International House Cape Town is a University of Cambridge authorised centre to offer the CELTA teacher training course. The schools runs around 7 full time courses a year which are 4 weeks long.
One of the candidates who participated in our June CELTA course at IH Cape Town was so kind to write down some very helpful tips for everyone who wants to do the CELTA course and is unsure on what to expect before and during this very intensive course.

Before the course


Limited free time
  • During the course you are not going to have much free time – people might not understand that the course is very intense. Make sure you let family/friends/partners know! Maybe you can be there for supper in the week….maybe not.
  • During the week you don’t have much time for anything else – on the weekend you will have a bit of time – get some fresh air and take a break. Cape Town is a great place for that.
    Time for friends and familynature walksTake a break and breath
The right food
  • With all the brainwork you burn up calories!
    Packed lunchesYou need to organise good food – quick meals to take to IH but also to eat at home/late
  • at night when you are working.
  • Take lots of food to school – oats are easy, boiled eggs, sandwiches, apples, sweets, last night’s leftovers etc.  It’s a hassle buying food at a takeaway joint.
Be computer literate
  • You need to be able to type well and know how to move data around i.e. on flash drives/email etc.
  • It would be good to be able to photograph/scan images, email them and work on them in a document. If you can use photoshop or another design program even better (not essential though).
  • It could be a good idea to be familiar with Power point and laying out pics in Word. You can do lesson plans on the Smartboard programme but it could save you time and hassle if you prepare it all at home. Just double check that power point works fine on the smartboard computer at IH.
  • It is best to have your own laptop. IH Cape Town has some PC’s but you are more flexible with your own.

Computer literacy

On the course


Two brains are better than oneDiscussions with colleagues are always helpful.
  • Setup a whatsapp group immediately and start sharing knowledge. Brainstorming and discussing different together is a great way of getting a wider picture of things. Constructive feedback is also always helpful for your development.
  • Share ideas and get help from your colleagues. You are there to learn! Forget about petty squabbles and irritating rivalry, just focus on the amazing techniques you will be learning.
Understand technology
  • Get to grips with the basics of using the smartboard – go in 30 mins early and take 15 mins of your lunch break and play around on the smart board. It can get very frustrating and distracting if technology is not working in your favour during your first lesson in front of a group of students.
  • Make sure you nail your assignments. You don’t want to have to resubmit, it will add more pressure.
  • When doing your assignments read the questions VERY carefully, it is all there, you just have to read it carefully and stick to the questions. If in doubt…ask!
FilingWrite down the most important things on a notepad and keep it handy.Stay organised by using a calendar and notepad
  • Get a large ring binder – keep your filing up to date – file every day – date the handouts and file them – you need to know where things are in your file, you don’t have time to spend hunting for things.
  • Keep a small notebook/diary for most important day-to-day things.
Mark your territory
  • In your classroom, find your small space and keep your things together. When the pressure is on, things can get messy and you don’t want your stuff getting mixed up with others.
Time management
  • When you have some space – look ahead at deadlines/lessons etc and get on top of your calendar.
  • Work steadily and consistently day-by-day but know what is ahead, so you can orientate yourself and prioritise things.
Crucial to keep in mind
  • There is deluge of handouts – the absolute crucial one is the LESSON PLANNING handout. You have to read it and digest it and adhere to it!
  • Second crucial advice – the heart of your lesson is the Language Analysis part (meaning, pronunciation and form) and Concept Check Questions (CCQ’s) are at the heart of the Language Analysis. Get to grips with how best/in the simplest/quickest way to check that your students understand the language (CCQ). Thinking deeply about CCQs means that you are thinking deeply about your students and their learning.
  • In your lesson – establish an engaging context at the beginning and refer back to that context throughout the lesson.

Have some trust

  • The course is super well planned and run – you might feel out of your depth in the first week, but the way the course is designed, the assignments and lectures all tie together and all assist in moving you along.
  • The tutors are there to help and teach – they aren’t there to fail you! The tutors are watching you very carefully and will assist you when they need to. Trust them and trust the process.
Useful books and sources
  • Buy yourself a copy of Jim Scrivener – Learning Teaching and Martin Parrott Grammar for English Language Teachers (imo – nicely laid out, easy on the eye, good examples)CELTA text books
  • Try and read into Learning Teaching before the course.
    You will use both of them for assignments on the course and you will use them as reference books after the course.
  • Practical English Usage from Michael Swan is also a good reference.
  • The school sells these books as well, so just ask them.
  • is a useful site for phonology.



It is only 20 days – don’t forget that! It goes by in a flash…make the most of it.
Enjoy the ride – it is challenging and hugely rewarding, you will learn so much.
If you follow these simple tips and tricks and you will survive the CELTA course at IH Cape Town. 

For more information on the course you can check out IH Cape Town’s website or send an email to [email protected]

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