CELTA: is it worth it?

There are always two sides of every coin and it wouldn’t be any different in regards to the Cambridge CELTA course. Is it worth it or would you be better off without?

I think it is worth it. My opinion is based on my experience as a CELTee and as DOS – hence involved in the hiring and training of new teachers.

My CELTee experience

The CELTA course is the first step for anyone wishing to start a career as an ESL/EFL teacher. But it is not entirely true in many countries around the world – although I will focus only on the reality of Brazil.

In 2011 I had been teaching full-time for 7 years, I had worked as an academic coordinator and I had a side gig as an assistant writer of course materials. So, no, it was not my first rodeo and I had plenty of experience under my belt.

My first reason to take the CELTA was to be able to teach in other countries such as Canada, where I was in the process of immigrating to. So, to me, regardless of my years of experience, CELTA was a necessary step that I did not take for granted. And, still, the experience turned out to be much more than I’d ever expected.

I enjoyed learning that there are other ways of doing things. I enjoyed learning the proper terminology for things I had already been doing. I enjoyed the discussion and the reflection the course afforded me. I made great friends with my fellow CELTees and found inspiration in my course tutors.

Most of all, however, I learned to vary the types of activities and interactions, to provide different types of correction and feedback, and not to be teacher-centred. I learned to analyze my own performance and find opportunities for improvement every single time.

Yeah, perhaps as I already had experience as a teacher, I was able to take things a step further, to try different things, to push the bar. So I’d say the course, to me, was very beneficial – not in spite of my previous experience, but because of it.

My CELTA certificate with a pass with grade A certainly made it easier for me to land my first teaching job in Toronto less than a month upon arrival. But even if I had not left Brazil, the experience would have been just as valuable. Knowledge is (always) power, no matter what nay-sayers might claim.

My experience hiring and training teachers

In Canada – at least where I worked – things work a bit different from Brazil. The hiring process, for one, holds very few similarities. Résumés are screened and promising candidates are called in for an interview (before COVID-19). This interview might include a test or the planning of a lesson, or both. Successful candidates are then hired, onboarded and off they go.

There is no training on methodology, for example. And this is because candidates are expected to hold a CELTA, Trinity CertTESOL, TESOL, or TEFL certificate. These are teacher training programs. In Canada, TESOL and CELTA are the most common ones. CertTESOL and TEFL are more common in Europe. You can read more about this here.

So, yeah, if you are thinking about teaching in Canada, Europe, Australia, etc, you will need a teaching certificate.

What I’ve noticed, however, is that although TESOL does prepare novice teachers for the classroom, the CELTA is more complete and seems to be more demanding. For the employer, it is preferable to have teachers whose knowledge is more in-depth rather than those whose knowledge barely scratches the surface.

But what about the other side of the coin?

If you live and work in a place where a teaching certificate is not mandatory, you might choose to do other courses that may be as instructional as (or even more than) a CELTA, for example. However, if where you live or want to live does require certification, well, in that case there isn’t much of a choice.

Given the choice between programs, I’d go for the CELTA, but I am biased. I found the experience extremely rewarding and it afforded me the opportunity to easily find a teaching position in Toronto.

In the end, how much you learn always depends on how much you put in.

You can find more information about the CELTA course here.

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