13 mistakes to avoid while preparing for a CELTA course


“Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes”
– John Dewey.

This is a quote that I really like. However, it is much better to avoid mistakes while preparing to take CELTA. Otherwise, it will cause you a fortune. It is not a free or a cheap course to try several times.

Here are the mistakes you should avoid while you’ve decided to take a CELTA course:

1. Do not ignore the importance of polishing up the language

Some teachers or applicants think that it is normal to start CELTA with intermediate level of linguistic knowledge. Despite you may be teaching not advanced levels for the practical part of the course, the theoretical part of the course will need profound knowledge. Also, you will be confident if you are comfortable using the language.

2. Do not forget about learning the phonemic chart

You may not find this useful while teaching, for example, conversational language or any other courses. Even if you do not use it in your classroom, as it was in my case, you should still revise it before you take the course. In CELTA you need it when you teach new words. You will have to provide the word in phonemic symbols to the class. So, spend some time going through the chart, especially the vowels.

3. Do not think that just because you have taught, the course will be easy

No way.  I took CELTA after eight years of classroom teaching. I was very confident that it would be easy enough as I would do the same things I did during my classes. After the first feedback of the observation of my trainer, I had to forget everything I did in my classroom and just follow the instructions and guidelines of the course and the trainer.

4. Do not plan to multitask

Do not plan any other activities while you are to take a CELTA course. Believe me, it will be absolutely impossible as the course is so intensive, you will hardly manage the course tasks. If you are teaching or working in any other places, take a break or wait until long vacations start. You will need to focus only on the course.

5. Do not forget about the fact that your score of CELTA depends fully on your observed classes

In CELTA, the theoretical part of the course is easy, especially for working teachers as they have studied the theory and they can easily reflect on the activities and the material discussed during the training. However, the second part of the course is quite intensive and stressful. You are very closely observed. Prepare yourself for that. I had peers who could do much better if that was not for the fear of being observed. So, make sure you are ready for that.

6. Do not forget that in CELTA you will be teaching adults

Some applicants forget that CELTA is an adult teaching certificate. So, for the preparation, they are not picky about the materials they read or look through. You will be teaching adults, so the materials and activities have to be chosen for adults. Read about some warm-up activities for adults,  get to know how teaching adults is different from teaching the children.

7. Do not ignore the importance of jargon used in teaching the language

The theory part of the course is about teaching methodology, where the trainers use a lot of jargon and specific words.  Do not forget to revise teaching jargon. You will not have time for that during the course; there is a lot to read and do.

8. Learn more about the course and requirements from people who have taken it

Some people think that they will learn as the course goes and I was not the exception. However, we had a lady whose sister took the course and she knew absolutely everything about the course.  She was much more confident as she had prepared more before the course. She was absolutely successful.  Had I been prepared and informed more, it would have been less stress for me. So, find people who have taken the course and ask as many questions as you can to find more and more about it.

9. Do not forget to buy your stationary

While preparing for CELTA, you may forget that you will have to actually teach in real classrooms. You will need to prepare activities, cut some photos or pictures. I needed colorful papers and markers. So, you should make everything ready, before the course starts.  I remember one night when I was preparing for the lesson, I found out that I needed some colorful stickers which I did not have. I had to leave early morning to find those stickers before I could go to the CELTA center. It is extra stress and time.

10. You should read and learn about graded language use

A very common situation that happens in CELTA is that teachers usually find it hard to adapt their language to the lower level language learners’ need. Read more about how to use graded language in teaching lower level. The first feedback that I got in my first lesson from the trainer was just about language use. I used to teach intermediate level students and did not think about the language that I used while teaching elementary level students. So read more about it, learn how to simplify your language so that elementary level students could understand.

11. Do not ignore the lesson planning skills

Lesson planning is crucial during CELTA. There are many lesson plan types, and you may need to get to know about some of them. Read about lesson planning. You may need to read samples of good lesson plans and reflect on them. You can definitely google and find really good lesson plans. Analyze them and think what makes them outstanding. Also read about different lesson plans and the logics behind them.

Also read:

12. Do not forget reading about pair and group work in classroom

There is not so much information about organizing pair work or group work in the classroom during the course. So, you can spend some time reading about some technique of how to organize pair and group work in the classroom and what can be the pitfalls in this preparation. It is essential to make sure that you have pair and group work when you are teaching in CELTA, so prepare yourself better for that.

Books to read before/during a CELTA, CertTESOL

13. Do not get stressed and postpone it

You can definitely hear a lot of stories about the challenges of this course. You may postpone every time to take the course and receive the certificate. However, it is always worth trying and contributing to your professional growth. Remember, the things you avoid doing or procrastinate, always come in your way, to remind about themselves. As soon as you have the idea, own it.

So, no panic. No fear. No confusion.  Face it. You will do it. It will definitely push you one level up.

Also read:
What can I do after I complete my CELTA course?
CELTA Preparation Tips – How to survive the CELTA course.
Soft skills you should know during a CELTA course.

This article was originally published in Mar-2019 and was last updated in Jul-2020.

Author: Lusine Stepanyan

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