What is CELTA? Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults
A year ago I had the most intensive and exhilarating experience of my life. Well this far in my life at least… This is my account on the experience. The first time I heard about the course was when a friend of mine did it in Sevilla, Spain, some years before.
Applying In the summer of 2014 I was working on the pretasks for a four week intensive CELTA course. I never felt like I really struggled with English in school but I sure have gone through several phases with it. There was some brown frowning and deep breaths taken while working on the tasks but I got them done and send them onward. Hearing I passed the tasks and got an interview scheduled I was ecstatic but nervous. I was staying with a friend on the day of my Skype interview. After a few technical difficulties I was online with my to-be-tutor. The questions were asked and answered and by the end of the Skype call I was told that I got in! I remember it being a Tuesday and all I wanted to do was run into town and just tell everybody that I got in. It’s hard to explain the rush I got from it.
Course location There are many possibilities where to take the course. I was initially interested in applying for the course in England. Looking into the locations more I learned there was a new location in Spain, in Malaga, that was operated by the staff from Sevilla. That got my attention as I could then live with my parents while attending the course. They don’t live in Malaga city exactly but I will get into it more later on. Also attending the course in November and December I was eager to enjoy the Spanish winter over the Finnish one. Taking the course anywhere else would have brought me the extra hassle of finding accommodation. I have to say though that in Malaga there was a possibility to get a room at the school where the course was held. Some of my course friends had opted for that, and later when you hear about my commute you might see why I sometimes envied their rather easy few steps to class.
Moving So for the course I temporarily moved to Spain and lived with my parents. It wasn’t the most convenient arrangement as the commute was a bit long but it was absolutely the best decision and later on you will see why. I didn’t have much time to get settled since I finished working one Friday in Finland and the next Monday the course begun. My parents live in a beautiful spot in the countryside out towards the mountains from Malaga. During the week I sadly saw no scenery but I enjoyed it on the weekends. At home in Finland I packed my clothes and books for the course that I had just managed to get in time. Talking earlier about the Spanish winter weather, the biggest enjoyment for me is that the sun is out (almost) daily. I was very happy for my winter jacket I took with me as it does get cold there contrary to some belief. Luckily I had a few trips there in the winter time under my belt.
Necessities The material I got with all the information and reading on the internet beforehand I started tracking down the necessary books well in advance. If memory serves me right I had the last book in hand on the Friday before the course started. First day on the course I realized not everyone had got the books yet and that I also might have had time in Spain to look for them. But I was happy I had them as I soon learned I didn’t have much time parading from book store to the next. If I would be asked what else you need for the course I would say your absolute concentration and all the free time you have. I have always been good at multitasking, I guess it’s something I learned at work, but during the course I learned a totally new level of multitasking and also keeping every single aspect of work tightly under control. Oh, and a good pen with a notebook was handy as there are great tips flowing your way. I find writing things down an effective way to memorize things, as well as having good notes for later.
Commute This part of the course still makes me smile when I think about it. The course didn’t start at dawn but my day started way before that. As the course progressed I used to spend mornings working on the tasks or finishing my lesson plans. This is why I loved having my parents around to help me. I might have forgotten to eat most days if it wasn’t for my mom and would have missed my trains if it wasn’t for my dad. Before sunrise I was driven to the train station. The train took about 35 to 40 minutes to reach Malaga center. That time I had my laptop out and I was working on the course tasks. I had to pack my bag on the train well before the train stopped as then I usually ran to the bus stop. Often seeing my bus just leave. It was about 20 minutes on the bus and then I walked uphill to the school where the course was held. Great workout. I was at the school well before class begun but it was again good time to work, catch up with class mates or enjoy wifi. After class I ran down the hill again to catch the bus to the center as the trains only went once in an hour, and in the evening (the time I got off) there was a two hour gap. So running guaranteed an earlier arrival home, but never did I get home before total darkness. When I got home I started working on the lesson plans and other tasks. I only stopped to take a shower and most days worked until quite late. Regardless I did manage to get an ok night’s sleep.
Course work I hope I didn’t lose you in the previous paragraph! My days were really full and when applying they do tell you not to have other obligations during the course, like work. I had eight class mates, four from the UK and four Spanish. And then me, a Finn. We were broken into two groups. Theory class was in the mornings which we did together (all nine of us) and then in the afternoons we had lessons (lessons we were teaching) and we had our own schedule who taught when. So from the second day we started teaching English to adults. It was quite horrifying at first but once we started and learned more about teaching it got more comfortable. I always wanted to use all possible time in the lesson planning as it was something you could do to be more confident when stepping in front of the class. We had the best students, of course, which helped.
The theory part was a great support always for the lesson planning and I for one really enjoyed the way of teaching (meaning the way our tutors taught us about teaching). It was extremely intense but I loved every minute I spent on my laptop. I have never worked on school stuff as hard as I worked on this course. I never had to fight to get things done. If I had things to work on in the mornings I would jump out of bed happily and sit in front of my laptop. The days were nicely balanced with the theory in the morning and the teaching in the afternoons. We did still have feedback after our lessons with our tutor and also time to ask questions regarding the next lesson. This was such a valuable moment in the sense of being on the right track for the next lesson. The tutors were amazing and the amount of information they exposed to us was great. Actually getting all that information written down or memorized was up to each on their own. Like I said a good pen and a notebook were irreplaceable.
After thoughts During the four weeks I didn’t really stop to think how much work there was still to do but just listed all the tasks and lessons and started working through them one by one. The weekends I tried to work as much as possible but also I wanted to have a moment to go for walks or just have a little drive somewhere or eat out. I got sick at some point, but I didn’t want to stay home sick so I pressed on. It was, in my opinion, absolutely worth all the work. After the course it was Christmas. Having my family gathered and hearing my parents tell my sister about my journey with the course, I was a little shocked. I know I had totally impressed myself but hearing my parents tell someone how I had just quietly kept working through the four weeks was somehow another reward in addition to the certificate. Oh yes, did I forget to tell, I did pass and have a qualification to teach English to adults. I do recommend the course. It is one of the best experiences study-wise.
To learn more here is a link I found helpful. Hopefully it’ll be informative for those of you interested in learning more about the CELTA course or other similar courses.
Written in December, 2015