The CELTA Experience (2)

So I’ve been talking about CELTA and DELTA as though their meanings were as universal as the word ‘bread’ and I realise that it isn’t the case at all. My apologies. CELTA is an acronym that stands for ‘Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults’ but also means ‘Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.’ CELTA is an initial teacher qualification, so it’s for people who are just starting out in the field with little or no experience and want to become internationally certified. DELTA is the ‘Diploma’ version, ideally for teachers who have had a bit of experience already. So if CELTA is like the undergraduate degree, DELTA is like the postgraduate degree.

To continue from the previous post, I set off to Vietnam in November 2012. I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City two days before the start of the course and I was a mix of nervousness and excitement. There was a pre-course dinner hosted by the school for the candidates and the tutors to meet and get acquainted. The course I attended was a full course, so there were twelve candidates in all, plus the two tutors. There was a long table set up at the restaurant so I was really only able to speak with the people on one end throughout the entire dinner, and I was only able to meet the rest of my colleagues on the first day. Our group was a pretty diverse mix of people and nationalities–there were four Americans, three Australians, four Europeans (Wales, Italy, and the Netherlands), and one Asian (me).

On the first day of the course, I made sure not to be late. I was staying in a hotel not far from the school, just a five or ten minute walk away (depending on how fast or slow I chose to walk), so it was really convenient. We started with orientation and being there, sitting in the classroom, felt like being back at school again, which was something I hadn’t done in eleven years–it was a good feeling.

The entire course basically has the same schedule throughout, so it’s very easy to keep up with. Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm, teaching practice in the morning followed by feedback and assisted lesson planning, lunch, then training and lectures in the afternoon. Evenings are normally spent doing course work–if not planning for a lesson, then working on an assignment. I usually had enough time during the weekends to go around the city to do some sightseeing and explore Saigon a little bit during the day, but my evenings were normally dedicated to course work. Food was never really a problem since the sidewalks were lined with restaurants offering local cuisine, and there was also a market and grocery nearby, plus a refrigerator in my room, so going hungry was not a concern.

In terms of workload, candidates can expect to be pretty busy. There’s always something to work on every day since there are a total of four assignments and nine teaching practice sessions over the four weeks. I never had to teach on two consecutive days, with the exception of TP1 and TP2, but the rest were usually one or two days apart, if not more. My study habits is a strange combination of procrastination and perfectionism, so I spent the time in between teaching doing a little bit of both. At the end of the day, I would be in the library doing research or preparing materials for lessons, then an hour later, I’d be watching television or checking Facebook. There were days when I would spend more time planning a lesson than the actual duration of the lesson itself (perfectionism), and there were also days when I would spend an entire Saturday not doing anything related to CELTA, or the very minimum amount, at least (procrastination).

Overall, I really enjoyed my CELTA experience. It was challenging, but manageable and the tutors and my colleagues were wonderful. On the last day of the course, our tutor told us something along the lines about how other groups would have some kind of drama or other and that it wasn’t unheard of for someone to end up in tears, but our group was different–we got along well and jokes were being made pretty often, so we were more laid back and I think that probably contributed a lot to everyone’s success.

The course ended on December 14th and my flight out of Vietnam was on December 15th. It was a red-eye flight, so I actually had to go to the airport a few hours after the end of the course. We had a sort of farewell dinner and I think that everyone was quite happy to be able to relax after an intensive four weeks.

A few weeks after the end of the course, I got the official report from Apollo with my provisional grade, and another few weeks after that, I got the official CELTA certificate from Cambridge with my final grade–a Pass B.

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2 thoughts on “The CELTA Experience (2)

  1. Thank you very much! I really enjoyed reading your CELTA experience. I got inspired from it. I am an Asian too, but English is my second language so I am quite nervous about applying for this course.

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    • Thank you for reading. I was very nervous as well, but just go for it. It has opened up so many opportunities for me and as long as you choose a good centre and you have supportive tutors and colleagues, it will be a great experience. 🙂

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