(Note: This article follows on from the first ‘My CETLA Journey: The Start’, which can be found here. In that article, I mainly wrote about doing research before starting my CELTA, the application process and interview, and some brief information about the first day and the rest of the journey. This article intends to expand on the latter, focusing on the first day and the input sessions. The next article in this series will discuss lesson preparation as well as teaching observed lessons, constructive criticism and the assignments.)
Researching about the CELTA qualification and deciding whether it is the right next step for you, applying and getting an interview, and then actually starting the CELTA are all pretty easy and straightforward steps in the CELTA journey in comparison to what you will have to endure in the next four weeks. Let’s have a look at my CELTA journey.
The First Day: A Recap
As I previously mentioned (here), the first day of CELTA is pretty relaxed. It starts off with introductions; you need to get to know your two instructors (or CELTA trainers) as well as the rest of the trainees, people who you will get to know pretty well over the next month. You also get more information on what to expect over the CELTA course period, like how your days are set out with input sessions, when you have time to prepare for lessons, when you teach and which lessons will be observed, the constructive criticism sessions at the end of the observed lessons, and when your written assignments are due.
One of our instructors were also strict with regard to having a file in which to put all the notes you get, together with your lesson plans and copies of your written assignments for reference. Personally, it was quite a schlep to carry this around all the time, but I saw the value in keeping everything neat, tidy, and organised. If I needed to refer back to something, it was easily found. I divided my file into four main sections:
- Lesson Plans and Feedback
- Handouts and Notes
- Draft Lesson Plans
After all the information and a schedule of the next four weeks are given, the instructors tell you about the CELTA Candidate Record Booklet. This is a booklet that has to be submitted during the course and at the end for assessment purposes. It explains the appeals process (should you not be happy with your grade at the end), a record sheet of the lessons you observed as well as your assessed teaching practice, a record of your written assignments and progress reports, all the marked written assignments together with your lesson plans.
You may also be treated to a foreign language lesson; we had to learn basic Czech. The aim of this is for you to understand how your students, who are learning a foreign language, will feel. Next would be to observe an ideal CELTA lesson being taught by one of the instructors. I would strongly suggest making notes during this lesson (and the other “ideal” ones that you observe) as it will certainly help you during your CELTA journey. Importantly, you should also get a CELTA lesson plan that goes with that lesson; this helps to put the lesson into perspective.
The first day doesn’t end late, and while the day is relaxed, I ended up feeling quite anxious about all the work that lies ahead and wondering how I am going to get through it. The truth is that you just do. Time management is über important, and know that sleep will be on the back burner for the CELTA time period.
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The Input Sessions
The CELTA input sessions either start from the first day or the second, and they cover a wide range of EFL topics. Input sessions would most likely differ from centre to centre, but some topics that were covered during my CELTA course were:
- Lesson planning
- Classroom management
- Lesson frameworks, such as test-teach-teach (TTT), presentation, practice and production (PPP), and guided discovery
- Learner styles and differences
- Teaching lexis, grammar, reading, listening, and writing
- Error correction
- English for specific purposes
We also received handouts from the sessions and could also take notes. These are very handy to keep. You might (and most probably will) need to refer back to them for lesson planning and the written assignments at some point, especially the lesson frameworks notes and teaching receptive and productive skills.
Most of these sessions are not in a boring lecture-style; the instructors try to incorporate activities and have you practice, as you would have your students do. For example, we got a sheet for the classroom management session with lots of vocabulary words on it. In a TTT practice run, where we were the students, we were tested to see what those terms meant. The terms were then explained and we had to do another test. Another example was our phonology lesson in which we learned about the phonemic chart and then had to figure out what a message said that was written in the phonemic symbols. Most of the sessions were fun and full of things to learn, whether you have or haven’t taught English before.
These sessions were typically an hour to an hour and a half long, and for us, took place in the afternoon after lunch. On most days, we would have two input sessions in a row, and on other days, we’d have self-study time allotted. During this time, we had a chance to use the material in the library to aid in lesson preparation and the written assignments. We could also use this opportunity to speak to the trainers and ask questions. On two occasions, this time period was also used as a tutorial – your one-on-one session with the CELTA instructor to discuss your progress.
This concludes the second article in the ‘My CELTA Journey’ series, and the third one (coming soon) will focus on lesson preparation, teaching while being observed, the feedback sessions, and the written assignments.
Still not sure if the CELTA is for you? Check this out: 3 Fantastic Reasons to Sign Up for the CELTA course NOW!
About the Author
Denine Walters is currently a freelance writer, editor/proofreader and EFL teacher. Previously, she taught online English lessons to students from all around the world and, before that, she lived and taught English to young learners in Taiwan. In her free time, she likes to read, do scrapbooking and grammar quizzes, and travel. For her educational background, she has an MA in Politics, with a dissertation written on post-conflict peacebuilding, a BA Journalism degree, a TEFL and CELTA certificate, and also a few certificates in various other short courses.
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