As a Trinity College of London post-graduate diploma holder in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) when a co-worker seriously queried me on the rigors and requirements of taking a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification course for teaching English, I recommended an upcoming CELTA (Certification in English Language Teaching) teacher training certification program at the British Council. After several conversations with him I thought,
“Why not give the prospective CELTA trainee some advice right from a proven source?”
Having such teaching certification opens doors internationally for English teaching positions, enabling certificate holders to work in scores if not hundreds of countries worldwide. But the more reputable and highly-regarded 120+ hour programs are intensive, stressful and difficult regardless of the experience and amount of preparation trainees may have.
So, I contacted Nathan Jones, a CELTA graduate I knew and asked, “Look, can you do something for me? I’m tutoring someone to enter the CELTA training course like the one you did. Would you please give him some insight as to course requirements, the schedule, themes, difficulties, etc.? You’ll be able to provide this prospective CELTA trainee with some idea of what he’s in for this summer if he takes the CELTA.”
Sure enough, Nathan, the CELTA grad, offered some insights as to what might be in store for a CELTA trainee during the five-week intensive regimen. With my insight also included, here’s what our advice consisted of:
We offer you these tips for preparing to take the CELTA or other TESOL certification program. Try to remember these valuable key points:
1. Read everything you are given thoroughly.
This includes handouts, course outlines and requirements, etc.
2. Use your peers to assist you in every aspect of your
training. Get to know your directors, teachers,
administrators, and other personnel on the course
3. Complete every course program project on time – or early, if
4. Be open to being challenged and mentally exasperated, take
copious notes, and share them freely with other trainees.
5. Find another trainee or a small study group you can gel and
work well with.
6. Seek out the person(s) who have had friends or family
previously in the course, because they will likely have a
head start in completing course program tasks.
7. Get lots of sleep. You’ll need it. Don’t fall asleep in
class or get “burned out from stress and exhaustion. Take
some “relax” time daily.
8. Practice your teaching techniques regularly, whether
assigned or not.
9. Try to learn from the students you will be teaching.
10. Follow the required texts, books and materials explicitly –
ask questions if you doubt or don’t fully understand
anything. Make sure you understand the processes of what
you will be learning. This is crucial to your success.
11. Do everything in organized steps or stages and be
12. A few final Key Points:
o Ask questions – even the “stupid” ones
o pay rapt attention – everything is important
o follow directions explicitly
o listen carefully at all times
o study regularly, plan your time well – resist the urge
to “goof off”
o prepare well daily for each class or input session
o practice what you learn – that’s what your partner / study
group is for
o get help wherever and whenever you can – don’t allow yourself
to fall behind
Be sure to enjoy the experience and have fun. These people will be your friends for life. Remember that a course alone, while preparing you to enter an EFL / ESL (English as a Foreign Language / English as a Second Language) teaching career, does not in itself make you a teacher. Continue to grow, develop and learn throughout your TEFL teaching career.