I try to post on this blog at least three times in a month, so I was pretty disappointed with myself when I realized my previous post was published on the 10th of September. But in between getting published on the travel blog Europe a la Carte, freelance website Freelance Switch and applying for CELTA, I was pretty sure I would get to publish a fun and useful post before the end of September. But then something happened: I was accepted to the CELTA course.
What the hell is CELTA?
CELTA is the Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (whose mother tongue is not English). I took the one month intensive course from the 12th of September to the 7th of October- and I barely had any time to do anything else during that period. Trust me- I could hardly squeeze in the time to send my invoice to my publishers, so you can correctly assume that I didn’t have time to read/write/research anything that wasn’t related to teaching English. I didn’t have a social life, I barely slept and I spent half the time wondering why I signed up for the course in the first place.
Now, I love English. And I love teaching it. And while I had been giving freelance lessons and teaching English part-time for a while, I wasn’t officially educated and/or certified to be an English teacher. So when my part-time job gave me a month’s break, I jumped at the opportunity. After all, teaching English is a great way to make money doing something you love (and supporting your writing career- especially if you are not already a bestselling novelist or an on-demand writer who frequently sells $2000-articles to popular magazines) and keep your knowledge about the language intact.
Why I couldn’t write for over a month
When I signed up, they did warn me about how much time CELTA would take, and how intense it would be. But no one really warned me that I’d not have a life, I’d be depressed and frustrated half the time. CELTA demands %100 attendance, carefully crafted assignments, 6 hours of experienced teacher observation and 6 hours of assessed teaching practice.
And the teaching part is not the scary part. The scary part was to plan immaculate lesson plans, analyze your upcoming lessons and how you presented these to your tutors. It was also the teaching where you were observed by your tutor, who noted down every negative thing about your teaching (and yes, they also tell you the good stuff but by the time that comes up, you’ve freaked out that they totally hated it). And even if you have taught before, CELTA does have a whole set of different expectations.
Obviously there were some really fun times. I highly enjoyed the sessions where we were the students and our tutors showed us how we would teach to our students by modeling their methods through us. I made some really cool friends and learned a lot both from them and my teachers. But I am not going to lie to you; it was a bloody difficult time.
What It CAN DO for your teaching career & CV
It pretty much enables you to work in any country you wish, to demand higher rates and to apply for better jobs in general.
How CELTA Helps A Writer
– It makes you truly analyze the language, so it will really help with your editing. And it will make you question your knowledge of English, whether you taught before or not. Whether you are a native speaker or not. Some assignments might make you feel like Joey from Friends (while he was trying to speak French), even if English has forever been your strong point.
– It helps you develop a thicker skin. Were you upset when editor rejected you or ignored you? Try getting live feedback from a tutor who tells you all the negative stuff. Granted, you are given credit for the positive stuff as well- but the negative takes a lot more time, and can be difficult to digest if you thought you had done a good job one hour ago.
But then again, CELTA isn’t just about training people to become good teachers. It is about training people to be good English teachers according to CELTA standards. Which is pretty much the same thing when your writing doesn’t get picked up by an editor because it wasn’t exactly up to their standards. It doesn’t necessarily mean your writing is bad. It just isn’t made for that publication.
True, you don’t usually get a customized analysis from the editor as you’d get from your CELTA teacher, but it does wonders in helping you develop that thick skin.
-It makes you a better planner. When I first started planning my lesson plans according to their format, it took me more than 5 hours. My last lesson plan took me less than an hour. It also gives you a good idea what can be done in just 40 minutes. I’ll try a similar planning method for my writing & blogging related tasks. Who doesn’t want to improve her planning and time management skills?
-It does push your limits of productivity and hard work, as well as efficiency. As it turns out, I can work a lot more in a day than I thought I could.
-It provides you with new article/story topics and increases the number of people you know.
Should you try to get CELTA?
– CELTA isn’t recommended if:
- You can’t truly commit yourself to a heavy schedule,
- You don’t want to at least have a part-time English teaching career,
- You don’t want to improve your ESL (English as a second language) teaching skills
– It is however, strongly recommended if you are a writer who also teaches ESL. Yeah, it’ll give you hell (and tons of tough love), but the pros will massively outnumber the cons- as long as you pass the course.