My CELTA training experience at WHS Munich was entirely positive. Of course it was stressful at times, but that was to be expected. Looking back, it makes me smile to think of the hours spent planning or writing assignments. During training, however, there is so much to take in, and the intensity of being a trainee was both exciting and exhausting. It was also an invaluable introduction into a professional and communicative approach to teaching which I would not have missed for the world. However, the intensity of the course prevented too much socialising or tourism, and by the time I finished, I felt that I still had not fully seen all that Munich has to offer.
The CELTA course was a really enjoyable experience for me. I was warned about the intensity of the fulltime CELTA programme, but I was not warned about the enjoyment of being back in a class, learning with 10 other motivated people. It was a really positive learning environment and a great mix of students and tutors.
Observing and reflecting are important parts of the CELTA course and watching our tutors teach a good or not-so-good input session was as important as watching our peers teach a class full of students.
This was the most intensive month of my life, but through hard work and dedication I successfully completed the course. I learned how to fully exploit every context and make every lesson engaging and challenging for students. The trainers taught me how to prepare quality lessons as well as effectively teach every skill. Through the teaching practice, I quickly recognized my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher. During the course, we have been given all the support we needed by the highly qualified trainers and the school. We also got and gave support by sharing experiences with our peers, in a very healthy atmosphere.
CELTA means sleepless nights and hard work, but it is really worth it!
According to Scrivener, good teaching concentrates on creating conditions in which a great deal of learning is likely to take place. I strongly believe that teaching is adapting to your students’ needs, making decisions and finding options as well as creating your own set of rules and guidelines according to what works in class and what does not. But, good teaching means language awareness because you cannot teach language you do not know. The key subject matter of language teaching is classified into language systems and language skills. When teaching, no lesson will be made up of only one system or another. It will consist of a combination of one or more of the language systems. But even if the main aim of the lesson is lexis, lessons need to include work on the language skills of reading and listening (receptive skills) and speaking and writing (productive skills), in order to help students learn to use a language rather than simply to know how it works.
As I am a non-native speaker and I have studied English in a non-native country, I must admit that I was anxious that I could not reach the standards of a native speaker but, I was surprised to discover that native speakers appreciated my teaching and I received good peer evaluation.
Before I started the CELTA course, I was worried because of my previous teaching experience and the influence it could have on me and my ability to focus on the new teaching techniques and procedures that are required to come up to the standards of a competent English teacher. One first example could be the deep language error (‘Very well’), that proved to be a real burden, as I struggled to get rid of it in the first two weeks. I really tried to show the flexibility that I needed to adapt myself to the rigorous training.
In addition, one of the points I became really gradually strong was related to main aims and subsidiary aims. From my tutor’s feedback and comments it was obvious that the aims were clear and suitable for the lesson type, but still there were points to work on, such as setting context or giving instructions and timing. Another point to consider was the interaction pattern as it was quite evident from teaching practice feedback that the classroom layout was suitable for the lessons and there was a variety of interaction patterns (group work, pair work, individuals) in almost every lesson.
However, observing the experienced teachers, I really understood how important drilling was for the students and that ICQs and CCQs should always be in teachers’ mind and be used where appropriate and that language analysis could never be forgotten. I identify these areas as slippery areas that really need further development in the future.
All things considered, I have really gained a lot of experience and confidence during the course and this makes me want to go on, but not towards certainty about the best ways of doing something. I would like to step forward into the ‘learning teaching’ experience and to be aware that there is life-long learning. I have discovered that I can develop my strengths and I can improve my weaknesses. I consider that I have a good understanding of the value of preparation and that I have managed to achieve my aims and to develop competent lessons.
Regarding my future development, I would like to join Melta for a future development opportunity and contribute to teachers’ publications. I would like to go to conferences or seminars and share my teaching experience with other teachers and teacher trainers. A different direction could be the attempt to organise a dissemination seminar in my school, to discuss and exchange ideas with my colleagues. But, above all, I would like to get ready to test my ability and determination that is required on a DELTA course.
Harmer, Jeremy. (2001). The Practice of English Language Teaching, Longman
Scrivener, J. (2010 a). Learning Teaching, Macmillan
Scrivener, J. (2010 b). Teaching English Grammar, Macmillan
Swan, M. (2005). Practical English Usage Oxford, OUP