very proud of myself.

  • What were your reasons for doing the course?

I had wanted to do the CELTA course for about three years, and felt it was an area that I wanted to pursue a career in. Therefore, I took a year out from university this year for some personal reasons, but my focus of my gap year was to successfully complete the CELTA course.

  • Can you tell us a little about the application process? What did you have to do?

I originally emailed the UCC Language Centre last September. I was hoping to take part in the Part-Time course from October to December. I was called into the Language Centre and had an interview with one of the tutors. Then I was given a mini-test to complete in my own time – just to assess my own working knowledge of English. Then I was told I was a suitable candidate, and paid a deposit in the main office.

  • How about the first few days of the course? What were they like?

That depends entirely on the person. For me, it was exciting although my head was spinning a little by the time the first day was done.

  • On the course you have to teach for a total of six hours? How does that work out?

It feels like you do a lot more than 6 hours! Your very first lesson is just 20 minutes long, and then you have the bones of a week to prepare for each lesson thereafter. The following 7 classes are 40 minutes long, while the final assessed lesson is an hour long.

  • Are the students ‘real’ students?

Yes. They are adults aged from 18 years old and up from all over the world.

  • On average how long did it take you to prepare for a lesson?

That again depends on the person and on the feedback you receive from week-to-week. I mean, if you do the intensive 4 week course, I’m sure it’s achievable to plan your lesson in a few hours. For the longer course, I generally started thinking about it for a day or two, forming ideas, but the actual preparation (writing the lesson plan, waiting for feedback, preparing materials) took the bones of 2 days.

  • Did the tutors give you a lot of help in the planning stage of your lessons?

There are supervised lesson planning sessions for the first week or two. After that, they provide feedback via email or in person but it is up to you to go and ask if you are struggling with something. They are only too happy to help.

  • Going from one lesson to the next do you know what you need to do to improve?

Yes. After each lesson, there is feedback. You are given a chance to say how you felt your lesson went, while your fellow trainees are able to provide constructive criticism. The tutor helps you to reflect on the positives and negatives of your lesson, so you are aware of what to focus on in order to improve.

  • What about the afternoon input sessions? Tell us a little about those.

The input sessions are staged throughout the course to help you learn the methodology and skills required for a CELTA trainee. These include how to teach specific language skills i.e. Reading, Writing. Other input sessions focus on

  • Are there assignments? Are these easy?

They aren’t easy, but they aren’t the equivalent of a college paper either!

  • What is the hardest part of the course?

Trying to ensure that you are constantly progressing. It can be very disheartening to realise that a lesson you thought had gone well hadn’t lived up to your own expectations.

  • Was there anything you found easy?

Collaborating with my fellow trainees. It was a very pleasant working environment.

  • Was there anything you had not expected at all; something that surprised you?

That standing up in front of two different classes of adults over the course wasn’t as daunting as I had anticipated it.

  • What advice would you give someone preparing for the CELTA course? Are there any books or websites you would suggest?

I would suggest reading some of Harmer’s TEFL books and familarising yourself with phonetic script.

  • If you could sum up your advice to new trainees on a CELTA course in one sentence; what would it be?

Block out time for the course. It’s worth the work you put into it. Use your fellow trainees and work together.

  • And finally, now that the course is over what are your plans? How do you intend to use your CELTA qualification?

I have one more year of college and after that, I intend on teaching full-time. I’m looking at a Masters in EFL in the University of Limerick or else getting my HDip in Languages.

Thanks for this, Sarah. Keep in contact and good luck!