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CELTA-The Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adult

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The Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) is an initial training course in English Language teaching. It is one of the range of Cambridge ESOL certificates and diplomas provided for teachers.

Teaching English to speakers of other languages can be a highly rewarding career, offering you the chance to live and work abroad. You will need an internationally recognised teaching qualification, and CELTA highly regarded throughout the world gives you the skills you need and will make it easier to get a teaching job anywhere.

What is CELTA?

The CELTA is a common requirement for those entering the field of English language teaching. Since it is recognised internationally, it is a particularly popular credential among people who wish to travel and teach English around the world. However, it is also held by people who intend to teach only in the country where they trained, and do not intend to travel.

The full-time CELTA course runs for four to five weeks; it can also be taken part-time over several weeks or months. CELTA courses are run by many different institutions, whereas the courses are validated and certificates are issued by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES), a part of the University of Cambridge.

The CELTA is awarded upon passing the course, which includes six hours of assessed teaching practice to real EFL classes at at least two different levels of ability. The course grade is determined primarily by the performance of the candidates in this teaching practice; there are also four written assignments due throughout the course, which are graded on a pass/fail basis only. The grades awarded are Pass, Pass B and Pass A. As of 2000, worldwide five percent of trainees withdrew before completing the course, three percent failed, 63% received a pass, 25% received a grade of B, and four percent received a grade of A.

The full-time four-week course is very intensive. Even the part-time version of the course can take up more time than a full-time job for many candidates, especially those with no teaching background.

Over 10,000 people successfully complete a CELTA course each year.

How does CELTA relate to TEFL/TESOL?

'TEFL' or 'TESOL' are terms often used to describe qualifications for English Language teachers. CELTA, the most widely taken initial TESOL/TEFL qualification of its kind in the world, was previously known as CTEFLA and the 'RSA certificate'.

Who is CELTA for?

CELTA is suitable for a wide range of people. It is the ideal qualification for those who want to start English language teaching anywhere in the world. It is also suitable for people who want a career break or change and for those already teaching English who have no formal qualification.

What does CELTA involve?

You can take CELTA full time (typically four to five weeks), or part time (from a few months to over a year). Your chosen course:

  • teaches you the principles of effective teaching
  • provides a range of practical skills for teaching English to adult learners
  • gives you hands-on teaching practice.

There are five main units of learning:

  • Learners and teachers, and the teaching and learning context
  • Language analysis and awareness
  • Language skills: reading, listening, speaking and writing
  • Planning and resources for different contexts
  • Developing teaching skills and professionalism.

You will be assessed throughout the course, with no final examination. An external assessor, appointed by Cambridge ESOL, moderates each course. There are two components of assessment:

  1. Teaching practice

    You will teach for a total of 6 hours, working with classes at two levels of ability. Assessment is based on your overall performance at the end of the 6 hours.

  2. Written assignments

    You will complete four written assignments: one focusing on adult learning; one on the language system of English; one on language skills; and one on classroom teaching.

To be awarded the certificate you must pass both components. There are three grades Pass, Pass 'B' and Pass 'A'.

Who recognises CELTA?

CELTA is accepted throughout the world by organisations which employ English Language teachers. The Cambridge CELTA has been accredited by Ofqual (the Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulation) at Level 5 on the National Qualifications Framework for England. Cambridge ESOL also works with international ELT organisations to ensure the acceptance of CELTA globally.

Am I eligible to apply?

Ideally you should:

  • have a standard of education equivalent to that required for entry into higher education
  • be aged 20 or over
  • have a standard of English which will enable you to teach at a range of levels.

Centres may still accept you if you do not have formal qualifications at this level but can demonstrate that you would be likely to complete the course successfully. Some centres may, at their discretion, accept applicants aged between 18 and 20.

How do I apply?

CELTA courses are designed by individual centres, based on specifications produced by Cambridge ESOL. They are available at over 286 approved centres in 54 countries, providing almost 900 CELTA courses every year.

How many approved CELTA centres are there worldwide?

There are currently over 286 approved centres worldwide providing CELTA courses for 12,000 trainees annually. Find an approved provider.

What are the key features of a CELTA course?

Courses can be flexible in order to meet different local needs and conditions but all:

  • integrate theory and practice
  • provide a minimum of 120 contact hours including: input, supervised lesson planning, teaching practice, feedback on teaching, peer observation, observation of experienced teachers and consultation time
  • include 6 hours of assessed teaching practice per trainee
  • include 6 hours' directed observation of live lessons taught by experienced ELT professionals or 4 hours' observation of live lessons plus 2 hours' observation of lessons on video
  • include a minimum of 80 additional learning hours for reading, research, assignment writing and lesson preparation
  • require the submission by each candidate of a portfolio of work including materials related to teaching practice and written assignments.

How is the teaching practice provision in CELTA set up?

You will be required to teach for 6 hours (usually broken down into shorter slots leading to longer lessons as the course progresses). You are also required to teach at a minimum of two different levels, one of which must be lower than intermediate and the other intermediate level or higher.

Can I take a CELTA course even though I am a non-native speaker?

Yes, provided your standard of English will enable you to successfully complete the written assignments and teach at a range of levels. This will be decided by centres by pre-interview tasks and the interview itself.

Is there any upper age limit to someone applying to do the CELTA course?

There is no age limit. You need to apply to a centre and they will consider your experience and at interview will decide if you are a suitable candidate.

If I obtain a qualification such as an English Studies Degree, can this automatically be regarded as a CELTA qualification?

It is not possible to do this. You can only obtain the CELTA by doing one of Cambridge ESOL's approved CELTA courses.

Is it possible to teach in a state school with the CELTA qualification does it have the same status as a PGCE?

CELTA is a specialist qualification in the area of adult education but formal teacher training such as a PGCE, which is designed for primary or secondary children, would be required for state school teaching.

I have a PGCE/Diploma in TEFL what is the equivalency with CELTA?

There is no direct equivalency with CELTA as the two courses do not cover the same ground and are designed for different purposes. CELTA is an initial teacher training course for those intending to teach adults, whereas PGCEs are normally for those teaching in primary/secondary schools and Diplomas are usually for experienced teachers.

If I have a TESOL qualification would this be as acceptable as a CELTA for employment purposes?

Individual employers would know just what type of qualification and relevant skills they are looking for in a candidate. Any good teaching course should have covered the basic elements of teaching. However, employers can sometimes prefer courses such as CELTA which have a strong practical focus.

How can I get a job after obtaining the CELTA award and do you have a list of vacancies?

The educational press has details of any vacancies that there may be. Some centres have their own job placement service. Centres can also advise you on where jobs are advertised. Cambridge ESOL does not have a list of vacancies.

Would the grade I obtain in CELTA affect my application for overseas work?

Some centres may require a 'B' grade but most employers worldwide who are familiar with CELTA are happy to recruit Pass candidates.

Can the CELTA course be undertaken by correspondence?

It is not possible for the CELTA course to be undertaken by correspondence. This is because it is a continuously assessed course and the teaching elements involved mean that it has to be undertaken at one of our approved centres.

Is it possible to do the CELTA course in two halves do one half at one centre and at a later date do another part at the same centre or another one of your choice?

The different structure of courses at different centres and the fee requirements make this arrangement difficult. Transfers are only arranged in exceptional circumstances such as enforced relocation to a new country.

Can I obtain a grant to pay the fee for undertaking a CELTA course?

At present we do not know of any grant that is available. A careers office or employment advice centre may be able to give some guidance. Also, centres may be able to give local information.

Can I obtain a refund of the CELTA fee if I am accepted on a course and then decide that I cannot attend it? Also, if I attend a part of the course, and decide it would be better to wait to do the course at a later date, can a refund be obtained?

The fee is payable to the centre, and any cancellation of a course would need to be taken up with the centre to decide about a refund. It is, however, not normally possible.

If you attend a part of the CELTA course and then decide you want to wait and do the course at a later date, it is not likely that you would obtain a refund of the fee. Again, however, this is something you would need to take up with the centre.

If I become ill during a course can this be considered sufficient reason to postpone finishing the course?

You should ask the centre what their conditions are if you cannot, for any reason, complete the course.

Can you recommend any of your approved centres that have a higher pass rate than others, and also do you think any of your centres are better than another?

We do not comment on individual centres or provide individual centre results. All of our courses are approved and meet Cambridge ESOL's minimum requirements.

Candidates need to make their decision regarding which centre they feel would be most suitable for them, and if they have any concerns should raise them when attending the interview for a place on a course.



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