3: The flexible CELTA

Three weeks in and I am still under the impression that a CELTA course is an excellent career choice. Although our class of 16 has been reduced to 13 with the level of intensity and commitment required being a little too much for some, the majority of people on this course are finding it challenging yet rewarding. Having a CELTA qualification is beneficial to all sorts of vocations, top employers generally regard a year teaching EFL a positive way of spending a gap year. Transferable skills such as the ability to give presentations and time-management are welcome editions, also English language skills and inter-cultural sensitivity can only add to career prospects.

This week has been very tough (hence the late diary posting!), not so much in terms of new grammar or teaching techniques but just in the sheer amount of hours dedicated to the course. Assignment 2 was due in on Thursday (12th) and Assignment 3 due on Tuesday (17th) needed working on. I also had two lessons to plan and one to deliver. This would normally be music to the ears of an experienced EFL teacher but for us trainees it’s a large workload!

Monday – We concentrated on learners’ speech today with the emphasis on phonology. I found this very interesting, we also learned a little of how certain nationalities are prone to certain pronunciation mistakes (e.g. Japanese often confuse l with r). Swan and Smith’s Learner English is an invaluable aid in this area.

Tuesday – I gave my first hour-long lesson today which went relatively well. I was teaching the same upper-intermediate standard group which I had been from the start of the course and I feel this helped me relax. I had developed a good rapport with this group and, throughout the lesson while I stalled and paused to read notes, they stayed quiet and didn’t complain once! This is not something I expect to continue throughout my TEFL career!

Wednesday – During my lunch hour today I met with my one-to-one student for assignment 3. She is an Italian student who needs to improve her English to progress in her work (she is an on-line education tutor) over the next few days I had to evaluate her speaking, listening, reading and writing.

Thursday – I handed in assignment 2 this morning. This assignment concentrated on self-evaluation. It was helpful to highlight my own areas of weakness so I could try to address them when teaching next. Try being the operative word.

Friday – Today we looked at the importance of teaching materials. This session made me realise that the worksheets I had been giving out prior to this needed to be a little more professional! Very useful suggestions were given for what type of teaching aids are helpful and effective, and what type may be fun for the class but aren’t quite so productive.

The students who I have taught so far all seem to think that their speaking is the skill they want to work on the most. They want to be able to have fluent, everyday conversations with native English speakers. When teaching, it is easy to start worrying that the activities aren’t good enough or that your grammar tasks are too challenging. Throughout this it is important to remember that the students are learning and improving all of the time just by listening and speaking with you. As EFL teacher you are a model for how sentences should be structured, how words should be pronounced and how intonation is important to convey meaning.

More than half way through I am still enjoying it, and proving to be successful (relatively!) in all areas of the course. I have been advised that next week is the most intense of the CELTA course so it looks like another week of hard work!


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