The Cambridge CELTA course: an overview

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(image from: http://www.celtachina.com.cn/cambridgecerts.asp)

Monday morning and instead of being at CELT Athens for my CELTA course, I am at home, writing this blog post, realising that the course is over! So… that was it. 4 weeks have passed as if… Anyway, let me not go emotional, here!

What is this CELTA course, though? Well, one may find as many descriptions as s/he might want. I would like to share, though, two things about the course that I didn’t know and I found out while doing the course: The fact that success at the course is a personal and a group work, at the same time.

A Cambridge CELTA course is a personal issue

Obviously, there is enough written as to the structure or the official requirements for the course and I do not wish to recycle information, here. However, I would like to stress as much as possible that the CELTA course is a personal issue. Each person experiences it differently.

Imagine that for four weeks one must pause his/her life. Is this possible at all? There are times during the course that candidates are really stressed having to beat an unbeatable clock. It is during those moments that each candidate should leave his/her ego aside and help the person in need.

Also, there is no recipe as to how is the course going to be for a particular one person. For example, I was reading some suggestions like the above mentioned one (pause your life for a month, etc.). However, I did not pause mine: I was working, taking care of my house, my friends, and my partner, BUT I was sleeping 3 hours per day. Yet, this is me. This is the only way I can function and produce: I need to feel that my life keeps going.

So, what I want to say, here, is: follow your inner voice. Do the things that make you happy because these four weeks are challenging. The last thing you want to experience is an unstable personal life. Make sure that the others have understood that they must be supportive and avoid any “it’s complicated” relationships during the four weeks of the course.

A Cambridge CELTA course is, also, a group’s issue

There are two things that are very important when it comes to the Cambridge CELTA course and one’s performance: the tutors and the fellow trainees. A less than excellent relationship with one of them will result in struggle, disappointment, and complete exhaustion.

It is of vital importance for the prospective trainee to realize that s/he signs up to a 4-week course that requires military discipline. The only people who know what this means are either the tutors or other trainees. Which means that they are the only people to whom one may rest for help and support.

Also, while at the CELTA course, one is expected to spend 8-10 hours per day with the same people. The last thing that s/he might want is to make these hours miserable. Don’t add interpersonal relationships to the already packed set of issues that you will face daily.

A typical day at the Cambridge CELTA course is as follows:

Wake up, reflection, revision of theories/notes, go to school for input sessions, lunch break (which is actually revision time and/or reflection time), TPs (delivery and/or observation), reflection, submission of assignment(s), go back home, reflection, preparation of next assignment, preparation of next lesson, reflection, sleep.

NOTE #1: Reflection is a major component of the course. Do not underestimate its value.

NOTE #2: It might seem overwhelming; Well, it is! Stay fit, calm, and connected: You are not alone! There are many of us out there. If you feel so, contact your tutors, your fellow trainees, or ex-trainees.

NOTE #3: Once the final day arrives, you will want to start over, so… enjoy every second of it! You may read more detailed info on my other blog: Learning Lover!

8 thoughts on “The Cambridge CELTA course: an overview

  1. I just found all these posts about your CELTA experience fascinating, Angelos – thanks so much! 🙂
    I am doing mine at the Berlin School of English and am hoping for a German version of Marisa to be there somewhere 😉

  2. Iasu Angelos!
    First of all, I would like to thank you for the useful info you gathered and constantly update on TEFL – that’s something remarkable! 🙂

    I am about to start the full time Celta course in Athens in a few weeks (May) and I have to say I am very excited about it but I’ll be honest here – I am also a bit tensed. Not that is really my style, I am a very laid back person and always relaxed and ready for new challenges, my daily bread! Though this, I understand that the amount of effort that has to be put into something totally new for me (teaching), it does stress me a bit! I feel like the clock is ticking and I need to study too many things!

    So I am here today to ask you whether you have any special suggestions that weren’t already mentioned in terms of preparation for the remaining weeks before I will move to Athens. I am studying/refreshing grammar on a daily basis (the A-Z of English grammar & usage) and reading/flicking also through some of the texts that the trainers in Athens suggest (I find particularly interesting “Teaching tenses” and ” About language”).

    Thanks again and have a nice day,
    Chiara

    • Hi Chiara!

      Thank you for taking time to read the post(s) and for commenting. I am very excited that you’ll do your CELTA at CELT Athens in May – This where and when I did mine, last year. Well, after spending one year talking to people who have completed their CELTA courses, I realised that it is all a matter of passion. Are you a passionate teacher? Then, CELTA will be a very pleasant experience. If you are not so passionate and you do it only to get a piece of paper by Cambridge, your life won’t be so easy while in the course.

      You have guessed correctly: Intensive CELTA courses are very demanding, indeed. They’re also very rewarding, though. The only thing I advise you to do is to get used to the idea of reflecting on your own practice. If you are an experienced teacher, it would be great if you could put on paper (or on a blog!) some of your thoughts re your teaching. If you are not a teacher, you can reflect on various teachers you had so far. This is the most important component of the CELTA course: it makes you aware of your own practice and it gives you lots of room for improvement.

      Of course, studying your grammar is also a very good prep task: many people come to CELTA courses without very good language awareness (I was one of them). Other than that, be ready for a very exciting month! Tutors at CELT Athens are great: very supportive and skilled. So, congratulations on taking the right decision. Let me know of your progress while in the course. I would really like to read how you’re doing!

      Best,

      Angelos

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