Why to Take CELTA? After introducing what CELTA is as a course and what it has to offer in my previous post, in this one I’m gonna tackle the question which many teachers ask (me): “Why should I take CELTA?”. Well, the best person to answer this question is you. (To be honest I always recommend taking the course if there is no financial problems. And that was my advice to my wife too!)
A word about me before taking the CELTA so you wouldn’t think I’m biased. I finished my B.A. in English Language and Literature in 2012, I followed that with starting M.A. in ELT. I finished 9 theoretical courses with their research papers, and 1 practicum module. Then I dropped out and left my country, Syria, due to the situation. So, as you see, when I took my CELTA course in 2014, I wasn’t new to the ELT world. To add, the reason I’m writing this post is due to the high number of people asking me whether CELTA would benefit them or not, and what is really there in CELTA that they would need to know and add to their skill set. All the issues that I’m addressing in post are firsthand experiences, and through the communication with other teachers which I do a lot.
There are many things to consider when thinking ‘why to take CELTA?’. One which is highly important is whether you hold a university degree in ELT, or English Language and Literature, or another field of study since this means whether you have ELT-related knowledge or not.
Some other things that you need to consider are:
Have you been observed by a teacher trainer?
Why this is important: This is imperative, and I would argue that it is the most important element in teacher training, since we can’t notice everything we say and do in the language classroom. We need an objective view where someone else can observe us and give us feedback about our strengths and action points. This is important for those who are not new to teaching as much as it is for new teachers, because the issue of fossilized errors is in play here. Countless experienced teachers who decided to take CELTA after teaching for many years said that they didn’t know they should do this thing or that thing, in a specific way. A common problem among these teachers is TTT (teacher talk time). They all have commented/said that their CELTA tutors informed them that they talk (way) too much during the lesson and they should reduce their TTT time to raise STT (Student Talk Time).
How this is related to CELTA: As a CELTA trainee you’ll be observed by 2 experienced teacher trainers (a shout out to my awesome trainers Steve Darn and Billy Sevki Hasirci) who would provide you with valuable feedback regarding your teaching practice.
Have you observed other teachers in practice?
Why this is important: Well, now you can be that objective person and see other teacher in their teaching practice. You’ll be able to learn from their strengths and action points, and think about those and compare them to yours.
How this is related to CELTA: When taking CELTA you’ll have the chance of observing other trainees, and also experienced teachers. When observing other trainees, your tutor will provide you with a handout asking you to comment on specific teaching areas in that lesson. When observing experienced teachers, you’ll have to write an “observation report” about 250 words (as far as I remember) and hand it to your tutor.
Reflecting on your lessons:
Why this is important:Being a reflective teacher cannot be stressed enough. Taking some time to think after your lesson to consider what went well and what didn’t. Reflection would allow you to learn from your action points, and alter your lessons, aims, strategies, and techniques accordingly.
How this is related to CELTA: In CELTA, after each TP (lesson) you give, you have to write a self evaluation reflecting on how well your lesson went, what would you change, and how did the learners react to/during the lesson. Another thing is starting from your second lesson (TP 2) you should include in your lesson plan your personal aims for the lesson. And you can take that from the feedback form given to you by your tutor. For example, you should write like ‘in this lesson I will work on my TTT, or my target language.’
Have you analyzed language areas before?
Why this is important: it goes without saying that as a language teacher you do know grammar. However, have you analyzed grammar areas in terms of forms and functions? what is a tense and what is an aspect? how many tenses are there in English? (the answer to the last one would probably shock you!)
How this is related to CELTA: Many input sessions in CELTA are about language analysis. Although you won’t be taught grammar-this is a misconception that some candidates think CELTA includes a ‘grammar module.- but you will be taught how to analyze grammar areas. And trust me you gonna like this a lot.
Do you know how to teach language skills and systems?
Why this is important: Knowing how to teach the four skills (listening, reading, writing, and speaking) Language Systems (pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and discourse) with their logical stages is what actually teaching is. And it’s not like ‘of course I do, I play the listening file and voila, that was listening skill’. For instance, each skill has stages like pre-reading, while-reading, and post-reading. And for each stage there are specific activities that would work well with one, but not with another.
How this is related to CELTA: In the course there will be input sessions about the skills and systems where you can learn the aforementioned stages, and experience them firsthand.
Some other ELT techniques that you will learn during CELTA are conducting feedback and varying the methods for it. Monitoring, when to monitor and how to monitor depending on the task at hand. Another one is correction, when to correct, how to correct, and varying your correction techniques. Giving and checking instructions to make sure your learners know what to do next. If you think the answer for those techniques are respectively: giving feedback is when telling my students ‘that’s good/work harder;’ 2 monitoring is simple I just look at my learners and walk around the classroom; 3 correction is when my students make a mistake I correct them and carry on; 4 and when it comes to instructions; that’s a piece of cake; I tell my learners ‘do this exercise,’ then I have to tell you that you surely need to take CELTA.
You also need to take into consideration what other advantages CELTA provides; better job perspectives to name one. I once had a talk with a language school manager in the UK. She said that whenever she gets job applications she categorize them as: those who have CELTA, and those who don’t. Another point is that many schools when posting job vacancies they ask for a certain number of years of experience AFTER certification. Another advantage is the ability to continue developing and get Cambridge DELTA. And let’s not forget that CELTA is provided by Cambridge University!
Now let’s give you what you are here for, the quiz. Take this quiz which I have created based on the most important things that the CELTA will train you for. See for yourself whether you need to take the course or not. Don’t forget to share the quiz with your colleagues!
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Now, tell me in the comments, what is your result, and has it changed your opinion?