My CELTA experience at Teaching House Oxford 

 | Teaching House Nomads Blog

Making the decision to change my career from Project Management in the charity sector to EFL teaching certainly wasn’t a quick or easy one for me. There were many tearful goodbyes and I often felt self-doubt and overwhelm creeping in. Yet, it was a decision I am so happy to have made now and one that was made easier through a very positive CELTA experience at Teaching House Oxford in summer 2023. 

The school on a beautiful day
The school on a beautiful day


I wish I could say that I put a lot of thought into choosing Teaching House Oxford for my CELTA but really it all came down to the practicalities of my situation! It was borne of the fact that I mainly didn’t want to live with my parents and study in York, so I decided to stay with my sister just outside of Oxford and commute in for the course every day. 

As someone who was relatively new to Oxford and had only visited a few times before I found the location really handy. The school is housed in a beautiful building that is close not only to the city centre but also Jericho and North Parade. I would often grab a coffee and wander around these lovely areas or the University Parks and try to unpack what we had learnt that morning or prepare mentally for my next teaching practice! Oxford is a truly impressive city and it was a real pleasure to feel so connected to it during the course. In fact people had travelled from all over the world to be on the course and experience a taste of life in the city. 

I quickly learnt that the traffic in Oxford can be a real pain and commuting every day for what should have been 45 minutes became an hour and a half due to traffic and roadworks. Some others on my course had chosen to utilise Airbnb or house shares (provided by Teaching House) instead and this is a good option if you want longer in bed and less time battling the traffic! 

The university parks in full bloom
The university parks in full bloom

The Course 

As someone who likes to be prepared, I found the course itself to be well organised from the get-go. I was happy to receive information far in advance regarding the course details and pre-course task which allowed me to prepare in my own time and put my mind at ease. There’s loads of information online about the CELTA but it was great to receive centre-specific information to help shape my expectations of my own experience. 

One of the things I enjoyed the most about my time on the course was the laid-back vibe of my tutors. There is a lot of information online about how intense the CELTA is and whilst this is true it was great to have tutors who were professional, knowledgeable and had a great sense of humour at the same time. It was the vibe we all needed as we began to flag a little in week three! The tutors continually put us at ease, and I remember one asking, ‘are you getting enough sleep though?’ A very important thing to keep yourself sane during the CELTA! 

The atmosphere of the whole school mirrored this too, any member of staff that you saw in the school was always happy to chat or to help and it was lovely to be made to feel like a part of the school even just for the month that I was there. 

As I said, I also found the tutors to be very experienced and professional. I enjoyed how the course was structured; I knew from day one when we would be learning in the classroom and when we would be teaching, and this helped me to organise my schedule and manage my time. Every morning it was like being back at school as we did classroom learning and worked through different teaching styles and techniques. I did find this aspect of the course quite worksheet heavy but in retrospect it was useful as I have plenty of reference material to look back on. We also began teaching on the second day of the course, which came as a shock to us all but was helpful in throwing us in and breaking down our nerves early on, to force the realisation that it wasn’t as big of a deal as we all thought it might be. 

Another great aspect was that everything we needed as part of the course was hosted on Sharepoint making the administration and access of materials easy throughout. We were able to upload any documents or assignments there in lieu of long email chains- this was great as there are a lot of documents on the CELTA course! 

The colourful houses of Jericho
The colourful houses of Jericho

The facilities 

I found the centre to be fairly well resourced during my time there. We had full access to a well-equipped library, Wi-fi, the cafe and the garden, which was lovely to relax in during break times.

The cafe opening times were a little hit and miss but there were Viny’s Cafe and others just around the corner to grab a cheap coffee. The school also has a microwave and kettle which I used daily for lunch and endless cups of tea! 

In terms of the teaching facilities, we had access to whiteboards and projectors in our classrooms and there were speakers available for listening activities. The school is housed in an old building, so I did not expect there to be smartboards in every classroom. This helped me to explore different kinds of teaching, experimenting with PowerPoint heavy lessons and lessons where I used fewer resources. 

How my CELTA prepared me for the world of teaching 

The CELTA is of course a pre-service qualification, it prepares you very well to teach but still leaves a lot to be learnt about the world of TEFL. The tutors at Teaching House were very useful in terms of this real-world preparation and worked hard to incorporate it into the course. All the tutorials were very much rooted in practical and realistic applications and any feedback considered how to improve our teaching practice for the wider world rather than just for the purpose of passing the course. Meanwhile, the tutors shared a wealth of expertise when it came to making decisions on where to teach in the world, the pros and cons of different locations and how to break into the business of online teaching. 

I feel that the course really helped me to expand my horizons, not only through quality teaching but also through the attitude and excitement it instilled about TEFL and the world of work after the CELTA. My tutors described the CELTA as an excellent ‘passport to the world’ and helped instil a sense of confidence that I was equipped to hold this passport, secure a great job and grow my teaching skills from a very strong foundation.

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