One of the wonderful things about the CELTA is that your experience in the course will always stick with you. You may not remember everything as time goes by, but there are some things that you won’t be able to forget. Many of these things will stem from what you’ve learned from your tutors on the course.
These nuggets of wisdom are something to look forward to since they will undoubtedly come in handy over the course of your teaching career. You may find you can even apply some to everyday life as well. Below you will find the advice and insights that I took away from my time doing the CELTA. These will help prepare you for yours.
- It pays to be organised.
You are pretty much forced to be organised while taking the CELTA. If you’re not, you will struggle greatly. This was made very clear the first day and was present throughout the course. One of the candidates on my course ended up failing, and I feel a lack of organisation had a lot to do with it.
- You need to know your grammar.
The CELTA isn’t a grammar course. Instead, the CELTA teaches you how to teach grammar. It’s up to you to know your finer grammar points thoroughly. The tutors will expect and assume it. There are many good resources to brush up on that middle school stuff you’ve forgotten all about!
- You won’t always write your lesson plans out in full.
Lesson planning on the CELTA is quite a process. It can take hours. You basically write every single thing out. We were even encouraged to write out a script if we wanted or if we were nervous. The tutors did make one thing clear, however: we wouldn’t be doing this forever. They knew what real world teaching was like and it didn’t involve writing it all out, but in the beginning, it’s necessary.
- Write notes to yourself on the board.
Teaching sometimes involves multitasking. It also involves always knowing what comes next in the lesson. Though you may have a written plan or a good memory, there’s a lot that goes on in the classroom that can cause you to forget a consistent error that you heard, a term you want to cover, or the next thing to do. To help with this, an awesome suggestion from my CELTA tutor was to make a small note to yourself right on the whiteboard. There’s no need for students to be able to read it, so you can put it off to the side.
- It’s okay to make mistakes as long as you improve on them.
One of the first things we learned is that we will make mistakes. The CELTA is a very practical course. This means that you will be learning as you go. When you are doing your practice teaching sessions, it’s important to keep in mind that the tutors are there to help you, not criticise you. Take what they say and implement it into your next lesson.
- You need to bring your A-game.
Teaching is a hard job. You can’t just hide behind a desk when you don’t feel well or just aren’t in the mood. You have to be happy, encouraging, sympathetic, energetic, and much more. Everyone has bad days, but as a teacher, you shouldn’t let your students know it. You are providing a service and your classes need to be on point.
- Get yourself a support community.
This will come in the form of the other candidates on the course with you. My CELTA tutor made it clear that you can’t go at it alone, and she was right. Technically, you actually can, but you won’t want to. You’ll want a few people to run and vent to or to bounce ideas off of. The others in your course will be the best people for this since they are in the same boat.
- Use the input sessions to your advantage.
Great wisdom is imparted in the input sessions! The tutors know this. You probably won’t truly realise this until the course is over and you are reflecting back, or until you get your first feedback from your practice lesson. But, now you know! So take all the notes you can and keep them for the future.
- Mentors are there to help, so use them.
The tutors on the course are you mentors at this period in your life. Use them to their fullest. They are extremely knowledgeable, plus, their input and opinions matter a lot since they are the ones determining if you pass! Besides that though, the CELTA tutors are generally very passionate about teaching and want to help you succeed.
- Punctuality is vital to your success.
Along with the first lesson learned about of organisation, being punctual is another life skill that is highly valued in the CELTA. It shows that you are a professional and value your time, the other candidates’ time, and the tutors’ time. Learning to be a prepared, punctual, and organised teacher (even if your students aren’t) is all a part of the journey to bettering yourself and having a positive CELTA and future teaching experience.
About the Author
Yvette Smith is an EFL teacher and freelance writer. She is currently based in Vietnam.
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