I was recently accepted to start a CELTA, and will document my journey here. The application process itself ran pretty smoothly. I already have some prior knowledge from when I did half a teaching degree in Australia, and I have also taught EFL in Korea for two years, so in the interview I was able to answer all the questions the interviewer had without much difficulty.

From how surprised she was at my answers, I assume that most candidates for the CELTA course can’t really answer these questions, so if you’ve never had previous experience, then I don’t think it matters. They just want to know if you can string a sentence together, that you’re serious about studying and that you can handle the stress of the CELTA course.

The interview ran for almost an hour, but it also gave me a chance to ask questions so that I knew what the course entailed. I learnt that although the course is longer (5 weeks instead of 4), which usually means a day off every week, this is not the case. While the school ‘technically’ gives you Friday afternoons off, the interviewer basically said that students will stay at the school planning their lessons during this time. If you’re not willing to commit to that, then the CELTA probably isn’t the right course for you.

It is definitely going to be a huge commitment, no only in terms of time, but also in money, but I think this will step up my teaching abilities and open up Europe so that I’ll be able to work over there and travel and see much more than if I just did a trip over there. One of the reasons for that is that I get travel fatigue much easier in Europe than in Asia. Part of this is because Europe is more expensive, and you’ll kind of feel guilty just resting for a day or two. Another reason is that I find you meet fewer people. Not that there’s necessarily less people travelling, but there might just be less of an established trail, and the backpacker vibe is a lot different. Everyone seems a little more closed off.  So having a base (or bases) in Europe, earning money and hopefully learning Spanish so I’ll be fluent in three European languages, well, I’m hoping it will be a lot of fun.

In the upcoming posts I’ll be answering the questions sent to me in the pre-course material. This is to help me get ready for the CELTA and to reduce the shock of the course, allowing me to get the most out of it. I’m pretty excited, although I know it’s going to be a lot of work and I’m going to be worried about money… but life is short and youth is even shorter. I have to take risks and be ‘irresponsible’ while I’m young because it’ll only get more difficult from here.

Here are the Pre-Course Questions that I was given, and the short answers that I had ready as prompts during the interview.

It is the job of teachers to explain and the students to listen. 

The teacher’s job is about facilitating learning. Part of that involves explanations, part of it involves listening to students as they practice, understanding where and how students need help/guidance.

If students make mistakes, the teacher should correct them.
It depends. Same mistake over and over, yes. Occasional slip up is ok as long as it doesn’t effect fluency
Learning a language is like learning to drive a car.
In some ways, in that your driving skills can get rusty, but come back quickly with practice, and you will need different skills and knowledge for different conditions.
Pairwork and groupwork are essential in the language learning classroom.
Yes. Even with one student, the teacher will practice speaking with the student. Students can help each other a lot, and we learn much from teaching. It helps us remember.
When learning a language, it is more important to learn how to speak than to learn how to write in the language.
It depends why you need it. If you are doing written translation or going to university in that language, reading, writing and listening will be much more important than speaking. Real world interactions, yes.
It is important for students of English as a Foreign Language to be exposed to a lot of English Literature as this is possibly the most perfect form of the language.
Haha, according to…? Not even most native speakers read that much English literature. If the student enjoys that genre, they should be encouraged to read it. If it’s part of their schooling, then yes, but otherwise  there are so many other forms that are just as or more important than that. Examples include language on social media, in the news, in their favorite movies/TV shows, etc. What ever interests the student, they should be consuming.
The teacher should never use the students’ language in class.
It depends on the level and what you are teaching. For example, the word ‘hobby’ is a little difficult to describe, so I usually teach the word using the native translation.
Playing games in the classroom is a waste of time. The students don’t learn much through playing games.
If everything could be gamified, that would be pretty awesome. Some things can’t, and maybe one of the reasons games are so fun is because we don’t get to do them all the time.

There are many ways to motivate students. Maybe the best way is to use lots of tests and exams.

It’s def one way to motivate students, but you get a lot of negative side effects too, as you see in Korea with students studying until late at night, then up again early in the morning, and a very high suicide rate. The best way is to encourage intrinsic learning, or the love of learning, however sometimes, especially with a new/difficult class, or a subject that just isn’t that fun, rewards can also help, such as stickers/candy. I once saw a class who was reputed to be an absolutely terrible class, but with the teacher i observed they were ok, because she had promised them that if they go enough points, they would be able to have a football match at the end of the term.

Grammar isn’t very important when learning a language.

It will be at some point if you even want to go beyond a very basic understanding. If you just want to travel somewhere for a short while, it’s fine. If you want to actually converse with people or read and write, you’ll have to learn some grammar eventually.