My Celta Course By Louise Casha
Having just finished my TEFL course in November 2008, I decided that my next step would be to apply for CELTA. I had heard about this blessed course way before I even had any intention of teaching. The course has the reputation of being a very tough cookie; I was told that some find it too hard and quit after a few days, others continue but suffer badly from stress, and in fact a good number lose up to 3 kilos while doing this course. Now the latter would have been a good enough reason for me to go for it, but in reality I have more chance of winning the lottery than losing weight even if I do not actually buy a ticket. In the end I said to myself, “yes I am up for a challenge, I am all for personal development, even at the expense of a few personal sacrifices.”
There were in total twelve of us, two men and ten women of different ages and coming from different backgrounds and nationalities, two actually flew in from abroad for the course, oh and I must not forget our two tutors. Some participants came to this course backed by years of experience while others, like me, were novices at this profession.
The seminars, the majority of which are held during the mornings, are very informative. However, there is barely enough time for you to digest and process all the information given, because before you even know it, you are there teaching practically every afternoon and applying all this theory into practice. And to top it all up you are being assessed continuously by your tutors. Preparation during this course is the key word. Every lesson needs to be planned thoroughly, using the right terminology which needs to be applied at all times. Every step needs to have an aim, nothing is done without a reason, and nothing is done to while away the time. Often this preparation involves first going through your notes, then there are endless hours of picture searching both in magazines and on the internet, followed by cutting, sticking and pasting and before you know it, the time is 1.00am. Besides seminars there are also teaching practice feedback sessions, during which both your tutor and your fellow students discuss your progress and your weaknesses. Now for some this might be the highest hurdle of all, since not everyone can take criticism, even though it is meant to be constructive criticism.
Time flies and suddenly you find yourself at the dreaded third week in the course, and suddenly it all hits you. Sleep deprivation definitely becomes an issue, the never-ending paperwork needs to be completed and filed in the right order, and assignments have to be given in on time, some of which have to be resubmitted. Suddenly you feel as if everything is about to explode including yourself and you ask “but do I have what it takes to make it?” “Don’t worry”, they all say, “this is part of your learning curve, calm down and persevere, it will soon be over”. And hey presto it was! The four weeks of hard work were finally over. You now have time to go out whenever you feel like; you have time to clean your apartment and also time to sleep peacefully.
At this stage I can not stress enough the importance of the support given by fellow students. I was lucky enough to be part of a fantastic group who helped each other at all times. We worked and planned together, at times we were in stitches laughing at some joke told by our Welsh comrade. We even had a salsa class; any excuse was plausible if it helped us to unwind. This does not mean that we did not have our differences. For example some of us were loud, while others preferred a gentler and quieter approach. There were those who were already working on their third assignment while the majority was still trying to make sense of the first. Nevertheless, we worked well together and we all deserved a pat on the back.
The CELTA course is on one hand tough, tiring, and expensive and on the other hand a wonderful and exhilarating experience. Your whole perspective on teaching changes, you understand that the focus is on the student, the teacher is only there to guide. In addition if you put your mind to it, you might end up with an internationally recognized certificate.
This article appeared in the Summer 2009 Newsletter