Language & Learning: Taking the CELTA in Cairo

  You’ve probably read about Cairo and the nearby Pyramids of Giza in history class. You know all about the Sphinx and the Nile River,…


You’ve probably read about Cairo and the nearby Pyramids of Giza in history class. You know all about the Sphinx and the Nile River, but did you know it’s also a great place to take the CELTA? A mixing of cultures, history and learning, Cairo offers new points of view and places to explore while improving yourself as an English language teacher. Its relationship to learning, culture, history and language makes taking the CELTA in Cairo a very good idea.

Having been colonised by many different countries over the years, Egypt, and specifically Cairo, has a true mixing of cultures. While grounded in Arab and Islamic tradition, you’ll also find Coptic churches (an ancient sect of Christianity) and Roman ruins as layers of history and cultures collide in the Egyptian city. While you won’t have much free time on the CELTA, Cairo breathes culture. Take the time to experience it while you’re there, or look for your first ELT job after completing the CELTA.

This mixing of cultures also produced a unique relationship with languages. While Egypt’s official language is Literary Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, a local dialect, is primarily spoken on a day-to-day basis. While Arabic is the primary language, many schools teach English and many road signs are in both Arabic and English. This is good for potential CELTA trainees for obvious reasons!

The country’s relationship with language goes much deeper. The primary foreign language in Egypt has changed over time based on the ruler. Italian was the dominant foreign language in the mid-1800s, while French saw a rise in the late-1800s to the point that it became the lingua franca. Its use declined after the 1920s, but it has become popular again in recent years.

With so many layers of languages, Cairo is a uniquely positioned place to take the CELTA as you immerse yourself in helping other learn English. It will put you in good stead to appreciate different types of language learners. Not only that, but due to the emphasis on English in the local schools, you may just find your first post-CELTA job in Cairo. Of course, Cairo isn’t just about language. Below, some of the best places to visit while taking the CELTA in Cairo.

Khan el-Khalili Souk

Be sure to wander the Khan el-Khalili souk, a bazaar of market stalls selling anything and everything. Here, you’ll find locals and tourists alike as you navigate the sights, sounds and smells of a bustling marketplace. Admire the beautiful lanterns, ceramics and scarves on display. Keep an ear open and you’ll probably hear many languages from all over the world.

Pyramid of Djoser

While most people think of the Pyramids of Giza when they think about Cairo, just a little farther south of the city is the Pyramid of Djoser. This step pyramid was Egypt’s first pyramid, so while it may not be the most well-known, it is certainly significant. Wander the complex with its various additional structures and appreciate the 4,000 year old marvel of engineering.

Salah El-Din Citadel of Cairo

Dominating the skyline of Cairo is the not quite so old, but still impressive Salah El-Din Citadel of Cairo. This complex of mosques and museums dates back to 1176, so while not quite 4,000 years old, it still has its own significant history. Here, you can admire impressive layers of architecture and history, take in views over the city of Cairo and learn more about Egyptian history. This is one not to miss.

Al-Azhar University

Cementing its relationship with learning, Cairo boasts the second oldest institution of higher education in the world. Al-Azhar University was established in 970 and while it has changed focus over the years, it has been continuously running as a site of higher education.

While the ancient university show the long history of Cairo education, there are many more universities throughout the city. In fact, the Cairo CELTA centre is located very near to Cairo University.

The breadth of international schools in Cairo demonstrates that unique relationship with foreign languages. There’s American University in Cairo, British University in Cairo, Université Française d’Égypte, Canadian International College and German University in Cairo among others. These universities indicate the emphasis placed on international education, making Cairo a great place to start your English teaching career.

Museum of Egyptian Antiquities

Of course, a huge draw to Egypt is its ancient past. At the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities (or Egyptian Museum), you’ll find all sorts of Ancient Egyptian treasures. From mummies and sarcophagi, to smaller things like jewellery and pottery, this museum will inspire the Indiana Jones in you. Be sure not to miss the famous Gold Mask of Tutankhamun!

Pyramids of Giza

Continuing the Ancient Egypt theme, no experience in Cairo is complete without a stop at the Pyramids of Giza. With three large pyramids, three smaller pyramids and the Great Sphinx, it’s like walking into a history book. These colossal structures tower over Cairo from a distance, reminding people of Egypt’s long history and seeing them up close will bring home the ingenuity of Ancient Egyptians.

There’s so much to see and do in Cairo. While you’re taking the CELTA full-time, there won’t be much time to explore. That’s why finding your first post-CELTA job in Cairo is a great idea. Not only will you find a strong English language culture, but you’ll also have more time to explore the new and the old of Cairo. At the CELTA centre in Cairo you’ll be surrounded by like-minded language teachers and become a part of Egypt’s longstanding language and cultural exchange.

What are you waiting for? Find out more about the CELTA in Cairo and apply!