Hey there! My name is Stephen Beale. I started CELTA Helper because I am passionate about helping new and aspiring English language teachers start a career or simply improve on their current prospects by preparing and succeeding on their CELTA course.
I should say before I go on that I am not a CELTA trainer/tutor. I am, however, writing this blog as someone who has gained over a decade of teaching experience since getting the CELTA.
I remember clearly the stress and nerves of preparing a CELTA lesson, worrying that I’d made the right choice in materials and content; fretting over the timings and how well I’d written the lesson plan, while all the time thinking that there was some huge flaw in my plan.
I know what it’s like to wish I could have got to bed earlier on those nights, feeling held back by all the technical teaching terms and style to follow on the CELTA course. I had a very small amount of teaching experience before the CELTA (40 minutes of separate observed lessons), but it didn’t prepare me for the day-to-day teaching and workload that my CELTA course was.
That is why I am here to help you get back valuable time, keep your stress levels to a minimum and make you a better teacher. Just imagine how it would feel to start the CELTA course feeling fully prepared, knowing that you have learned almost all of what you need in advance and that all you have to do is apply the techniques and teach (and teach successfully at that!).
It feels like yesterday that I was preparing to finish university with a degree but absolutely no idea what do afterwards. I had heard about teaching abroad from my brother’s friend who’d found a job in Taiwan and said it was great fun. All you have to do, he said, is complete the CELTA course.
I realised I had no other ideas and I wanted to live abroad, not least because I had done a year in Spain as part of my degree and found it incredible. Working as a teaching assistant was fulfilling but I felt I wanted to get to do more teaching and work with adults and kids of different ages.
The CELTA was the perfect option: 1 month, starting soon at my local university. Yes, it was a little pricey at $1,200, but I checked EFL jobs websites and saw the jobs that were on offer: Spain, Italy, Bali, to name a few. ‘YES, PLEASE!’, I thought.
When I applied, I thought it would be just like another module on my university course with some teaching thrown in. I could leave most of the work until the end and then submit an essay and walk away with the certificate. WRONG.
From day one, the CELTA course was high paced, with intensive input sessions and teaching in the afternoon. On day two, I found myself preparing for a 10-minute slot with other classmates. The lesson plan took me forever! There were so many different factors to consider, I didn’t know where to begin. Was I choosing the right material? Should I write that on the board? How will I move from that topic to the next? Questions, questions, questions (and no answers!).
I realised I should have prepared more for the course, but there was no turning back for me – it was a fully intensive course that had no time for background reading once started.
As I went along, I got faster and faster at planning lessons, and began to use the same tried and test books time and time again.
I halved my lesson planning time, only to find the observed lessons would get longer and longer. I also used all the tech tricks I kn0ew to speed up (but this was in 2007, so nothing like as easy as things are now!).
The language analysis and assignments came and went in a blur. I scored well on the first and had a pleasing result in the assignments, but I felt I could have done better if only I’d thought about these in advance.
In the end, I passed the CELTA with a B grade, which I felt pretty happy about and helped me to get jobs in idyllic locations around the world; I went to Spain for a year, then decided it was time to learn Italian so I found a job in Sardinia.
After Sardinia, I came home for a summer and found a summer contract in my local university where I’d done my CELTA (yes, I was lucky). After a few months of being at home, I then found a job in the ultimate location: Bali, Indonesia. The idea of working in a tropical paradise seemed almost too good to be true. But it was fantastic. I even met my wife there!
After almost 3 years in Bali, I brought my then-girlfriend back to the UK and I now work at my local university (yes, the same one I did my CELTA in!).
The CELTA wasn’t easy for me – it was a lot of hard work, even for those who were experienced teachers. To score well on a CELTA course you need to be on top of your game every day, and that can be draining if you don’t have the systems in place to cope with the new concepts and ideas.
From my nearly 10 years of teaching English ‘the CELTA way’, I have learned lots of tips and tricks for how to improve my lessons and planning, along with how to help my students get the most benefit and learn English to the best of their ability.
If you’re interested in learning how to avoid the troubles and stress I went through on my CELTA course, then you are in the right place. It took me a long time learning how to teach the CELTA way and caused me a few stressful weeks with very little free time. I want to help you avoid that same feeling.
The first step is simple, use the form below to opt in to the CELTA Helper newsletter. I’ll send you exclusive tips to help you get from zero to CELTA as fast and painlessly as possible.