I took the CELTA course at Celt Athens, in May 2014. It was an intensive 4-week course which wasn’t really for the faint-hearted. Before that, I’d never taught before, so it was an invaluable experience for me. Some say it’s even better to enter a CELTA course without any experience at all, as they get to shape you and you don’t have to go through the process of rejecting outdated approaches. They might be right..
What did I gain from this course? I learned a lot about communicative teaching. I realised how much fun it can be to teach. How incredibly different the experience can be from what I had experienced as a student. We all know how great it feels the first time you get your students to talk in groups and just being there to monitor, thinking.. “Wow, I made it! They are actually speaking!”
I learned a lot from my peers. Some were already experienced in classroom teaching, and observing them was a real eye-opener. We all have completely different teaching styles and being able to see 5 different teachers perform and use their own experience to approach lessons is one of the true benefits of such courses.
The course also opened a lot of doors for me to teach abroad. As soon as you add a CELTA to your CV, doors magically open, at least for a temporary position, such as one in a summer school. But it’s a great start, as you network, you get some classroom experience and references to land your next job.
The feedback I got from my tutors, was constructive and helpful. I became more and more aware of my strengths and weaknesses, from the very first week. But peer feedback was also helpful, so don’t underestimate it.
The one thing I’ve regretted, is not taking a part-time course. It was rather fast-paced and stressful. It felt like a day wasn’t enough to actually process what I’d learned and prepare for the next step. I am confident I could have done better than a PASS had I had more time to plan my lessons and create better materials. I also wish I’d read more books than just the one or two that I did.
I passed my module 1 exam with distinction. Something I am very proud of, since I really pushed myself to the limit. Cambridge suggest 200 hours of study, well I exceeded 1000.. I studied full-time from January to June 2018, when I took the exam in beautiful Venice, as I was living in Zagreb then, and the nearest Cambridge centre was Oxford School Venezia . The director, Kate is a really friendly and welcoming person, so this centre is highly recommended if you live near Venice.
I took an online course for module 1, with Business Talk Milan, in collaboration with the British Council. Sue Swift is the course director. I’m sure you know her brilliant blog An ELT Notebook. The course was excellent, with plenty of exam practice and individual feedback as well as ready-made pdf files with suggested answers. Provided you have access to the books on the reading list and you are willing to study hard, a Pass or higher is guaranteed.
What helped me complete the course? Self-motivation. It’s absolutely necessary when taking an online course. You have to ensure you can make a timetable and stick to it. You have to be able to organise your study, make an outline of what you need to read, think of how long it will take to complete each unit and make sure you do all the past papers, at least TWICE if you ask me..
Peer -support. I created a WhatsApp group and about 12 other teachers joined in; we were always there for each other. Asking questions, sharing ideas and preparing together for the exam tasks was extremely helpful. There is always someone who’s understood something you haven‘t. And they can explain it to you. Hopefully, you can do the same for them ! 🙂
Access to all the books on the reading list. Although the course was, as I mentioned before, very well-structured, with PowerPoint presentations summaries, it is essential to have access to A LOT of books.
Here are the books I found extremely helpful:
- Richards, J.C, Platt, H. Schmidt, R. & Schmidt, M. (2002) Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics LongmanLightbown,
- P. & Spada, N. (2006) How Languages are Learned Oxford University PressLewis M. (1997) The English Verb Klett Publishing
- McCarthy, M. (1990) Vocabulary Oxford University Press
- Lewis M. (1993) The Lexical Approach The State of ELT and a Way Forward. Language Teaching Publications
- McCarthy, A. (1991) Discourse Analysis for Language Teachers Cambridge University Press
- Hedge, T. (2005) Writing Oxford University Press
- Edge, J. Mistakes and Correction, Longman
- Bartram and Walton, Correction, LTPaxter, A. (1999) Evaluating Your Students Richmond
- Thornbury, S. & Slade, D. (2006) Conversation: From Description to Pedagogy
- Explaining English Grammar: A guide to explaining grammar for teachers of English as a second or foreign language
- Grammar for English language Teachers, Martin Parrot
Willis J. (1996) A Framework for Task Based Learning (Longman Handbooks for Language Teaching)
Ellis, R. (1997) Second Language Acquisition. Oxford University Press
Krashen, S. (1982) Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. Oxford & Pergamon Press
I’ve also created some quizlet sets which might be of some use to you. Here they are:
The best website for DELTA candidates is http://www.eltconcourse.com. You will find all the answers about all three modules there.
So, if you’ve decided to take the exam, remember to study hard and do lots of exam practice. Good luck!
I did Module 2 with IH Barcelona (which no longer exists, unfortunately) and I couldn’t have made a better choice for this module. I benefited in so many ways.
First of all, I had a great tutor: Emma Meade Flynn. Emma was patient and empathetic ( I emailed her and asked questions practically every day !) . She always gave me honest and constructive feedback. She helped me develop as a teacher with her useful tips and reading suggestions. I also met Shaun Sweeney and observed him teach a great lesson which was very useful.
Secondly, I got to meet Scott Thornbury and listen to his ideas and advice for teachers who want to become teacher trainers. I learned a lot from that session and I’ve given a couple of examples in this post.
Thirdly, it took me about seven months to complete it, so it wasn’t intensive. I had time to process all the information, experiment new techniques and approaches and actually learn a lot from the course. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have learned so much if I’d chosen an intensive course. Plus, the anxiety levels would have been much higher.
Last but not least, I had an incredible group of students, who actually taught me a lot as well. I learned more about teaching senior students and being sensitive to their needs. Considering that some of them may resist modern approaches and therefore, differentiating in many ways when planning.
After 7 months of hard work – and by hard I mean studying about eight hours a day – I got my second DELTA distinction. Such a rewarding moment!
I did Module 3 online with ITI Istanbul. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the outcome, so I’m thinking of redoing this module sometime in the future. However, I got my PASS, so I’m officially a Delta-qualified teacher after 21 months of studying hard!
Train the Trainer
I started this course in November 2020 and completed it on 23rd January 2021. I’ve learned a lot from my course mates and the lead trainer, Dr. Simon Phipps as well as Suzan Özgelen Yılmaz, the support trainer. You can read more about my experience here.
I officially started my MA in Professional Development for Language Education in April 2021. Better late than never and I’m glad I’ll get to study something I’m genuinely interested in. The first module is Trainer Development and you can read my MATD posts here. I hope to finish the MAPDLE in less than 5 years! We shall see..🙂