Can I Fail the CELTA?
The short answer is: Yes.
There’s a reason why we put your through such a rigorous application process – there’s the initial application, the pre-interview task, the interview and the pre-course study. We want to make sure that you’re the right kind of candidate for a CELTA course so that you won’t waste your time and, of course, your hard-earned money.
“I figured I would just have to show up to lectures and after four weeks they would simply give me a nice little certificate in exchange for the good money I paid them,” says Jenni Silvola, who took the CELTA course in Dublin, Ireland, “Well, I can tell you I was greatly mistaken!
“I won’t lie: The CELTA course was one of the most intense, hardest things I have done in my life but I am so happy I did it!”
So, how exactly can one fail the CELTA?
There are a number of reasons; the first, and most common is attendance. The CELTA is an extraordinarily intense course, with classes covering content-heavy subjects in just a few hours. It’s for this reason that you’ll need to score 100% on class attendance, especially to all the teaching practices and feedback sessions.
Another really common reason why people fail is stress.
Not getting enough sleep, poor health (not eating properly, drinking too much), and other commitments outside the course (family, love life, work, social life) contribute negatively to the course. When taken intensively, the CELTA is a full-time commitment for 4 weeks. Evenings and weekends are devoted to completing assignments and preparing lessons for teaching practice.
Furthermore, poor time management skills (if you’re up till 4am every day you’ll end up a wreck by the halfway stage of the course). Time management skills are very important to success on this course. Furthermore, assessment is continuous. Each day there is a two-hour teaching practice with real students drawn from the community. During that time, you have to put into practice what you have learned.
Another reason, for candidates who already have teaching experience, is having what the CELTA syllabus considers to be “bad teaching habits” that candidates find difficult to change.
The teacher trainers expect your teaching to show a gradual improvement over the four weeks as you gradually incorporate the material from the morning input sessions into your classroom teaching. Not showing this in your classroom teaching may mean that you will not achieve a pass standard by the end of the course. The teaching practice is assessed by one of the course tutors and you are given written and oral feedback from your tutors and peers.
You’re not just being marked on your teaching, either – tutors will be observing you to see if you turn up to class on time, participate, and have a generally professional attitude.
Any quick search of ‘I failed the CELTA’ will bring you to a few articles and forum posts about people who haven’t been so lucky on their CELTA endeavours.
One commenter, on Dave’s ESL Café, said: “[I failed a lesson because] I was not able to explain the difference between the past perfect and past continuous. Then I failed the next one because I spent way too much time explaining vocabulary.”
Another adds that the course is high-pressure: “A total level of commitment and effort is expected by course tutors and the workload, once you have taken lesson planning and assignments into account, is easily a 14 hour day.”
Will I fail the CELTA?
Don’t let this scare you: the failure rate is actually, very, very low. Of the 10,000 plus people who undertake a CELTA each year, just three per cent actually fail.
Make sure you have the decks clear of work and other study. You’ll be dedicating several hours of free time to studying the course outside of classtime.
Forget the chores. Make sure you have the emotional and practical support from friends and family at home.
Make sure you are in a good state of physical and emotional health to endure long days of work for a month, daily teaching and teaching feedback which may not always be positive. Having said that, Trainers are very supportive on the CELTA course, but they also have to tell you when you haven’t done something well!
Forget nightlife. Put your social life on hold for a bit. If people care about you, they’ll understand.
But, above all, don’t be afraid! One of our staff at StudyCELTA recently got the chance to speak to students who were halfway through the course in Seville, Spain. The main piece of insight she took away from the students was that, yes, it’s an intensive course, but it’s undertaken in a nurturing, supportive environment, where all your fellow trainees are in the same boat.
“I kept telling myself “it’s only for a month” as night after night I missed my regular yoga classes because of the study required. One of our tutors shared a comment that CELTA was “the cheapest personal development course around” an accurate description I have to agree with…I liked the intensity of the course, it ensured a person like me who multitasks and juggles life had no choice but to focus and stay focused. The rest of the world managed without my input.”
– -Matewiki Karehana, New Zealand – CELTA Auckland, New Zealand
If you are unsure if you qualify to apply for a CELTA, take our CELTA eligibility test.