CELTA: Week 1

I have successfully made it through my first week of the CELTA course. When I was originally looking into the different teaching certification courses available, it seemed that there was a different acronym for every type of ESL teaching imaginable. TEFL, TESOL, CELTA, TOEFL, WAFFLE…you get the idea.

But from what I had read, CELTA seemed to be the most thorough and reputable of the courses, so I decided to go with it. I looked at some places that offered it in the States, but they were more expensive, and I would have had to somehow afford housing without being able to work for a month, and given that I am not independently wealthy, that didn’t seem like a feasible option.

So I decided on Thailand, found two schools that offered the course in Chiang Mai, ECC and International House, and went for the cheaper of the two. ECC it was. Booked my ticket and that was that.  It wasn’t until much later that it occurred to me I had no idea what I was getting into…

So. The Celta. Week One.

Daily Schedule:

Class from 11:30-1:00. Lunch from 1:00-2:00. Class again at 2:00 until whenever we finish, usually anytime between 4:00 and 5:30, then some time to prepare, and we teach from 6:00-8:00.

The first day our instructor taught the students and we just observed, since throwing us into teaching our first day would be insane. But know what also seems insane? Throwing us into teaching our second day. Which they did.

I was absolutely terrified, having never been responsible for teaching an entire class, but with no other option, I dove into it, hoping for the best. And it actually turned out fine. I made a lot of mistakes, but that was to be expected, and although I was a pile of nerves on the inside, I apparently came across as quite professional on the outside…who knew.

Our teaching class is unusually small. There are only 6 of us in the course, and for half the day we are split into two groups. We teach two days a week, and spend the other two days doing activities and games with the students. We still are interacting with them and teaching them to an extent, but we don’t have to create a lesson plan or anything, which is a relief. Friday the students don’t come at all so we finish early, which is a glorious miracle.

The course is incredibly difficult, not just because it involves 8 hours at the center each day, but because after teaching ends around 8:30, we then have to start preparing for the next day, which ends up continuing the next morning before class. I’d say I’ve spent a minimum of around 12 hours a day on CELTA stuff this week. It’s definitely a big commitment, but it’s good. I’m learning a ton, and the instructors are really thorough. You can tell just in the first week why CELTA is so reputable. You’re not just getting a certificate…you’re learning how to teach well.

Despite the inevitable stress and anxiety that comes with the abrupt change from vacation to intense schooling, it’s been a good week. And I’ve still had time to go out with friends, meet new people, and have a chance to relax. It’s going to be a busy month, but I think it will be good.

I’ll continue posting throughout the course to let you know if I still think highly of it by week 3 or if I’ve started burning my textbooks. We’ll see…stay tuned.

3 thoughts on “CELTA: Week 1

  1. Hey, Caitlyn, if you have time in your extremely busy day, I’d like to know what kind of techniques you’re learning and what kind of games and activities you use on the non-teaching days. I’ve mentored refugees, taught ESL one-on-one, and am currently volunteering in ESL class. I’d appreciate any tips you might have to pass along


    1. Hey Lisa! I’m sure I will have a lot more to offer by way of advice by the end of the month. Right now we are focusing on meaning, pronunciation, and form (in that order) when introducing new topics. We split between teacher led tasks (like explaining things on the board) and guided discovery tasks, where students work on their own or in groups. On days off from teaching we use a lot of different group games. Some good resources for activities are “grammar practice activities” by penny ur, reward elementary, or reward intermediate (not sure of the authors of those), and for pronunciation specifically, “tree or three” by Ann baker. Feel free to email me at caitlinjill@gmail.com with any specific questions and I’ll help out the best I can!


  2. I know the course is stressful–but stress makes diamonds out of ESL teachers. I took the course about 19 years ago (and the DELTA about 2 years ago) and I have never regretted it. It is definitely worth doing, despite the stress and lengthy assignments. Good luck.


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