The CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is a qualification by Cambridge English Language Assessment that combines theoretical and practical components to provide candidates with essential teaching knowledge and skills.
Why take the CELTA?
It can be an interesting option for teachers looking for a formal qualification, as well as for those who are looking to become teachers.
Considering its strong practical component, it can also cater for the needs of teachers who feel that their foundation course was too theoretical, and who are looking for ways to plan and deliver more effective lessons.
Finally, because it is recognised worldwide, the CELTA is particularly useful for teachers that want to work abroad. A number of language institutes list the CELTA and one of the requirements (or desired qualifications) when hiring teachers.
What are the requirements?*
Candidates must be 18 or older.
Even though no certification of proficiency in English is necessary, candidates are required to be at CEFR level C1 or C2, which can be assessed by the centre.
Candidates must also have a standard of education that would allow them to enter higher education.
*Centres can use their discretion to accept candidates that do not meet the requirements above under certain conditions, so make sure you check it with the centre where you intend to take the course.
What is the CELTA like?
The CELTA deals with five areas related to teaching:
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 teaching contexts
Developing teaching skills and professionalism
The course comprises 120 contact hours (including input sessions, teaching practice and feedback on lessons) and is offered in two formats: face-to-face and online. It is worth mentioning, however, that even the online version requires face-to-face teaching practice.
Candidates are also asked to write four assignments (750-1,500 words) tackling the four areas below:
analysing and responding to adult learner needs
analysing language for teaching purposes
teaching language skills
reflecting on classroom teaching.
Assessment of candidates includes their performance in teaching practice and assignment as well as professionalism. The candidate needs to meet a detailed list of criteria in order to receive the certificate. Successful candidates are awarded one of three marks: Pass, Pass B or Pass A.
How can it help in your professional development?
By providing an introduction to ELT-specific concepts and practices
By increasing your teaching repertoire
By prompting a degree of reflection upon your practices
By providing numerous opportunities to receive feedback on lessons and assignments
By encouraging collaborative work among candidates
By allowing useful networking with other teachers and tutors
By providing candidates with an international certification of their skills and knowledge
Cambridge English Language Assessment monitors CELTA courses around the world closely so as to ensure quality and standardisation of core processes and curriculum. However, there may be differences among CELTA centres in terms of price, qualification of tutors and fringe benefits, so asking around may be a good idea. You can check the authorised centres near you here.
Useful links, tools and bibliography to prepare for the CELTA:
Scrivener, J. Learning Teaching.
Harmer, J. The Practice of English Langauge Teaching
Ur, P. A Course in English Language Teaching
Parrott, M. Grammar for English Language Teachers
Swan, M. Practical English Usage
Thornbury, S. About Language
Cambridge English Official Site
Discovering CELTA - Cambridge English
Rubens Heredia is a CELTA tutor at Cultura Inglesa São Paulo and one of the co-founders of What is ELT?