CELTA: The Basics | TEFL Jobs London

CELTA: The Basics

By Donna Hutchinson
Newly-qualified TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara

studyingFour weeks isn’t very long. Whichever way you look at it, it is a short space of time. This is what was most blindsiding to me when I began my CELTA. I had friends who spent years at university becoming teachers and they were doing very well for themselves because of it, and I was supposed to be a teacher after four short weeks? I was disinclined to believe such a notion, but it seemed to indeed be a tried and tested formula so I dove right in.

The first day was much like any other that I’d experienced in various learning institutions: an amalgamation of meet and greets combined with a whirlwind of paper denoting timetables and deadlines. But. for the rest of the course the basic structure was this: input in the morning, teaching practice in the afternoon.

Input in the morning was comprised of two lessons with two different tutors. They would teach a lesson as meant for EFL learners, and afterwards we would analyse it. To me, this structure was nothing short of genius, and I do not exaggerate in the slightest. The first part goes much quicker than if taught to genuine students, because of course you and your fellow CELTA trainees are fluent English speakers. The fact that you get to experience a lesson and not just learn the theories behind it is really effective. You will experience lessons intended for different levels, different skills and lessons based on the ideas of various EFL academics. This format enables you to feel out which teaching styles and structures you find most effective as a learner AND as a teacher. Like I said, genius.

Teaching practice (TP) in the afternoon is when you and your teaching group (4 or 5 people) have slots to teach. On my CELTA course, there were three teaching groups and three classes (low intermediate, intermediate and high intermediate). Thus over the course you get to teach each level. The classes were 2 hours long, and to begin with each teaching slot is 40 minutes, meaning that only three teachers would have a slot per lesson, ergo, you do not teach every day. In the latter stages, that time slot goes up to one hour. Who you teach and when you teach is laid out on day one. What you teach, well, that’s initially somewhat spoon-fed but as the course progresses you must become more independent. The teaching part is daunting, those 40 minutes seem like a lifetime, but now, I don’t blink an eye at having to teach 3 hours of general English. It will happen, I (pinkie) promise. Each TP is watched and graded by a tutor and requires a lesson plan.

An added treat to all this are the assignments. Oh yes, you didn’t think you were going to get away that easily did you? So, part and parcel of this is a reading list. My recommendations there and my CELTA survival tips to come next time.

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