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Take the CELTA course and become... a CELTA Trainer

Take the CELTA and become… a CELTA Trainer

Many a teacher has felt this strange feeling of reverse déjà vu, of the world turning upside down when, after years of studying, they find themselves at the front of the classroom, teaching future versions of themselves. There’s a feeling of having come full circle, that, for some, is slightly overshadowed by the feeling that one has been running in place one’s whole life, just because they like the scenery. That scenery being, of course, the inside of the classroom, with its dramas and conflicts, its growth, its passion.

The CELTA Passion

Of course, if it’s drama and passion you’re looking for, you need look no further than your nearest CELTA course. And some people who take the CELTA are immediately hooked, to the extent that they, too, would like to come full circle (and run in place), and go for that grand reversal of the student becoming the master.

This is the number one answer among CELTA trainers when asked how they became a trainer: their own CELTA was such a magical and intense experience that they wanted to do it again, and again, and again. They talk about the pleasure they know, that of being in the classroom full of eager and anxious students, times the fact that their learners are teachers themselves. They talk about the impact they have as a teacher improving the knowledge and skills of their students, multiplied by the fact that, indirectly, they will be reaching all the students of each of their trainees for years to come.


In practical terms, though, CELTA trainers often come upon their work as an avenue to professional development. In the ELT world, as years of classroom teaching give way to fatigue, or else just an itch for change, EFL teachers are confronted with two possible paths to career development: they can become managers and administrators, taking them ever further from the classroom, or they can become teacher trainers.

Which doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily an easy path to take. Cambridge vets all those who want to become CELTA trainers, and in the potential trainer's application to become a trainer-in-training, they are looking out for only two things:

  • The trainer-in-training (Tint) must have a DELTA or equivalent;

  • The Tint must be devoted to his or her own professional development.

The Trainer, the Tint, and the Training Center

If a teacher fulfills those two requirements, he or she would approach an authorized Cambridge CELTA training center and ask to be trained up to be a CELTA trainer. The process can be summed up in the following steps:

  • The training center completes an application on the trainer’s behalf and sends it to Cambridge for approval; if the tint is approved, they can begin their training;

  • Before actual training starts, the tint is given some pre-training tasks:

    • watching a “standardization video” and marking “standardization assignments” in order to become familiar with the assessment process;

    • reading carefully the CELTA Administrator’s Handbook;

  • The Tint shadows a course, which entails:

    • Observing and taking notes on everything one of the trainers on the course does, as well as performing most of the tasks performed by the trainer, including:

    • Marking assignments;

    • Preparing TP points;

    • Observing teaching practice and writing feedback reports;

    • Comparing their notes, assignment grades and TP points to those of the trainer, and meeting with the trainer to discuss and learn from any discrepancies;

    • Towards the end of the course interacting more directly with course participants, and performing tasks such as:

      • Delivering input sessions;

      • Leading teaching practice oral feedback sessions;

      • Teaching demonstration lessons;

      • Screening and interviewing candidates to take part in a future course;

      • Keeping a portfolio that includes:

        • Notes taken as the Tint observes the CELTA trainers in each of their roles;

        • Shadow-marked assignments and teaching practice feedback reports;

        • Input session plans and feedback from their trainer on their input sessions;

        • Self-reflections on each aspect of the course they have participated in;

  • ·Finally, the Tint submits their portfolio to the course assessor, who spends an extra day assessing courses with Tints on them, during which time the assessor

    • Observes them giving an input session;

    • Observes them giving oral feedback on teaching practice;

    • Reads through the Tint’s portfolio;

    • Has an interview with the Tint;

    • Either approves the Tint as a CELTA trainer or requires further shadowing if the Tint is not yet ready;

  • If the Tint is approved as a trainer by the assessor, they must then work at least two more full courses with the same training center, during which time they continue to receive feedback and training from the other tutors on the course;

  • After this period, they can work as trainers for any other center.

Tint and Training Center Give and Take

Tint’s can train up either as freelancers, or as employees of a training center. When they train up as freelancers, the most common form of exchange between the training center and the Tint is for the latter to work on two courses without pay in exchange for being trained up by the center.

When the Tint is already an employee of the training center, or is hired in order to be trained up, conditions tend to vary based on the type of contract, local labor law legislation, and the ultimate job description of the Tint.

Whereas working as a freelancer can seem a financially precarious line of work, in the summer high season it isn’t uncommon for them to be flown to various different places to run courses. So whereas their hourly rate for a course turns out to be quite low, when factoring the amount of hours trainers have to put in, and when compared with other types of courses, there are definite perks involved. The trainer who is writing this has been on all-expenses-paid courses/trips to Oman, the Emirates, Algeria, and various different parts of the United States. All that remains is for a trainer to become sufficiently adept at their various tasks to have enough breathing space on the weekends to enjoy the scenery—not only that of the exotic places they get flown to, but also the dramatic and passionate of the CELTA training classroom.


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