The ABC of ELT

How to survive your CELTA or other Qualification course

Make no mistake doing a CELTA or other qualification course is tough. 4 weeks of intensive learning, teaching, planning and assignments leave many students dreaming about teaching, coursebooks and their least favourite students. For a few people it is too much and they drop out early for others they put their lives on hold. However, some people manage to not only survive but thrive under their CELTA conditions.

If you want to avoid being burnt out, dropping out, and instead not only survive but thrive under your CELTA course try our top tips to survive your course.

1. Consider doing a part-time course

Part time courses are just as valid as full-time course but they don’t have the stress of fitting everything into a tight time frame. This is especially useful for people who struggle with the assignments or who want to continue working part-time as well.

This is actually the option I went for. I started my course in April, meaning I finished in the summer when schools were recruiting, continued to earn a salary at the same time to help with the financial cost of travelling and funding my course and I had more time to spend on my assignments.

2. Plan time to plan lesson and assignments

Insuring you have a slot which you have a mind set of “work” is really useful for most people. Not only that but being aware of the assignments as well as lesson plans helps avoid all nighters the day before you are teaching and need to hand in your assignment. On the full-time CELTA course there is an assignment a week and an observed lesson every other day. On different course the times vary but make sure you know when they are due at the start.

3. Make sure you get enough sleep

Sleep is vital for productivity. You may think that it is better to stay up late and continue to work for the next few hours but you may well be better just going to bed, getting some rest and then spending only half an hour in the morning to do the same amount of work.

Sleep also is vital for dealing with stress, if you don’t get enough stress it leads to more stress which makes it harder to sleep which leads to more stress and so on. 8 hours a day is generally pretty good and to make sure you get to sleep straight away try to avoid using electronic gadgets before you go to sleep.

LCD screens stimulate the mind more than reading a book in low light.

4. Eat well

Eating good food is important for being productive and efficient. Skipping your morning meal may give you 10 extra minutes but the cost is that your body is burning off over energy sources and not the food you would have consumed. This makes you feel more tired and less energetic or efficient. It can also add to your stress.

Instead try to eat a fair and balanced diet which catered to all the food groups.

5. Stay social

It’s easy to become a recluse whilst you do your CELTA but staying social is vitally important. The DELTA can be so intense that you end up having dreams about teaching and coursebooks (yes really, though in some cases they are nightmares). Having a chance to blow of steam can seem like a waste of time when you have an assignment due but it can also help focus your mind by allowing you to take a step away from teaching for a moment.

A couple of warnings though, too much socializing can ruin your time management and lead to missed assignments so make sure you ration it.

Expect to talk about teaching a bit. Your non CELTA friends will be curious what you are doing and what it’s like and your friends from your course will probably Talk about teaching as it is your common bond. Prepare for it and be ready to quickly change topics.

6. Cut out the crap

I won’t lie, these courses are big time commitments and can be tough. Don’t expect it to be a nine to five thing. You’re going to have to make some sacrifices somewhere and I suggest you start with the “rubbish” in your life.

  • Video games
  • Facebook
  • Watching TV/YouTube videos of cats doing adorable things

Whatever it is that you decided to spend “5 minutes” doing and the. Finish doing 2 hours or more later is rubbish. You may really enjoy it, you may learn a lot, it may be great fun but it’s dangerous and you can’t risk wasting time on your CELTA.

The amazing thing is that once you cut things like this out of your life you will suddenly discover hours of extra free time that you can use in other ways. That may mean that you have time to do these things anyway but they always happen after you have done everything else you need to do. You may even discover other things that you like doing,

7. Be still

Sometimes when everything feels like it’s just too much, the best thing to do is just be still, breath slowly and let all the worries drift away. It’s amazing how just stopping for a second and focusing on nothing but your breathing stops the cycle of stress that can build and give you sudden clarity over what to do next. It can feel so counter intuitive that when there are so many things you need to do the best thing to do is…stop. But it works.

8. Say No

If you’re the type of person that always says yes then this will be pretty hard for you but it’s very necessary. The CELTA and other courses are hard work and take a lot of time. You CAN’T keep doing everything you were before. Practice saying no to things in advance and freeing up extra time. If you have free time you can always fill it with something, if you have no free time then you can’t gain it from anywhere.

Most Importantly Enjoy it

There you go, some quick and easy tips and tricks for how to survive your CELTA. Most of them aren’t rocket science but actually doing them is pretty hard. I don’t want to scare you off applying for a course but warn you of what you have to expect.

Despite these warnings (and the large amounts of work) I want to point out that you should enjoy your course. It’s a great time to meet new people, learn new things, form strong bonds (you all need to conquer the beast of the course you are taking!) and have fun. Try not to just focus on the negative but the positives as well.

I’m sure you’ve got some other ideas so why not leave a comment bellow with your ideas.

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

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