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Friday, 24 August 2012

Cambridge CELTA Course: Top 6 Classic Worries

Six of the Best

If you are doing a Cambridge CELTA or similar TEFL certificate – four intensive weeks including at least 6 hours of teaching practice – there’s something you need to know. You’re not alone. If you’re feeling fairly confident it may be that someone else is too. If, however, you are nervous and possibly doubtful as to whether you can ‘be a teacher’ or not, it’s likely that you are in the majority. And some people positively dread the idea of standing up in front of a class and speaking. Let me give you the first of several lists which hopefully will help you overcome these fears…

1) My English Is Crap
You do, and always will, speak English far better than everyone in your English class (assuming you’re a native speaker, of course). This sounds blindingly obvious, but a lot of people seem to forget or belittle this fact. But it’s true. OK, you need to be a good teacher too, but you’re starting from a position of strength and your students themselves may be more nervous than you are…

2) The Trainer’s A Weirdo
Your trainer may, just possibly, and I’m not suggesting for a moment this is a common occurrence… be an idiot. There seems to be something curious about being a TEFL trainer. It’s a strange position of pathos mixed with power which can sometimes produce unexpected results. Anyway, to cut a long story short, there are some weirdos out there but what normally happens in those cases are that a rock solid class camaraderie quickly develops and you get through it anyway. But be warned.

3) Grammar Does My Head In
One of the things that preoccupies many trainees the most is grammar. They worry that they won’t be up to scratch or won’t be able to explain things properly. And this is a genuine concern. However, if you’ve been accepted on the course this means, in principle, that you are fit for the job or you shouldn’t be there. The simple fact is any normally literate person should be able to grasp a few fundamentals about the language even if they haven’t been in a classroom for many years. Don’t worry about it. And read a grammar book before the course – there are plenty to choose from.

4) I’m Too Old For All This
It seems to me that a large proportion of TEFL Certificate candidates are not about to start their first job. Some are students simply adding to their credentials or hoping for an easy way to tour the world, but many are hoping to start a second or third career well into middle age and are worried about it. Very worried. For some it’s a last stab at a new start before they become too old – in their eyes – for anything. Rest assured. Not only is teaching English to non-native speakers surprisingly easy to get into, but it’s also one of the few careers where somewhat advanced years and accumulated business experience is often looked upon very favourably indeed, especially in the professional world.

5) Which @*¿X#! Course Is Best?
If you want a qualification where no questions are asked (well, they will be, but you know what I mean), the Cambridge CELTA is the gold standard. The Trinity certificate is similar. Then there are three or four types of course to consider, or not. The first are the highly reputable ones with serious trainers who produce teachers to the CELTA standards. The second are the unfortunately prolific cowboy outfits with low or non-existent standards and results to match. And finally there are the on-line options with or without a face to face element or teaching practice, and a handful of weekend courses if you must. The simple fact is you should choose your certificate course extremely carefully, including the trainers and the syllabus, even if it’s Cambridge, but especially if it isn’t. Check testimonials but also some of the many on-line forums where ex- or former trainees discuss their experiences very frankly indeed.

6) My Confidence And Personality Suck
Well, maybe (you think) they do, and it's true that these are important aspects of being a teacher. Many people fear that they don’t have the right character for the job, especially if they are coming from a non-related field. This is something to work on, but there are as many types of teacher as there are teachers, and each brings a unique combination of qualities to their teaching environment. There’s room for all sorts out there, or rather in there, the classroom, where the door’s closed and you are the boss. Teaching practice on TEFL courses is about as unrealistic as you can get, with all those people watching you! You create the mood and the learning atmosphere in your real-world class without external interference and who’s to say yours won’t be the best there’s ever been?!

© 2012 Sab Will / Hotch Potch EnglishWill Power English : "Cambridge CELTA Course: Top 6 Classic Worries"
Sab Will is a teacher, teacher trainer, fanatical blogger... and stuff.

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