How to Prep for the CELTA

Finally getting organized after day 3

To prep properly and make the intensive CELTA cram experience less of a headache, prepare as much as possible.

I managed the mandatory.  For the application, I did the language awareness task, researching what I needed to.


I thought of a genuine experience for the 300-word writing assignment.  I had an English major friend read it and give approval.

Next was the SKYPE Interview.  I rented a private room close to a router in Montevideo for a whopping $60 to ensure I had a decent connection.  $60 is by far the most I paid for a night’s accommodation during 8.5 months in South America.

Still, the audio cut out a lot.  Having video turned on didn’t help.

At the end of the interview I managed to understand:

Because the class starts in just over a week I’m accepting you now.  I’ll email you your pre task after you come in and pay.”

I needed to get to Buenos Aires and Calle Florida to change the dollars I’d acquired from ATMs in Uruguay.  This would be done on what’s called in Argentinean Spanish:  ‘el blue’ or the black market.  It gets you a much better rate on local pesos, around 30% better than the official exchange rate.

Next I had to navigate myself to the education center in this extra large city, and pay.

Because of a four-day weekend, I wasn’t able to pay in person until the Wednesday before the class started.  That gave me five days to complete a time consuming 50-question pre-task that was due on the first day of class the following Monday.

I had five days to find a place to live, ideally close to the school.  I wasn’t able to move into my apartment until the evening after the first day of class.

Be More Prepared Than I Was

● If you’re not doing the course where you already live, move into an apartment two to four weeks before your course starts.  By the time I was  moved in and set, it was 10 pm.  Things don’t always move fast in Argentina.  Typically this relaxed life mode can be embraced, but not while wrapped up in the CELTA.

The first night I felt bombarded with homework.  This  included a lesson plan.  Teaching starts on the second morning.

My apartment was a comfy 20-minute walk to the center, but there were two occasions when I got a little bit lost during the first week.  This wasted invaluable book-hitting time. Moving in ahead of time gives you the opportunity to learn the area.  I lost time looking for food establishments on my way home from class.  This knowledge could have been acquired ahead of time.

● Apply at least two months before the class starts, not three weeks before like I did.  This will give you adequate time to prepare and ease into the starting date.

● Be organized from the get go.  The trainers equate organizational skills with intelligence.   Buy all the recommended supplies before the class starts.  The stationary supplies will save  time and help  keep  material in order.  The above photo is from when I finally got organized in the evening after day 3.

● Get copies of the English teaching books recommended and become familiar with them. They are the bibles of the trade and will help in processing the course content more smoothly.

● Get familiar with the phonemic chart and especially the most common sound, the schwa. ( ə ) Understanding this most popular phoneme will help while teaching pronunciation and in written assignments.

● Watch CELTA lesson demos on You Tube or wherever.  This will give you a taste of what’s to come.

● Study CELTA acronyms.  Familiarity will enhance the absorption of information during input sessions or classes.

● Study grammar.  It has to be taught.  Know the parts of speech and tenses.  Taking a look at conditionals and modal verbs won’t hurt.

● Take  care of any personal things you need to do before the class starts.  This way more time is freed up to focus on work and getting enough sleep.

● Be optimistic.  Realize that you’ll need to endure  four busy weeks.

I didn’t do any of this optional prep work but got through from  toiling in the evenings and on the weekends.  However, in retrospect I should have given myself much more time to prepare.  This would have cut down the amount of info overload I had to process on the fly.  It probably would have alleviated some stress and anxiety caused insomnia too.

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Can you think of any other ways a person can prepare to make an intensive class go more smoothly?

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Are you considering doing a CELTA course?

20 Responses to How to Prep for the CELTA

  1. Anwesha says:

    Hey Mike,
    No post for a long time. How have you been?

  2. Annie says:

    Saw your post about new the page etc etc. I’ve seen this current post for a while now and i am wondering if you posted something more recently or am i stuck on the wrong page? Hope you are doing well.

  3. Freya says:

    Great tips ! Wishing you all the best with the course and the certification.

  4. Arianwen says:

    Sounds stressful! Congratulations on getting through it though!

  5. Great tips! When preparing for an intensive test, I like to set a timer and cram as much as possible into the allotted time…I find it helps me stay focused for shorter bursts of study periods.

  6. memographer says:

    I don’t plan to get certified. But, the tips are great. Sure someone will be glad to find this post, Mike. Thanks for sharing!

  7. James says:

    I had a brief flirtation with the English teaching world … this post brings back memories of a stress-filled time, lol! Hope your experience will be better than mine, as I don’t think I was cut out for teaching kids…

    • Mike says:

      JAMES: This certificate is for teaching adults. I’ve taught kids. It’s a lot of fun for an hour or two a day but all day would wipe me out. :-)

  8. Agness says:

    I did my TESOL and TEFL course and the regulations were pretty much the same, but there was no Skype interview! :)

    • Mike says:

      AGNESS: The important thing for many employers is that the course is 120 hours, whether it’s CELTA or TEFL. The main facet that gives these programs so much credibility is the supervised teaching practice they provide.

  9. Maria Falvey says:

    I’m TEFL certified and while I was working on my certification I found that studying videos of other teachers in their classrooms was an excellent way to feel comfortable with the idea of one day having my own classroom. Love all the tips Mike. I am looking forward to posts from/about your classroom.

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