CELTA tips before and during the course

There are many benefits to gaining a TEFL qualification, from using it as a passport to work your way around the world, or as a way to boost – or even change – your current career and take it in a new direction. The CELTA is certified by Cambridge Assessment English and is an intensive, initial TEFL qualification for complete teaching beginners.

The only entry requirements to get accepted on an International House CELTA course are that you are at least 18 years of age, have a minimum C1 level of English, and are educated to the standard required to get into higher education. You do not need a degree to do a CELTA. The course is highly regarded internationally, and its practical nature (it includes real teaching practice) will give you all the core skills you need to land your first TEFL job, so you really will hit the ground running after you’ve finished.

If you’re considering teaching English abroad by taking the CELTA, two of our tutors at IH Bristol, Liz and Charlie, have some valuable advice for you to consider.

“It’s a great way to experience living and working in a foreign country,” Liz says. “Even if you just do it for six months or a year, it’s such a great experience and I would recommend it to anyone.

“I would say though, first of all, if you’re thinking of going into teaching English as a foreign language and not sure if it’s for you, don’t go straight into the four-week CELTA. Maybe go to a language school and observe some classes or maybe do a weekend taster course. By observing classes, observing teachers, observing lessons, you can think, ‘can I imagine doing that myself?’. If you can, then I would recommend doing the four-week CELTA course.”

Charlie believes there are many different reasons to do CELTA. “I would say it’s a very interesting choice. You could do it as a long-term career and make a life plan of it. You could stay in teaching and then move into teacher training or management.

“You could also do it as something temporary, as an opportunity to travel, as an opportunity to learn a lot about the English language and how it works, and learn people management skills and group management skills as well.”

The CELTA can be taken as a four-week, intensive course, a slightly slower paced five-week course, or part-time for longer. Many IH schools offer at least one of these options, and you can see the list of school locations here. Before starting your CELTA course – and, indeed, during it – our CELTA tutors advise doing a few things to ensure you’re as prepared as possible so that you can maximise your time on the course.

“[Preparation] is so important because while you’re doing the course, you won’t have much time to do extra reading,” Liz explains. “Do as much as you can, especially if your grammar is not very good – I would say brush up on your grammar, and maybe talk to people who have done the course before, or have done a similar course.”

Charlie agrees, and adds, “It’s a four-week course, but you need to think of it as a bigger commitment than just the four weeks. Trainees really need a good month before the course of reading as much as they can, watching videos online, doing an online grammar course, buy a grammar book. At the very least, they should learn the parts of speech and the names of tenses.”

He recommends booking “at least one day of observation” at an IH school, or another language school, to observe classes at different levels.

Organisation and good time management while you’re doing your CELTA are “absolutely key”, Liz adds. “Also, get to know the students that you’re teaching. The most important thing you can do as a teacher is know your students. Talk to them outside the classroom, get to know them as people as well as students in your classroom,” she says.

Before she signs off, Liz has one final note of advice. “The last thing is… get enough sleep!”

If the CELTA course sounds like the right option for you to get a teaching English qualification, you can read more about the course structure, history, and find a school. Good luck!