Real Classroom Experience
Nothing beats real life experience. There are some things that cannot be learned from studying online. Imagine turning up for your driving test having never been behind the wheel of a car. Imagine starting a career as a teacher having never been in front of a class with real students!
Good teaching can only be developed through hands-on experience in the classroom with real students. This is why the main component of the CELTA course is guided, in-classroom teaching practice working with real language learners. The more the course progresses, the more independent you will become.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating
If you’re in any doubt about how important it is to have real classroom experience is,
consider these two situations:
You listed ‘private English teacher’ and ‘online TESOL course’ on your resume and after a lot of searching you finally got an English teaching job in a small town somewhere in central Europe.
Your classes normally contain anywhere between 8 to 15 students with a range of language learning needs and interests. However, now that you are actually in front of the class, you are not sure anymore what from your experience as a private English teacher who has only worked in 1-2-1 situations or the activities you did at home on the computer for your online TESOL course has helped you to prepare for this lesson.
Nervously you flip through the course book – one that you have never seen before – trying to find an easy reading or listening lesson to teach because you have no idea how to teach grammar.
All your students take their seats and look up at you expectantly. They have paid good money for this course and you are the one that has to live up to their expectations.
You look at the clock on the wall that slowly ticks the seconds away and hope the next 60 minutes will pass by as quickly as possible. But at this point, your English teaching career doesn’t look promising. And you most probably don’t look very happy.
It’s your first day at your new school and you greet your new class. You think back to your weeks of practical training on your CELTA course and the feedback and encouragement you got from your CELTA tutors.
You have prepared a dynamic lesson to get your students working in groups, chatting with each other and covering some new vocabulary items, leading to the introduction of a new grammar point. A communicative and student-centred lesson, just like you have been taught on the CELTA.
Yes, this might be your first day at your new school, but the way you calmly and comfortably help your students while they are working in small groups on a new language point shows someone who is at ease in the classroom and knows what they are doing.
As you chat with your students after the class, you can tell you are going to have a lot of fun with this group, and the feeling is mutual.
Which situation would you prefer to be in?
What does the real classroom teaching component involve?
When you start your CELTA course, you’ll be in the classroom from Day 1, working with real students from a range of non-English-speaking countries. By the time the course ends, you’ll have spent about 40 hours in the classroom: teaching, observing your colleagues teach and evaluating students’ English skills.
Each lesson you teach will follow a cycle:
- You work one-on-one with your teacher trainer to design your lesson
and select activities to do with your class.
- While you teach, your trainer is present throughout the lesson to support
you and to write a report on your lesson.
- After the lesson, you, your trainer and your small group of fellow trainees
(maximum group size of six) discuss that day’s lessons and evaluate them
– what worked, what didn’t and what steps you can take to improve.
- After this wraps up, you get a detailed written report on your lesson
to take away and read through.
You are now ready to prepare your next lesson with your CELTA trainer, building on your previous lesson and incorporating everything new that you’ve learned.
How will you benefit from the real classroom component?
Once you have graduated from your CELTA course, and you find yourself standing in front a new class of students, wherever you may be, you won’t feel petrified, or lost, or be hoping it was over already.
You will have the confidence to meet your new students and their expectations, and you will be able to teach quality lessons and enjoy doing it. You will have earned your CELTA and you will already have English teaching experience.
It is no wonder that the Directors of Studies of language schools around the world are looking for teachers who have done the CELTA. The CELTA certificate is the benchmark for teachers who want to be well-prepared and know what they are doing.