How to Survive the CELTA – 10 Tips to Get You Through the Course

How to survive the CELTA coursePhoto: Lukas Blazek

Hello once again! This time I want to give you some tips on how to survive the CELTA Course.

This is for all those people who have contacted me who are feeling really worried about the CELTA course before they start. Perhaps little bit stressed about how it’s going to go, so I thought I’d just go through some things to remember to help you get through it.

Let’s get right into it!

Tip 1 – Take it as it Comes

One of the first major points in terms of how to survive the CELTA course is to remember that the course is planned in a way that will help you to progress as a teacher from start to finish.

You don’t need to worry about all parts of the course at the start, just think about each bit at the appropriate time. 

Take it as it comes; the CELTA course will come in a logical order, and has a tried and tested syllabus.

With that in mind, you don’t need to worry about the next week or the end of the course, just worry about what’s happening right now and try to focus on that.

Tip 2 – Just Do Your Best

There are going to be moments where you don’t perform as you’d like, or  times when you realise afterwards, “Oh my god!, why did I do that?”, or “Why do I only think of these things when it was too late?”.

It’s going to happen because the CELTA is such a fast-paced and intensive course.

The solution here is to do your best and learn from your mistakes – that is all you can do!

Tip 3 – Nobody Expects You to Know Everything

Just remember this is an entry-level course. Now yes, some people on the course will have experience but nobody is expecting you to know everything about this aspect of teaching, so think of it from that perspective.

The main thing is that your trainers will be expecting you to come in willing to learn and looking to develop as a teacher and as an individual, but nobody is expecting you to know everything.

Yes, having some foundation in teaching techniques would be helpful, but you don’t need to know everything – you can’t know everything, nobody does!

Just remember that and keep it in mind when you are getting stressed or worried about your first CELTA teaching practice.

Tip 4 – Preparation is Key

Now if you prepare before the course you can learn obviously a little bit more than if you don’t, but actually, that should help you to gain confidence as you progress through the CELTA course.

This is because you can learn about the logistics of the course and prepare for the CELTA assignments.

Another CELTA course preparation tip is to have a look at how the lesson plans are going to be, but not in too much detail cause you don’t want to stress yourself out.

This kind of focused CELTA preparation can help you to think about what’s coming, and just to help you get a bit more of a handle on the situation in advance.

Doing so should allow you to prepare yourself and keep the stress levels within reasonable limits, something which I know many people find hard to do at certain points in the CELTA course.

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Tip 5 – Work Ethic Eliminates Fear

Now this may sound a bit funny but if you think about it, when you are really worried about something, perhaps your next CELTA lesson plan, it’s possibly because you haven’t put in the work that you needed to.

It might also be because you haven’t thought about it enough because you haven’t had the time.

However, what I’d say here is that if you can commit and dedicate enough time to what you need to do at that exact moment, that should then remove the fear and anxiety from the assessed parts of the CELTA course.

As long as you’re working hard, then the fear should be removed, or at the very least reduced.

All that’s left then is for you just to go and do it.

Yes, there might be some nerves, but if you go out and you’ve worked hard then you know you can’t do any better – just remember that.

A strong work ethic will see you through.

Watch ‘How to Survive Your CELTA’ as a Youtube Clip

Tip 6 – Focus on the Task at Hand

One thing I see a lot of is people writing a lesson plan while also in the back of their mind really stressing about the assignments, because the various CELTA tasks all start to stack up quite quickly.

To remedy this, just get one task done, finish it and move on.

That’s all you can do. You shouldn’t let them overlap in the way that they are going to take away from another aspect of the CELTA course.

You will need to focus on what you’re doing there and then and do that to the best of your ability, and move onto the next when you can. All of the assessed aspects count!

Tip  7 – Be Bold

This applies to the assessed teaching practice (TP) lessons, when you’re doing an assessed CELTA TP, you will be rewarded for trying new things.

Try and use the things that you’ve been told about in the input sessions because if you are not using these things then it shows that you are reluctant or not able to apply what the trainers have told you.

On the contrary, failing to apply aspects from your CELTA input sessions will show your trainers that you’re not quite ready to be an independent teacher. This is not a good thing in terms of grades!

With the above points in mind: Try to push the boat out and go for it a bit in your lessons. Now, I’m not saying go crazy, more just to add in something new each time you teach on the CELTA.

Try something that takes you a little bit out of your comfort zone. You should be rewarded if you do this in a logical way that’s structured and planned properly. Why not just give it a go!

Tip 8 – Teamwork

By team, I mean this in many different ways.

To start, in your assessed teaching you’ve got your teaching groups and you’re there to support each other and help each other get through.

You’ve also got the class of students that you’ll be teaching – they will become aware that you are training and many will try to help you through. I know I found them supportive when I was doing the CELTA!

Another aspect is that of your CELTA tutors, who will be there to help you and support you as part of a team,

Just remind yourself: you’re not on your own and you do have that support.

You are there to support each other, so remember the team spirit can also help you on the CELTA course.

Tip 9 – Everyone is in the Same Boat

Now you may be thinking, “Well, some people are more experienced teachers,”, or if you’re not a native speaker you might be thinking “But there’s people who speak English as a first language on the course.”

However, try this: instead of focusing on your comparative weaknesses, tell yourself the following: all trainees are on the CELTA course because they haven’t done the CELTA Course before!

Remember: do nont think that anyone else on has a particular advantage in terms of how to  survive the CELTA course; everybody has their own advantages in different ways. You will have one whether you realise it or not!

Everyone is in that same boat – the CELTA course is new to everyone.

Tip 10 – Enjoy the Ride

It may sound a bit strange, you may be thinking, “What? How can I? This course is going to be crazy!”

To that I’d say: You only get to do the CELTA course once, so you might as well enjoy it! It’s an incredible experience.

It’s such a rollercoaster of emotions, and hard work, and late nights, and all the rest of it.

Try to enjoy it as you go because it will be over before you know it.

Useful Links for Further Reading Related to How to Survive the CELTA

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Survive the CELTA Course: 5 Steps Jul 25, 2015  I have created a 5 part series on the elusive, Cambridge CELTA Certification Course. Thousands of people take this class and all agree on it being very, very “ intense.” You then try to google how to prepare for this course and there is surprisingly little information available on what to expect and, even more … 

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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