The ACTUAL Lowdown on the CELTA Course (Part I)

(Since I'm sick of starting every single post of mine with a silly little apology note*, I think I'm just going to go straight into it... after this little PSA, of course...)

So what is the Cambridge CELTA, I hear you ask? Well, it stands for:
Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults. (Pretty straightforward, right?) 

A little more specifically, it's a little course I took last year to help launch myself into a TEFL career (or TESOL, if you're from the USA). Arggghhh more acronyms! What do they all mean?! Well, TEFL = Teaching English as a Foreign Language).* Don't worry, you'll get the hang of it- promise =3 

The course is usually taken over 3 months, as a part time thing... since I'm clinically insane overly enthusiastic about TEFL though, I decided to do the full-time course... over 5 weeks... intensively... as in, 9am-5pm... for 5 weeks

To find out what I gained from this ridiculous venture (apart from beautiful eyebags to my knees & a month-long caffeine dependancy), read on below (warning: this will be a LONG post- with a second part to come, only if people are interested in reading it)...

The facts about my CELTA course (note that they vary around the world: 
  • 5 weeks (June to mid July- most places do it for 4 weeks, but the 3 day weekend appealed to me)
  • 9am-5pm (Monday - Thursday, but the 3 day weekend 
  • Intensive (no really, as in don't-expect-to-have-any-kind-of-life-outside-of-this-course intense)
The reason why I put myself through this 5-week torture rather steep learning curve was because I was (& currently still am) at university during the academic year, & so can't afford to also take on the part-time course on top of that (if you do have 2 days a week to spare for 3 months though, then I highly recommend doing a part-time CELTA instead of the full-time one unless you want to lose your sanity like I did) -no really, it's very common for people to drop out of the CELTA, because they don't realise how unbelievably intense & time consuming it is!

CELTA courses vary all over the world, but mine cost £1399 (although some places will concession that for you if you have a JSA*, other financial circumstances etc). Don't be put off if a place has higher/ lower prices- that doesn't reflect on the quality (since they're all Cambridge accredited)!

The Interview (before the CELTA)

You start by choosing the centre or college you want to take your course at (you can do this by checking listings locally, simply typing it into Google, or just going to the CELTA section on the Cambridge English website) =P I chose my college because of convenience (2 miles from my home), the good reputation the CELTA tutors had (tough but fair), & the 5 week program (instead of the typical 4 week program, giving me more time to work hard at it).

Most places will e-mail you the application form once you've phoned or emailed, to express an interest in taking the course (make sure you proofread your email correspondance though- no use going into TEFL if you can't spell in English yourself!)

Once you're invited to an interview, they will then ask you to complete a short grammar test in person (during the interview). Luckily my grammar test was all part of the application form (so I could double check my answers), but I did have to discuss it in the actual group interview (so be prepared to be questioned on your understanding of the terms!) 

The Assessments (during the CELTA)

Since you'll be doing a CELTA in order to go into a TEFL career, you are expected to have a good grasp of the English language (hence why they ask you grammar & language questions in your interview). So that means you will not only be graded on your spoken English (when delivering lessons), but your written English too! Here's how that is tested:
  • 4 assignments (one due every week- eeek! I'll talk about the topics of these essays in the next post)
  • 6 hours of graded lessons (4 of my mine lasted 40 mins, & the other 2 were 60- this varies by centre)
For each part, you'll get a grade of either [above standard / to standard / below standard]. I think you can only get a maximum of 2 'below standard' grades, otherwise you might fail (so make sure you plan, plan, plan!)

The Prospects (after the CELTA)

There are only 2 TEFL courses I know of that are definitely & reputably accepted internationally- the CELTA & the Trinity CertTESOL (cookie to whoever guesses what the 'Cert' stands for =P). Sure there are many online TEFL courses out there, & you can be employed by quite a few places/ countries after taking one, but an increasing amount of places (like universities and international schools) are asking for their EFL teachers to have a CELTA/ CertTESOL to their name. 

This means that in some particularly strict countries (like Japan), such a certificate is a necessity for budding EFL teachers (you can certainly get in without one (& without a degree even) in countries like China & Vietnam, but this does of course limit your choices by quite a bit). 

So yes, there's a quick whistlestop summary tour of the CELTA experience! I'd love to talk more about it, & go into detail about the prospects/ why I specifically chose the CELTA instead of an online course etc, but I'm wary of how unbelievably longwinded this post already is! =S So I'll leave it up to you guys next- do you want to see a second part to this CELTA post, or is this enough to last you all for a lifetime haha? Is anyone even reading this, lol? =P

That's all for now!
-Ignorant Awareness


(Disclaimer: If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact me- I can address your queries in a second part to this post! Please remember though that I'm not a qualified CELTA tutor or anything, so if you have any really specific questions then check out the CELTA section on the Cambridge English website HERE.

As for all the terms throughout this article that have black asterisks (*) next to them, here are the definitions for them:

*Apology for what, exactly- being myself & not sticking to imaginary deadlines on my own personal blog?! Click through to see more examples of my grovelling & feeling-the-need-to-apologise-about-EVERYTHING nature- don't blame me, blame the Britishness!  =P

*TEFL's explained above, but here are some more acronym jargon busters for your convenience:
--TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)
--EAL (English as an Additional Language)
--ESL (English as a Second Language)
--EFL (English as a Foreign Language)
--ELF (English as a Lingua Franca) 
--CertTESOL (no cookie for you, you cheat! =P)

...there are many more weird acronyms like these in the TEFL business, so I'll be testing your memory of them in the next post happy to explain them to you guys in the next post (if you want me to, of course- just drop me a line if you do)!

*JSA = Job Seeker's Allowance, aka being 'on the dole' in the UK)

I'd love to talk more about the CELTA, & go into detail about the prospects/ why I specifically chose the CELTA instead of an online course etc, but I'm wary of how unbelievably longwinded this post already is! =S So I'll leave it up to you guys next- do you want to see a second part to this CELTA post, or is this enough to last you all for a lifetime haha? Is anyone even reading this, lol? =P


  1. CELTA now stands for Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

    1. Ah, really? But wouldn't it be called a CTESOL then, haha? And if isn't focusing on adults, then why does the Young Learner's Extension qualification exist? Also, ESOL focuses on people immigrating to a country and learning English for citizenship/ tests etc- I certainly didn't get that impression during my CELTA training, but maybe it's changed now?

      They change the names of these courses a lot- the DELTA used to be called a PG DIP in TESOL, for example. But I assume it's still the same qualification? Nevertheless, thank you for your comment Internet Stranger :D


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