How can I apply and prepare for my CELTA course?
How can I apply for a CELTA course? What are the best ways to prepare for the CELTA and even come out with a better result at the end? Let’s find out, shall we?
1. You’ve done your research and decided you want to take the CELTA.
- World recognised and most desired qualification for many language schools worldwide.
- Solid first step in your teaching career: 120 hour course, assessed teaching practice, observations of teachers, teaching techniques, development of reflective teaching practice and much more.
2. You’ve had a look at where to take the CELTA and what dates the courses start.
You need to think about what format of course you want to take.
- Full time face to face?
- Part time face to face? (you’d need to live reasonably close to the centre as it is usually a case of commuting to a Friday or Saturday session that takes place on a weekly basis over a period of time)
- Part time blended? That means part of the course is done online with regular classtime at the chosen centre. ( NB. You cannot do part of an online course with one pace and the practical face to face work in another, it all has to be done via one training centre)
- A great place to start looking at courses and options: www.studycelta.com – over 80 CELTA training centres worldwide, course dates, prices, timetables, formats and CELTA course info. Plus you can contact them and they’ll happily advise you during your decision making process and help get that CELTA application in.
3. What is the eligibility criteria for the CELTA?
AM I ELIGIBLE FOR THE CELTA?
- You must be at least 20 years of age. (If you are younger, with a really good application, a tutor will consider you)
- You should be a native English speaker or hold an IELTS 7.5, Cambridge CPE, or higher.
- Your education should be sufficient to apply for university- meaning you’ve finished High School successfully. For older applicants who may not have finished high school, a good application and argument for life long learning and experience will be taken into consideration.
- You do not need a degree.
- Acceptance is at the discretion of the CELTA tutor.
4. Applying for the CELTA.
Acceptance on the CELTA course isn’t that simple. Just because you may be a native speaker of English or demonstrate a proficient level, doesn’t mean you are cut out for the course, or for teaching for that matter. The CELTA training centres want to produce the best teachers they can. We all want to maintain and improve the professionalism of the sector and the quality of learning in the classroom is paramount.
The application process also starts you reflecting on what you do well and what you don’t deal with so well. It sets you up for solving problems before and during the course and being able to predict what those issues might be.
The application also gives tutors an idea of the candidates’ abilities, so they can make helpful suggestions toward preparing each candidate – which is where the ELTCampus TEFL Preparation Course finds it’s place. ;P
Here is a basic overview of what you can expect in a CELTA application form:
- Personal details
- Nationality and country of residence
- First and other languages
- Work experience etc.
The next part of the application aims for you to: demonstrate your language awareness
e.g. grammar, language functions such as how to make a request, understanding difference in meaning, checking you can spell (!) and reflect on some other ideas such as what the qualities of an effective teacher are, and your ideas about approaching a first lesson.
CHEATING ON THE APPLICATION=YOU'LL MAKE A RUBBISH TEACHER.
There are websites out there that give you hints to fill out the application well. They may even offer you full serviceable answers. Don’t think that will get you into a course. I’ve seen a few forgeries in my time and we can SMELL them. Think for yourself! Prove yourself!
Even if your clever application stunt gets through and you’ve paid your mate for writing it for you, you still have to add up during the interview. You can’t fake communicative proficiency then, nor language awareness nor aptitude to be a good teacher. The tutor will sniff you out. CELTA candidates are people who are going to make great teachers and create fantastic learning opportunities for people. Don’t. Just don’t. Don’t waste a tutor’s valuable time.
5. You have been invited to have an interview, either at the CELTA training centre if it’s nearby, or via Skype, or the phone.
The interview is an extension of the application process. Again the interview gives you the opportunity to demonstrated a good level of language awareness and that you can deal with the demands of the course. Th e tutors need to feel confident that you will be prepared to work closely and collaboratively with the other trainees in an intense but fun atmosphere.
SOME INTERVIEW QUESTIONS TO PREPARE FOR:
- Do you have any transferable skills (personal, technical, communication) from your current or previous employment?
- What kind of travel experience (apart from regular holidays abroad) do you have that could be useful for an English language teacher?
- What kind of foreign language learning experiences have you had?
- Where do you intend to stay while you are doing the CELTA course and how do you intend to travel to the centre?
- Do you have a reasonable understanding of the way that the English language works? (Or could you learn about this reasonably quickly?)
- Do you want a practical teaching qualification, rather than an academic one?
- Are you able to relate well to other people?
- Are you capable of giving clear instructions, explaining effectively and helping people when they don’t understand?
- Are you able to reflect on what you do and be self-evaluating, noticing strengths, weaknesses and possible strategies for improving work in the future?
- Are you able to listen to supportive (but maybe critical) feedback on lessons you have taught and to take on board other people’s opinions?
- Are you prepared to undertake a potentially stressful course, where you and your teaching will be “in the spotlight” for many hours. Are you prepared to have your teaching talked about by other people?
- Are you keen to try a course that is hard work, but immensely challenging and rewarding?
Oh, and check your VISA requirements!
Are you able to enter the country where the CELTA course is happening? Since the course is short, you may be eligible to enter with a three month tourist visa. If you are applying for a student VISA, check the requirements again – the CELTA course may fall short of the minimum days you need to have a student visa and so the CELTA training centre may not be able to help you with your application. Do your homework and discuss this with them.
6. You passed the interview and have been offered a place on a CELTA course.
Make sure you get back to the centre as soon as you can and accept the place. They won’t run a course until a minimum number have agreed to that course date and have paid.
Once you have accepted the offer of place, you will need to pay a deposit and/or the full sum of the course before the starting date – check with your centre about payment policies details -they will no doubt tell you their policy in the email of acceptance.
Pay attention to cancellation policies. Depending on the situation and when you pull out (we hope this won’t happen), because you may not get your money back.
7. You’ve blocked out your calendar for that four-week period.
That’s right. If you are taking the full time CELTA course, you’ll only have time for the CELTA course! Even the part time is intense. Don’t think there’ll be time to do another job, or pick up the kids from school or fit in a bit of socialising (except around the photocopier with your fellow trainees, or over a beer after a TP session to unwind). Get yourself sorted and supported by family and friends and clear the decks.
- You’ve also booked your flights
- Organised your travel insurance
- Checked your laptop and mobile health and cables
- Been in touch with the training centre about accommodation
- Checked out the options for late night photocopying outlets nearby
8. You’re mentally and physically well.
The CELTA course does have a fail rate and a drop out rate. Don’t make yourself one of the statistics here. Make sure going in, that you are focused and aware of what stress looks like on you. Also have a strategy to deal with it.
Some people I know had a real crisis of confidence and wanted to drop out – they were helped by having a listening ear and someone to talk to – maybe find someone that you can message or chat with who has done the course who could be a support. Also, the tutors are very understanding and supportive too, not to mention your fellow trainees – foster the love!
- Will you be able to get some decent sleep?
- Do you have access to places and spaces that help you chill out a little?
- What are your dietary needs – do you know where to get good food or be well fed?
- Do you have access to a photocopier late at night or a printer in case all your lesson planning went pear shaped in the afternoon and you find yourself pulling a late one?
- How do you deal with intense Summer Camp like atmospheres? You will be stressing and working alongside and with people you never met before over an intense period. Be ready with a positive, caring and proactive attitude
9. What is the best way to prepare for the CELTA course once you have been accepted?
Pre-CELTA Course Preparation Task
Once accepted onto a CELTA course, your tutor will send you pre-CELTA preparation tasks that focus on language. These are really important to do. The tasks will come with an answer key (it’s not a test). The objective is to start orientating your thinking.
Among other things you’ll be asked to get thinking about:
- What makes a good language teacher
- Motivations behind people learning English
- Characteristics of an adult learner
- Grammar review
- Using dictionaries
- Ways to explain concepts and differentiating between meanings
Grammar Refresher Course
It’s a good idea to brush on grammar terms. Check out the Cambridge English Grammar Refresher Course. This is a great idea if you aren’t very aware of how language breaks down into its parts.
Remember that during the CELTA course when you are preparing your lessons, you’ll have time to go through grammar on a need-to-know basis; you’ll be dealing with specific and controlled situations, not some free-for-all where students are going to bombard you with tricky questions on every possible grammar point.
The process of planning a lesson will help you understand the grammar or language point you are going to be presenting. The best way to learn something is to have to teach it!
It’s not all about grammar – Scrap that idea! Learning a language is OH SO MUCH MORE!
It’s important to know that it’s not only grammar that you’ll be clarifying and presenting. Language is a set of systems and skills:
Yeah, there’s going to be a lot to learn, and quickly. Which brings us to:
Once you have been accepted onto a CELTA course, we recommend taking a step back and going over the fundamentals of what will be covered in terms of concepts and ideas in the CELTA that will impact on how you plan a lesson and teach effectively.
With so much to take on board fast, a very comprehensive pre-CELTA programme we recommend is the ELTCampus TEFL Preparation Course. It has been written by a CELTA and Delta teacher trainer with the view to improving your performance on the CELTA by introducing you to core concepts of teaching and language teaching. This introduction will lower the stress related with managing so much new knowledge in such a short time. It will improve your performance as a result and hey, even improve your overall grade.
You will receive a list of recommended books to purchase prior to starting the CELTA course. These books will serve you well, not just during the course but also throughout your teaching career. Here are a few of the most popular:
- “Practical English Usage” by Michael Swan
- “Learning Teaching” by Jim Scrivener
- “Teaching Tenses” by Rosemary Aitken
- “Grammar for English Language Teachers” by Martin Parrott
- “Essential Phonetics – for English Language Teachers” by Tony Penston
The CELTA course tutors will give you input on how to write lesson plans and what they expect from their trainees. You’ll be given a lesson plan template which you can base your lesson planning on. You’ll be spending a lot of time planning your lesson and then some time preparing materials (that’s when it’s handy to have a printing facility where you are staying or access to after-hours photocopying).
But we’ll be teaching from a book won’t we?
Uh uh. You’ll be expected to take the lesson out of a course book and tailor-make it to your learners’ needs – that’s what good teachers do, and the CELTA course is going to drum that home!
You’ll have so much to consider in the lesson:
- What is the aim of the lesson? Meaning, at the end of the lesson, what do you want your students to have successfully done? What are the lesson stages?
- Language clarification – what do you teach when you teach language? Just the meaning?
- What skills you are actually practicing? Is it about speaking? Or reading? Is this a task-based lesson?
- How is that going to be set up?
- What about rapport in the classroom? How are you going to get students interested?
10. Navigating Feedback, Observations and Teaching Practice (TP)
You’ll get a lot of feedback on your CELTA course. Get used to the idea that people will be watching and assessing you as you teach. That make you nervous? Get ready for it.
This is aimed to draw out and begin you on the path of reflective practice which will serve you well in your training and in your teaching career. You will always need to be considering what you did well, what went well, what could have been set up or done better.
Don’t get stressed out if you aren’t used to criticism. Take it as constructive feedback. The tutors and your fellow trainees are aiming to make you better, not tear you down.
Observations and teaching practice (TP) are part an integral part of the CELTA Course. In this part of the course you will be looking at teachers and how they are teaching. It’s a great way to see a lot of teaching approaches in action. The experience you have of teaching yourself and of seeing teachers and fellow trainee teachers in action, is multi-faceted:
- It will help you make sense of the overall teaching principles you are learning about
- The constructive feedback on your teaching, and the feedback that you give to others will improve not only your own teaching, but that of others. Future students will thank you for it!
A CHECK LIST OF WAYS TO COPE WITH CRITICAL FEEDBACK
- Switch your thoughtful brain on and the fiery combatant off. Resist your first reaction which might be to lash out, get angry or cry.
- Tell yourself it’s OK and a good thing, remind yourself of the benefits of receiving constructive criticism.
- Listen closely and don’t interrupt people. Let them talk, really listen and give it back to them “So what you’re saying is…..”
- Thank people for the feedback, be grateful.
- Ask questions and break the feedback down to really understand it.
- Observe your tutors carefully, they are always modelling teaching approaches and ways of giving feedback in the way they teach you or mediate sessions.
- Apply it!
11. Learn About Yourself
Get ready to learn to teach, and oh so much more. The CELTA is like a summer camp – friendships are struck up as you all make your journey together. You mightn’t get on with everyone, but give it your best shot, because you’ll be living in each other’s pockets for four weeks or over a period of time if it’s a part time course.
Form and foster the community, because this is where the good learning takes place.
You will learn about time management, collaborative work, speaking in front of a group, leadership, teamwork, giving, receiving and applying feedback, critical reflection, working under pressure and to deadlines – lots of transferable skills there to take away in your toolkit.
Finally, get in there, give it all you’ve got and enjoy it!