My CELTA experience PART II
Are you thinking about taking CELTA? Have you already taken CELTA and want to read about my experience? Are you worried CELTA is not for you? Well, this blog post might be for you!
Please keep in mind that the opinions posted on this blog are my own.
Everybody might have a different experience and go through the CELTA process differently, and that's OK.
I believe that before making any major (and even minor) decision one should stop and rethink their reasons behind doing it. This doesn’t only motivate our actions but most importantly helps us prevent wasting our valuable time and money. It took me many years to finally sign up for the CELTA course and here is why.
Why was CELTA so important to me (as it should be for every ESL teacher)?
My ESL teaching career was not a linear one. I didn’t do an MA in Linguistics or English Philology and Literature. My background is in International Relations - Asian Studies, which might not sound like a good background for ESL teaching but boy, did it help! I started teaching by coincidence when, during my BA, I was accepted for a scholarship in South Korea. It was that very moment when I was introduced to teaching English as a foreign language since a part of my scholarship was to work as a Teacher's assistant.
As my English level was already around C1, I decided to try my luck in ESL. I gained my online 120h TEFL certificate 2 years later when I participated in an internship program and started working for a private language school in Taiwan. Long story short, my ESL teaching life took me from Korea to Taiwan and France, while taking part in various e-learning courses for Business English based in Spain, and then back to Poland. My CV became quite exciting as I had multinational experience, I’ve worked with kids, teens, and adults; taught general English, Business English and Exam English. Later on, I finally took Cambridge Proficiency which was one of my personal goals, but something was always missing.
I never felt bad for not having studied linguistics as I started learning English in language schools when I was quite young and was exposed to English in post-communist Poland (thanks, mum!) but I’ve always dreamt of having this so-called “piece of paper” to be able to say: “See? I’ve done it”.
Having said that, I don’t think this specific piece of paper is always important or needed. You can be a wonderful teacher without CELTA, a certification does also not automatically mean this is what you were born to do. For me, personally, CELTA was more of a validation that I know what I am doing and that I’d chosen a good path for myself. CELTA allowed me to relit that little spark I had for teaching, gave me more ideas, and helped me connect with new people, a new outlook, and new bibliography. It pushed me to my limits and left me exhausted more than I expected but not burnt out. It left me with more energy, more passion for teaching and more motivation to create my own, personal style.
When should I take CELTA?
As I mentioned in my previous post, CELTA is for new teachers as well as experienced ones. You can take CELTA before you meet your first student, or when you already have years of experience. One of the tutors said that new teachers are easier to train as they are a blank canvas whereas experienced teachers are sometimes so set in their ways it might become a challenge to show them a different perspective. I personally relate to that - as much as I started CELTA with an open mind and will to learn, I found it challenging to stop doing “my thing” and adapt my lessons to the CELTA guidelines. While I found teaching practice easier, I struggled with theory as I am naturally a more practical person, however, I am not sure if that was caused by my experience or by my practical personality as I was never good at academic nomenclature.
Having said that, everyone has a different path and different experiences. CELTA is available for everyone - no matter if you’re a newcomer to ESL or an experienced teacher, you’ll learn a lot. Taking CELTA as a new teacher should not be too challenging for you as tutors guide you through the steps of the course and are always willing to give you a hand. At the same time, taking CELTA as an experienced teacher is not a waste of time as you gain new perspectives to adapt yourself to fully flourish as an ESL teacher.
All you need to remember is that just because you’ve taught before doesn’t mean the course will be a piece of cake as it is extremely intensive time and information-wise.
But that’s the topic of the third part of the blog…