The Ultimate Guide to the CELTA Pre-Interview Task
After some googling and researching, you have finally chosen your preferred location to take CELTA. You have completed the first step, where you have decided when and where you want to take the CELTA and you have sent an application form with your details. If you have applied to a centre accredited by the University of Cambridge, the school has sent you a request to complete a Pre-Interview Task.
As you may have heard, the CELTA is intensive so there are three steps for you to show you are ready for the course. The Pre-Interview Task (PIT in short) is the second step of the selection process to get onto the CELTA course. You will need to demonstrate that you have the required English language level and awareness to pass the course. That is why you will need to complete this before you can even enrol. The prospect of having to complete this document can be daunting, we know. Every day, at StudyCELTA HQ we screen many pre-interview tasks and since we are aware of how difficult it can be, we have decided to create a guide to maximise your chances to get onto this course. So, let’s dig into this together!
What is a pre-interview task anyway?
A PIT consists of a series of activities and questions. They are assigned to aspiring teacher trainers to give tutors an idea of your English level, language awareness, your ability to transform complex information into very simple sentences (or gestures) that can be understood despite language barriers. But it’s not just this. In fact, it helps tutors understand your inner motivations to become a teacher, your attitude to learning and, last but not least, it is meant to make you reflect on the experience of learning a language.
Remember, CELTA is learner centred and great emphasis is given on the learner experience. Therefore, understanding the language learning process is key for your success in the course. Hence, it’s important that you have some prior understanding.
Going back to the PIT, there is not a standard task and different schools may decide to adopt different types of PITs. However, they all serve the same purposes we discussed above. Some schools may assign you the task to write an essay of 750 words on why you think you would be a good English teacher; some other’s may ask you to correct the mistakes of sentences, individuate grammatical structures or simply talk about a learning experience that you had, how and what you learnt from it.
Don’t worry, you can’t pass or fail the PIT. It is used to help the tutor understand whether a candidate is ready for an intensive and challenging course like CELTA. Hence, it goes without saying that if you have no clue about language structure and your English level is not proficient, you may need some more time to get yourself ready for the course. In spite of the fact that the course will focus on teaching the language all-around, you will still have to learn a great deal of grammatical terms and concepts so that you can pass the knowledge to your students.
What does the PIT look like?
The Pre-Interview Task may look like this:
Or may look like this one instead:
Or it could even look like this:
Common mistakes and suggestions about how to avoid them
Whatever your task looks like, the structure of your pre-interview task aims to show and highlight your level of “language awareness”. This means that not only you will need to be a proficient user of the language, but you will also need to show that you are aware of its structure. You should also be able to conduct a basic language analysis and identify the elements that compound a language: (i.e. words, sentences, phrases, etc.), not only from the point of view of general grammar rules (i.e. future tense vs present tense), but also the meaning of the words (their semantic) and their connotations (i.e. positive vs negative); the function of a sentence (i.e. to give an order vs to suggest kindly).
You should also be aware of:
- The appropriacy of certain words depending on contexts as well as the registry (i.e. formal vs informal).
- You also need to be aware of the challenges a learner will face with pronunciation.
- Understand words that are difficult to pronunciation (e.g. pick vs peak vs peek),
- Have a general understanding of phonetics and of accentuation.
To sum up, use a pre-interview task to show off your English Language knowledge and to demonstrate your teaching potential.
Be mindful of what the question is asking you
Most of them will require you to think from the perspective of a potential teacher. It’s advice that you have heard since you were at school, but make sure you fully read and understand the instructions given to complete the activity. They may ask you to pretend to explain something to a learner of English. It may get even more specific, and it may say the level of the learner such as elementary. Here you can get creative: you can go into very detailed explanation or, if you like, even spell precisely what you would tell a student to make them understand the topic of the discussion.
Capitalise, capitalise, capitalise
We recommend you check the rules on capitalisation. Especially if your mother tongue is of a language other than English. Proper names, languages and country, names (Spanish and not spanish), first person subject such as I, etc. must have a capital letter.
Check the sentence structure
If you notice you are writing very long sentences, try to break them down into smaller ones. When writing in English, it’s generally recommended to write smaller, simpler but well-structured sentences than to write very long ones that may keep the reader holding the breath until the sentence is finished! (Just like this one I have done to show you!)
Proofread your tasks. And then Proofread them again…
It is very easy to make typos or spelling mistakes, whether your mother tongue is English, or you have a very high level of proficiency. If you have doubts about how a word is spelled, make sure you can cross reference it from a good dictionary. It will ensure you achieve the best result!
Once you are done with this task, you are good to send it back!
Do you feel confident about analysing language?
P.S. If this blog post made you a little worried about your language proficiency, then don't worry. We get a lot of people who have not analysed grammar and language since school and need a refresher. That's why our friends at ELTCampus have created a short Language Analysis and Language Practice course, which can prepare you for your pre-interview task and also the CELTA course itself. Try the course for yourself with their free preview.
Finished your task? Get ready for your interview with our top tips.