I truly believe that to have an opinion worthy of consideration by others one must first have some experience of the topic in hand, whether that’s first hand or indirectly through someone who does. I try to steer away from topics that I have no knowledge of and this was the rationale behind my enrollment on the CELTA course. My decades in the manufacturing industry had provided me with a broad knowledge and insight into business but how could I impart that knowledge – to teach it – if I didn’t know how to teach.
The new business would operate on three levels offering services to multinationals and Polish owned businesses that were either using business English as their organisational language or were looking to enter into a predominantly English speaking arena:
Level 1 – teaching business English to departmental teams
Level 2 – 1-1 mentoring and coaching for business managers
Level 3 – organisational and business improvement
All this prep work had taken me to mid-July and I was around five weeks away from the start of the CELTA course. The business plan had been written and a marketing strategy was in the process of being created, level 1 of the business was highly dependent on becoming a qualified teacher and the initial interview was only a week away.
Now, I’d like to say at this point that I chose CELTA for a couple of reasons. Firstly, my teacher daughter recommended it and then, after much research, I discovered that in TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) terms, two qualifications stand above all others – Cambridge University CELTA and Trinity Cert TESOL. As CELTA was available online, in Poland and within my anticipated timeline, that’s the one I chose.
The British Council, who are the providers of the training, sent me the relevant documentation and a course syllabus prior to my first interview. As you know if you have read the previous post, that didn’t go quite to plan. So, plan B it was then. I was sent the full documentation to allow me to prepare for the second interview, which was to be conducted two weeks after the first – if all went well then it would be lickety-split to the start of the full CELTA programme. The course preparation involved the completion of the pre-course task (not part of the assessment process but highly recommended, in my opinion); this behemoth of a document contained 54 tasks that I would later realise followed the course-work most helpfully ( the word later is significant here, as in terms of actual time – too late would be more accurate).
The timing was going to be tight; if Plan B happened to be successful then that would leave only four days before the start of the course – I needed to select my studying material with precision. The pre-course literature recommended various books that would help with the coursework but these cost an arm and a leg, neither of which I was willing to part with prior to any guarantees of acceptance. So I studied the pre-course task diligently (if not fully) and listened/read anything CELTA related to prepare me. The one common, foreboding message in all of this information seemed to be that CELTA is all-consuming; one podcast on Spotify ™ relating to CELTA told the story of how the husband of a woman studying CELTA tried to force her to give it up as her study time prevented her from cooking his dinner! I’m pleased to report that the marriage ended and the lady is now CELTA qualified 🙂
Anyway, the time came for the second interview and I’m pleased to say that my grammar studies paid off and I was accepted onto the course. Only 4 days to go and then 5 weeks of learning how to teach the English language to foreign students.
The weirdest thing about undertaking the CELTA course was not the fact that I was doing this as I entered the twilight of my career, nor that I was about to become a student 30+ years after doing any studying but that I had to learn a new language. Not even one language – I had to learn the mechanics and terminology of English grammar and also the acronym laden, sub sphere that is educational jargon.
In the follow-up post to this, I’ll tell you all about the course and my fellow, student teachers.
* thanks to a chap called William Shakespeare for most of the words in this title
© Andrew Malson September 2021