A course like the CELTA may have a public syllabus which is open to scrutiny but teachers, whether experienced or new, following this course take different things from it.
We thought it would be a good idea to share some of these individual perspectives with our blog readers so this is the first of a series of posts.
Some people follow the CELTA to change their career, some to obtain a formal qualification, others in order to feel more confident about their teaching in the classroom. But no matter why they follow it, they find themselves in the role of a learner on a demanding course.
We decided to ask everyone the same interview questions for this new series of blog posts but, of course, they were free to answer in any way they liked and to add any facts or opinions which they thought were important to share.
We hope you find this series useful. Our first guest came to the course with 15 years of experience under her belt!!!!!!
Mado is a teacher from Greece; she’s in her 30’s and joined our intensive CELTA course last summer after 15 years of teaching experience without any prior formal training.
Mado studied Political Science and Public Administration at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens but, being unable to find work, she got herself a C2 certificate in English and a teaching licence; this allows people to work as ELT teachers in Greece ever if they do not have a related degree (or no degree at all), but only in private language centres.(1)
Mado is married and a mother of one.
Here are our questions to Mado.
1. What made you decide to follow the CELTA?
First, I needed a certificate in ELT and the CELTA course seemed to be the best option; second, I needed to know if what I had been doing all those years was right – or wrong!
2. Your expectations of the course?
Before starting the intensive CELTA course, I had read almost everything there was to read on the internet: official pages, blogposts, discussions in ELT forums, etc. Everyone mentioned how demanding the course was and that in order for a trainee to benefit from it, they would have to be open-minded and ready to change everything in the way they had been teaching. I was terrified and excited at the same time; my expectations therefore were quite high.
I expected it to be a unique, exhausting, almost mind-blowing experience that would totally transform me as an EFL teacher – and that was exactly what it was!
3. What was the most demanding thing on the course?
I saw what I had got myself into on day one!
The input sessions, getting your lesson plans ready on time, gathering information for the assignments, being in the same place with 20 absolute strangers for 8 hours – everything seemed too much! As the days went by, however, everything became much smoother.
The input sessions were an excellent opportunity to gain valuable knowledge from the tutors and fellow trainees from all over the world; the lesson plans and the assignments gradually started to make sense; the strangers became my good friends who had been going through the exact same difficulties.
The only thing that remained a real challenge throughout the course, though, was the necessity to put newly-acquired knowledge into practice almost immediately.
4. Tips for prospective CELTA candidates?
Since the course ended, I have spent quite some time reflecting on it. It has been a worthwhile experience, which I would have probably been incapable of completing if I had not followed my own “set of rules” :
• Listen to your tutors! They will do everything in their power to help and prepare you.
• Organise your reading beforehand. It is almost impossible to do any serious studying once the intensive course begins.
• Organise your time accordingly. Leaving things for the last minute will only stress you out even more.
• Be open to feedback and respond to it. This is probably one of the reasons why you might choose this course.
• Eat, sleep, and spend time with your loved ones. Reboot before starting any task!
• Enjoy every minute of it!
5. Many people say that what you learn on the CELTA is impossible to use in ‘real classes’ . Your thoughts on this?
Since I finished the CELTA course, it has been impossible to teach the way I used to.
It has not always been easy as I have had to deal with untrained employers and colleagues and comments like this do usually come from them.
However, I believe that once you have made such a huge effort, you owe it to yourself to continue developing; and you will soon find out that you are not alone in this.
There are countless students, colleagues, and employers out there seeking innovative ideas, inspiring suggestions, and teachers willing to work and think out of the box.
Many thanks to Mado for this first piece. She was certainly able to think out of the box herself and despite the challenges, she passed her course with flying colours and left with a Grade A!!! Congratulations are due! Once Mado completed her CELTA, she found a teaching job at the local British Council as a teacher on their Young Learner courses.
Our next interview will be of a teacher in Iran who also completed his course in 2014 at CELT.
(1) Being able to work with a C2 qualification is unique to Greece and has been happening for more than one cares to remember; currently, this is a law which is under revision and which will mean that C2 holders will not be allowed to do this any longer.
(Images of adult learners at CELT by Marisa Constantinides)