I’ve put together this post for any budding teachers who are wondering whether to study for the Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, known as the CELTA. While it’s certainly true that you’re in for some long days and sleepless nights, if you’re wondering whether starting the CELTA is worth all the trouble, this post is for you. Here are the five Cs you need to know first:
Think carefully about what time of year is best for you to take the CELTA. I was lucky to be employed in a teaching position with paid summer holidays when I did the course, so I was able to take a month off work and not have to worry about where the money was coming from (just the lesson plans!) If you’re in a different position, make sure you have enough saved to keep you going for a month off work. Those triple espressos don’t buy themselves…
A reliable form of transport is paramount. I chose to study at International House Dublin, and while at first I was worried that I would be hampered by late or missing buses, I have to say that Dublin Bus were fantastic and always on time. However, you should prepare for every eventuality. Dublin traffic in the morning is the nightmare you expect it to be, and wherever you do your CELTA, you’ll have to contend with other commuters. Get familiar with your route to your study centre before starting the CELTA, and try to get your bearings of the general area too. There are several options for super-central accommodation in Dublin, Cork and Galway depending on where you’re planning on doing your CELTA course, so at least all you’ll have to do is roll out of bed and get on your way (after resetting your million alarms, of course!)
I’ve always been something of a stationery nerd, and I was definitely that person on the CELTA course that the others teased. My highlighters matched my post-its and I always knew the deadline for every assignment. On the first day of the CELTA, you are given a file which contains all of your essay titles and the scheduled dates for your teaching practice. This became my Bible, and it should be yours too. While I still got stressed about the workload, it helped me enormously to know exactly what was coming and when, so that I could divide my time effectively.
Ignore any horror stories about unmanageable workloads – the CELTA is a hugely positive experience overall as long as you’re organised. There were definitely bad days, but they were genuinely few and far between. Once I came home in the evening, made dinner and dedicated two or three hours to my assignments, I found it was definitely possible to enjoy an hour of TV before crawling up the stairs to bed. You also have the weekends to sleep more and still catch up on work. It’ll be grand!
Last, but definitely not least: please don’t compare yourself to anyone on your course if you can help it. So what if you’ve never taught before, and haven’t a notion what that future perfect continuous is? I can guarantee these things aren’t half as important when starting the CELTA as having an open mind, enthusiasm and plenty of energy. Some of the most successful trainees on my course had never stood up in front of a class in their lives before starting the CELTA, and they’re still teaching today, having travelled half-way around the world in the two years. My advice? Throw away the grammar books, stock up on the Nespresso pods and enjoy the ride!