Spicy Tooth

ESOL – Literacy – Numeracy

Is anyone still offering a face-to-face CELTA? Yes, we are!

My last post ‘certificate in using Zoom with speakers of other languages‘ was a slightly tongue-in-cheek look at how it seems that language schools are all jumping on the 100% online CELTA bandwagon. Online learning is nothing new, so it isn’t really that much of a surprise and Covid-19 has meant that this was the only option available to many schools.

Maybe our organisation is in the minority now, but educational establishments reopened in September and as a result we are still able to offer a face-to-face CELTA which starts next month and we are fully enrolled! Things are different, of course; there is a one-way system for entering and exiting the building, there are hand sanitising dispensers everywhere and desks in classrooms are no longer arranged in ‘café style’.

I still believe that a course like the CELTA is much better suited for face-to-face than online delivery, provided that it is still safe to do so (the health and safety is paramount and I can say that the organisation where I work has done a relatively good job to make things ‘Covid safe’:

  • The CELTA course is really intensive (even the part-time option) and having that shared camaraderie with the other trainees on the course is part of what makes it memorable and rewarding. You just can’t replicate that shared experience online, particularly for the input, teaching practice or the observations of experienced teachers.
  • Yes, you will see that the online CELTA is marketed as the same qualifiation, the same number of total course hours etc. etc. but you won’t see anything saying that it is not the same experience – the learning journey is just not the same. However, isn’t the CELTA journey just as important as the destination? Although the online input modules offered by Cambridge are very well put together, it’s still an online course and there is always the temptation with online courses to quickly skim through the activities, click to see the correct answers and get to the end to get the unit only to find that you don’t really have an understanding of the content (yes, we’ve all done it; I did it with some Microsoft training). Moreover, you can’t get away from the fact that trainees do the input in front of a screen in isolation. The CELTA face-to-face input sessions are not lectures and trainees doing online courses miss out on the active nature of face-to-face input, the sharing of ideas and learning opportunites because they are working remotely by themselves. You don’t need to look very far to find university students feeling ripped off after paying full fees and getting online classes in return.
  • I’m not saying that having some experience of online teaching isn’t a good thing. What I am saying is, think seriously about the benefits of doing a face-to-face CELTA if the option is available in your area and it is safe to do so. We are planning to offer our trainees some experience of online teaching on our face-to-face course and good schools will probably do the same (ask them at the interview). Cambridge may say that the certificate you get when you complete and pass the course will look exactly the same, regardless of whether you did a 100% online, 100% face-to-face or a blended CELTA (online input, face-to-face TP), but employers who know their stuff are likely to ask which one you did. If they are looking for an online teacher, then great, but jobs at organisations with physical classrooms will eventually resume face-to-face delivery (if they haven’t already done so) and they will want someone who has experienced what it is like to stand in front of a real group of students. It’s one of those things you can never know what it’s like until you’ve actually done it (and no, it’s not the same as looking at learners on a screen).

So, face-to-face CELTAs aren’t a thing of the past and as a trainer, I’m glad! Ok, I’m biased because I changed my career and became a teacher because I got fed up with sitting in front of a computer all day and I have no desire to return to that scenario on a permanent basis!

spicytoothadmin • October 17, 2020


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