The first Big Tip is: don’t go in with ‘only a Pass A will do’ attitude. In my experience, these people aren’t usually the ones who do well. The truth is that a lot of Pass A candidates are people who already have teaching experience – but there are a couple of BUTS here…. The first BUT is that it’s perfectly possible to get a Pass B or Pass A from a standing start- some people pick things up very quickly and work very hard; AND the second BUT is that this definitely doesn’t mean that most people with teaching experience get high grades. If you’ve got experience in a different context, it can be a real double-edged sword- and it can be difficult to unlearn habits you have that don’t fit in this new environment.
The best thing is to aim to do the best YOU can do. Make the most improvement that you can and don’t beat yourself up about your grade. Keep that in mind.
But let’s look at what you CAN do to improve your chances of a good outcome. The thing that you can definitely do (read any of the numerous blog posts out there on this- they’ll all tell you the same) is to be prepared before the course. There are two main areas here- knowledge about language (that’s knowing how grammar works, mainly) and knowledge about teaching methodology. Let’s look at them one by one.
Language awareness is something that trainees often struggle with. As we saw in the last video, when we looked at planning, one of the areas that differentiates a Pass from the higher grades is language awareness. You want to be a language teacher- you should know about language. And just speaking it well isn’t enough. You need to know how the jigsaw fits together so that you can deconstruct it for your learners and show them how it works. Answer their questions.
The planning criteria for a Pass A say:
What does this mean? Analysing language? The first thing is that you need to know what things are called- what’s an uncountable noun, a past participle, an intransitive verb etc. But then, you also need to be able to explain the puzzles to them- teacher, teacher why can’t I say ‘I’ve seen him yesterday’ for example – what is that tense called, how is it formed and what are the tricky parts of the pronunciation?
Not knowing this is a really common problem, especially if you are a native English speaker, you might never have thought about this and it might feel strange, but it’s a logical system and it’s learnable. I’d even go so far as to say it’s fun, but I might be a bit biased here! There are lots of good books out there that you can use to learn this, but it you want me to take you by the hand and lead you step by step through what you need to know, there’s an online course on my site that has helped hundreds of trainees get to grips with this called.
OK, so that’s the knowledge about language. The next thing you can do to prepare beforehand if you’re serious about getting a good grade, is to learn something about English language teaching methodology. The criteria say that a Pass A candidate’s
teaching shows excellent understanding of English language learning and
teaching processes at CELTA level.
Your tutors on the course WILL teach you about classroom management, how to teach skills and language systems, how to plan lessons etc, but the CELTA is notoriously intensive. If you’ve got a bit of a handle on these things beforehand, it’ll all make much more sense and it’ll be easier to put into practice in the classroom. THAT’s where the assessment of CELTA lies, so that’s the key.
What can you do to learn about this? Well, obviously, I’ve got an answer for that! I’ve made a whole string of videos on these topics and they’re free in my CELTA Toolkit. In the same place, you’ll find a list of some great books that will help you through. The other thing to do is to make sure that you do the pre-course task that your centre gives you. Take time over this- take it seriously. It’s designed to help!
BUT, BUT BUT you say, this is all going to take so much time and effort. Well, yes! Of course! Cambridge don’t give away high grades with cornflake packets….. I didn’t say I had a magic wand…But I promise you that the effort will be worth it. Being well prepared will make CELTA more enjoyable and less overwhelming, put you in the best place to do the best you possibly can and, most importantly for your future learners, make you a better teacher!
So, my tip number one is- get ready! In the next video, we’ll look at what you can do when you are actually on your CELTA course to make the most of it.