Signing up for a CELTA course often starts with a vision – it could be you, strolling to work in South America, a patched-up tar road buzzing with mini scooters, curving past isolated beaches and pockets of jungle. Or shopping in a crowded, Turkish bazaar, a red silk scarf draped casually over your shoulders. It could simply be a vison of your new online teaching life incorporated into your daily routine.
For those looking at foreign climes, when you think of yourself living overseas, you often imagine yourself in a variety of nonchalant day-to-day situations, made all the more romantic by your exotic surroundings, of course with plenty of free time to soak up your new location and new culture. A great way to live and work in a foreign country for many is to get qualified, and get a job as an English teacher.
So you’ve decided to take the CELTA course…
It’s not a decision you’ve taken lightly; everything you’ve read and everything you’ve been told highlights the alarming word: ‘intense’.
The CELTA course is a full-on course that challenges you and your learning skills before leaving you at the end of it a completely qualified, more than capable English teacher. It sounds stressful, so we’ve broken down the four mental stages of the CELTA course for you:
You kind of feel like you’ve been chucked in the deep end of a pool, with nothing but loads of information to keep you afloat. Day two of your course and you’re already in the classroom, real or virtual, nervously running through a pre-prepared lesson plan with expectant students, while you CELTA tutor watches on.
You struggle through awkward ‘getting to know you’ sessions and begin to drill students in verb forms you’ve only just learnt. All the while, you’ve got to remember everything you’ve been told about ‘classroom management’.
Your week nights are filled with study and you’re running on a few hours of sleep per day. Naturally, you’re feeling way in over your head, and you start to wonder if your teaching aspirations were nothing but a pipe dream.
At the end of the first stretch of your course, you start chatting with your classmates. Not all are native English speakers; with many taking the CELTA being from foreign language-speaking countries, who have picked up English, and are now trying to master the art of teaching it.
Speaking with your co-trainees, you start to realise you’re not alone; everyone is experiencing the same overwhelming feeling, yet hoping for the same outcome.
The second of the mental stages of the CELTA course, is the period of realisation. The bizarre TEFL jargon has started to feel like a second skin – you begin throwing the terms ‘past participle’ and ‘gerund’ into casual conversations like it’s nobody’s business. The next hurdle, however, is to explain these concepts to your students, without drowning them in technicalities.
That’s where the lesson plan comes in; a tightly-timed framework for that week’s classroom practice. You spend the weekend desperately searching Google or social media for ideas, none of which seem to fulfil the criteria.
There’s reading, speaking, listening and writing – four vast areas you somehow have to amalgamate into one hour of learning.
You start to realise how lucky you are, already knowing how to speak the language. Learning English is a challenge!
This lesson planning thing is starting to make sense – you’ve figured out that you need to write it so that someone else could teach it. Your awkward silences and fumbling for ideas in the classroom are now few and far between.
The post-lesson feedback, however, is still equal parts supportive and tough. Your tutor and peers are trying to highlight the positives, but are just as in-tune to a few of your cringe-worthy moments as you are.
While you’re confident with the coursework and the technicalities, feeling at home in the classroom, whether real or virtual, is taking time. The students all stare at you, pens poised expectantly, assuming you’re the knowledge source of all that is the English language.
Meanwhile, you’ve got to somehow turn the focus around. You see yourself as less of a lecturer, and more of a guide – assisting the students in their own discovery of the language.
Last assignments handed in, classroom hours complete – you’re ready and rearing to wrap things up and get out into the real teaching world. This is perhaps the most exciting of the mental stages of the CELTA course!
In the classroom, you’ve come to the realisation that you are, indeed, a person – not perfection. You loosen up a bit, and begin to realise that it’s no big deal that you also make mistakes. Time and practice will iron out any wrinkles.
The long roller-coaster ride of the CELTA is drawing to a close, and you feel a little like you’ve been reborn. You’d heard people describe it as more of a course in “professional and personal development”, but never actually believed it – until now.
With the CELTA course done and dusted (along with a few celebratory champagnes), you’re out into the real world with the most-recognised certificate under your belt, hours of classroom experience, and the knowledge and skills to take you anywhere in the world.
We have a wide range of different CELTA courses for you to choose from from around the world. Face-to-face or online, full-time or part-time. We also have mixed mode courses for you to choose from for the best of both worlds! See more information on and apply to upcoming CELTA courses by date here. You can also find out more about the CELTA course in general.
Get the most out of your CELTA course! Prepare for the CELTA with the Pre-CELTA Preparation Bundle Online Course.