Friday, 16 June 2017

Why You Should Take the CELTA

What is the Celta and why do we ask for it?


Today we are talking to Lewis Richards, who is our Exams Director of Studies.  He has worked here at LSI Portsmouth since 2000 and is now also a CELTA teacher trainer.  

So Lewis, firstly for anyone who doesn’t know, what is the CELTA?
So, CELTA stands for Certificate of English Language Teaching for Adults, and it’s an entry-level qualification for people who want to teach English as a foreign language.  It’s a course accredited by the University of Cambridge, and you can take a CELTA in one of hundreds of officially recognised CELTA training centres all over the world.

Who would usually do this course?
You don’t need any teaching experience to do a CELTA, so many people who do it are coming to teaching for the first time, and want to learn how to teach English.  Some people do the course with some teaching experience already, either in another field (for example, they have been state school teachers and are looking for a change), or they have done some English teaching abroad, for example, but without a recognised qualification.  The course is designed for people who have never taught before, so it assumes no prior knowledge.  Once they have passed the CELTA, trainees then can apply for teaching jobs in reputable EFL schools in the UK or worldwide.

What does the training include?
It’s a very practical, hands-on course, and in fact on most courses you will be in the classroom teaching a short lesson (either 20 minutes or 40 minutes) on the first day of the course.  The course is divided into several parts – there is input from the tutors on different aspects of teaching (how to teach grammar, for example, how to correct students, or how to manage a classroom), there is teaching practice, where trainees teach lessons to real students (who are offered a free or very cheap course), and there are four assignments to write during the course, which require the trainees to research and reflect on different aspects of teaching.
After teaching practice, the trainees evaluate their own lessons, and also give feedback to their peers, so it’s a very supportive and developmental atmosphere.

Why do you think it is important for teachers to do a CELTA?
I think it’s essential to have knowledge of and experience of the basics of teaching English as a foreign language, in order to be able to give good lessons to students.  Without the training, input and feedback, it isn’t really possible to teach properly.  The fact also that you are trained and mentored by highly qualified and experienced tutors helps a lot.

What should potential teachers be aware of?
Well, unfortunately there are many ‘EFL’ or ‘TEFL’ qualifications out there online, and only the CELTA and the Trinity TESOL are recognised by the British Council and by good schools around the world.  Be very careful not to pay for a course which looks like a CELTA or a Trinity but actually isn’t.  The best way to check is to look at Cambridge’s list of recognised CELTA centres.  I’ve had the experience of having to turn people down for a job because the qualification they had wasn’t the right one.  It’s worth investing in the proper qualification.

What made you want to become a CELTA trainer?
Well, I was lucky enough to be trained by a brilliant tutor, Paul Seligson (he’s the co-author of some of the well-known ‘English File’ series), and I wanted to try to pass on my experience and knowledge of teaching from the last 20 years to new teachers, just as he did to me.  I’ve taught quite a few courses now, and I find it very interesting and very rewarding.

Thank you so much Lewis, that has answered so many questions.

Fact file:
Cost: £1300 approx.
Length: 4 weeks full-time; part-time courses vary in length.
What else is necessary (first degree and skills):  Education to A’Level or equivalent.  If you are not a native speaker, a C1 level of English is the minimum required.
British Council Accreditation requirements and link
As LSI Portsmouth is a British Council Accredited institution we follow the requirements as laid out in the British Council handbook of minimum requirements for Academic Staff (section 4.2) (https://www.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/accreditation_uk_handbook_2016-17.pdf) as well as a minimum of two years teaching experience.

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