How to pass a CELTA

Passing a Certificate in English Language Teaching for Adults (CELTA) requires hard work, motivation, and patience. Here are a few personal tips to help you pass the course.

Plan ahead
On your first day you’ll be swamped with material, guidelines, and new TEFL vocabulary. When you get home, get organised. Work out a timetable to study the material and make a plan of attack. Over the four week course you’ll do about six hours teaching to two different levels. Once you find out when you’ll be teaching get moving on your lesson plans because they’ll take much longer than you expect.

Pay attention
Even if you get lumbered with a dull trainer try to pay attention in class. The trainers are experienced individuals who have done lots of training to get their positions. They know best (in theory). Listen and try to take on board what they say, even if you don’t agree, and demonstrate you have been listening in your projects and when you are teaching.

Give constructive feedback to other teachers
Observing and giving feedback to other teachers can be nervy to start with, especially thinking of something constructive to say. One thing I do when I speak to my student’s parents is the Sandwich Technique. Start with a positive comment, pick up on something they could improve, and then end on a high note. Using this approach will ensure you maintain on good terms with the other teachers (meaning they will hopefully give you decent feedback) and the examiners will be impressed.

Bribe fellow teachers to give you great feedback
If the above one fails then promising to buy your colleagues a pint or two at the end of the day, or perhaps bring in some homemade cakes, might go down well if you’re trying to get some decent feedback.

Chose a willing student to do your student profile
A lively motivated student is much easier to work with. Steer clear of any grumpy students who don’t seem bothered about the course.

Put the hours in
My social life disappeared for a month while doing my CELTA. If you put the hours in during the evenings and weekends then you’ll get much better results. The course is hard work, but I don’t think it's mentally challenging. Most of the concepts are easy to understand and implement, you just have to be motivated. The two people that dropped off my course were the ones who hadn’t thought about their lesson plans or had been out on the beers the night before. Save the celebrating until the end.

Enjoy it
This will probably be your first experience interacting with students. Have fun. Plan something interesting and entertaining for the students and they will respond. They are there to learn, but I find using humour engages them more. Go on google images and type in 'funny' next to a new word you want to teach. A happy teacher is a better teacher.

Just like anything new; patience is key. You’re going to have moments when the work load gets on top of you. Try to keep calm and stick to your plan. The most important aspects are your lesson plans and your performances while teaching, but don’t put a massive pressure on yourself or you’ll just get nervous and jittery. Be patient and the students will respond.

I hope this helps. For more CELTA advice have a look at this article by English International.

If you’re stuck and need any help then drop me a line, or maybe leave a suggestion for other CELTA learners who are pulling their hair out. Haven’t found a course yet, look at my article where to start

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