- What type of people take the course?
- What is the typical nationality mix of your trainees?
- Doesn’t it „dilute“ the course if you have non-native speakers on the course?
- I’m not a university graduate – is this a problem?
- What happens at interview?
- Who runs the course?
- How much work does the course involve?
- Is the course really that intensive? Will I have any time for sightseeing whilst I’m in Prague?
- What do the seminars involve?
- Will the seminars ‚teach English grammar‘ to the trainees?
- How is teaching practice (TP) organised?
- Where do you find your guinea pig students for the practice lessons?
- What is TP feedback?
- Is there one particular teaching method that the course advocates?
- Can you describe a typical day?
- What are the possible final grades?
- What is the final grade based on, and who decides it?
- Assuming I pass, what will I actually receive?
- Where is the qualification recognised?
- What sort of help do you provide for trainees looking for work?
- Does AKCENT International House Prague operate a job placement service for successful candidates?
- Is there a chance they could work in your school once they complete the course?
- Do you provide accommodation?
- Any questions unasnwered?
What type of people take the course?
The course is designed for native speakers of English, and these typically form the bulk of the course participants – although there may be non-native speakers on the course if their competence in spoken and written English is of a sufficiently high standard. Some of the trainees may be based in the Czech Republic, and some may have come out especially to do the course here. Although the CELTA is an initial training course, i.e. for those who have no previous experience of teaching English, there will be trainees on the course who have taught English before and who wish to gain a TEFL qualification. However, seminar input and guidance for teaching practice will assume no prior teaching experience.
What is the typical nationality mix of your trainees?
It depends on the time of year but generally a course tends to have a mix of at least three or four nationalities, with the majority being either British or American. In the last year we have also trained people from Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Sweden and New Zealand.
Doesn’t it „dilute“ the course if you have non-native speakers on the course?
Quite the opposite, I feel it adds to the dynamics of a course and creates a working atmosphere not too dissimilar from a real EFL (TEFL) staffroom environment. Different nationalities bring different perspectives and styles of English and it helps provide a trainee with a fuller picture of the complexity of teaching English.
I’m not a university graduate – is this a problem?
No. It is, however, recommended that applicants should have formal qualifications which would allow entry into higher education in their own country, but you don’t have to be a graduate. Though bear in mind that in some countries a degree is necessary in order to get the relevant work and living visas.
What happens at interview?
Who runs the course?
There will usually be two main tutors on the course, one of whom will be the Main Course Tutor. All the tutors are approved by Cambridge to run CELTA courses, and have considerable teaching and training experience.
How much work does the course involve?
A lot! The full-time course is extremely intensive. No matter how strongly we stress this, many trainees are still surprised by the amount of time it takes up. It is very strongly advised that candidates have no other commitments during the period of the course.
Is the course really that intensive? Will I have any time for sightseeing whilst I’m in Prague?
Yes it really is that intensive. We always tell applicants before they accept their place on the course that it is probably going to be the most intensive thing they have ever done. It’s Monday to Friday all day plus all the assignments, homework, planning lessons and so on but everyone needs a break so some sightseeing is possible at the weekends. However if your main reason for coming to do the CELTA in Prague is to see the sights then think again.
What do the seminars involve?
Seminars topics include: the language itself (structure, vocabulary, pronunciation, functions); classroom methodology (classroom management, ways of presenting meaning, ways of providing oral practice, developing skills…..); the language learner; selection and exploitation of materials; errors and their significance; timetabling; testing. This is simply an overview of topics; a detailed course timetable will be given to candidates on the first day of the course.
All seminars will be led by a tutor. Most require a high level of trainee participation, often in small groups or pairs. While occasional seminars, or parts of seminars, may consist of a ‚lecture‘ by the tutor, these are the exception rather than the rule.
Will the seminars ‚teach English grammar‘ to the trainees?
A daunting task in such a short period – and an impossible one, especially as grammar is just one of many topics on the syllabus ! At the start of the course one of trainees‘ main concerns is often their perceived lack of awareness of English grammar. What the course aims to do is to provide an overview of some of the main ‚problem areas‘ and, perhaps more importantly, to equip trainees to be able to work out or find solutions to grammatical problems themselves. There is no ‚end of the road‘ when building up one’s language awareness, as the tutors themselves can testify ! Our task is to help trainees towards the stage when grammatical questions become interesting rather than frightening.
How is teaching practice (TP) organised?
- TP is a two-hour block and takes place every day. Trainees are divided into TP groups of equal size, and each TP group, with one tutor, is responsible for a class of students. Trainees teach initially for short periods (e.g. all the trainees in a group teaching for 15 minutes each), and then teach for longer periods as the course progresses (e.g. later TP blocks could consist of three trainees teaching 40 minutes each, with the other trainees in the group not teaching that day). All assessed TP is observed by one of the tutors.
- There is a considerable amount of lesson-planning guidance from the tutors in the early stages of the course. As the course progresses, formal lesson-planning guidance decreases, as trainees are expected to take on increased planning responsibilities; however, tutors are available for consultation over lesson planning at any time (within reason !).
- The students are fully aware that the lessons are taught by unqualified teachers, and will have paid a nominal sum to attend. Most, perhaps all, of the students will be Czech, and the minimum age is 16 (no maximum age). Class sizes vary, with an average of 10-12 students. Class sizes should not normally exceed 14.
Where do you find your guinea pig students for the practice lessons?
The guinea pig courses are incredibly popular and in fact there is usually a waiting list. They tend to be Czech people who like the variety that a CELTA class brings compared to the usual classes in the school. We always take care to make sure each student is at the right level and the students even pay a small fee to secure their place so we can guarantee that a trainee will have a ready, willing class awaiting them on the first day of a course.
What is TP feedback?
TP feedback follows TP, either immediately or on the following day. In feedback the TP group and the tutor discuss the lessons which took place during TP. While the tutor is inevitably seen as having ‚a leading role‘ in feedback sessions, contributions are invited, encouraged and welcomed from all trainees; these could be in the form of comments or questions (when a trainee is not teaching, s/he is observing fellow trainees teach). When discussing a particular lesson, the teacher of that lesson is expected to comment on the lesson: developing an ability to evaluate one’s own teaching is a very important component of the course. Feedback sessions, particularly in the earlier stages of the course, will also involve preparation for future TP sessions. At the end of each feedback session, written feedback from the tutor is given to each candidate who taught.
While trainees often find feedback sessions demanding – it can be quite challenging to comment, in a group, on one’s own and on others‘ lessons – many trainees say they find these sessions to be the most rewarding aspect of the course.
Is there one particular teaching method that the course advocates?
There is no one rigid ‚method‘ which is advocated on the course. Indeed, a variety of approaches are examined, although in four weeks it is difficult to go into every possible approach in great detail. If there is a principle which the tutors all share, it is that involving students in the learning process is usually more effective than the teacher simply telling the students things.
Can you describe a typical day?
The exact timings of the schedule vary from course to course though generally speaking a day looks like this:
- 09.15–11.45 Teaching practice
- 12.00–12.45 TP feedback
- 13.45–14.30 TP preparation
- 14.45–16.15 Seminar 1
- 16.30–18.00 Seminar 2
Start and end times, both of the day and of individual sessions, may vary from course to course. However, the total hours spent in seminars and TP remains the same.
There are no classes on Saturdays and Sundays. The course is 120 hours in length spread over the 4 weeks. Cambridge ESOL also state that candidates will need to dedicate a minimum of 80 hours for the required reading, research, pre- and post- session tasks, assignments and lesson preparation.
What are the possible final grades?
Pass, Pass B, Pass A and Fail. The CELTA is not a course where accepted candidates automatically pass. The failure rate, however, is not high – and candidates in danger of failing are given frequent warnings and appropriate advice. Personal tutorials take place at the half-way stage and three quarters of the way through the course; one of the main aims of these tutorials is for trainees to get a clear idea of their overall progress and their potential final grade.
Most candidates receive a Pass, and a small percentage of successful candidates receive Pass B. About one candidate in every sixty receives Pass A. There is no ‚quota‘ of particular grades for each course; in theory it’s possible for all trainees on a course to fail or to receive pass A (though both situations are extremely unlikely and would certainly raise a few eyebrows in Cambridge!).
What is the final grade based on, and who decides it?
The three components of assessment are:
- Teaching practice
- Written assignments
- Professional awareness.
Performance in TP is naturally a key component in deciding a candidate’s final grade. As regards the other two assessment components…
Written assignment topics include the following areas: language analysis; reflection on classroom teaching; individual learners; materials for English language teaching. These assignment are all very practical, and do not require long theoretical dissertations. The requirements for each assignment are discussed at the time the assignment is set.
Professional awareness includes ability to assess one’s strengths and weaknesses, ability and willingness to work and liaise with colleagues, and other factors which may determine the candidate’s potential as a future colleague and employee.
To receive a Pass, a candidate has to fulfil the requirements in all three aforementioned components.
To receive a Pass B (in addition to fulfilling the requirements for a Pass) a candidate has to significantly exceed Pass requirements in classroom teaching skills.
To receive a Pass A (in addition to fulfilling the requirements for a Pass) a candidate has to significantly exceed Pass requirements in classroom teaching skills, lesson planning and awareness of teaching and learning processes.
If a candidate’s written English is very poor this could be grounds for failing the candidate – although this is something we aim to assess at the application stage.
There is no CELTA examination; assessment is continuous. Final grades are decided by the course tutors at the end of the course. In addition, every CELTA course is visited for one or two days by a Cambridge-appointed assessor, who will observe TP and feedback and check candidates‘ assessment files. One of the assessor’s roles is to ensure that the course is running according to Cambridge regulations; in this sense, s/he is assessing the centre and the tutors, rather than the candidates. Part of such an assessment, however, involves the assessor examining candidates‘ files (which are maintained by the candidate during the course and contain all lesson plans, tutors‘ comments on TP and written assignments, and other relevant material), and determining whether the tutors‘ views on what constitutes, for example, a possible Pass B candidate correspond with Cambridge’s own.
Assuming I pass, what will I actually receive?
On the first working day after the end of the course you will receive a letter informing you of your result. This letter is issued by AKCENT International House Prague, and will state that the result is ‚provisional‘; a result can only be considered ‚official‘ once it is endorsed by Cambridge.
Later you will receive two things. One is the certificate itself, from Cambridge. The other is a detailed report on your performance from AKCENT International House Prague. The certificates are sent to us by Cambridge, usually 6-8 weeks after the end of the course; we then forward them to candidates by registered mail.
Where is the qualification recognised?
The Cambridge CELTA is probably the most widely recognised initial ELT qualification. It was originally designed by, and intended for, the private language school sector, and private language schools remain the main source of employment for course graduates. The Cambridge CELTA is still less well known in North America than it is for example in Europe and Asia, although it is gaining wider recognition in North America.
The Cambridge CELTA’s acceptance within the state system will vary from country to country; some countries insist that those working in the state sector have the state teaching qualification, although CELTA graduates have been successful in gaining employment in the state sector.
We would never be able to guarantee that every ELT institution world wide will accept the Cambridge CELTA (or indeed any other qualification). We can state, however, that it is a highly regarded qualification within the ELT industry. Furthermore Cambridge ESOL Teaching Awards have been accredited by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority QCA at level 4 on the National Qualification Framework within the United Kingdom..
CELTA is also the first module of a wider qualification, which will meet the requirements for teachers of ESOL in further and adult education and which has recognition from FENTO (The Further Education National Training Organisation). For more details please see the Cambridge website www.cambridgeesol.org
The new CELTA syllabus has also meant a wider recognition for CELTA holders in terms of migrant teaching, which is a growing sector in many English-speaking countries.
Cambridge ESOL also works with international ELT organisations to ensure the acceptance of CELTA globally and ensure the chances of finding suitable employment will be considerably enhanced with the CELTA.
What sort of help do you provide for trainees looking for work?
The tutors in general have taught in a number of countries and can point graduates in the right direction of schools etc. The course has a session on how to find work, writing CVs and so on along with individual careers advice to each graduate.
Does AKCENT International House Prague operate a job placement service for successful candidates?
No – we believe that automatic job placement services can never be as reliable as we would like. We do, however, offer considerable help and advice in this area, and trainees are also welcome to consult us for advice after the course has finished. The fact that AKCENT International House Prague is a member of the network of International House schools enables us to offer expert advice and help in this area.
Is there a chance they could work in your school once they complete the course?
If we have a vacancy we actively try and employ graduates of the course though we make no guarantees.
Do you provide accommodation?
See section: Accommodation and Welfare.
Any questions unanswered?
Then contact us at e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org