Real Classroom Experience: English teaching with real students

There are some things in life that cannot be learned from just reading a book or studying online. For example, imagine turning up for your driving test having never been behind the wheel of a car. Good teaching is no different and can only be developed through hands-on experience in the classroom. Which is why the main component of the CELTA course is controlled, in-classroom teaching practice working with real language learners.

If you’re in any doubt about how important this experience is, consider these two scenarios.

Scenario #1:

You listed ‘college writing tutor’ and ‘online TESOL course’ on your resume and after a lot of searching you’ve finally got an English teaching job in the rough end of town. You’ve got a class of 20 students with a range of language learning needs and you’re not sure what from your experience as a writing tutor or the online activities you did for your TESOL course has helped prepare you for this lesson.

With sweaty palms you flip through the coursebook, trying to find an easy vocabulary lesson to teach because you have no idea how to teach grammar. As your students take their seats, they open their notebooks and look up at you expectantly. They’ve paid good money for this course and they’re hoping you’re worth it.

You look at your watch and hope the next 45 minutes passes as painlessly as possible. But at this point, your English teaching career is off to a grim start.

Scenario #2:

It’s your first day with a new class of English students. You think back to your weeks of intense training on your CELTA course and the feedback and encouragement you got from your CELTA trainer.

You’ve prepared an interesting lesson to get your students working in groups, chatting with each other and covering some new vocabulary items, leading to the introduction of a new grammar point. Yes, this is your first day with a new class, but your confident posture, the handouts organized on your desk and the way you calmly and comfortably chat with the students as they walk into your class shows someone who is at ease in the classroom and knows what they’re doing.

As you chat with your students about their weekend before class starts, you can tell you’re going to have a lot of fun with this group, and the feeling is mutual.

Which scenario would you prefer to be in?

So, what does the real classroom teaching component involve?

When you start your CELTA course, you’ll be in the classroom from Day 1, working with real students from a range of non-English-speaking countries. By the time the course ends, you’ll have spent about 40 hours in the classroom teaching, observing your colleagues teach and evaluating students’ English skills.

Each lesson you teach will follow a cycle:

  1. You work one-on-one with your teacher trainer to design your lesson and select activities to do with your class
  2. While you teach, your trainer is present throughout the lesson to support you and to write a report on your lesson
  3. After the lesson, you, your trainer and your small group of fellow trainees (maximum group size of six) discuss that day’s lessons and evaluate them – what worked, what didn’t and what steps you can take to improve
  4. After this wraps up, you get a detailed written report on your lesson to take away and read through
  5. You are now ready to prepare your next lesson with your CELTA trainer, building on your previous lesson and incorporating everything new that you’ve learned

How do you benefit from the real classroom teaching component?

Once you’ve graduated from your CELTA course, and you find yourself standing before a new class of students, wherever you may be, you won’t feel petrified, or lost, or be hoping it was over already. You’ll have the confidence to meet your new students and their expectations and you’ll be able to teach quality lessons and enjoy doing it. You’ll have earned your CELTA and you’ll already have English teaching experience.

It’s no wonder that language school principals around the world are looking for teachers who have done the CELTA. Having a CELTA certificate in hand is the mark of a teacher who is prepared and knows what they’re doing.

For more information about what topics the CELTA course covers, go to our page on Course Content or go to our Course Locations to find a CELTA course near you.

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