When I first moved to Korea in 2014, I got an online TEFL qualification in order to beef up my CV and hopefully secure a decent job. The course was pretty mediocre; it seemed to teach a lot of basic grammar (concepts that you could do a quick internet search in order to refresh your memory), but it failed to increase my confidence when it came to teaching. As a first time teacher, I wanted to walk into the classroom with a bit of certainty about my teaching ability, but it took a while for to build my self-confidence. Since then, I’ve realised that most teachers over here don’t have a TEFL qualification, and I’ve seriously wondered whether it was a waste of time and money.
During my first stint as a teacher, a couple of friends spoke positively about their experience achieving the CELTA qualification. When I researched CELTA, I was deterred by the hefty price tag (around £1,300), after my less than positive experience with TEFL (a program that is considerably cheaper than CELTA), I just didn’t want to feel let down. However, after a considerable amount of time debating the pros and cons, I decided to sign up to complete the course during my time back home.
There are centres for the CELTA worldwide, and you can find the most suitable place for you on their website, and each location has different options. I chose the full-time course which takes four weeks. The program ran Monday to Friday 9-5, with a couple of half days over the duration. There were 11 students split into two groups; each group spent two weeks teaching a lower-intermediate class and two weeks teaching upper-intermediate. For each lesson that we taught we received in-depth feedback from our peers and tutors, who would observe the class. We were also given guidance on our lesson plans and time management in order to adapt the material to the students. Each lesson that we taught was graded as a ‘below standard’, ‘to standard’ or ‘above standard’.
As well as teaching our own lessons, we were provided with the opportunity to observe qualified teachers in order to accumulate an array of teaching methods. Our tutors did seminars on complex grammar, various tasks and styles of teaching for the classroom; they encouraged us to incorporate these into our own lessons. The general feeling was that you don’t need to re-invent the wheel as there is a multitude of resources out there created by qualified teachers.
There are four assignments over the duration of the program that you have two chances to pass (and the tutors will offer you guidance if you are struggling). Each assignment was relatively different so that most trainees found at least one easier than the others. These assignments – along with your lesson grades – go towards your final classification.
I thoroughly enjoyed completing the CELTA. It was obviously very tiring, and there was a lot of work to be done outside of the classroom, but I believed that it broadened my capacity as a teacher and it boosted my confidence. Over the past month, I’ve been implementing some of the concepts into my Korean classroom, and I’ve been really happy with the results.