CELTA

Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

I did my CELTA course in January 2020 at the Berlin School of English which is one of four Cambridge accredited teacher training centres in Germany. The CELTA course is an initial teacher training qualification for teaching English as a second or foreign language. The course can either be taken full-time (four weeks) or part-time (a few months). I did my CELTA in full-time study mode in four weeks at the Berlin School of English. Upon successful completion of the program, candidates can start to work in a variety of English language teaching contexts around the world. 

"The cheapest self-development course around - challenging, demanding and rigorous."

Maik Wiedmann

"My CELTA experience: An intense, exhilarating and enlightening course."

Rachel Daw

"My CELTA experience - it was quite a ride!"

Evelyn Glyn

"Dong the CELTA was one of the most fun and challenging experiences I've ever had."

Muirne de Burca

COMPONENTS OF THE CELTA COURSE

A 120-hour training course consisting of input sessions, lesson planning, lesson observations that are accompanied by feedback and four written assignments 

1. DAILY INPUT SESSIONS

Every morning from 9am till 12pm you will have input sessions that deal with one of the following lesson types:

  • Grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and function (the language systems)

  •  Reading and listening (the receptive skills)

  • Speaking and writing (the productive skills)

The input sessions were one of the most enjoyable parts of the day for me. I learned the latest state-of-the-art techniques in English language teaching. On the right hand side you will find the model for a receptive skills lesson that consists of a lead-in, way through and way out stage.

2. LESSON PREPARATION

The Cambridge CELTA course consists of a total of six hours of supervised lesson planning. You will teach either a 45 or 60 minute lesson. I had in total eight observed and graded teaching practices (so-called TP's). For each TP you need to fill out a detailed lesson plan where you analyse the target language, anticipate potential problems of learners and structure your lesson. You can download a sample lesson plan that I created for one of my TP's here. Usually you have your TP's every two days to allow you enough time to prepare for your lesson in advance. You will teach learners at two different level of language ability: 

  • Intermediate (B1 level on the CEFR)

  • Upper-intermediate (B2 level on the CEFR)

You will teach each group for two weeks on a CELTA intensive course. At the beginning of the course, the CELTA trainers will decide which trainee group will start to teach which group. 

3. LESSON OBSERVATION & FEEDBACK

Each CELTA course has a maximum number of 12 participants. At the start of the course, participants are divided into two groups: Each subgroup consists of a maximum of six participants that will observe each other's lessons and provide valuable feedback during the debriefing session on the next day. Furthermore, all your eight TP's are observed and graded by an experienced CELTA trainer. Two grades exist: At standard and below standard for this stage of the course. On the day that you delivered your lesson, you are also asked to write a reflection where you outline what you think went well, where you improved and what you could have done better. Only after you have submitted your reflection, you will receive detailed feedback along with the grade for your lesson from the CELTA trainer on the next day.

4. FOUR WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS

During the weekends you will find yourself working on assignments. There are four assignments in total each due after the weekend:

  1. Language related tasks assignment: This involved practical analysis of vocabulary and grammatical structures

  2. Language skills assignment: This involves the production of materials to develop learners' reading and speaking skills

  3. Focus on the learner assignment: This involves identifying the needs of an individual learner or group of learners of English and identifying suitable teaching materials

  4. Lessons from the classroom assignment: This involves reflecting on your development as a teacher.

The assignments are graded pass and fail and you need to have more than 80% of the assignment correct in order to pass. However, it is very common practice on the CELTA to fail an assignment on first submission (I also failed two assignments on first submission). You then receive detailed feedback on your assignment and have the chance to re-submit the assignment one more time without being penalised. It is important that you pass on second submission as it otherwise means that you failed this assignment and you are only allowed to fail one assignment in order to be eligible for the CELTA certificate. I did not find the assignments particularly difficult but they do take up a significant amount of time during your weekends. 

SAMPLE TEACHING PRACTICE

Download now a grammar lesson on adjectives that I prepared for one of my teaching practices

LESSON PLAN: TEACHING ADJECTIVES TO B2 LEARNERS

In this file you will find my lesson plan for teaching adjectives to an upper-intermediate group of students (level B2). The file will give you a good idea on how a lesson plan in the Cambridge CELTA course could look like.

STUDENT HANDOUT WITH SOLUTIONS: TEACHING ADJECTIVES TO B2 LEARNERS

In this file you will find the student handout that I prepared for the upper-intermediate group of learners (B2). Please note that you should always provide the solutions to the exercises on the back of the sheet so that students can compare the answers on their own.

 

FOUR THINGS THAT I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO KNOW BEFORE TAKING THE CELTA

I had a few misconceptions about the CELTA course - let me clarify some of them for you :)

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OPT FOR THE CELTA PART-TIME COURSE

If you can do yourself a favour and take the part-ime CELTA Course

The full-time four week long CELTA intensive course is very demanding and the workload can feel overwhelming at times. Most of my fellow trainees on the CELTA Course - including me - said towards the end of the course that we would have rather taken the part-time course. The part-time course is less stressful and allows you to better digest the content from the input sessions.

YOUR PERFORMANCE IN THE TEACHING PRACTICES TRUELY MATTERS

Prioritise correctly: Devote less time to reflections and assignments and instead focus on your TP's

I did not really understand the grading procedure correctly at the beginning of the course and spent too much time on my reflections and assignments. This backfired as I had less valuable time to prepare my lessons. Please don't fall into the same trap and focus on your lesson plans and teaching practices.

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MAKE SURE YOU HAVE NO OTHER COMMITMENTS BESIDES THE CELTA COURSE

The CELTA curriculum doesn't allow to have multiple balls in the air

The main reason for falling behind and struggling with the course was that some candidates had other commitments besides the CELTA Course. Make sure that you don't need to work during the course and that your family and friends stand behind you.

LESS AUTHENTIC TEACHING PRACTICE GROUPS

Heavily discounted courses lead to unexpected group compositions

The Cambridge certified teacher training centers need to make sure that they have enough participants in their teaching practice groups to actually be able to run the CELTA course. Course participants only pay €50 for a two week long English course and tend to have a lower English language ability than indicated by the language school (I had students in my B2 group that were barely at B1 level). The language schools literally accept every interested student to fill up the teaching practice groups. For you as a CELTA candidate this means that you need to grade your language more often and you should expect a lower English level ability than you would normally expect at this level. Make sure that you adapt your student handouts and language accordingly.

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GRADING OF THE CELTA

Three passing grades exist: Pass (Grade A), Pass (Grade B) and Pass - most candidates achieve a Pass

WHAT GRADE SHOULD YOU EXPECT?

Three passing grades exist: Pass (Grade A), Pass (Grade B) and Pass. Most successful candidates will achieve a pass (I also got a Pass), only a few will receive a Pass (Grade B) and in exceptional cases also a Pass (Grade A) will be awarded. In my cohort most candidates got a Pass and only two candidates received a Pass (Grade B). Cambridge Assessment English provides the following statistics about the grades:

Germany:

Pass A: 4.0%

Pass B: 18.0%

Pass: 67.6%

Fail/withdrawn: 10.4%

FILE

Download Now

CELTA CERTIFICATE MAIK WIEDMANN

Take a look at my Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA) that I received from Cambridge English Assessment - a division of the University of Cambridge.

YOU CAN DO IT! 💪

The four weeks in my CELTA course were one of the most demanding and challenging in my life. The course got me out of my comfort zone multiple times and I grew as a person. It‘s one of the cheapest personal development courses out there - you really get to know yourself during the course. BUT: Your effort will be worth it as you gain a highly-respected and internationally recognized qualification. Best of luck! 🍀

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