The real scoop on CELTA

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The real scoop on CELTA

Unread postby tbknown » 05 Sep 2012, 08:23

The joke that is CELTA.

The course doesn't give you the skills needed to develop a lesson plan and teach English without a textbook. The course teaches how to use a textbook and understand how to organize lesson plans for different parts of the textbook (Productive Skills: speaking, writing, and Receptive Skills: reading, listening)

CELTA is a gimmick driven teaching method using cheesy classroom exercises and games to 'engage' the students. Small children might respond well to this parlor trick teaching style, but the 14+ year old student's eyes glaze over as they watch CELTA trainees perform for the tutors that grade the trainee by an arbitrary lesson plan format in the corner of the room. The guinea pig students that CELTA uses to practice teaching on are never asked or polled by questionnaire and assessment for the sake of integrating their experience into the grading process of the CELTA enrollees. The CELTA course has no interest and no regard for how much these 'guinea pig' students have garnered from the teaching method. CELTA and its tutors assume they know best no matter what the students being taught English by the CELTA method experience.

CELTA promotes a European notion of English having many different pronunciations and this results in poor quality control of graduates that represent the CELTA brand, as a lot of inconsistency in word meaning and pronunciation makes its way into the world classroom. There are non-native speaking CELTA graduates that graduate not being able to pronounce crucial phonemes in the English language. Some of the assessors also, who have a cushy job only coming two days out of the course and flying to all kinds of novel places in the world to "quality check" that the tutors grading the course are using the arbitrary lesson plan system to CELTA standards, can't even pronounce English words in an intelligible way. CELTA assumes that this is eclectic, inclusive and an accurate representation of English in the world. And yet it amounts to inconsistent teaching, without standards, that the students being taught English suffer as a result of.

CELTA is a brand, plain and simple, backed by the 'Cambridge prestige'. It is the epitome of non-innovative British arrogance and any other TEFL course will provide you with equal teaching knowledge at less cost and less monotony of arbitrary and redundant exclusively-lesson-plan driven criteria.
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Re: The real scoop on CELTA

Unread postby Briona » 05 Sep 2012, 14:42

I take it you failed then.
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Re: The real scoop on CELTA

Unread postby tbknown » 05 Sep 2012, 19:48

I take it you failed then.

Your curt response and lack of addressing the substance of what was laid out in my post is a perfect example of the incompetence and superficiality of the CELTA assessment process. If that is what you 'took' from what was posted, you are arrogantly missing the point.

No critical thinking person would be wise to spend money on CELTA. There are plenty of other legitimate options beyond CELTA, and I'm sure plenty more options will crop up in the future that will challenge the price and legitimacy of the CELTA myth.
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Re: The real scoop on CELTA

Unread postby Briona » 06 Sep 2012, 00:27

tbknown wrote:Your curt response and lack of addressing the substance of what was laid out in my post is a perfect example of the incompetence and superficiality of the CELTA assessment process. If that is what you 'took' from what was posted, you are arrogantly missing the point.

The only thing your post was a perfect example of was how bitter a person who failed the CELTA can be. I didn’t address the so-called ‘substance’ because it was nothing more than a one-sided rant. I’m sorry that you felt that the course was not worthwhile, and that it didn’t teach you anything, but that is not the experience of most people. It certainly wasn’t my experience. I thoroughly enjoyed my course and I learned a lot from it. I certainly would not have wanted to step into a classroom without having first done the CELTA.

tbknown wrote: The course doesn't give you the skills needed to develop a lesson plan and teach English without a textbook. The course teaches how to use a textbook and understand how to organize lesson plans for different parts of the textbook (Productive Skills: speaking, writing, and Receptive Skills: reading, listening).

CELTA is a gimmick driven teaching method using cheesy classroom exercises and games to 'engage' the students. Small children might respond well to this parlor trick teaching style, but the 14+ year old student's eyes glaze over as they watch CELTA trainees perform for the tutors that grade the trainee by an arbitrary lesson plan format in the corner of the room.

Didn’t you realise that the CELTA is simply a crash course? Were you really daft enough to believe that at the end of a four-week course you would be a model teacher; that you would never need to use your initiative or be selective about the materials and activities you use? There is no one-size-fits-all lesson plan or teaching method. It is up to you as the teacher to use your common sense to design and adapt plans accordingly and to use materials selectively.

tbknown wrote:CELTA promotes a European notion of English having many different pronunciations and this results in poor quality control of graduates that represent the CELTA brand, as a lot of inconsistency in word meaning and pronunciation makes its way into the world classroom.

Your complaint about the “European notion of English having many different pronunciations” is utterly ridiculous. In native English-speaking countries, such as the UK or the USA, different regions pronounce things differently. That said, English does not belong to the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, NZ, etc – it’s a global language and as such is spoken by people all over the world. This in turn leads to an even greater variation in pronunciation. If you have a problem with that I respectfully suggest that TEFL was never going to be a great career for you.

tbknown wrote:There are non-native speaking CELTA graduates that graduate not being able to pronounce crucial phonemes in the English language.

I suspect that you aren’t aware of the fact that there are certain sounds that are almost impossible for some learners to make. In some cases they can’t distinguish between two similar sounds, or they simply can’t hear the sounds. In other cases they cannot get their tongues in position to form them. This is the case for me when it comes to learning Polish – there are some sounds that, with the best will in the world, I will simply never be able to make. A good teacher would recognise and understand this, regardless of whether he/she is dealing with a student or a colleague.

Contrary to popular opinion, TEFL isn't for everyone. Thankfully, the CELTA separates the wheat from the chaff.

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Re: The real scoop on CELTA

Unread postby kaithegreene » 06 Sep 2012, 08:14

You do sound as if you've had a bad experience - please consider that no course of study gives skills as such. We, as trainees, have to work at learning/acquiring those skills. Learning is a process, not an event - it takes time and practice. It is certainly true, in my experience, that some trainees do better on an extensive course than on the standard four week intensive - some of us need more time to process information.

Your comment that "The course teaches how to use a textbook and understand how to organize lesson plans for different parts of the textbook (Productive Skills: speaking, writing, and Receptive Skills: reading, listening)" seems to suggest that you think we should be doing otherwise. The reality is that most CELTA graduates will go to work in schools which use a course book as the foundation of their class syllabi. In this case being able to exploit the course book effectively is very useful. It is also a lot less demanding that creating all your own materials from scratch - especially if you are new to the job and have gone from 6 hours assessed teaching in four weeks to 24 hours contact time every week.

I was interested in the comment "...cheesy classroom exercises and games to 'engage' the students. Small children might respond well to this parlor trick teaching style, but the 14+ year old student's eyes glaze over...", because the A in CELTA clearly stands for adults - what are you basing this comment on? Have you actually done a CELTA course?

I also noted the comment "The guinea pig students that CELTA uses to practice teaching on are never asked or polled by questionnaire and assessment for the sake of integrating their experience into the grading process of the CELTA enrollees" - this is totally unfounded. I have worked on a number of CELTA courses where the TP SS are asked to give feedback. Again, I wonder what if anything other than your own unfortunate experience, you are basing this on...?

I'm sorry you (appear to) have had a negative experience - perhaps a short period of quiet reflection would help you to find your way past this and consider whether you contributed to it in any way, and how best to avoid such negativity in the future.

Good luck!
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Re: The real scoop on CELTA

Unread postby tbknown » 08 Sep 2012, 01:19

Again, the point of the post is not about my personal experience. That is what you want to focus on.

I posted an accurate depiction of what the course is and isn't for those that might be thinking about spending the money. There is no edge that CELTA graduates possess, other than the prestige of the name. It is an overly-hyped money maker.

Any other TEFL course would be just as adequate. Because at the end of the day, like you pointed out, the schools use their own textbooks and that only requires common sense to organize around a textbook. The rest of becoming a teacher is garnering experience overtime, not in four weeks of participating in the CELTA circus.
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Re: The real scoop on CELTA

Unread postby kaithegreene » 17 Sep 2012, 03:26

No tbknown, you did not post an accurate description of either the CELTA course that I trained on or any of the CELTA courses I have tutored on.
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Re: The real scoop on CELTA

Unread postby Jascol » 18 Sep 2012, 19:47

I'm really interested in doing the CELTA. Mostly because I want to teach in Central/Eastern Europe and it seems the CELTA is almost a necessity to do this. I already have a Ba (hons) English Language & Linguistics and if I do the CELTA I understand I shouldn't have too much problem getting a job. I'm British so there would be no visa issues either.

However there seem to be two types of people, those who think CELTA is great and those who think it's a total waste of time. Can anyone enlighten me as to why there are such polarised views about this course?
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Re: The real scoop on CELTA

Unread postby Briona » 19 Sep 2012, 00:46

Jascol wrote:However there seem to be two types of people, those who think CELTA is great and those who think it's a total waste of time. Can anyone enlighten me as to why there are such polarised views about this course?

Simply put, people's experiences of the CELTA are different and this is reflected in their views. If you took the course and failed it you probably would think it was a total waste of time (and money) but if, like me, you took the course and got a Pass A, your opinions would be completely different.

FWIW I thoroughly enjoyed my course, but then I had great colleagues and very supportive tutors. Having done an online TEFL course as a sort of taster beforehand, I was already familiar with some of the terminology and methodology which undoubtedly gave me an edge over my fellow trainees. Nonetheless, I had to work incredibly hard, particularly when it came to the actual teaching practice and to managing the workload.

I cannot imagine attempting to teach without having first done a CELTA (or equivalent), and I would happily recommend both the course and my particular provider.
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Re: The real scoop on CELTA

Unread postby tbknown » 23 Sep 2012, 01:07

Jascol wrote:Can anyone enlighten me as to why there are such polarised views about this course?

Look, it breaks down to this for the polarization. People who have common sense will find the course work redundant and silly with sporadic flashes of insight about teaching in between. There is a certain point past the 2nd week of the course in which it becomes an unnecessary grind and all of the information the course has to offer has pretty much been presented. The cherry on top of the ridiculous nature of CELTA is the fact, as has been stated, that it is almost a requirement in certain regions of the world. This is because of the lobbying and branding that Cambridge has done with those country's academic institutions.

People who are a little shy, or slow to catch on to the density of material in the first 2 weeks will find the rest of the time on the course a great investment to get over their nerves and really drill the teaching methodology into their heads. But as far as value for the money and time spent on the course, the more intuitive and intelligent students on the course will find the final stretch of time after the first two weeks lacking in substance. It would be great if that time was devoted to more intense grammar and verb tenses. But the average population of people that take the course would find that way too overwhelming.

So bottom line is, if you are intuitive, confident and have a very high aptitude don't waste your money on the redundancy of the CELTA teaching method. Take a basic TEFL course and start networking to find a job. The only problem is, as i said, Cambridge has a lock on a perceived 'pedigree' status and those with the CELTA diploma will have preferential treatment.

By the way, for those naysayers to my depiction of the course; it doesn't come down to failing or passing that makes someone speak against CELTA and towards an alternative. That assumption and mentality is akin to some kind of club where those who passed love it and are in the club and those who fail can't be minded because their perspective on the course doesn't count. I didn't fail, I just used critical thinking while I was involved with it and documented where the weak points in the CELTA hype reside.

To each their own.
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Re: The real scoop on CELTA

Unread postby kaithegreene » 25 Sep 2012, 10:53

Jascol asks "...why are there such polarised views about this course?"

There do seem to be instances of polarisation, but mostly I think we all have our various shades of opinion. CELTA isn't a religion, it's a training course - and the four week version is a very intensive one. Intensive experiences often do raise intense emotions, as we have seen. All CELTA tutors are individual with a profile of strengths and weaknesses just like every other human being; and so are CELTA trainees. This is one of the reasons why CELTA courses, whilst conforming to the syllabus as laid down by Cambridge, are all a little different. This may also contribute to the different experiences we have of CELTA courses - both for trainers and trainees.

The bottom line is that the EFL industry is not regulated by any governing body but does have widely recognised basic entry qualifications - CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL. It is also true that a number of immigration departments throughout the world require a degree and/or professional qualification in order to issue a work permit/visa. Rightly or wrongly, if one wishes to work in EFL one will have to either go along with this or be limited in one's choice of employers and locations.

Personally, I don't think many of us would survive the hurly-burly of the EFL classroom without some idea of how to do it.

I am also wondering how tbknown has managed to develop a view of all CELTA courses. How many CELTA courses has s/he observed and/or participated in, in order to form such an overarching view?
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Re: The real scoop on CELTA

Unread postby tbknown » 05 Jun 2013, 13:23

kaithegreene wrote:I am also wondering how tbknown has managed to develop a view of all CELTA courses. How many CELTA courses has s/he observed and/or participated in, in order to form such an overarching view?


Although cultures are different all around the world, the whole point of CELTA "quality control" and Cambridge sending assessors halfway across the world to monitor the CELTA training process is because CELTA has devised very fixed and strict standards of assessment procedures for the trainers to follow. This creates a quality control that maintains uniformity in the redundancy of ineffectiveness the course drills on. Lacking dynamic teaching strategies, the result becomes an inability for the CELTA trainees to practice and develop their own style in front of real students (the selling point of CELTA). This is because the margins of how they are graded by the trainers/tutors is so uniform, and checked by the assessors that visit during the course to make sure those restrictive margins are unchanging from one course to another.

CELTA is indeed an overly hyped teaching method of how to breakdown a textbook and put it in lesson plan format. It lacks any real regard for improvised dynamism or critical thinking skills that would be much more effective teaching strategies to become acclimated with during an opportunity in front of students in this intensively redundant training program.

I say save your money, go elsewhere.
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Re: The real scoop on CELTA

Unread postby PNEYorkshire » 09 Jun 2013, 14:30

Tbknown....may I ask what your teaching experience/background was prior to the CELTA?
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Re: The real scoop on CELTA

Unread postby Amerita » 07 Oct 2013, 14:34

I havent read the whole thread, but, I'm afraid I have to agree with the OP. The celta course does not teach you how to teach. It teaches you how to be a performing monkey, and if your performance doesn't conform to the "Celta standards" you're threatened with failing the course.

There's no doubt about it, Celta is a money making racket and they really do not care wether the "students" learn anything from you or not....as long as your performance is meeting their expectations.

And yes, I passed the course. I also have teaching experience and have been a life long student within my own field. I know the inside of a classroom inside out and what should go on in it, and how both teachers and students should act, feel and behave. The celta course was utterly and totally removed from what it should be and a total insult to all the people out there trying to teach and pass on knowledge in as professional and altruistic manner they can. Celta is not about professionalism, or altruism, it's about greed, money and momentary power.

The person that responded to the op with the statement "I take it you failed then".... is clearly working within the Celta provision arena, and totally brainwashed into the mindset.

My advice to anyone considering doing a celta course, is to really take heed of the detractors and what they are saying. Ask yourself, do I really really need this course? The answer is no no no!! Can I get a job with just a degree? The answer is yes yes yes, you can. The one thing employers want is someone degree educated. If you really do want to do the celta, then I suggest you actually go to the establishment and 'meet' the tutors, get a feel for the school..If I had done this I would have known straight away not to hand over my money.

I know that having a degree on it's own doesnt mean you are going to be a teacher, and definitely no indication as to your calibre as a teacher,but it does show you have at least the ability to attain a minimum standard of education, so must be reasonably intelligent. A celta DOES NOT equip you with teaching skills, in fact, it is an offront to all those people who are serious about learning english.

A training course for TEFL is certainly needed, there's no doubt about that. But it needs to be student and trainee teacher centric and not provider centric and it should be provided and accredited by the universities and colleges around the world...not left to private sector where it is utterly and absolutely abused by the greed of school owners.

Out of 12 of us that did the Celta, i can only think of two people who thought the course was worthwhile. They were both non-native english speakers. In fact, one of them had such poor english I can't understand how it is they managed to get on the course in the first place. The native speakers were constantly correcting their mispronounciation, or understanding of a particular word/phrase.

Oh, and the assignments are designed to ensure there will be re-submissions. Not because they are particularly difficult, but because of how they are worded. In fact, they're actually dubiously easy, which should raise concerns.

When you get your assignments, make sure you check the meaning of every single question, and every single phrase, as almost every one had to resubmit one particular assignment because we answered the question as it was asked. But, by the time we were told about having to resubmit, all of us were so down trodden by the whole experience, we didnt have the energy to argue, not to mention the fact that it was patently obvious to all of us, that if you step out of line you will be failed!!

All of us spent ages also doing the pre-course task! That was a total waste of our time and energy. On the very first day, we were asked if we had done it and everyone pulled theirs out expecting to hand it in. We were given a handout and told to check our answers against the answers in the handout!!!!! It was never metioned again!!

As for the tutors being helpful??? You have got to be kidding me!! That was another gripe everyone had. If you were to ask for help on something they would refer you to Harmer, or Parrot...and then smile in the most condescening manner..and walk off. I wasn't aware of this until almost the end of the course, I didnt find the assignments difficult at all, they were just a nuisance, petty and a complete waste of time in my opinion. It was only when I witnessed one of the tutors making a mockery of one particular student that I asked what was going on..and then I was told. The next day I asked a few of the others, and found out it was the same story. Ask for help and you are told "read your notes" or "try Harmer, he's has some good info on this"...and it might only be a simple question the tutor could easily have answered.But the tutors know you barely have the time to breathe, they seem to get pleasure out of seeing the trainees exasperated and beaten down.

I couldnt believe how detached, jaded and disinterested the tutors were. I actually felt sorry for them. Another thing that really struck me, is that the tutors had absolutely NO accent either, which made them sound incredibly bland. Couple the lack of an accent, along with being burned out and utterly jaded and it was like being taught by a robot. In fact a robot would have more personality.

Oh, and if you don't lick their a*ses, agree with them wholeheartedly, and nod in agreement with every utterance they make, then they will go out of their way to deem you as incompetent. Once you have handed over your money, they know they have you by the balls. There is literally no recourse for the trainee students whatsoever. You can go through a complaints procedure, but I doubt it would get you anywhere. Don't forget, this is a privately owned and run business afterall, and most buyers of the celta are often from outside the country it's being provided in...so they know it's unlikely you'll even bother.

I regret having wasted my time and money on the celta. But, if this post deters even just a few people from making the same mistake that I, and many others, have made then I will feel it hasn't been a complete waste. I know I'll never recoup it, but at least I now know from first hand experience that the celta really is a money making scam. From day one it was obvious that the trainee teachers were just the next lot of faces on the Celta conveyor belt, and next month it will be a bunch of new faces.


If you are going to throw away £1000's then I suggest you get a proper degree and a teaching qualification (post degree) and use the money to travel, have a good time, but mostly as security in case anything goes wrong, so at least you know you can get out if you really have to.

I also have to add, that this is just my opinion, and the opinion of most of them on the course with me, and based on my/our experience. And my experience also tallies with a lot of the negative posts I had read prior to my doing the celta. I wish I had taken more heed of them.
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Re: The real scoop on CELTA

Unread postby tenneray » 25 Oct 2013, 03:19

I concur with the opinions expressed by tbknown and Amerita. The CELTA ought not to be the Holy Grail of EFL instructors. There are much more efficacious ways of gaining the knowledge and experience that one needs to teach in a professional manner. Sadly, the CELTA is likely to remain an EFL behemoth, and it will continue to have a pernicious effect on the entire industry.
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Re: The real scoop on CELTA

Unread postby lotus » 04 Feb 2014, 17:36

Hi and thank you for sharing your experiences.
I've been considering taking the CLETA course for some time. But I've kept postponing my application because of some very negative reviews posted on forums.
I have an MA in English, I'm a non-native speaker and I'd like to travel and teach to get a sense of what facing a whole group of students actually means before going back to my country (which has a terrible training program for prospective English teachers). You talk about better alternatives to the CELTA program, but never mention them - what are they and did you enroll in one of them?
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Re: The real scoop on CELTA

Unread postby eteacher » 30 Aug 2014, 18:24

If you have an MA in English, I am not sure why you would want to take a CELTA course.

It is a course with a minimum entry requirement of 18 years old and a high school diploma.

The course itself is non-standard as you can see by the replies. Some courses are poorly run and others are not. People within the CELTA organisation perform the “external” moderation. They are not at all like independent school inspectors as they all work for organisations that run CELTA courses.

I have a B.Ed. Honours in English, which is a far superior qualification to a CELTA, but I do know people who have taken CELTA and other courses. The CELTA descriptions I have heard are quite similar to the person who is being critical.

The impression I get is that it is painting by numbers. It appears that creativity is virtually not allowed. You have to do it the CELTA way or you will fail. If you disagree with or do not like the CELTA way, you will fail.

As I said, it is a course that has to cater to a minimum age of 18 so the painting by numbers, do it by the book approach is probably valid. Most 18 year olds have not yet developed to a degree where they can be truly independently creative. That comes later in life, usually after university and one or two years’ work experience. Sometimes even later :D

If you have been teaching for a while and have developed a style based on your Master's, I would not recommend that you take a CELTA course. Take a course that will develop your existing skills rather than make you throw them away and replace them with the skills that an 18 year old would need.
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Re: The real scoop on CELTA

Unread postby mah qazi » 02 Sep 2014, 15:48

Hi
I have asked from different Canadian teachers they say without CELTA I will not get a job in Canada.I have an MA in English with teaching experience of seven years.
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Re: The real scoop on CELTA

Unread postby Knowledge » 07 Sep 2014, 05:31

Certainly a post with strong comments. The "A" in CELTA refers to adults. But it does seem that most of the work available at the moment is teaching young people, across a range from tiny 4 year olds, to bored teenagers. So expecting a 4 week course to prepare an individual to teach the complex nature of disinclined youth, is a bit unrealistic.

The CELTA course I took was formulaic, with acronyms and patterns that required tedious timing schedules. But it was practical. It did push a process, and the first tutor fiercely pushed and defended this process. Insisting on keeping to internationally accepted standards can seem pedantic, but a 4 week course needs to have boundaries. I have been teaching for more than 25 years, and in my "day job" I pride myself in having a variety of tasks at different levels in my classroom. But attempting this in the CELTA 40 minute practice sessions, with beginning teachers, would be madness.

My original training (four years at uni level) cannot compare with the 'baptism by fire' of my first year of teaching, or the skills I learned in the following 25 years teaching in varied classrooms. Likewise, a 4 week course could not prepare anyone for the range of possible backgrounds, ages and interest levels in teaching today. During my CELTA course, one tutor made deprecating remarks about "old teachers unwilling to change their ways". Seeing that there were two people over 40 in our group, I did find this unnecessary. And saying this in a forum where we were learning new skills possibly made this quite offensive. I found the second tutor was way more approachable. In de-briefing sessions with classmates, some found the opposite. I guess that's life. Swings and round-a-bouts,eh?

The CELTA (certificate) is a place to start. The price varies across different countries. The accompanying accommodation price varies as well. Choose according to your budget. Pick up a template, or one way to manage a lesson. Choose a "book" or series of lessons to follow. Then get out there, learn on the job and from your peers. Adapt, adopt, share ideas.

CELTA does give you access to wider job opportunities. Use it.
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Re: The real scoop on CELTA

Unread postby Knowledge » 07 Sep 2014, 06:25

An MA in English is not a preparation for teaching English as an additional (or second, or third or foreign) language. An MA in Education might be, if there is some attention paid to language acquisition. Teaching "English" to those immersed in an English speaking community is very different from teaching people who have limited opportunities to practise. Teaching English in Canada might focus on recently arrived language learners, but there would be many more jobs aimed locals using productive skills, using language in daily activities.

But many countries ask for Teacher Registration as well - and this may have other constraints. For example, BC in Canada: "Degree names vary by country. However, it is expected that applicants will have the equivalence of an undergraduate degree and teacher education program, totaling at least four years of full-time post-secondary study. "

"As the education system in Iran is significantly different from that in Canada, we will likely ask you to complete a familiarization program to learn about BC's schools and curriculum before we grant you a certificate. This program will add to the knowledge and experience you already have and prepare you for a successful career in BC.
Familiarization programs usually take approximately one year to complete. They include coursework related to your teaching areas and a practicum. Many applicants choose to take the Professional Qualification Program (PQP) offered by Simon Fraser University as it also satisfies our familiarization requirements.
We will tell you in your evaluation letter if you must complete a familiarization program. You will need this letter to enrol in any coursework or in the PQP."

Then admission to this university course asks:" Applicants normally will be required to achieve a minimum score of 7.0 on the International English Language Test System (IELTS - the academic NOT the general test) with a minimum of 6.5 in each section."
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