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During the CELTA course, you will be working in a small group with a maximum of 5 other trainee teachers. There is a strict limit on the size of the teaching practice groups, as we feel it would be impossible to get the same quality teacher training in larger groups. Each group has their own tutor assigned to them, which means there is a ratio of one tutor to every six trainee teachers (1:6), a standard set explicitly by the University of Cambridge.
The tutor's job is to guide you in preparing your lessons, observe your teaching and provide feedback on areas of your classroom teaching that were successful as well as those that need improvement.
During the course, each trainee teaches a total of 6 hours of classroom lessons. The total teaching time consists of lessons of varying lengths, starting with 20-minute lessons and working up to 60 minutes by the end of the course. When trainees are not teaching, they observe their class of students being taught by one of their peer trainees. In total, each teacher is responsible for teaching nine separate lessons to at least two different levels of language learners.
The students you teach on the CELTA course are actual ESL students learning English and are in classes specially created for Teaching Practice. The classes are multilingual and contain a variety of nationalities, which means that on the course you’ll work with different students from all over the world. Classes vary in size but usually have 12-14 students in them who are all adult learners, and vary in age from 18 to 60. You’ll teach classes at two or three different levels, including a lower level and a higher level, so you’ll get experience in teaching a wide range of levels of language learners while on the course.
After lessons, your tutor will set up feedback workshops to discuss the classes: what worked, what didn’t and what could have been done differently. This is an opportunity for trainees to reflect on how they taught, listen to peers give their views, comment on others’ lessons and hear the tutor's comments. The aim is to give constructive feedback honestly and supportively so that trainees learn from their experiences and are able to put this into practice when they prepare future classes. The tutor also gives detailed written feedback on every lesson taught.
Each trainee is given a lot of help in preparing lessons and in becoming more independent as the course proceeds. The aim is for trainees to be independently planning and executing lessons by the end of the course.
The small groups, tutor support and authentic teaching practice (i.e. teaching of real language learners; not pretending to teach other trainee teachers) are what make the University of Cambridge CELTA the benchmark in teacher training for English language teachers.
During the CELTA course, you’ll attend seminars and workshops where you’ll learn all the essential techniques of teaching. These sessions are practical rather than theoretical and look at ideas that you can immediately use in the classes that you’ll be teaching.
The following areas are among those that will be covered:
• How to teach grammar effectively
• How to motivate your students
• How to present and practice new vocabulary
• How to order the stages of a lesson
• How to influence the dynamics of a classroom
• How to use teaching books and materials effectively
• How to bring authentic materials – articles, songs, stories – into the classroom
There are also workshops and seminars on a range of topics to help you find well-paid teaching jobs at the best schools. These sessions include:
• Where to find teaching jobs
• How to write an effective resume and cover letter
• What kinds of questions you’ll be asked at an interview
• What to expect from a teaching contract (including housing, flights and medical care)
• Where the best paid jobs really are
Classroom observation of experienced ESL teachers
During the CELTA course you’ll also get to observe experienced teachers in the classroom. This helps to put the skills and knowledge you’ll learn during the course into perspective and to get a feel for the different types of classes you might teach beyond the course. You’ll observe a lesson taught by your teacher trainer on the course and you'll also see a classroom outside of Teaching House when you go to observe an experienced English teacher at a busy, local language school where many of our graduates now work!
In addition to CELTA teacher training, trainees complete four short written assignments. The assignments are about 1,000 words each and are spread out over the course. They are very practical in nature, focusing on a trainee's strengths and weaknesses; the students they teach; language systems (grammar and vocabulary) and language skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking).