In this section you will find some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about doing the CELTA teacher training course, which you will find divided into the following three sections:
Before the course | During the course | After the course
Before the Course
Do you need to have teaching experience to enrol?
No, though if you do, it obviously helps you to cope with being in the ELT classroom.
However, it is interesting to note that some past trainees who did have previous classroom experience (usually in other fields) have said that they sometimes felt it was more difficult for them because they had to “de-program” and “re-learn” quite a lot. The course assumes that the majority of trainees have no experience, so there’s no need to worry.
Do you really need to do a TEFL course in order to gain employment?
Most reputable schools, both locally and abroad, will expect their new teachers to be trained to teach English. The Cambridge CELTA is probably the most respected and well-known training course, and the one which the majority of people refer to when they ask “Have you got the TEFL?” or “Are you trained to teach English?” The second consideration here is your own confidence. Starting to teach English is made a great deal easier if you have some idea of what you are doing, why you are doing it and how to go about teaching. The course gives you this confidence and means you can walk into a classroom feeling like a prepared teacher.
Does your school assist in finding housing for couples taking the course together?
Yes! Just e-mail us for an accommodation request.
What is the application / interview procedure?
In outline, the application procedure is as follows:
- Complete the application form and pre-interview task (see next question) and email them back to us.
- You’ll receive a message setting up a time for an interview. Interviews are usually between 2pm and 4pm on certain afternoons of the week.
- If you pass the interview, you will receive an acceptance letter with details for payment.
- Upon receipt of your acceptance letter, a 50% deposit is required immediately to secure your place. The balance of payment is required at least three weeks before the course begins. If the interview is less than three weeks before the course, payment is required in full. Most people pay by EFT.
- You will then receive the pre-course task (see below) to do before your course starts.
What does the interview consist of?
This usually lasts up to 30 to 40 minutes and we ask you some questions about yourself and the task you have done (pre-interview task). In addition, we also give you information about what to expect on the course and you are always welcome to ask questions.
The pre-interview task is not a test; obviously you don’t know all the answers without having to think hard about them and even having to look them up in reference books (which is what teachers do all the time).
It’s more a test of your attitude and instinctive approach to teaching, your inner resources and, where language is concerned, how you would react if a student asked you this type of question. This gives us a good idea of your skills and qualities and, therefore, of how you will respond to only four weeks of training – whether it will be enough to bring you up to pass standard and allow us to award you the certificate.
What are the deadlines for registration for the course?
The real deadline is when the course is full. There is a maximum of 12 places on any one course. To be sure of a place, we recommend fees are paid six weeks before the start date or as soon as you have been accepted onto a course.
What level of English grammar is expected prior to enrolment?
Rather than “level”, we prefer to look at it as “instinct”. Our pre-interview task helps us to see whether you can instinctively analyse grammar, i.e. whether you have a “feeling” for language so you can help students with their problems.
Your learning of the grammar really takes place when you teach it, because you have to research it when planning a language lesson. However, we also include some input sessions on the course to help you develop this area.
What is the pre-course task? How much time and preperation is involved?
The pre-course task involves about 12-15 hours of work. Although it isn’t assessed or marked, it’s very useful as initial preparation for the course, especially the sections on Language Awareness and Phonology. We’ll send it to you as soon as you’ve confirmed your place with payment.
How much money should I have with me for my first month in South Africa?
You’ll need to bring money with you to pay for accommodation, around R 8 500 should you choose the Ih Cape Town accommodation.
What is the cost of living in South Africa?
Download our cost of living index here.
Should I get a TEFL/TESL certificate, or go for a masters degree?
It depends a bit on where you want to teach. It is a pretty standard requirement in the USA but other countries, particularly European, look for a course which has a strong practical element with at least 6 hours’ observed and assessed teaching practice.
There are countries which will employ you simply by virtue of you being a native-speaker graduate. However, the latter is not a serious option if you want to do justice to your learners and yourself.
During the Course
What is the dress code at IH Cape Town?
Smart, casual and clean is what is expected: no suits or ties are necessary (though see also the comments on dress code in our post-course FAQs section).
The most important consideration in any context is the students, and the fact that you will be in front of them. Will what you are wearing look clean, comfortable, neat and professional, or will students be looking at your suntan, tattoos and underwear?
Please note that during the course, flip-flops, mini-skirts, revealing tops/shirts and any clothes that are torn and/or dirty are not acceptable. We don’t wish to seem sexist, but shorts for men are not acceptable either. Clean, tidy jeans on the other hand are fine.
What is the grading system?
The most important things to work on in the course are your lesson planning, your teaching, your written assignments, your development, and your professionalism. The assessment criteria are set by Cambridge and you will be informed from the start what these are in detail, and how they apply at each stage of the course.
At the end of the course, candidates may be awarded the following grades (shown below from most to least common results):
Candidates’ planning and teaching show satisfactory understanding of English language learning and teaching processes at CELTA level.
- Candidates can plan effectively with guidance. They can analyse target language adequately and generally select appropriate resources and tasks for successful language and language skills development.
- Candidates can generally deliver satisfactory language and skills lessons, using a variety of classroom teaching techniques with a degree of success.
- Candidates show some awareness of learners and some ability to respond so that learners benefit from the lessons.
- Candidates can reflect on some key strengths and weaknesses and generally use these reflections to develop their teaching skills.
In addition, all CELTA assessment criteria are achieved, though some less well than others, and CELTA requirements for written work are also met.
Candidates’ planning and teaching show good understanding of English language learning and teaching processes at CELTA level.
- Candidates can plan effectively with some guidance. They can analyse target language well and select appropriate resources and tasks for successful language and language skills development.
- Candidates can deliver effective language and skills lessons, using a variety of classroom teaching techniques successfully.
- Candidates show good awareness of learners and can respond so that learners benefit from the lessons.
- Candidates can reflect on key strengths and weaknesses and can generally use these reflections to develop their teaching skills.
In addition, all CELTA assessment criteria are achieved and some are achieved well, and CELTA requirements for written work are also met.
Candidates’ planning and teaching show excellent understanding of English language learning and teaching processes at CELTA level.
- Candidates can plan effectively with minimal guidance. They can analyse target language thoroughly and select highly appropriate resources and tasks for successful language and language skills development.
- Candidates can deliver effective language and skills lessons, using a variety of classroom teaching techniques successfully.
- Candidates show very good awareness of learners and can respond so that learners benefit from the lessons.
- Candidates can reflect on key strengths and weaknesses and can consistently use these reflections to develop their teaching skills.
In addition, all CELTA assessment criteria are achieved and most are achieved well, and CELTA requirements for written work are also met.
Candidates’ planning and teaching show minimal understanding of English language learning and teaching processes.
Candidates’ performance does not match all of the Pass descriptors and some CELTA assessment criteria are not achieved and/or CELTA requirements for written work are not met.
What is the name of the certificate received once the course is completed successfully?
The certification received is the Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Speakers of Other Language. The paper certificate you are sent approximately two months after the course finishes is issued by the University of Cambridge Assessment English and says: “This is to certify that [Name] has been awarded __(grade) (Pass, Pass B, Pass A) in the Certificate in English Language Teaching to Speakers of Other Languages”.
Does the certificate indicate the location where it was taken?
The date and centre number (but not the location) are specified. The location is on the end-of-course report which is written by your tutors, and which accompanies the certificate.
What are the various written tasks that trainees are expected to carry out during the CELTA course?
There are four written assignments:
- Focus on the Learner
- Skills Related Tasks
- Language Related Tasks
- Lessons from the Classroom
They are very practical and based on your students, your materials, language analysis and your progress. They are set at least a week or so before they need to be handed in and your tutors will set them up during input to ensure that you know exactly what to do. The word count for each assignment is 750 to 1 000 words.
How long outside of scheduled classroom hours do you anticipate these assignments to take?
Each should take around three to four hours to complete, depending on the candidate. They are spaced out over the course, usually to be handed in on a Monday and count towards the final assessment.
After the Course
Am I guaranteed a teaching position if I pass the course?
We can never guarantee that a course participant will get a job. But you are much more likely to find a position if you have done the course.
Does your school help with job guidance and placement inside and outside South Africa?
We do our best to give you as much help as we can. The course includes a session about finding work, including work through IH schools around the world (over 150 of them).
There is, however, no rock-solid guarantee of finding work. It depends, ultimately, on you and how well you do on the course, and luck to a certain extent – networking and following whatever leads may be available. While not guaranteeing employment, we’ll do as much as we can to help candidates with employment issues after the course.
What would be my chances of finding employment?
This depends firstly on the local context where you have chosen to work.
Outside of South Africa, most schools run an “academic year” of three (or two) terms: in the northern hemisphere this is from September/October to June, and in the southern hemisphere from March/April to December. Some vacancies can occur in July, when new courses begin. At other times of the year work crops up regularly as new classes and in-company contracts can start, and most trainees who are persistent will find they have more than they can handle.
In South Africa, most private English language teaching centres work according to a system of continuous enrolmet, with students starting courses on a weekly or monthly basis. The demand for teachers generally also varies throughout the year as it is dependent on fluctuations in student numbers. For example, in and around Cape Town the TEFL industry is closely linked to tourism, with student intake tending to be higher in December to March and then again in July to August.
The second factor to take into account is how employable you are, both in terms of your previous experience – obviously previous teaching experience is valued, particularly where there is a large supply of teachers for schools to choose from – and in terms of how you did on the course, your future plans, your reasons for wanting to teach, your attitude, your personality, and a host of other factors.
During the course there is help on how to go about finding work. The course puts an emphasis on professional development and careers as well as competence in the classroom, i.e. learning how to be a teacher as well as learning how to teach. In addition, the schools in the area, knowing we run courses, advertise vacancies with us.
From which countries do you receive inquiries from employers needing English teachers?
Most employment tends to be done locally, although some schools, in particular in Central and Eastern Europe, do let us know about their vacancies. The IH World website has a worldwide recruitment section you can look at for current and upcoming vacancies.
Roughly how much can a CELTA qualified teacher in Cape Town expect to earn?
Pay and conditions vary a great deal. In Cape Town you can expect between R 7 500 (without experience) to R11 000+ (with experience) per month for a minimum of 20 hours a week contact time.
Is there any form of dress code in teaching in South Africa?
Please refer to the section on dress code in our “During the course” FAQs section as this applies in most English language teaching jobs in South Africa. However, in some business English teaching contexts and in teaching in some universities, men may be expected to wear a jacket and tie.
Smart but casual is the general rule for most teaching jobs in South Africa. In other cultures the dress code may be different and may be even more important.
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