My bad experience on the CELTA course

I seem to be collecting bad experiences lately. Here is the latest. I signed up for a CELTA course. This is a four week intensive course to gain a certificate in teaching English to Adults.

I have lots of experience in teaching but it has been primary and then English in the private sector. I thought I would be able to manage it. I researched thoroughly. Well, I read some blogs. Most seem to be written by enthusiastic types who said it was stressful but rewarding and well worth it. I phoned around and signed up for a course at a private adult language college in Cambridge. I went for the interview which was fairly straight forward. The premises were swish, the interviewer was nice. It all seemed professional and fine. I submitted my pre-course task and read grammar books and the Bible of TEFL, Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener. I was quite enjoying it all. I had a new sense of purpose and I was looking forward to teaching again, loving the idea of teaching motivated adults.

The alarm bells should have started ringing when I got the bill for the course before my acceptance letter. This was a money making exercise.

I can’t say I wasn’t warned about the intensity of the course. Every blog I read said this. The day was from 915 until 545 pm. There were “lectures” all day and then teaching practice at the end of the day with an hour break for lunch and two coffee breaks. There were four assignments to do which took up most of every evening and long lesson plans to compose. So there was no free time and no time to absorb the information. However, I was managing it and this wasn’t really the problem.

The first major problem was the teaching practice at the end of the day when I was tired from a long day of study. This just seemed insane to me. To teach at one’s best it would have to be first thing in the morning.
I was exhausted by the time my slot arrived. There was no way I could do my best. The tutor sat with a laptop writing up your feedback during the lesson. You were also observed by the rest of your teaching group and a trainee tutor. Seven people were watching the lesson. Never in all my years as a state teacher have so many people been allowed to observe at the same time.

The day after you taught there was a feedback session where trainees were encouraged to slag each other off. There seemed little emphasis on the positive and the tutor did not discourage people from making extremely negative, personal comments. Then the tutor would weigh in. This was the most dispiriting way to train teachers I have ever encountered and there was certainly nothing like it on my PGCE. I was stunned by the unprofessionalism of the comments. I have been observed by OFSTED and usually found to be of a good standard. This is no mean feat so I was taken aback at the truly brutal negativity in the feedback. Apparently now I couldn’t even stand in the right place during a lesson. My colleagues’ lessons were in the main dire but I was polite about them. I really couldn’t bring myself to join in the slagfest. It’s just not me.I sucked it up and realised that teaching English as a foreign language is different to the teaching I had been used to. I determined to listen to the points made and to try my best to pass the course. In fact, I felt the more I tried to teach in the CELTA way the worse my lessons got.

The first tutor was bland but pleasant enough and I had managed to get through the first week with her giving me a reasonable balance of good and bad points. I had plenty to work on but I was doing ok. My main bugbear was being ordered to smile. In normal life I am a laughing, jokey sort of person. In stressful situations I am not and I find it hard to smile to order. The over-emphasis on this aspect of myself hurt me and made me more nervous than ever. It is the sort of comment that would be considered unprofessional if an OFSTED inspector made it.

Things were about to get worse. In the second week we changed tutors and I was given the rotund Emi. Emi was constantly announcing that she had a CELTA, A DELTA (don’t ask) and an MA as if to convince herself that her credentials made her up to the job. She seemed to take an instant dislike to me. The first lesson was passed as to standard but she savaged me in the group feedback with many negatives. Apparently it is wrong in TEFL teaching to say good or to praise your students. It is also wrong to “do too much”. I still don’t know what this actually means.

After her observation of the second lesson she decided we needed individual feedback. She had me in a room along for fifteen minutes and good God did she put the boot in. I was told I was “school marmy”, I went into “teacher mode” (I don’t know what this is), I had bad rapport, I was patronising, I treated the students like children, I spent too long explaining the grammar, I hadn’t allowed enough time to practise… on and on and on. In spite of this avalanche of criticism she passed the lesson as to standard. If it was that bad why had she done this? She should have failed me. I realise in the cold light of day that she did this so that nobody else would have to scrutinise why she failed me. She was taking the opportunity to bully me for her own pleasure. She asked me at one point if I liked teaching. She said I shouldn’t have been allowed on the course as my knowledge of grammar wasn’t good enough. She asked me if I had spent any time around foreign learners. It was all designed to destroy me. There were no witnesses. Every positive point made by the previous tutor was now a negative. I had not done anything right. The most bizarre statement was that according to Emi, TEFL teachers fall into two types: one type does TEFL to travel the world, shag (sic) women and drink beer. The other type is like Emi. I don’t think you are like that Lynn she patronised. Er no. I am forty seven. I would quite like to travel the world, I have never knowingly shagged a woman but I have had the odd beer. I am not like Emi. I am very proud of this aspect of myself. She finished the session by telling me to go and re-read all the grammar books in the library even though she knew there was not time in the schedule to do this.

I saw out the day and went home. I wrote up my second assignment. I tried to plan my next lesson. I re-read the written feedback on my plan and burst into tears. I couldn’t find a single positive to work with. I was told in the first week I had good rapport. Now this was a target to achieve. How could this be the case? In a fog of exhaustion and stress I decided to give up.

I phoned the centre the next day and withdrew. I had wasted £1,500 on the course. For the next week I felt nauseous and ill. I couldn’t sleep and I had night sweats.

I have no idea what I will do now. I have no idea whether I am, as Emi said, the worst teacher in the world. I may have the wrong style for adults. To change this, after twenty years ingrained experience, will be a long road. Part of me want to still TEFL: go out unqualified, learn the ropes on the job, write teach and travel, Hemingwaying my way around the world. Part of me thinks I should accept the criticism and knock teaching on the head.

The CELTA is intensive and stressful but without the bullying I think I would have got through and survived. I am annoyed at myself for being so weak but there was no way I could carry on.

I would say that the course as a whole is a bit Mickey Mouse. The methodologies are out of date, stuck in the eighties and there are very rigid ways of teaching things which I found didn’t work and took too long. The lectures were tiresome in that they were always conducted like lessons with lots of games and partner work where you had to behave like a language student. Many of the activities were incredibly childish considering it was a course for adults. There was no time to process new information and apply it to your lessons so it just kind of washed over you in a fog. At one point my activity partner turned to me and said, “I am too tired to talk.” I concurred. CELTA is like a four week boot camp, brainwashing into a certain way of teaching. It is bizarre. I learned some new things but not very much. Many of the techniques I had covered before many times. The teaching points one had to follow for the lessons were overly prescriptive and heavily reliant on a very boring textbook. There was absolutely no room for creativity whatsoever. This is a system to produce teaching robots.

I studied for the CELTA at the Bell Educational Trust in Cambridge. The tutors were Lynsey and Emi.I would not recommend it unless you are a blue eyed new graduate willing to soak up information uncritically.


65 thoughts on “My bad experience on the CELTA course

  1. I feel so sorry that you had such a horrible experience, and honestly you are not the only one. I think one of the biggest problems is the time frame. In Malaysia now they don’t do the 4 week course because it is just plain impossible and what happens is that participants just switch off after about 3 days of criticism and tutors have to end up bashing them over the head with a brick to get them to listen… the tutors themselves are screaming with their workload too and end up blaming everything on the participants!

    We have some teachers come in to our school who are newly certified and we always get them to do a demo…if they have done the one month course the only thing they seem to remember is the ‘chesting’! The rest they are completely lost. It’s as if they gave up and decided to just sit there, be shouted at, ridiculed and suffered through the 4 weeks just so that they could get the certificate to get a job. (Because apparently there is rarely a fail…all you have to do is go through the motions and you will get a certificate…)

    When we take teachers who have done the 12 week part time course things are a lot different. Their demo shows that they have absorbed so much more and are chomping at the bit to get into the classroom.

    I hope this hasn’t deterred you from ESL teaching…., CELTA is the key certificate to have (in this part of the world anyway), it does tend to weed out the slack backpackers from the committed ones. Basically backpackers will never pay that much when they can get an online TEFL for a 10th of the price when they only want to just travel.

    All our CELTA graduates employed with us are serious ones…and great teachers too (not Emi-types….whatever horrible thing that is) but all have come through the 12 week course not the one month one.

    Don’t give up…..if you have a passion for teaching there will always be a need for people like you CELTA or no CELTA!.

  2. I made a formal complaint about Emi Slater to Bell and received a full apology. Didn’t get my money back though. I just hope she thinks twice about bullying someone else. I am tired of people like this getting away with their behaviour.

  3. Hi there,

    I read this post with interest as this relates to my CELTA experience two years ago. I did my CELTA at IH Dublin in August 2013 and I had three tutors during my course. One of them was a woman and the others were two men. For two weeks, my tutor was S and he was very nice and constructive. His feedback was (as you would say) a bit bland, but being bland is better than ripping one of your trainees apart.

    After two weeks, I had B and boy was there trouble in store. B was like your Emi. There was very little to no positive feedback from him. He was always very nit-picky, constantly focusing and zooming in on little things I did and blowing them out of proportion like “You’re not standing correctly in the classroom” and “You couldn’t control that student when he was dominating the talking and that other student was mad and I feel sorry for him because he’s paying for these English lessons.” (because every teacher has control over students behaviour *sarcasm*) I thought to myself later “Well, what about me B, I paid €1,700 for a CELTA course, was told there would be constructive feedback and instead you’re just berating me. This is the kind of feedback I get for that kind of money for a one month course?! He destroyed my self-confidence and my self-esteem during the course. Every time I had to fill out one of these self-evaluation forms, he constantly criticised every thing I wrote. I got mostly standards from him with a (just) in brackets. One time he accidentally failed me and when I asked him why, he said “Oh sorry,” He used tippex to erase the mark and gave me a tick in the standard box but added (weak) in brackets. Then he added in a deadpan, patronising tone “Oh Aoife, your lesson was really weak.” The next day, he printed out the same feedback form again with a tick in the standard box and (weak) in brackets because he had to use tippex in the last feedback form (according to him). His feedback was softer to other trainees except me.

    I agree with you in that the feedback sessions with other trainees seem like a slagfest. I remember in one lesson I couldn’t teach the students properly because of the overwhelming negative feedback I was receiving from him and the fact that there were seven trainees at the back of the classroom watching me. I was so depressed and suicidal in that period because I was unemployed for a long time and I thought I was going to fail the course and not be able to pursue a career in ELT teaching. Luckily, I passed and got the certificate. I could’ve gotten a better grade had I not allowed him to upset me at the time or if I had a nicer, more constructive trainer.

    Your blog post raises a few issues about the CELTA. If CELTA trainees are paying over 1000 pounds or euros for a one month course, then they deserve constructive feedback from their tutors. Some of these trainers also need to realize that whether they like it or not, they are role model teachers for their trainees. If they’re treating their trainees badly, then they’re kind of showing that a teacher can profit from their power and get away with treating their students in that manner. Sorry for my long rant about my CELTA experience. I just wanted to share that with you, because I couldn’t share that with anyone on the course. Everyone seemed to like that trainer except me. I applaud you for making a formal complaint, I wish I did that after the course two years ago.

    My advice: Don’t give trainers the power to control your feelings. No matter how much experience or qualifications they have, it doesn’t make them nice people. If they think you’re bad at your job, ignore them because they’re not helpful. You shouldn’t let them stand in the way of achieving your goal.

  4. Yeah, I’m working as an English teacher. It can be tough, because what bosses want are results in that they want to keep students and sometimes it doesn’t matter how good of a teacher you are or how hard you work, it’s more important to bosses that students like you. But sometimes it can be nice in that you can use a variety of materials with your students and that you can travel the world with a CELTA. From the tone of your CELTA tutor, she seems to dislike people who travel the world teaching. I don’t see what’s bad about wanting to travel. You can be a good teacher and travel at the same time.

  5. I just withdrew from a Celta course and I was very stressed and anxious and I am putting in a complaint about the tutor. The course was not well run my two trainee teachers just did not work with me and there was just overuse of Smartboard which I didn’t know anything about.

  6. I have so much to say I don’t know where to start. Once I do start I’ll probably write a novel here so here it goes.
    Firstly then me how much I sincerely sympathise with you for having gone through that ideal. I’m sure your a great teacher in your own way. I’m so sorry that you had to suffer and that others like myself are also suffering in silence.

    I started the Celta pretty gun hoe, with a huge amount of optimism and looking forward to the better employmeny opportunities that would come my way. The first tutor was absolutely lovely and made it a very positive experience and quite constructive feedback that was given in a friendly manner.
    Gosh was I in for a shocker. When I then changed to another level the other tutor stepped in. We were treated like little children who were ssshhed up, everytime we asked a question this tutor actually became offended. The feedback session were raw, rudely delivered with every single stage and item being scrutinised over. It became so stressful that I actually would spend days planning ( was on a part-time course). I became so stressed I almost burst into tears and became non-stop seriously ill.
    Then when I thought it couldn’t possible get worse the last tutor arrived. I was relieved to have another tutor but I was not prepared for what was ahead of me. This time towards the end of the course the stakes seemed to become much higher, expectations became much higher and the critisism just became excrutiatingly unbearable. I was constantly asked, you must be exhausted, you spoke too much. I had arrived from a fantastic teaching background. I had always enjoyed engaging thoroughly with my class, when students are engaged they enjoy learning and we enjoy teaching. Here it was the opposite. I had to limit my words which seemed futile and no my dear teacher I was not exhausted after speaking with my students. I went from hardly having any negative feedback to a whole list of negatives with hardly any positives to speak of at all apart from a few good visuals and good rapport. What really tore me apart was the injustice. 2 team members had to pull out due to personal health reasons so when they returned do teach she hardly gave thrm any negative feedback at all. It was short and positive. This teacher wanted to see what I was going to do for my next lesson and she guided me to use a certain format and picked my activities. So I followed her advice hoping for some recognition. She slaughtered me and actually failed my lesson. I was beyond belief that this was happening. I went up to the tutor privately afterwards and said I completely disagree with below standard and that I had met my aims. I then said that she handpicked the activities, why did she fail me for this?
    Then in her feedback, appaulingly she lied and made up things like I didn’t show the correct syllables, amongst other concocted lies. (Sorry about my spelling, I’m getting quite emotional).
    It seems completely impossible to pleass this tutor. Whatever she advises us to do, I would literally write it down, use it and then be cut down for doing it.
    I worked so hard and to get a below standard which I have never got, even when onserved in schools, has been unbearable. I felt so dimoralised and disgusted that someone has this power over me.
    After all of this I wanted to quit. I am.finding it really hard to continue in this unproductive way of learning.
    It feels like a complete money making rag.

    I found the Celta way like trying to put a camel through the eye of a needle.

    Being a great teacher depends of all sorts of skills, your rapport and charisma, building upon what works for tour students, differentiating for different abilities within one class – which doesn’t happen Celta.
    It taked years to develop your craft in any profession, not days. After a lesson or unit we can look back and think how can we make it a more interactive, interesting lesson where students can actually learn and walk away with some knowledge.

    I find it ridiculous that we only have one shot at a lesson topic then have to move on. I agree we don’t have time to truely absorb what we’re given.

    In short, only do Celta if you absolutely have to. It had been a very negative experience with zero accountibility. Once you have paid they have you by the balls.

    • Thank you for your thoughts. I think you sound like a really thoughtful person. I still don’t feel recovered from the trauma all these months afterwards. I hope you can recover and move forward. Your experience sounds exactly like mine. It’s bullying.

    • Thank you so much for commenting! I can tell you are a caring person. I have been afraid to tell my terrible story with CELTA. Now I know I wasn’t alone.

  7. Thanks for reading my enormous email. Again, I unreservedly apologise for my awful spelling. My fingers were just itching to type away and it was way past midnight. I believe that you are strong and totally right for walking away. That was an empowering decision for you to make. Why should we choose to allow people to have that type of power over us. In primary school and in the workplace it’s called bullying and often times we can do something about it.

  8. am from morocco…i found your post while looking for infos regarding celta…anyway…as much as i feel sorry for what happened to you…when i read similar stories..i start seing a pattern..first they send you mister nice guy, just to get that first bite out of your money…then they push you out with the next tutor, trained to humiliate i think..leaving the course under pressure is exactely what they want…think about…they dont want too much teachers out there…or else…they will run out of clients…the less celta graduates the more demand of teachers the more clients buy the course… its all about money anyway…you couldve put a fake smile and just say ´´ yes mam ´´ your right your majesty… u know..
    Anyway…dont let that emi ot ema i dnt remember her name..dnt let her put down your dreams…apply again…take a deep breath through it…get ur certificate…and travel the world .
    All the best .

  9. Thank you for sharing your lucid analysis. It’s helped me. I had a similar experience in 2009. My friend began a course this week in a different country and it seems the same. There’s plainly a systemic problem. Does the course attract sadistic tutors or does it make them that way? I felt under severe psychological attack and very low on that course (maybe I shouldn’t be allowed into a classroom) but it didn’t break me in the long run. I’ve since made a good living teaching, working to get the best out of people by building their self-esteem. I’ve had many educational experiences since then: NEVER anything other than positive. I find the whole CELTA thing quite peculiar and sick.

    • I am glad you could move on positively. I was at a low ebb when I took the course so it was the last thing I needed. I am now trying to rebuild my self-esteem.

  10. 7 years on, I realise the squeezing on my soul prompted an urgent search that really took me somewhere: I took to heart all I could find on affect/emotion/motivation in the language classroom (Jane Arnold, Zoltan Dörnyei etc). I’ve now taught 4000 lessons, become a vocational trainer and community interpreter. My intuitions are sound and I’ve never been a pariah anywhere else – and been careful not to treat anyone as one. I’ve become interested in counselling, conflict management and communication. I’m sharing this to help you. If I could move on like this, ANYONE can. Do you really need a TEFL qualification? It seems that basic kindliness works better with clients than anything I learned at Celta.

  11. It’s 11:24 PM, the last Thursday of my CELTA course. I had two sleepless nights due to party-types (at the end of the four weeks, so I was already severely sleep-deprived) and, though (according to my tutor) my lesson plan was spot on, I got a poor review because I couldn’t teach what I had planned. She’s very nice, commented something learning from mistakes; but I didn’t need to “learn” that exhaustion affects my ability to teach in a negative way. The main problem here was that I couldn’t check off the appropriate CELTA boxes.

    I have no interest in teaching right now, though I hope it’s just exhaustion and frustration. I’m apparently gong to pass, but I do wish I had taken (if I could have found) a part-time course where I would have been able to actually absorb and process the information. My tutors weren’t abusive, but I can see where this could be a serious problem at CELTA courses.

    I wouldn’t do this again on a bet. You have my sincere sympathy.

  12. Hello, my name is Claudia, I have been teaching English for about 2 years in Italy and I used to teach English to non native speakers when I used to live in the US in Massachusetts. I came to Brighton 2 weeks ago from Milan to try and take the famous CELTA course in a very prestigiuous local English School in Brighton; I cannot even start telling you how frustrated I am, not only I had dropped the CELTA course at the end of my second week, but I have been feeling like such a failure and such a bad English teacher…..I had quite good feed back from the Language schools I have been teaching for around the Milan area, I had thought that by taking the CELTA I would have improved my teaching skills and I would have become an even better English Language teacher….well it is really not the case. I have to stay in Brighton for 2 more weeks and I have not idea how to tell my parents, my students, and my friends that I have failed the CELTA course for which I had worked so many hours to be admitted. I you have any suggestions please let me know, thank you very much, Claudia 66

    • Oh I am so sorry to hear that. Perhaps you could carry on teaching without the CELTA. I would just be honest with your family. They will understand hopefully. I am just about recovered from the awful experience myself. I won’t be teaching again. I have finally learned to let things go that don’t serve me.

    • Ciao Claudia,

      If it makes you feel somewhat better – there is an Italian girl in my course (Australia) who appears to be doing much better than me, although my level of English is much higher than hers! I have also taught (Italians (: ) here, in my own way without qualifications, and was getting much better results without the CELTA. It appears to me as though the CELTA is all about a particular, structured delivery of teaching – and that is just about all. This makes you wonder why it should be chosen at all? Take Brent’s suggestion and do TEFL or do a degree with English. The very problem with teaching and education, is trying to force one particular method!

      Ho pagato AUD$3000+ e non penso che posso completarlo

  13. I have started celta and l have never been so unhappy in my life a single mother of 3.
    It’s so difficult and the trainers have not been effective in teaching us at all. They are not approachable at all surely celta courses need to be regulated if we are paying such a high price and majority drop out
    We just got back our first assignment and we all failed it.
    Not sure where to go from here

    • I am so sorry. I felt terrible during mine but I have moved on from teaching now. Most TEFL positions are exploitative and very badly paid. I would look for something else. I think I was the only one who dropped out of my course which made me feel even worse.

    • Please remember that it isn’t real life. It’s a contrived situation with artificial pressure. (I know the pressure that you’ve paid and don’t want to fail and waste your money is real.) It’s an unhealthy situation and it’s not your fault.

      • It took me a long time to get over my CELTA experience. There was a time when a nomadic life wandering across the world teaching English seemed like the best thing to do. I have now accepted I am not a teacher and trying to find a new meaningful path.

  14. Wow. I think the teacher training courses are definitely an income driven mechanism for many schools and language centre chains in some places. Not only do they from the students but they get money from folks wanting to be teachers and send them into a class to work for free to teach the kids.
    I didn’t do CELTA. I did TESOL in my home country and it was splendid. You could model your teaching on how the instructors teach you. Feedback was always professional and constructive and peer feedback was guided by a modified sandwich feedback approach.
    I used to feel nervous or inferior to CELTA teachers when I arrived in Vietnam, but I noticed CELTA trained teachers here weren’t happy with their own training and were overly geared towards using games but never drew student attention to the learning outcomes. That’s to say, it was time filler.
    I felt much more reassured about my own training after seeing that.
    Point is: there are good schools and bad schools in either camp. Having delta and MA etc as well doesn’t mean you can necessarily teach students, nor train teachers.
    When finding a school to put your money towards, ask to audit or observe a class, interview the teachers, and teachers in training. If the centre really wants your money, make them prove they can do it.

      • Hi it’s Lula again,
        I was thinking about this post today. Don’t feel like a failure from the CELTA. I’ve been teaching for five years now and looking back in hindsight, I think CELTA and DELTA courses are money-making spinners.
        There are some people who excel and bag an A or a B after a month and that’s admirable, but a one month or two month course is not enough to be properly trained as a teacher. There needs to be more time for everyone to grasp what is fully learned. It would be better if both courses were combined into an undergraduate degree.
        Another flaw in the CELTA course that I don’t think was mentioned here is that the trainers don’t teach trainees how the businesses of private language schools are run. When I was doing the CELTA, I didn’t know students would complain about teachers if they were bored in lessons and that a teacher’s job would depend on what the students thought of them. When I taught in foreign countries, the majority of my students were children and teenagers, not adults. Why should the teacher-training course be aimed at teaching adults and not children and teenagers? The module about teaching children and teenagers in the CELTA course is a very small part of the course when it should be expanded as most teachers travel abroad to teach young learners.
        I wanted to spend most of my life travelling abroad and teaching English in different countries like you, but unfortunately these dreams don’t come true in reality. Teaching English can be rewarding and personally fulfilling but in terms of job security and pay, forget it. English language teachers are at the bottom rung of the career ladder. They are not respected and at the moment will never afford property. I remember listening to a former DOS when he said he had never seen anyone retire from the industry. I was also talking to a teacher who was in the industry for forty years and she was worried about the prospect of having no pension. I asked her if she had a special savings account and she replied that she had never been able to save. This woman also raised children on a TEFL salary. (There’s another thing they don’t teach you on the CELTA course, you’ll never be able to raise a family financially well as a TEFL teacher). The trainers won’t also mention the high turnover in the industry and the abuse of staff by management at certain schools.
        Being an English language teacher over the years has been akin to being in an abusive relationship. It’s like sticking out with a partner for so long in the hope they will change, seeking their approval while they blame you for the little mistakes you’ve made which causes you to turn inward and blame yourself for being a failure, but despite all of that, you cling onto them because you love them, but unfortunately, they don’t love you and can leave you at the drop of a hat. (Apologies for the rambling in that paragraph, I’m only speaking from own experience).
        To conclude, you’re better off without English language teaching. You don’t need it to travel the world, I’m sure there are other ways. English language teaching has changed my personality. I’ve become more anxious, bitter, aggressive and short-fused as a result. I need to find another job for my own sanity. Something stable and more importantly, something that will keep me happy, so don’t be disheartened

      • Thanks for your very perceptive comments. I think you are totally right. I am looking for other options as well. I have entered therapy to try to fix myself. Then maybe I can fix others. I was also thinking recently about how arrogant the recent graduates were. They really thought they were God’s gift after a couple of weeks training. I think being a good teacher is a lifetime’s work and I don’t think I ever truly achieved it. I also noticed Slater favoured the men over the women massively. She really needs some therapy that woman. Anyway, onwards to new pastures. The sunlit uplands are beckoning me.

  15. That sounds good. I think there are a lot of alternative courses but the problem is some countries seem hung up that the Celta is the best. I think in China and much of the Far East they don’t care about the Celta. I would love to have been a TEFL teacher but I think I just have too much anxiety about it now. I might do some in the future in a more supportive environment but for now I have given up teaching.

  16. This sounds like a nightmare experience. I’m just finishing up the CELTA in Berlin and it’s been the polar opposite of yours. The tutors have all been really supportive and kind (while still giving criticism, because that’s kind of important if you want to grow as a teacher), my peers don’t pick on each other during feedback, and all of the lessons have been extremely effective. Is it exhausting? Yes. I am tired by the time I teach. But I knew it was an intensive course before going in, and that I could have done the part-time.

    I think you were really unlucky, and had a bad center. I’m sorry you had such a crappy experience. :/

  17. Hi Imat2014
    it is good to hear feedback and experiences about CELTA. it is an aye opener for me and i have read all the comments about this topic but i still have a career coach said it is better to take CELTA in UK rather than other countries (especially countries with non-native English) as it is perceived as good education it relevant at this age? thank you for everything

    • I’m doing it right now in Prague, which is probably better than doing it somewhere random in Asia, but I understand why someone might make such a comment.

      The problem is the further you go from an Anglophone country, the greater the chance that you will have ESL tutors and a mostly ESL classroom. Then you get dynamics in play where the ESL tutors have worse knowledge of grammar than many trainees and are very defensive about it. Your colleagues will get a pass for making 20+ grammatical mistakes in their lessons but you can be failed for not “setting your task properly” or something subjective and minor.

      That said, you can do it a lot cheaper abroad than 1500-1700 GBP. It can be worth putting up with the extra BS, but it is good to know what you might be getting into.

      To be clear, I like my colleagues a lot and I don’t complain about their shortfalls (I try to be as quiet as possible in TP feedback). But it is frustrating to have ignorant tutors lording power over you!

      • It sounds like you are having a better experience than I did. I shouldn’t have done it in Cambridge because the tutors were just so full of their own importance. I sometimes still think about just taking off and doing it anyway.

  18. I agree: It’s extremely rigid/ bland. Being watched by peers, especially the types that are great at repeating bland instructions like robots, without question, is horrible, and the following feedback sessions confrontational at best. There’s a rude hipster-vegan 24 year old who’s hooked up with a Spanish student who fits well with the course……. I have a lot more time to do it in but am juggling work/ life issues; the relentless paperwork, is the worst thing about the course. I am not a course administrator.

    $AUD3000.00+ not sure if I wish to continue!

  19. I’m so glad I found this post as I thought I was the only one who felt like this and have just quit my CELTA at the end of week 3. As an experienced qualified English Lead in mainstream teaching I found the teachers on the CELTA self inflated and preaching ‘do as I say not as I do’ with regard to Teacher Talk Time. I too followed the prescriptive lesson plan and activities suggested by my tutor only to get ‘not to standard’, and I agree the criticism (note the missing ‘constructive’), was extremely personal and derogatory.
    During the observations the instructor constantly interrupted the lesson with advice such as ‘that exercise was supposed to take 6 minutes not 4 minutes’, really? I was always taught lesson plans were working documents… and that feedback – constructive feedback was given at the end of the lesson.
    Feedback comments on whether to sit, stand, smile, not to give positive feedback, not to say please or thank you – totally demoralised me.
    I ended up planning lessons based on how to avoid criticism instead of the subject matter.
    CELTA anyone? No thanks. I don’t fancy being taught by an ex ESol teacher who freely admitted she got a grade 3 obs. in mainstream teaching, has a chip on her shoulder, has a chip on her shoulder because of it and seems to be on an egotistical power trip. It may work for young, foreign students who have just completed an MA over here and have no teaching experience but those of who have worked in the real world don’t need to be belittled, patronised and demotivated when they are already successful in our own fields.
    So goodbye £1350 . What a waste of time and energy!

  20. I was about to enroll in the full time course in Madrid. Now, i’m having second thoughts. I got a couple of questions:
    I’m not a native. Does having CELTA really help you to get a job if you are non-native?
    Has anybody had a different kind of experience with TESOL ?

  21. There’s probably not much I could add to the above comments, other than to say that I completely agree with what the others have written. From my own experience my feeling is that the CELTA is a bit of a scam and that if someone wants to do an ESL course they would be much better off doing a run-of-the-mill TEFL. Then give English teaching a try and if after that the interest in CELTA is still there perhaps give it a go.

    What I certainly would *not* do is to sign up for a CELTA unless you personally know and trust someone who has taken the course in the specific facility in which you are interested. I would never trust the glowing online reviews which each and every facility advertises. There are differences between facilities even though this supposedly is not the case and you will read that because the curriculum is standardized it doesn’t matter if you take the CELTA in New York or Tokyo or Paris. It’s just not true. While the curriculum may be standardized the tutors are not and you may find yourself at the mercy of a true sadist.

    One last thought: Everything you read about the CELTA claims that an experienced English teacher has no advantage whatsoever over a novice with no experience. I found that to be absolutely untrue as those with teaching experience did much better in the course than us newbies.

  22. Hi. I read your wonderful blog and everyones comments b4 attending my CELTA, so I was aware that something wrong could happen. It has, I too am being bullied by a tutor who has my name down on the “destroy” list. I’m at the end of my 3rd week with belittling comments, an official you will fail warning and “but we still need your assignments”! I WILL continue, only one week to go and 2 more TP’s to do – though due to stress and anxiety will more than likely be pathetic. I’ve been teaching for 15 years in state and private sectors, adults to children and I LOVE IT. The celta method isn’t for me, though there are some areas I will use. I love all my students, and get involved with each and everyone (I live in a tiny town where everyone knows everyone). I’m very passionate about my teaching and the coldness of the CELTA way is not for me (eg I sit with my students and do not hide away in some corner letting them figure out every single piece of information out alone). I won’t pass but at least I will defy them by holding my head high and staying right up until the last minute. They’ve done everything possible to try and brake me and get me off the course, as this won’t effect their “fail” rate. No way, I won’t let them have that satisfaction. My students at home love my lessons, my students in the CELTA school enjoy the lessons too, should I change then into a cold, no more than 10 words a lesson CELTA teacher? No! I will return home exhausted, bitter and in need of major love and cuddles off hubby and kids who I’ve not seen in a month, but will return happy and satisfied to my students and schools in September, as I’m lucky to teach in all the schools in my town earning a salary I might add that is probably higher than the tutors, hihihihih :). Do I need CELTA to teach? Nope. Experience, passion and being serious is why I was employed, and 3 years on in this town they don’t seem to be dissatisfied with my teaching nor methods as each year they increase my work. So please, if you don’t need CELTA, don’t bother, unless you have the nerves of steel and are ready for a serious bashing, should you be in their line of fire like me. Yes you will learn a few tips, tricks etc …. but nothing worth destroying your self esteem like our poor dear blogger Imat2014, who I am so glad has slowly licked her wounds and moved on. A suggestion, has anyone with writing experience thought about writing a book “bullied/destroyed by CELTA”? There is life beyond CELTA, enjoy and teach if that’s you “calling” and don’t let CELTA bullies ruin you.

    • I’m sorry to hear about your experience. It’s yet more evidence that the tutors have it in for experienced teachers. I agree with you about the coldness. Telling you to cut down your teacher talk so that you are speaking unnaturally. That is not how people learn English in my view. Please carry on with what you are doing and put it behind you.

    • I want to thank you and all others who have posted on this blog. I was set to sign up for CELTA but a friend encouraged me to look at a “multitude of voices” speaking out on this site. I am not afraid of hard work (my PhD in research microbiology took 7 years of difficult research, an almost-daily struggle with unexpected surprises from my project, NOT the university). This was inherent in my project, not unnecessary difficult imposed by instructors with personality disorders. So “Teach English” boot camp, in an environment where instructors self-actualize, is not for me. It’s the exact opposite of the environment an effective English teacher wants to provide to their own students. I will find an alternative to CELTA.

      • I would not have believed how damaging a CELTA could be had I not experienced it myself. I had thought I was strong and had an aptitude for teaching. I initially assumed the tutors would have my best interests at heart because that’s how I teach. I loved the teaching before CELTA and loved it afterwards. Very good that you listen to your friends and people pulling in the same direction, Daniel!

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