The staff are excellent, they are supportive, helpful and will encourage you every step of the way

by ucclangcent


Adrian Dunlea

Adrian Dunlea, a recently qualified CELTA teacher tells us about his experience of the four-week intensive course she took at the University Language Centre in UCC.

Hey Adrian, thanks for taking the time to do this. Now that the four-week intensive CELTA course is over how do you feel?

Great! I miss it. The camaraderie between the students and tutors was great.

Can you tell me what were your reasons for doing the course?

I had procrastinated for some time, I shouldn’t have. I wanted a qualification that would be recognized internationally and open doors for me in the world of English language teaching. I did an interview the following week and secured a part time job so my economic reasons were well founded. I really wanted to work in this field and felt the CELTA would be the best start.

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

It is quite straight forward but the assessment will test your presumptions of what you know about English for example word stress. There is also an interview following the assessment.

What about before the course – were there things you had to do in preparation?

Yes, you should complete the pre-course tasks as it will help you enormously and hit the ground running when you start the course.

Some previous teaching experience will also help you.

Tell us about the first day? What was that like?

The first day is an introduction but the intensity of the course quickly ratchets up, especially by the end of the second week which is probably a turning point for you.

They say the course is really intensive. It is as relentless as they say?

Definitely, I had observed the previous class photos they posted after completing this same form.  I could tell they were suffering from sleep deprivation. It can be exhausting but be confident about your ability and work closely with the tutors.

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

There are eight lessons, divided between two tutors and two separate ability classes. This is the hardest part of the course; it will require the greatest amount of time. You will be marked on your ability to deliver the lessons according to Cambridge established best practise. It is however ultimately the most rewarding part of the course.

Are the students ‘real’ students?

Yes definitely and they have names too. Encourage your students and leave them talk more and make your lessons student centered.

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

It may take between 6- 7 hours but you need to focus on your lesson being student focused, don’t try to stage the lesson with you talking a lot, give the students tasks and try to learn from any mistakes you made in previous lessons. You will become more skilled at designing lessons yourself at the end of the course. It is all about progression.

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

You need to work with them and don’t ignore their suggestions. In the end you will be basically on your own, they will do their best help you and listen to them. They are very constructive and will go out of their way to help you.

So, in the morning you have teaching practice and then in the afternoon you have input sessions? Tell us a little about those.

This is a constructive feature of the course. Your course tutor will have feedback for your lesson in written form highlighting areas you have taught well as well as areas to improve on. It is a good idea to take notes of your colleagues and observe their lessons this will help you realize what you should and shouldn’t do and you will be able to tell what makes a good lesson.

Are there assignments? Are these easy?

There are four in total and the second is composed of two parts. I found the final two easier. You will be caught for time for the first two, you will need to make good use of the resource room (CELTA library) and it can be common to find you have to resubmit one of the assignments. If you have to resubmit, do work closely with your tutor who will give you guidance. Implement their suggestions.

What is the hardest part of the course?

The lesson planning can be a real challenge, especially when you have to submit detailed language analysis sheets.

Was there anything you found easy?

You need to discover what you do well and build on it. It may take some time to find your feet.

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

The lack of sleep! It is similar to an emotional / educational treadmill – you cannot control the speed.

What advice would you give someone preparing for the intensive 4-week CELTA course? Are there any books or websites you would suggest?

Yes you must do the pre-course task and try to read some of the suggested reading material. The course isn’t about grammar or the way you were taught in secondary school so you have to change your mindset. There are a lot of good internet sites out there and you should follow the Language Centre links on their homepage. The staff are excellent, they are supportive, helpful and will encourage you every step of the way. They want you to do well.

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

 I am looking forward to teaching some of my classes.

Thanks Adrian.