Five Reasons You Shouldn’t Take a CELTA Course

Last week I published my five reasons that people who are considering a CELTA should go ahead and take the course. I mentioned a lot of positive aspects of the course, and I have to say that I 100% believe it was a worthwhile investment for me.

However, there are a few reasons why people may wish to think long and hard about investing in the course so, in the interests of fairness, here are my five reasons you shouldn’t take a CELTA course.

The end result - but is it right for you?

The end result – but is it right for you?

It’s expensive

Make no mistake, £1,300 for a four week course is not loose change. As I mentioned in my previous post, if you’re looking towards EFL teaching as a long-term option then the course will pay for itself over time due to the potential higher earnings you could get. However, if it’s just a quick couple of months of teaching you’re after in order to earn a bit of travel cash/beer money, it’s perhaps a little pointless. This brings me nicely on to my next point…

You don’t need it

In the grand scheme of things, a CELTA certificate isn’t essential to ensure that you get an EFL job. Sure, it can help make your application look stronger and potentially help you earn more money, but you won’t struggle to find a job without it.

Some countries are fussier than others, but there are also plenty of schools in a lot of Asian countries that will happily take you on if you’ve got a white face and can speak English. A lot actually depends on how fussy you are – not the school!

It’s draining

It’s been a good four years since I actually did anything academic, so this one took me by surprise.

Many a night was spent staring blankly at an empty page!

Many a night was spent staring blankly at an empty page!

Throughout the four week course you have to submit four assignments – including potential resubmissions – as well as lesson plans for six hours of observed teaching. Back when I was teaching in Singapore, my lesson plans consisted of a bullet pointed list which I would occasionally type up on my iPad if I had the time. Safe to say I got something of a shock when I realised that my lesson plans for the CELTA course had to be laid out perfectly and detailed to the point of being anal. The lesson plans actually took considerably longer to create than the length of the lesson itself!

It takes over your life

Ok so it’s only a month, but prepare to have no social life, become a recluse and generally think of nothing but the CELTA course for those four weeks. I really underestimated how intense the course was going to be. At the interview, my soon-to-be tutor said you really need to write off your social life for the whole month. Naturally, I thought this was a bit over the top and carried on going to gigs and hitting the gym throughout the first couple of weeks.

Come the end of week two, I was completely rundown and overcome with illness. Every spare hour I got from studying (which wasn’t many!) was spent at the gym or doing something active instead of having a bit of downtime; it completely wrote me off. It showed in my work too, as one of the lessons I taught towards the end of the week was actually considered ‘not to standard’, which piled even more pressure on me!

My best friend through weeks two and three!

My best friend through weeks two and three!

You aren’t guaranteed a job at the end of it

Of course, the CELTA certificate goes some way towards making you more appealing in the eyes of the employer, but it’s not as if you finish your final lesson and you’re fending off the job offers left, right and centre. You still have to go through the application process just like everyone else, go through countless Skype interviews (shirts on top, pyjamas on the bottom) and sell yourself just as anyone else would. Don’t think that it’s a free pass in to employment!

All in all, the CELTA course was really worthwhile for me. I feel I’m a much better teacher than I was before the course, but it doesn’t come without its pitfalls! In my opinion, if you’re looking into TEFL as a long-term option then the CELTA course is definitely a worthwhile investment. However, if you’re not too sure whether you want to be a teacher and just want to do it to earn a bit of money to fund your travels as you go along, then I would seriously suggest thinking long and hard before parting with so much effort and money.


17 responses to “Five Reasons You Shouldn’t Take a CELTA Course

  1. Pingback: Five Reasons You Should Take a CELTA Course | Rambling Northerner·

  2. Interesting points. All I can say is that actually if anyone wants a job in Malaysia they will need a CELTA…… Language Centres here are not interested in much else.

    • Thanks for the comment!

      I have seen that certain countries require them and without a CELTA you might as well not bother. Good to know about Malaysia!

      My point about not needing a CELTA was aimed at the less fussy job seekers – as it seems countries such as Thailand and China are much easier to find work in without qualifications, as the demand way outweighs the supply!

    • Hi Sush! Thanks for the comment.

      I think it completely depends on the school; some are stricter than others. Some specify that they only want native speakers, whilst others will ask that the teacher speaks English to a ‘native level’.

      I hope this helps! If you have any more questions then I’m happy to help!

  3. Pingback: What Should You Expect From Your CELTA Interview? | Rambling Northerner·

  4. I was considering taking the less expensive and more time-flexible route and going with OnTESOL’s online course and in person practicum. But I’ve gotten a lot of flack saying if I’m going to pay $490 for an online course, I will be wasting my money and should either pay for an ultra cheap Groupon course or wait to do Trinity or CELTA. Thoughts?

    • Hello!

      First of all, apologies for the late reply. My email spam filter must have got rid of WordPress’ notification!

      I think a lot depends on what you get from OnTESOL and where you want to go with it. Is it a certified course? Is it approved by TEFL institutions? If so, then it’s instantly worth more than a Groupon course. I personally cannot recommend the CELTA highly enough; it’s tough going and expensive, but ultimately opens a lot of doors if teaching abroad is something you see as a career option. A lot depends on the ocuntry you’re aiming to teach in too – do you have any thoughts on that?

      Let me know what you decide on!

      • Hey! No worries and thanks for the reply!

        TEFL Canada accredits OnTESOL and their parent organization is (I since learned) the only North American provider of the on-site TrinityCert and bases their online curriculum in the same syllabus. The certificate from the online course has an optional 20 hr practicum which qualifies you to apply to certify your credential with TEFL Canada after completion.

        I decided all things considered this seemed to be worth it and went with them to start since I am still exploring this newly as a career field and didn’t want to overcommit with time and energy, especially since I am also working full time.

        I’m still early in the course, so it’s hard to speak to quality regarding all the content. The first module was on but mainly was an intro. I am now entering the grammar and phonology module and I think the methodology one comes after if I remember correctly. The I have the option of completing a practicum overseen by OnTESOL.

        It’s honestly a series of PDFs that together would make up the (hefty) OnTESOL textbook, with extra resources that look like mostly links to already free web content elsewhere, and assignments that are either auto graded (eg quizzes and tests) or graded by your assigned tutor who communicates via email.

        I am used to self study so I can swing this fine. I think content wise it will be solid. The grammar section looks respectable. I’m just not enthused as to delivery. I took online coding lessons for much less that were far more interactive, even without an assigned tutor. So that would be my gripe but it sounds like that’s true of most of the online courses?

        I’m taking them at their word that they’re honestly using the same syllabus as their onsite Trinity course. Maybe I’m mistaken but since they’re reputable enough to be the only Trinity accredited institution in N. America for their TESOL course, I figured this should speak to their reputation and knowledgeability to some extent. And the TEFL Canada accreditation tells me it’s respectable content.

        Anyway hopefully those are worthwhile musings! It does seem that this certificate is acceptable to those that aren’t specifically demanding Trinity or CELTA so I know the credential will at least serve its purpose.

        Oh yeah! I am hoping to teach either online or in Spain, to be closer to my s/o who is US Army stationed in Italy. 😉 Further thoughts are welcome!

  5. Hi there. Thanks for sharing. You mentioned you taught in Singapore. Where exactly? Were you happy with your employer re the compensation and treatment as an ESL teacher? I would very much appreciate your input. My bests and thanks for the posts.

    • Hi Plami! Thanks for reading and commenting. I was at a private international school – it was only a short term summer contract for a few months. In terms of my salary and the job itself, it was a decent gig for a first-timer with no experience. I think if I went back now there’d be plenty of things I’d do (and expect to be done) differently, but overall I was really happy.

      One thing I will say is that there seems to be quite a difference between international schools and the private extracurricular training centres; I’ve heard expectations and working conditions differ greatly, so I’d suggest doing a lot of research before taking a job. Do you mind me asking if you’ve been offered a job somewhere? Happy to help out if so!


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