Celta impressions – week 1

The first week of the year was also the first week of my first Celta course as a tutor, so I decided to write about my impressions, both from a tutor’s and a candidate’s point of view.

These are going to appear as bullet points, as there isn’t an underlying theme that connects all of them. This is a departure from my previous posts about the Celta, but it should make it relevant to a larger number of people.

  • One candidate asked me if the feedback they got from tutors was honest. At first, I thought that was a strange question to ask but I imagine he wanted to know if tutors are holding back in order not to hurt people’s feelings or to prevent people from dropping from the course. What I told him is that the feedback candidates get from tutors says ‘at this stage of the course’ and that means a good first lesson wouldn’t be received the same way if it was the candidate’s third or fourth lesson.
  • Seeing candidates with no experience teaching for the first time is one of my favourite things about the Celta. I’m sure it’s nerve wracking for them, but it’s great to see them succeed at it.
  • You might think that having previous teaching experience is an inherent advantage, but that isn’t always the case. On Friday I was discussing the lessons I observed with another tutor and told him I had just given my first above standard in lesson planning to someone with no previous teaching experience. To my surprise, the tutor said he had done the same thing. This is not to say experience nevers helps, as some of the strongest first lessons taught in the course were from candidates who have already worked as teachers. It needs to be the right kind of experience and candidates need to be careful not to be full of themselves (i.e. thinking the course is going to be a walk in the park) just because they have taught before.
  • Another great thing about the Celta is the mix of people you get to know and work with. Candidates come from the USA, Mexico, the UK and many different states in Brazil. The energy and camaraderie in a full time course also seems very different from the experience I got in the part-time course last year. Because so many candidates are from out of town and they spend so much time together I think it’s more likely new friendships will grow out of it.
  • Two different candidates asked me if the time they had spent preparing their first lessons and writing up the lesson plans was ‘normal’. If you are thinking of taking the intensive Celta, it’s safe to say you won’t have time for much else in your life. A typical day goes from 8 to 4 pm at the school and then you have to go home and prepare your next lesson or write your assignment. If you’re looking to work while taking the course, a part-time from February to June or August to December are probably yout best options.
  • One of the first things that takes place in a Celta course is the foreign language lesson. I haven’t taught one myself, but I’m working on my Danish to try it on the next course. This is a language lesson that shows candidates it’s possible to teach a foreign language without using L1 (the students’ native language). The language itself is not important – Danish, Turkish and Thai are examples I have seen first-hand, but I’ve heard of Russian and Japanese lessons too. If you’d like to become a Celta tutor, speaking an off the beaten track language is really helpful. Things like Spanish and French, on the other hand, are usually not good options as you are bound to have candidates who can speak them (and therefore spoil the lesson).
  • The final thing that drew my attention this week was working with a native speaker with no experience with metalanguage (the language used to talk about teaching English). The native speakers I had seen as candidates before all had language teaching experience in one way or another. It’s quite something to see somebody being exposed to names like ‘present simple’ or ‘phrasal verbs’ for the first time. The Celta is aimed at people with no experience, but I hadn’t came across such a candidate yet. It just makes the course even more interesting.


If you are interested in reading more first Celta impressions (even if these are from last year), check out Sandy Millin’s post.


Tak for læsning (that’s thanks for reading in Danish, in case you were wondering).



5 thoughts on “Celta impressions – week 1

  1. Pingback: New Year’s Resolutions: a conversation lesson for adults. | ricardo barros elt

  2. Thanks for sharing these Ricardo, and for linking to my post. It’s interesting to see another person go through the journey of becoming a CELTA tutor, and to see experiences we have in common. I particularly enjoy seeing people succeed at teaching for the first time too 🙂
    Good luck!


  3. Hi Ricardo, good to see you’ve started your first course and are already immersed in the learning process (for you) that it is and will be for a long time to come – I still learn with every course I do. I like the first point you raise about “honesty”. It’s something I stress on my courses – the need for honesty from everyone.
    A common collocation – “to be brutally honest” is, in my opinion, a bad collocation being honest doesn’t have to be brutal. In fact I think it’s a joyous quality that we should strive for and enjoy.
    Keep up the good work. Steve


    • Thanks for stopping by, Steve. I agree that honesty is important in a course like this. One of my trainers once said that you need to make it clear for candidates when they are doing well but also when they aren’t, otherwise you might mislead them into thinking things are ‘fine’.


  4. Pingback: Celta impressions – weeks 2 and 3 | ricardo barros elt

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