The input from my fellow student teachers really surprised me

by ucclangcent


Mark O’ Mahony

Mark O’ Mahony, a recent CELTA graduate, talks about his experience on the four-week CELTA teacher training course.

Hey Mark thanks for taking the time to do this. 

Now that the four-week intensive CELTA course is over how do you feel?

Qualified, confident and armed to teach English.

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

To be awarded a CELTA qualification ( at UCC a five star university.) I will live in Thailand sometime and want a hobby and to contribute to society there. I wanted to learn HOW TO TEACH also as I will be teaching at Welcome English in Cork City. I also did the course to reintroduce myself to the 9 to 5 environment, deadlines, learning etc..  

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

I filled an application form, did an tough interview and paid the fee.

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

YES. There was a pre course task, which you MUST do to get full value value from the course. I did do it but did not understand / learn / revise my knowledge fully. This put me under a lot of unnecessary pressure early in the course. 

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

Fantastic. Straight into the course with the tutors. Straight into building relationships with your fellow students.  It also highlighted that I was disorganized (notebook, pens, drinks, dealing with household tasks etc etc).  They say the course is really intensive.

It is as relentless as they say or is it exaggerated?

YES. Relentless for sure, no exaggeration at all. It gives you strength. You grow. You learn.

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

There are two classes of REAL students at 2 different levels. You teach one class for the 1st two weeks then the other class for the last fortnight. So the 6 hours (360 minutes) works out as 2 x (40 + 40 + 40 + 60) minute lessons that you teach. That is a total of 8 lessons you teach. 8 lesson plans, 8 feedback sessions, 8 preparation sessions.

Are the students ‘real’ students?

100%. I still bump into and chat to at least 5 of them regularly around town. 

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

4 – 7 hours , but I did struggle a bit in the middle.  Tips : Get your own printer. Do not get a new laptop the day before the course.

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

YES. You get lots of help.

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 session were intense. A perfect mix of theory and practice. I really got a lot out of these sessions ( maybe because I seemed to be fully awake in the afternoons 🙂 ) . 

What is the hardest part of the course?

Dealing with your life outside the course. You, ideally, must put you non CELTA existence on hold. My father took my wife and kids on holidays for the last 2 weeks for me.

Was there anything you found easy?

NO. If you find anything easy on this course you are missing out. From 8:45 on the 1st day you have the opportunity to get value for your money, you will if you are dedicated and prepared. You are being assessed from the 1st second you walk into the building by the tutors.

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

The input from my fellow student teachers really surprised me. Way above my expectations. We bonded, learned from each other, got to know each other, had some far out discussions and many many belly laughs.

Yes, you were really a great bunch of trainees. 

What advice would you give someone preparing for the intensive 4-week CELTA course?

1.  Do and UNDERSTAND the pre task assignment. Complete the sections you understand and put them away. That will leave the grammar section. Do it until you understand and know it, YOUR STUDENTS WILL KNOW THEIR GRAMMAR.

2. Get sorted with pens, notebooks , folders etc.

3. Get anything you have to sort in your life done BEFORE the course starts.

4. Get stocked up with candy, coffee, red meat and fresh veg for the late night sessions.

Are there any books or websites you would suggest?

Read HARMER . Avoid all SWAN books.

I only use 3 websites :

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

 Teach locally in Cork City,  teach in Thailand in the future, do the CELTA-YL next year in Thailand.

Thanks Mark. It was great having you on the course. Keep in touch.  Enjoy your teaching. 

If you are interested in our CELTA courses, you can find all information here.