As you can read from my profile, some time ago I got my first ELT-related teaching qualification: Cambridge CELTA. I took the full-time course here in Thiene (Italy) with 10 other candidates. I enrolled in the course after a year of thinking, pondering if that was the right choice and – most importantly – saving, not because it is required where I work or because I wish to improve my position or salary (since I’m self-employed, none of this applies) but merely as a professional development opportunity.

With this post, I would like to quickly summarise some thoughts that came to mind looking back to those busy CELTA days (yes, CELTA is as energy-consuming and time-demanding as they say) in order to clarify them in my mind, and to share them with other people considering to take the course.

How helpful was CELTA for you?

The people who took the course with me ranged from ex-secretaries and bank clerks wishing to try out what teaching means, to more experienced teachers who were requested to get the qualification for their current job position or to work abroad. Speaking with them after the course, they all agreed with me on one thing: whether you have never taught one lesson before or you already have some experience, if taken seriously and with commitment CELTA is indeed very helpful.

To totally inexperienced teachers, the course gives a taste of the issues and situations you will be confronted with once you start teaching, but it also helps approaching these with the right tools and set of mind. To more experienced teachers (most of the people in my course had at least 6 months of teaching experience), CELTA gives the opportunity to reflect on you as a teacher, pushing you to find the reasoning behind every activity, every stage, every material you use in the classroom. In short, the course aims at creating a framework to use in your daily lesson planning and delivering.

I fall into the second category, and I have so say I am really grateful I did this certification, as it really succeeded in its purpose. It really changed me as a teacher.

What is the best thing about CELTA?

The best parts for me were :

  • the possibility of discussing issues, ideas and solutions with my peers and with more experienced teachers during the course. This really helped me approach certain things from a different perspective and gave me a lot of comfort in finding out that some of the most frustrating issues I face in the classroom are the same that my colleagues struggle with;
  • the fact that CELTA really pushed me to reflect on how I teach, why I choose to do this instead of that, and most of all to reflect on my lessons after I’ve delivered them, to find what worked and what didn’t in order to improve my teaching as I go along.
What is the worst thing about CELTA?

Definitely the pressure of being constantly monitored, assessed, evaluated. I found the continuous observed teaching practice (you typically teach every other day in a full-time CELTA) very frustrating, so much so that at the end of the course I could not be bothered any more and would just go ahead and do what I would normally in my lessons.

Do you actually put into practice what you have learned?

Definitely yes. Well, it’s not like I spend 3-4 hours planning a 40-minute lesson as I did during CELTA, and I definitely don’t do a language analysis for each and every point I teach in class, but the overall idea of planning, thinking about what I do, thinking about the students that I have in front of me and planning accordingly… all of this finds plenty of space in my teaching now, and I really believe it dramatically changed my teaching for the better. Plus I now attach a lot of importance to self-development as a teacher: after all, I owe to CELTA the fact of having started this blog. 🙂