As part of my ‘CELTA series’ of posts (ok, three posts about my CELTA course), I’ll be looking to give information and advice to those people who are considering, or have applied for a CELTA course. I have already written about the pre-course stuff, such as the application process and interviews, so now it’s time to move on to the course itself.
The CELTA course is a large investment, make no mistake about it. Coming in at a cool £1,300 or so, it’s not something you want to impulsively splash out on. It’s important to weight up the pros and cons and really decide whether the course is going to be beneficial to you. I hope I can make that thought process a little easier for those people who are considering it, starting with my five reasons you should take the CELTA course.
It can help you get more money
Let’s start with an important one, eh? For a lot of people, I imagine more money is a good thing, and the CELTA certificate can be something of a bargaining chip on your side when it comes to salaries. Certain jobs will specify that they only accept applications from CELTA graduates or those with an equivalent certificate, and these will often be higher paid than other jobs out there. Some jobs may accept applications from both CELTA holders and non-CELTA trained students, and offer salary increments based on experience and qualifications.
If teaching English as a foreign language is something you’re looking to do as more than just a short term fix to earn a bit of travel money, the course should pay for itself over time.
You gain vital experience
Online and weekend TEFL courses are handy for brushing up on your teaching methodology and grammar knowledge but they lack one key component: real-life experience. I remember walking in to my first class in Singapore having done both a weekend and online course and thinking: “SHIT!”. No amount of reading can replicate the actual experience of teaching, trust me.
On the CELTA course, you are required to complete six hours of observed teaching. These classes are often delivered to foreign students in the area, who are given free English lessons on the proviso that you are trainee teachers and the lessons won’t be perfect. In addition to the very useful feedback you receive from your trainers and peers, these lessons are a great way to hone your teaching skills, try out some techniques, and generally get used to standing up in front of a class and delivering a lesson!
The people who train you have got so much experience – they’ve been there, done it and seen it all. They know what works, what doesn’t, and just about everything else. You receive (sometimes brutally!) honest feedback on your assignments and lessons, as well as advice on how to improve next time.
Not only is their teaching experience vital, but they have also trained so many teachers that they can be invaluable when it comes to job hunting. My phone is constantly vibrating with emails from my training centre about employment opportunities they’ve been made aware of, which makes the process easier somewhat. In addition to this, they’ve got contacts all around the world due to the amount of teachers they’ve trained. I don’t doubt that my trainer is fed up of seeing my name in her inbox, asking if she knows anyone teaching at the schools I’m applying for!
It can make getting a work visa easier
Different countries have different requirements for long-term stays and some can make it incredibly awkward to get a work visa. Some require a bachelors degree to get a work pass as a teacher, others specify a teaching certificate, whilst others just let anyone in. It completely depends where you want to go!
It can vary your career options
There may well come a time when you decide you want to head home and settle down and whilst that’s unlikely to be any time soon after just taking your CELTA, there’s nothing wrong with looking ahead. When the time comes, you may decide you like the job but home is calling. Fear not, as a PGCE and teaching native kids isn’t the only option for when you come home. A CELTA can help you get a job in a language school in England (or indeed wherever you’re from) so you can carry on teaching EFL to foreign students.
I hope this has been useful for anyone who is considering taking the CELTA course. In the interests of balance, here are my five reasons why you shouldn’t take the CELTA course next week!