CELTA course is intense whether you are a trainee or a trainer, whether you take a one-month course or a part-time course that you attend a couple of days a week, whether it is offline or online. This means that trainers will keep you busy on CELTA days and you will also have to do research, work on lesson planning and written assignments on the days between CELTA days. The first tip is to be mentally, physically and psychologically ready for the rigours of the course. You can read about the first CELTA day here.
Course Preparation might seem daunting when you don’t know what to expect. Read about the course components and find out about the assessment criteria. The rules and responsibilities are made public and easy to understand. You will have to produce 4 written assignments and give 6 hours of teaching practice at two different levels. You will have to create a portfolio filing all the submitted paperwork and trainers’ reports on your lesson plans and assignments. Read more about CELTA components here.
I really think that first and foremost you need to take some time off before the course, especially if you’ve been working hard recently. Recharging your batteries will help you start the course fired with enthusiasm and be open to new ideas as well as willing to collaborate with peers. Your attitude is the most essential element contributing to the overall success of this experience.
On the first day of the course you will have to observe a lesson delivered by a trainer and you will start working with learners of a particular level. Try to interact with them as though they are your acquaintances and respond to their utterances naturally instead of focusing on the errors they might be making. Treating your students as ordinary people and showing genuine interest can help you build rapport with them, choose relevant teaching material for them and motivate them to continue their course of study.
Trainers, who might look scary and bossy at the beginning of the course, are likely to be supportive and eager to help you to deal with all challenges. You may feel they criticise you too much but they usually do if they think you can get over some hurdles with their guidance. Therefore, if you’re really interested in getting better, it is worth listening to their advice and following their recommendations, even if it looks like something basic like using a variety of drilling techniques. You’ll probably get used to constructive criticism towards the middle of the course, become more confident about lesson planning and be making a significant progress in teaching, which you’ll definitely be praised for.
It might be worth reading recommended books before the course starts. I’d probably suggest reading Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener or The Practice of English Language Teaching by Jeremy Harmer at the beginning as there is a chapter on almost every area that will be covered during the course. This will help you with some ideas for the formally assessed lessons and you can show some evidence of research quoting from those books for the written assignments.
If you are keen to do more, you can find out ‘How to…’ series useful. Clearly, there are myriad specialism books on classroom management, phonology, assessment, grammar and even discourse analysis. Those books are also recommended for teachers who want to continue their professional development beyond the initial qualification course and aim at DELTA, which means they are not a must at a CELTA level but can also be good sources of information.