CELTA for Experienced Teachers – How Easy is it and Is it Worth It For You?

Hey once again! In this post, I want to run through the key points and considerations about the CELTA for experienced teachers.

Now, I can say that this post is especially for those who are not sure about doing the CELTA course, or whether it is for them.

For this reason, in this post I want to cover the following points:

  • How is the CELTA for experienced teachers?
  • Is it easier than for new teachers?
  • Will it add value for you if you already have teaching experience?
  • How will it help your career progression?

CELTA for Experienced Teachers – Before We Begin

First of all, let me preface this by saying that the CELTA course is not easy for anyone.

I took the course as someone who had only a very small amount of teaching experience, in fact I’d only done a module TESOL on my university degree before it, and we had very little teaching practice, or assessed teaching practice, on that module.

That gave me a bit of confidence, but still I felt pretty unsure about my ability, even though I thought I could pass the course (you can read more about my experience on the CELTA course here)

However, more than anything, it’s the amount of work on the CELTA course, and the very specific nature of the work that you’re given in such an intensive and short time period, that makes it hard for everyone.

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How Does Experience Help on the CELTA?

Having your previous teaching experience will help, because that will give you confidence in your ability and will help with things like lesson planning.

However, you will still have to do everything in ‘the CELTA way’, so that means you have to learn to fit into that system.

And I should add here that the CELTA course requires you to follow very specific instructions for tasks like writing lesson plans, and the communicative style of teaching.

There are also all the other administrative things you have to do, not to mention the CELTA assignments and other tasks.

Previous teaching experience should obviously give you confidence, but again, it’s going to be hard for everybody, so please don’t think you can just walk into a CELTA course after a couple of years of teaching another subject and breeze through it!

It’s not going to work quite like that, but you should be well prepared if you do have some teaching experience and are willing to adapt your way of working.

Will doing the CELTA course add value for you as an experienced teacher?

Well, only you can really answer that, because this depends on what you’re planning to use your CELTA for.

As I often say: have a look online, look at the types of jobs you want to apply for or whatever organisations you’re thinking about and see what they say.

Get in touch with them if you need to, and they will surely tell you what you need. If you want to go down another, maybe more discreet route, you can have a look at people who already work in the types of jobs you want to do over on LinkedIn, and see what qualifications they’ve got

(PS: As an inside tip – having a LinkedIn profile can actually help you to find jobs as recruiters might approach you if you have a CELTA!)

If they’ve all got CELTAs, then obviously that looks like it’s going to be a prerequisite as well.

The value proposition of a CELTA really depends on your own specific circumstances and your goals for your future; where you want to work and how you want to work.

But CELTA is such an internationally recognised certificate and qualification that it really does open a lot of doors in terms of job opportunities.

Check out CELTA for Experienced Teachers On Youtube!

Career Progression: Is it Worth It? Does a CELTA help with career progression?

Well, the answer to this is really for each individual (yes, a little obvious, but true nonetheless!).

By that, I mean that you can figure out the value of a CELTA course for your own career progression.  Think about what you’ve done in the past, and where you see yourself in maybe five years’ time. Will it help? Only you know that one!

One thing I will say is that, from my own personal experience, I got many transferable skills from the CELTA. I really like the way the CELTA course makes you focus on interactions with people, and how you communicate your message.

Now, I haven’t done a PGCE, which is the UK is the standard qualification for teaching in state schools. However, from people I know who’ve done it, I think much more of the focus is on following a syllabus, making appropriate lesson plans and meeting the specific objectives as set out by UK government departments.

A PGCE (or equivalent qualification in your country) may make you a very methodical teacher, but it appears to lack the same focus on the communicative side of teaching that the CELTA course has.

What I really liked about CELTA is that it forces you to think about interactions between people. Being a language student in the past, having studied French and Spanish at undergraduate level, I really enjoy thinking about how people communicate, how they put messages across.

This is especially interesting with low-level learners, people who can barely speak English.

Think about that for a moment:

How are you, as a teacher, going to communicate your messages to them in a clear and effective way?

There are many other things that you’ll get into on your CELTA, but for me, communicating with beginners was one of the most interesting things.

Teaching lower levels is something that certainly makes you focus on keeping things simple – and that’s an important skill for an English teacher to develop.

There is one other thing to mention that might apply to experienced teachers. When you’re coming in from having done your training in a different style or with a different focus, you may be bringing in certain bad habits or errors as well. This is something that you might have to watch out for.

Reflections on the CELTA Course from an Experienced Teacher

Since publishing this article, I received an email from Jane, an experienced teacher herself, who had the following to say about her recently completed CELTA course:
“I’ve just completed CELTA! I’ve studied at uni. before but this was something else. If you are aware that this course is intense to start off with, you really have to multiply that by a factor of 3!
3 misconceptions I had before starting the course besides the intensity of the course:
  1. When they say 100% attendance, they really mean it. I had holidays planned before I started the course and thought that I could easily be absent and catch up with what I missed on those days. WRONG! Besides the course material that you miss, it’s virtually impossible to reschedule your TP as that is planned within your group for the whole course.
  2. As I said, I’m used to researching and writing 3,000 word essays but the assignments with a 750-1,000 word restrictions were a challenge
  3. Being a native English speaker does not necessarily put you at an advantage. In fact, most of my fellow non-native students were just as (if not better) at English grammar!
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of the course and I take my hat off to [the CELTA centre] for doing a damn good job.”

Last Thoughts on the CELTA for Experienced Teachers Out There

Don’t be complacent about how you approach CELTA, and be prepared to change, because there could be a very steep learning curve, in the sense of coming from one style of teaching and being told:

“Well I know you’re doing this wrong…. and this wrong…. and this wrong”.

All over again….

Of course, this may be déjà vu for some of you, because I know teaching qualifications around the world are very strict, and the CELTA is no different. They have their style, and you have to follow it.  As a friend who did the CELTA before me said:

“It’s a lot like a driving test, you have to follow the rules exactly until you pass the test. And then after you pass, you’re on the open road!”

Basically, you still drive safely, but there are some things you don’t have to do every second while you’re behind the wheel, if you see what I mean!


So, I hope this post has been useful, and given you some food for thought, especially those of you who are already experienced teachers!

Let me know if you have any other questions; please just leave them in the comment box below, and I will get back to you as soon as I can!


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Stephen Beale

After taking the CELTA back in 2007, I have since gained over 11 years' experience of teaching English in various countries. I have also worked in EAP for several years and like sharing what I've learnt along the way here.

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