Since July I have been undergoing training to become a Celta tutor. It’s been a long process, both enjoyable and tiring. It’s almost finished, however, and I’d like to share my experience with people who may want to do something similar in the future.
So, this is how I became a Celta tutor.
1. Before the Celta
One of the hardest parts of becoming a Celta tutor is finding a center to train you. As far as I know, there are five centers in São Paulo and I got in touch with all of them at the beginning of the year.
I felt like I had all the necessary qualifications, which are having varied experience as a teacher and teacher trainer and having finished the Delta (or something equivalent, such as the Trinity Dip TESOL). More than that, though, I realised that the centers were looking for someone whose availability to work on Celta courses wouldn’t be in question.
From what I have come to understand, Cambridge frowns upon centers that train tutors to go freelance. It is expected that you have a relationship with the center that trains you and work for them as a tutor. In my case it meant about four months, lots of emails and a couple of skype conversations to find a center that would train me and where I’d like to work.
In late May I went for an interview in person and after that Cambridge accepted me as a TiT (Tutor in Training). I was scheduled to start my training in the July full-time course. It is possible to be trained during one course, but I already had a trip scheduled for July so it was decided that I would be trained over two courses (full-time in July and part-time in Aug-Dec)
2. During the Celta
2.1 Before the course starts
One thing I’d recommend for future TiTs is to put everything you do to paper. You need to build a portfolio of the things you have done and at the end of the course the portfolio will be checked by the external assessor. You need documentation that shows you have gone through all the necessary steps.
For example, before the course you need to familiarise yourself with the Celta syllabus and other documentation, which means reading two PDF handbooks. In order for the assessor to know you have done this, you need to create a Word document answering some general knowledge questions about the course.
Likewise, before the course starts the TiT needs to take part in a candidate interview. The one I participated in was a Skype call with a foreign candidate. Again, it’s important to create a document of this, writing down the questions that the tutor asks the candidates and how the interview is conducted. You may also want to add your own commentary and opinions.
Finally, the TiT is given access to the candidate application forms. It’s a good idea to create a record of having read those. Something you could do is to create your own profiles of the candidates or add comments to their application forms.
2.2 During the Course.
As a TiT you are going to shadow the course. That means doing similar things to what the main course tutor does. There are two main components for the Celta course: Input Sessions and Teaching Practice.
During input sessions, you should take notes of how the sessions are carried out and reflect on why they are done in such a way. All of this needs to be documented and organization is crucial. For instance, you should include information on the topic of the session, the style (was it a workshop, tutor-led presentation, video lesson, etc) and techniques used. It’s recommended that you create a journal as well to write about your impressions of the course and how different tutors approach input sessions.
You will also need to teach some input sessions that are going to be observed by the main course tutor. Write a lesson plan and add any handouts and Powerpoint slides to your portfolio.
For teaching practice, you should receive each candidates’ lesson plan and comment on it as the main tutor does, saying what candidates are doing well and where they can improve. Besides commenting on the plan, at the end of the TP you’ll need to fill in a feedback sheet for each candidate. It took me a little while to be able to do all of this at the same time, but after a couple of sessions you get the hang of it.
Once TP is done, you discuss the candidates’ performance and their grade with the main course tutor and then observe (and sometimes participate) in the feedback they receive. This was the most interesting part of the course for me, as I was able to observe 3 different tutors giving feedback and each of them with their own styles and techniques. It was a very rich experience.
Again, later in the course you will be response for carrying out the feedback session on your own, while being observed by the main course tutor.
There’s a lot more still to come
Come back next week for the second and final part of this journey, where I’ll talk about written assignments, candidate tutorials and the visit of the external assessor.
Thanks for reading