In this CELTA series, two of our course trainers at IH Bristol, Liz and Charlie, have given useful tips and advice about preparing for the course, how you can best manage your time while studying, and have talked more about how International House can help you develop TEFL into a career.
While visiting our school in Bristol, we also took the time to talk to some of the CELTA trainees who were halfway through their course, and they told us their honest opinions about how it was going, what they had enjoyed and learnt so far, and just how intense is this teaching English qualification?
Let’s hear from: Emily from South Wales, who studied languages at university and wanted to work with students again; Xavi from Bristol, who was doing the CELTA before going to university so he could teach English part-time; Immy from Somerset, who was preparing for her move to Chile by gaining a qualification to enable her to work as soon as she arrived; and Wayne from Yorkshire, who wanted to teach in summer schools.
Why did you decide to take the CELTA?
Xavi: “Firstly I’d really like to go abroad and teach internationally. I think that would really be a good opportunity. But I’m also heading to university soon, and I think that having the CELTA qualification will also be really good for doing tuition at university and getting a part-time job.”
Immy: “I’m actually moving to Chile in September and I wanted to know I could have a job when I get there. And also I’ve done a bit of tutoring in English when I’ve lived abroad before, but I’ve always found it hard because I didn’t have that base of knowledge. So I wanted to do the CELTA course. Now I feel a lot more confident.”
Emily: “I’ve previously done a bit of teaching English abroad – I studied languages at university – and I’ve always had a great experience, loved it, enjoyed working with the students. So I wanted to get the CELTA because I know it’s the ‘golden ticket’ to teaching English.”
Wayne: “I’ve decided that I would really like to be able to teach in summer schools and I really like meeting people from all sorts of backgrounds and all sorts of nationalities. I decided that the CELTA would be one of the best ways to get a recognised qualification.”
How have you found the course after two weeks?
Emily: “There are loads of different elements to teaching that you don’t necessarily think about straightaway. One of the teachers described it as ‘teachers look like swans gliding, but underneath they’re peddling’, and that’s what you’re doing as you’re teaching, you’re thinking about loads of different things.”
Xavi: “Week one was very intensive. It’s calmed down quite a bit now, it’s not as mad as it was at first. But it’s really enjoyable, and I definitely enjoy teaching. It’s my first time teaching, but it’s good, I’m really enjoying it.”
Wayne: “So far it’s been very interesting, I’ve learnt so much. It’s been busy, I’ve had a lot of work to do… but I’m getting to a point where I’m finding a balance between work and life.”
Immy: “I’m really enjoying it actually, I mean… it’s so much work, more than I’ve ever had to do before, in university or anything, but I can feel myself getting better all the time. And it’s so satisfying; when you see the students improving, it’s really satisfying.”
What is the main thing you’ve learnt so far?
Immy: “I’ve learnt about what’s wrong and what’s right when you’re teaching. Because everything you learn at school is generally not right, like how you’re not meant to talk that much as a teacher.”
Wayne: “I’ve learnt to grade my language because even though I’m already a teacher, I haven’t been teaching international students so much, that’s one of the biggest things. But the nicest thing for me that I’ve learnt has been recognising what a different to the students a little bit of help from me as a training teacher gives them.”
Emily: “We’ve learnt loads of different things to do with teaching methods, what we should be doing, so that for me has been really kind of eye-opening because before when I was teaching I felt like I was like a showman, but this is actually showing us things that we need to do, so that’s been really useful.”
Xavi: “I think grammar, perhaps. I’ve really had to go over that just to make sure I can confidently answer questions in front of the students and teach the grammar.”
What has surprised you most on the course?
Wayne: “I didn’t expect to be so interested and to learn so much about phonology. It’s really dawned on me how big a part of the language understanding the phonetics system is, how we speak English conversationally, in contrast with the way English might be taught in a school in a really formulaic, more formal way.”
Xavi: “I know people said it was going to be intensive and busy, but I don’t think I realised quite how much until I actually started!”
Immy: “I was surprised that we were teaching on the second day. I thought we would maybe start this on the third day, but I’m so glad we [started teaching straightaway] because otherwise we would’ve been anticipating it. But we were just thrown straight in.”
What would you say to someone who is thinking about taking the CELTA?
Emily: “I’d say definitely do it, 100%, but be prepared to put your life on hold for the four weeks.”
Wayne: “I’d say do it, definitely. If you would like an intensive training regime and programme that really sets you up for teaching, but do it knowing you will need to make sacrifices to your time.”
Xavi: “I think that really depends on the person. If they’re a disciplined person who has handled a similar workload before, then sure, I’d say go for it.”
Immy: “I’d say… they said to us in the interview ‘put your life on hold’ and I thought they were being dramatic… but it is true. You have to, but be prepared for that because then when it comes, it’s not a shock and actually you can enjoy it. If you have the time to be able to work you can really enjoy it rather than just getting stressed.”
If after reading this, you feel ready to take on the CELTA, you can browse our list of schools around the world who offer this course. You can choose to study locally if there is an International House school near you, or you can travel further afield to really kick-start your TEFL journey. Whatever you choose, IH is here to help you, from application to finding a teaching job after you get qualified.