TEFL Teacher Training – All about the CELTA

The number of TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language)/TESOL qualifications out there today is overwhelming; prospective ESL teachers certainly aren’t short of choices. There is one qualification, however, that almost all employers prefer. Welcome to the world of CELTA.

What is the CELTA?

CELTA stands for Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults and is an initial teacher training qualification for teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). It is accredited by the highly esteemed Cambridge English Language Assessment and is a qualification trusted by language schools, governments and employers the world over.  The CELTA is a 120-hour course that takes place over an intensive 4-week period where you are required to work a full schedule each day and attend all of the timetabled course. The CELTA is offered by more than 300 centres in over 70 countries.

Why Should I Take the CELTA?

Having a CELTA qualification is the way to go if you’re contemplating becoming a qualified ESL teacher and want to stand out. Not only does it instill confidence in prospective employers that you are competent, it also instills within you the confidence needed to walk into a classroom and deliver a killer lesson. Another reason for choosing the CELTA is that you will receive expert training and feedback on your teaching. This feedback is invaluable and essential for your growth and development as a teacher. It is also regulated by Ofqual at level 5 on the Qualifications and Credit Framework.

Over the duration of the CELTA you will build a strong foundation in English language teaching and develop a broad range of practical skills that are necessary to teach English to adult learners, teenagers, and kids. The practical nature of the course enables you to demonstrate your ability and apply what you have learned in a real teaching context. Once you have successfully completed the course you will then be fully prepared (and raring to go) to begin working in a vast array of ESL teaching settings the world over.

Who is the CELTA Suitable For?

While the CELTA qualification is designed for candidates with little to no previous experience of teaching English as a second language – such as people who are changing careers or recent graduates – it is also a popular choice for previously qualified ESL teachers who want to further develop their teaching skills or seek more favorable employment opportunities.

What Will I Learn on the CELTA Course?

There are five main topics that you will cover on your CELTA course, the first of which is Learners and Teachers, and the Context for Learning and Teaching. This first topic will better enable you to understand different cultural and linguistic backgrounds of learners, and how that may affect their learning of English. For example, why do speakers of certain languages have difficulties pronouncing certain sounds? Similarly, why do some learners put words in the wrong order? This topic will help you identify and answer the “Why’s” and become more familiar with different learning needs and preferences of students.

In the second topic, Language Analysis and Awareness, you will get to grips with meta-language (‘verb’, ‘noun’, ‘reported speech’, ‘phrasal verb’ etc.); key terminology that is essential when teaching English. Nobody wants to be in an awkward situation because they don’t know the answer to a student’s question: “Sorry Teacher, can you explain the present perfect continuous?” Being familiar with the key terminology is important for both you and your students, and our newfound awareness will prove invaluable when it comes to planning and teaching your lessons. Most native English users do not know this meta-language, but learn it before, during, and after their CELTA.

Whereas the previous topic covers the analysis and awareness of language, this next topic helps you to better understand basic concepts and terminology used to describe the four Language Skills: Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing and how you can apply this to your teaching. You will also gain insight as to how best to approach texts, depending on their purpose, and how to lift exercises off the page and adapt them in order to make them as engaging and fun as possible for learners.

What are the underlying principles behind planning an effective lesson? What kind of lessons are appropriate for particular learners? The fourth topic, Planning and Resources for Different Teaching Contexts, will help you understand these principles (and the purposes behind them) as well as help you to identify and select relevant materials. Another focus of this topic includes self-reflection and being able to evaluate your lesson preparation. Being able to evaluate and reflect on your lesson planning (and delivery) is an integral part of the CELTA course as you will be required not only to evaluate your own work, but that of your fellow trainees. After each Teaching Practive (TP) you will sit down with your expert trainer and fellow trainees to critique each other’s lessons in order to develop strategies on how to best approach your next lesson. Feedback here is constructive and encouraging and serves only to further your skills and make you a better teacher.

TIP: Adopting a growth-mindset (having the perception that you can learn to adapt, develop and upgrade your skill-set with further practice) is a real game-changer. If you go into the CELTA believing you can improve and continue to perform better then you’re golden. As the famous quote attributed to Henry Ford says, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t…you’re right”. Solid advice indeed.

And last, but by no means least, is Developing Teaching Skills and Professionalism. Optimizing the layout of your classroom – as well as getting the most out of your resources – is an essential part of teaching as it provides a learning environment that fosters communication; this alone can be the difference between a successful lesson and an unsuccessful one. This topic covers the skills that you will need for organizing your classroom effectively and to get the most bang for your buck out of your materials and resources. Building learners’ confidence and sense of progress is an essential part of teaching; this last topic covers, and helps you develop, the skills required to involve learners of different ability levels in order to meet learners’ needs.

How Will I be Assessed on the CELTA?

As a CELTA trainee you will be assessed throughout the course in two ways; the first of which is teaching practice (which you will learn to refer to affectionately as TP). Over the course of the four weeks you will teach a total of 6 hours, teaching adult classes no larger than 18 students. This practical element of the course, especially for those with no previous teaching experience, enables you to find your groove and develop your own teaching style. For those with teaching experience, it is the perfect opportunity to showcase and develop your own style further. This is one of the most critical elements of the course, and is the reason why online-only TEFL courses are not respected amongst employers.

The second type of assessment comes in the form of four written assignments, each comprising 750-1,000 words. These focus on analysing and responding to adult learner needs, analysing language for teaching purposes, teaching language skills, and reflecting on classroom teaching respectively. If, like me, you are far from fond of exams, you can rejoice, as there is no final examination on the CELTA.

What Else can I Expect from the CELTA?

Taking the CELTA is a challenging yet enriching experience. In addition to building a solid foundation for teaching English, there are a number of other benefits to be had; it gives you the opportunity to forge new friendships, make new acquaintances from around the globe as well as making contacts in the ESL world. If all that still isn’t enough, you will also have gained a strong sense of accomplishment having just completed (and survived) a globally recognized course that is renowned for its intense nature and favorability among employers.

So, if you want to benefit from what this course offers and aid your personal growth and development, choose the Cambridge TEFL CELTA (at IH Bangkok or Chiang Mai!).

– Richie

Some Helpful Links:

CELTA at IH Bangkok: www.ihbangkok.com/teacher-training/celta/

CELTA at IH Chiang Mai: www.ihchiangmai.com/teacher-training/celta/chiang-mai/

CELTA – Course Dates: www.ihbangkok.com/teacher-training/celta/course-dates/

CELTA – Apply Now: www.ihbangkok.com/teacher-training/celta/apply-now/