A strange time
I’d like to begin by expressing my fervent hope that you and your families are all well and healthy.
These are very strange and, for many of us, very stressful and difficult times. The Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on all of our lives, both personally and professionally. English for Africa, as well as our partner, Cambridge Assessment English, like other companies, have been struggling to adapt to the new circumstances. One of those adaptations is our decision to transform our upcoming part-time course into an online course.
Typically, Cambridge University requires a Centre to run at least two face-to-face courses before it is given permission to run a course online. Given the circumstances caused by Covid-19, and also given the solid experience of the course tutors in providing online instruction and teacher training (including online CELTA courses with previous centers), Cambridge Assessment English has decided to allow us to run this, our first course, online.
The typical online CELTA course is not, however, a strictly online course. It is a blended
course with two interdependent but distinct components: teaching practice and input.
Input and Teaching Practice
In the typical online CELTA course, input, which is the theoretical knowledge needed to become a teacher of English as a second language, is conducted online. Candidates log onto a platform, read texts, watch videos, do exercises, and, most importantly, participate in synchronous and asynchronous (forum) discussions on teaching with their trainers and fellow learners.
Teaching practice, on the other hand, would typically take place in a face-to-face context, as with CELTA courses delivered in other formats (both intensive and part-time).
“Entirely Online” vs Blended
Because of the impossibility, currently, of bringing people together for face-to-face classes, Cambridge University has temporarily authorized centers to run “entirely online” courses. What this means is that, exceptionally, and until things can be brought back to normal, teaching practice will be done online, using an online platform such as Zoom or Webroom.
The question for us is, will our course run entirely online, or will it run as a blended course?
The answer will depend on how the epidemiological situation evolves on the ground. Right now, we are looking at two options:
Option 1: The situation returns to normal
The online course will begin on 28 May and will end 8 August (the minimum amount of time allowed for an online course is 10 weeks). The online component (input) will be done first, and teaching practice will start 8 July, and run until 24 July. The rest of the course (24 July to 8 August) will be done online.
Option 2: We are still in lockdown
The course dates will be the same, and input will remain the same. However, online teaching practice will be spaced out over a period of 6 weeks, starting the week of 15 June. Each candidate will teach twice per week.
Extra support for the online course
For both the fully online and the blended courses, we will offer a free 4-hour grammar workshop before the course starts. If the course is fully online, you will also receive a free 4-hour workshop to train you on the use of the online platform we will be using.
Will the certificate be the same?
Of vital importance is that regardless of which of the two options above is selected, the certificate you receive at the end of the course will be exactly the same as for a face-to-face course. It will not mention that the course took place online, nor will it mention the name of the center where you studied. This is because the assessment criteria and the content of the course will also be the same.
There is no doubt that life has not gone back to normal for most of us, nor that it will ever be exactly the same again. We are, however, still here, and still capable and eager to work to improve our teaching and, by extension, our future and that of our students. To the extent of our abilities, we at English for Africa will continue to support you in doing this.
Mohamed Ali Oummih, Director