What was the most difficult part of the CELTA course for you?

TRANSCRIPT: What was the most difficult part of the CELTA course for you?:

“Hello again guys, this is Steve from celtahelper.com, and I’m back again today answering another question from a CELTA Course student. And this time, the question comes from David, who asked me,

“What was the most difficult part of the CELTA Course for you?”

My answers

So, I was having a think about this because I did [my CELTA course] ten years ago, back in 2007. So I took some notes and here [is] what I found.

There were two main things that really I found quite difficult, and they were specifically, lesson planning and the observed teaching practise.

A lot of people say they find the assignments a major problem. For me they were okay, they’re still hard work, but it was the lesson planning and the observed teaching practice, which really got to me in terms of stress and worry.

CELTA Lesson Planning

Now, if I go through that, first of all the lesson planning, one of the things that was most difficult was the fact that it’s so detailed and it takes a lot of time.

So, the first couple of times you do them can be really worrying, you feel like you’re never going to end, it’ll take you all night or day and that can be quite nerve wracking. So, I suggest everyone to try and do a practise lesson plan in advance.

The other thing is when you’re writing, you have to be quite specific with the timings, but you really have no idea when you’re first doing them, so just go with a bit of common sense.

For me personally, I always tend to write the timings that are too short, so I would add on maybe 20, 30 percent to your timings to give you a bit of flexibility and allow for a bit of conversation as well. Because, things happen in the classrooms you can’t always prepare for.

The other thing I found really worrying about writing lesson plans was just that when you start, you’re not really sure if you’ve got good ideas, you have no idea. These might be new activities you’ve never done before, they might not work with that class and all these other things going through your head.

Just trust your instinct on that and you should be fine. You’ll know if something isn’t quite right, so go with your gut and it should work itself out.

The other thing was that, with the Word Document lesson plans you can end up having issues with formatting, that’s the last thing you want to be wasting your time on, but it can happen.

So, just make sure before you’re doing the course, that you’re comfortable with all the formatting on Microsoft Word, specifically working with tables and also try to request a document that they might use for lesson planning if possible so you can see how it works.

I ended up adding loads of rows to my tables because for some reason, the documents they were sharing with us for lesson plans only had columns and people were expected to line up all the different text in the different columns, it was not very good. I just added endless rows to mine to make it nice and clean and tidy.

Obeserved Teaching Practice

The next one, the observed teaching practice. Now, there’s a couple of elements to that as well, there’s the fact that you’re teaching new students, who you generally don’t know, at least at the start you don’t know at all. You might not know them, they might come and go if your course is anything like mine, because they had voluntary classes. So people would come and go and the classes could change quite a lot day to day. It’s hard before you build up that rapport with a class to know how they’re going to behave or react to certain things you do.

The other thing is, on the [CELTA course] I did, we had [a] teaching group, they were sitting at the back of the room, so you’ve got your peers there watching you and you really don’t want to mess up in front of them. You want to do as best you can, but also for the students, of course as well.

And then, you have the tutors watching so, in my teaching practice they were noting down everything I said or did. And it’s going through your mind, “Is this right, or is that a good thing or a bad thing?But just try not to think about all of that, just try to focus on the students and give them the best possible experience.

And then there was one other thing, when you are teaching, you’re supposed to be showing progress throughout the course, that you’re taking on feedback and also that you can stick to a plan and timings. But, you also want to be adaptive to the learning needs, so trying to take all this in and show it all at one time is quite tricky, but you will get better at it.

I would say, the more detailed your plan, the more likely you are to spot problems beforehand. Just try to have a couple of plans for if things go wrong, have an extension activity if your timing isn’t quite right. Or, have an activity that you’re happy to leave out if you can’t fit everything in.

Either way, have a contingency plan and it should all work itself out. Try to be flexible, because showing that you’re adaptive to student needs is really a useful skill for all teachers and definitely on the CELTA Course.

So, there you have it, those are my main issues, let me know what yours were and you can do that in the comments below on the page here, or you can ask me a question about the CELTA Course at celtahelper.com/ask. Hope that was helpful, talk to you again soon and good luck with your studies.”

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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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