Two CELTA Courses, One Month

I had known for a while I’d spend July running one intensive CELTA course, similarly to what I did in January. However, I was later offered to run a second intensive course in July. I was interested, but before accepting I talked to the tutor who trained me and asked if he thought I could manage it. His answer was yes and I accepted the offer. This is how the month went.

I imagine that if you are reading this, you are familiar with how a CELTA course works. In any case, this is what a typical day looked like:

8:30-12:00 Teaching Practice + feedback

13:00-16:00 Input sessions

18:30-22:00 Teaching Practice + feedback

Teaching practice in the morning took place at one center and the one in the evening at another center. Input varied depending on the day but it was mostly either at one school or the other (although there was one day where I went back and forth three times). The few breaks I had were either devoted to eating or marking assignments. There wasn’t much time for anything else.

As in my previous CELTA posts, my ideas and impressions will appear as bullet points because they can basically be read in any order.

  • One of the things I like about being a CELTA tutor is working with people from a variety of backgrounds. Being two courses means a lot more variety. In total, there were 29 candidates from 4 different countries and 6 states in Brazil.
  • Likewise, working with new tutors seeing how they do things and exchanging experiences was invaluable. In addition, I was observed by the external assessor in the evening CELTA. Although the feedback she gave me was positive, she pointed out I could ask more probing questions and I agree. This is something for me to keep in mind for the next course.
  • I was working with pre-intermediate groups at both CELTA courses but ended up using different coursebooks for each one. This was likely a mistake, as it would have been easier/faster to give candidates TP points from only one book. On the other hand,  having different books allowed me to mix them at then end when candidates from one course wanted to teach functions and the coursebook they were using didn’t provide good options.
  • Something I need to be careful about doing is going over candidates’ heads during feedback. For example,  one day I got into an argument about the difference between ‘will’ and ‘going to’ where I unfairly expected a candidate to have an in-depth grasp of it. I talked about it with the MCT (main course tutor) and apologized to the candidate afterwards. Anyway, this is something I shouldn’t be doing in the first place.
  • One of the centers ran  eight 45-minute TPs while the other had six 40-minute TPs and two 60-minute TPs. This lead to some very different final TPs. The group that had access to more time choose to work with the material they prepared for assignment 3 (which is a receptive skills lesson). These were either good or very good lessons, but students ended up having 6 reading lessons in the last 3 days of the course. The group that only had 45 minutes in their final lesson taught a much wider variety of lessons. There were productive skills (writing and speaking lessons), pronunciation, functions, vocabulary and grammar. Overall they were more uneven in terms of delivery but more interesting in content.
  • Assignments had a slightly different focus in each center. On the one hand, this made it more time-consuming for me to correct assignments. On the other hand, it opened my mind to different possibilities and it allowed me to see a different side of candidates. In the long run, when I become an MCT, it may be a good idea to vary assignments from one course to the next just to add variety.
  • One of the MCT said she was impressed with how quickly I marked assignments and sent candidates their lesson plans and feedback. The main reason for that is I needed to organize my time very carefully and there was no time for procrastination. In January, when I was just doing one CELTA, I had time to go to the mall, eat out with friends, write posts for the blog and even play with my wife’s nephew. I didn’t have time to do any of that in July, which meant all my time was dedicated to the CELTA.
  • During the month I overheard one of the MCTs doing skype interviews with prospective CELTA candidates. She told all of them that getting an ‘A’ is extremely rare and this is true. Only two candidates received a ‘Pass A’ out of 29 even though most of the candidates had previous teaching experience. Finishing an intensive course is quite an accomplishment in and out of itself and I was probably as happy as the candidates to have made it to the last day.
  • This was an intense month during which I learned a lot. I don’t think I could have done this for much longer, but I’m looking forward to doing it again in January. Having more experience at how both centers work and not going to an international conference in between will probably make things a little easier.

Thanks for reading.

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5 thoughts on “Two CELTA Courses, One Month

  1. Congratulations for your wonderful experience, I am sure you helped your trainees a lot this July. It seems really time-consuming being a CELTA tutor twice in the same month. But I am glad you mastered them perfectly!

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  2. Hi Ricardo,
    I’m normally exhausted just doing one CELTA, so massive kudos for managing to do two simultaneously! It sounds like it was a valuable experience for you, and being able to compare the courses as they were running is fascinating. I’ve worked at a range of centres now, and I know that when I eventually MCT I’ll draw on things from all of them for my own course. The range of experience you’re building up is invaluable.
    Make sure you stay healthy though!
    Good luck,
    Sandy

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    • Hi Sandy,
      Being able to get new experiences and draw on things the centers do differently was one of my main motivations to do both courses at once.
      As for staying healthy, I did come down with a cold in the last week, so having better eating habits is something for me to consider if I decide to do it again. Thanks for stopping by :).
      Best,
      Ricardo

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  3. Pingback: 1 year, 2 centers, 6 CELTA courses | ricardo barros elt

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