You have decided to take CELTA, haven’t you? My congratulations. This is a most exciting experience you will remember for a very long time. Believe me. You will tell about it to many colleagues and young teachers.
As you know it is a really intensive training course. You should be ready to put your hectic life on pause for about a month to be able to complete the course. I also took CELTA because I was informed that this is one of the most reputable and well-known TEFL courses in the world.
I needed to get this certificate, but I did not know how intensive the month would be. Should I have known about it, I would have prepared for that earlier. It could have been less stressful.
Tip 1: It is the only priority
When I was decided to do my CELTA, I thought I could still do some tasks along with the course. I was sure that I would still have some time in the evenings to manage to complete some assignments not related with CELTA but my job. No way!
After a week, I had to ask for a break to my principal. Otherwise, 24 hours would not be enough for me. The hard time started when I had to teach. I had to write a lesson plan, self-assessment, prepare materials for the lesson, think about anticipated problems that could arise at the lesson. All these took considerable time; just imagine after 8 or 9 hours after the training, I had to come home and prepare for the coming day. So, make sure you do not have any other commitments at that particular period; otherwise you can really burn out.
Try to make CELTA course your priority and ask your family members and friends to support you while you are doing the course.
Put a “big pause” to your social life (for good)!
Any household chore that can take your time can be delegated to someone in the family. You will value every single moment. Try to prepare your family member as well; they may need to know that they cannot count on you when you are doing the course.
Tip 2: Do some background reading
You should be ready to do some background reading. Why should you before the course? You will not have a lot of time when the course starts. Moreover, some things that you will read before the course starts, it will be easier for you to understand. You can also read about teaching the language.
Read about those parts of the course that you are mostly worried about. If you are not sure how you will be teaching new vocabulary, read about interesting tools of presenting new words to different students.
Get to know about the general course of CELTA and try to assess your skills and background knowledge of the particular aspects of the course. If you need to know more about teaching grammar, read about the rules and the ways how to better teach grammar and the exceptions.
Get familiar with the students’ levels. Read more about the differences in the levels and the features and the characteristics of these learners. You should know these; so that it is easier for you to teach.
I definitely recommend reading about the assignments that CELTA course takers have during the course. Read about the templates of lesson plans and assignments; you will be more prepared for that.
Essential Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy
Essential Phonetics by Tony Penston
Grammar for English Language Teachers by Martin Parrott
How to Teach English by Jeremy Harmer
Practical English Usage by Michael Swan
Teaching English Grammar by Jim Scrivener
Tip 3: Lesson planning
When I did my CELTA, I had the teaching experience of about 7 years; still, lesson planning was not as easy as I thought it could be. The template was different; the requirements were not familiar.
You will most likely get an electronic template of a lesson plan, which you will need to print out for every lesson. You can choose to fill in your lesson plan template manually after you have printed it out, or you can type in the template and print out the ready lesson plan for the coming session. However, these are the choices you will face during the course.
What you will need to get ready is how to plan a lesson. You may need to think about warm-up activities to start your lessons with. I would recommend that you also clearly understand the difference between presentation and practice part of the lesson.
You may be given a coursebook with a marked lesson to teach, however still you may need to understand how you will present new material and how you will make sure your students practice this to gain confidence in using new knowledge.
You should read some teachers’ books of the coursebooks to see how the material is developed and taught. This can be very useful for you in preparing for CELTA. Remember even if you are given a coursebook, you will be required to develop supplementary material for the lesson.
You will need to create handouts and other worksheets for the lesson. You will be expected to spice up your lesson with an interesting pair and group work activities. So, get to know interesting activities you can plan to have during the lesson
Also read: How to create an effective lesson plan.
Tip 4: Learn to write lesson objectives
You should know that your lesson plan starts with learning objectives; this means you should clearly state what you want your learners to achieve by the end of the lesson.
Learn to differentiate between generic or unclear and specific or clear lesson aims. Read about how to write effective and specific lesson aims and make sure that your lesson plan is based on this.
You may need to read about Bloom’s taxonomy. It explained how we should outline the classification of learning objectives based on cognitive processes if a learner. Personally, I found it very useful. Unfortunately, I had to read it during the course. Had I been smarter, I would have read it earlier.
Tip 5: Unlearn what you are used to
You may have your own way of teaching, which undoubtedly can be effective and successful. However, remember CELTA has its own requirement. And you will have to strictly follow them. Two not very successful lessons taught me this in CELTA. Remember, you get involved in CELTA for learning new ways and new approaches.
So, forget what worked in the past. Get ready for the new. You are not a teacher now; you are a trainee. Be open and creative.
Go ahead. Face it and be proud of yourself when you are done with it. Open new perspectives and target the new. Be ready, be prepared and take a step.