Everyone on the course was really helpful

by ucclangcent


Niamh O’ Doherty

Niamh O’ Doherty, a recently qualified CELTA teacher tells us about her experience of the four-week intensive course she took at the University Language Centre in UCC.

Hey Niamh, thanks for taking the time to do this. Now that the four-week intensive CELTA course is over how do you feel? Delighted that it’s over!

Can you tell me what were your reasons for doing the course? I was hoping to find work teaching English in Ireland and I knew that the CELTA qualification was a pre-requisite .

Can you tell us a little about the application process? What did you have to do? I had to do a pre- interview task and an interview. 

What about before the course –  were there things you had to do in preparation? Yes, we were asked to do a pre- course task before starting the course and I did it the weekend before the course started.

Tell us about the first day? What was that like? The first day was probably the most difficult. There was a huge amount of information to process and I don’t believe I took it all in on the first day. I went home with an incredible pain in my head that day and felt rather pessimistic to say the least. I seriously doubted that I would make it through the course.

They say the course is really intensive. It is as relentless as they say? Yes, it is. I know we were told that it it’s really intensive, but I honestly didn’t believe that it would be as intensive as it was.  On the course  – the teaching practice seems a lot more than 6 hours!!!!

Are the students ‘real’ students? Yes they are. Luckily , the students take the lessons very seriously . I don’t know if they know  we are trainees but they seem to have every faith in us and I , for one, appreciated the fact that they fully engaged in the lessons.

On average how long did it take you to prepare for a lesson? The first week, it took me about 2 hours to prepare a lesson. But for the other 6 teaching practices, it took me on average about 6 hours to prepare for each lesson.

Did the tutors give you a lot of help in the planning stage of your lessons? Yes, they were very supportive and gave us as much or as little help as we wanted.

So, in the morning you have teaching practice and then in the afternoon you have input sessions? Tell us a little about those. The input sessions are invaluable. From those sessions we got great ideas on how to write our lessons plans, how to do skills lessons, reading and speaking in particular . I really enjoyed those sessions.

Are there assignments? Are these easy? No they are not easy. Personally I found them hard and was never really sure if I was doing the right thing or not. Although we were given guidance by our tutors before we did each one, I felt there could have been more instruction given in the rubric. I did feel the instructions were sometimes a bit too vague.  For me personally , there could have been more specific instructions.

What is the hardest part of the course? Besides the assignments, the hardest part of the course was trying to remember to correct so many faults during teaching practice. Usually , the moment you sat down after teaching practice, you thought, “Oh no, I shouldn’t have done that” or “ I forgot to…”

Was there anything you found easy? Not really, well, I suppose I found that following the format of a course book was easy for me as I have experience of using coursebooks.

Was there anything you had not expected at all; something that surprised you? I had not expected that it would be such an intense experience- not only on an academic level but also on an emotional level. I found it very stressful- and know that some other trainees were also very stressed out. I hadn’t expected that I would bond so well with the other trainees. I loved the fact that the course was in no way competitive. Everyone on the course was really helpful. I helped others a lot but equally received lots and lots of help and that’s something that will be very memorable for me. 

What advice would you give someone preparing for the intensive 4-week CELTA course? Are there any books or websites you would suggest? I’m sure that doing the suggested reading before the course would be of huge benefit but even if you can’t do that, just put your personal life aside for 4 weeks and concentrate fully on the course. Even if you can’t take everything in during the first week, you will eventually take most things in during the course of the 2nd and 3rd week.

And finally, now that the course is over what are your plans? How do you intend to use your CELTA qualification? I hope to find a good job !!