CELTA / TEFL Course content and assessment

The course consists of 4 main elements:
Input sessions - These are led by a trainer but are usually collaborative workshops rather than lectures. There are six main units of learning:
  • Language awareness
  • The learner, the teacher and the teaching/learning context
  • Planning for effective teaching of adult learners of English
  • Classroom management and teaching skills for teaching English to adults
  • Resources and materials for teaching English to adults
  • Professional development for teachers of English to adults
Teaching Practice - You will teach for a total of six hours, working with classes at two levels of ability. You start off teaching for short periods of, for example, thirty minutes and gradually build up to longer lessons of sixty minutes.
Written Assignments. You will be expected to complete four written assignments of between 750 and 1000 words on the following topics:
  • adult learners and their learning context
  • language systems (e.g. grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation)
  • language skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking)
  • reflections on teaching
Observation of experienced teachers - This is a requirement of the course and a very useful part of the training process. Fortunately, at Cambridge School, we have an impressive team of very experienced teachers who are happy to let you watch their classes.

A typical day on the CELTA course

tipical day CELTA course
09.30 - 10.30 Input
10.30 - 11.00 Break
11.00 - 12.00 Input
12.00 - 13.00 Assisted lesson preparation
13.00 - 14.00 Lunch
14.00 - 16.15 Teaching Practice
16.15 - 16.30 Break
16.30 - 17.15 Teaching practice feedback
Note that some days trainees need to stay a bit later in order to observe experienced teachers. The course takes place from Monday to Friday but depending on certain factors such as the number of trainees in each tutor group, whether or not a public holiday falls during the course etc, we are sometimes able to have Friday afternoons free.

Assessment and grading

There are no written examinations. CELTA course grades are based on continual assessment. You will receive marks for various components of the course throughout its duration. There are two official tutorials during the course in which your tutors will let you know how you are doing and will advise you which areas you need to work on. They will also give you regular feedback on a daily basis and will try to help you as much as they can. We want you to pass the course and to pass with a good grade. An external assessor moderates each course to check that the grades awarded are in line with the standards laid down by the University of Cambridge (English Language Assessment). There are two components of assessment:
  • Teaching Practice - Assessment is based on your overall performance at the end of the six hours.
  • Written Assignments
To be awarded the Certificate, you must pass both components. There are three grades - Pass, Pass 'B' and Pass 'A'. Usually, about 75% of trainees get a 'pass', while about 22% can expect to get a 'pass B' and about 3% a 'pass A'.

Certificate and progress reports

Trainees who pass the course will be awarded the Cambridge University (English Language Assessment) 'Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA)'. They will also receive a report on their progress on the course, which they can show to prospective employers. This report details your strengths as a trainee and also mentions one or two areas that you need to focus on in the future.

Recommended Reading

We recommend that you buy at least two books:
  • a grammar book (Either 'Grammar for English Language Teachers', written by Martin Parrott and published by Cambridge University Press) or 'Practical English Usage', written by Michael Swan and published by Oxford University Press.)
  • a methodology book (Either 'Learning Teaching',latest edition), written by Jim Scrivener and published by Heinemann or 'The Practice of English Language Teaching' (latest edition), written by Jeremy Harmer and published by Longman.)
You should try to read the methodology book before the course starts. The grammar book is not really a book to be read from beginning to end. It is essentially a reference book. However, you might find it interesting to leaf through it before the course starts to get some idea of the kind of information it contains. Below is a list of other books which would be useful to read but they are not essential reading. They will be available to read here at the centre.
A Course in Language Teaching Penny Ur Cambridge University Press
How to Teach Grammar Scott Thornbury Longman
How to Teach Vocabulary Scott Thornbury Longman
A Framework for Task-based Learning Jane Willis Longman
How Languages are Learned Lightbown and Spada Oxford University Press
Keep Talking Friederike Klippel Cambridge University Press
Writing Tribble Oxford University Press
Developing Reading Skills Grellet Cambridge University Press
Working With Words Gairns and Redman Cambridge University Press
How to Teach Pronunciation Kelly Longman
Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching Larsen-Freeman Oxford University Press
Teaching Listening Comprehension Penny Ur Cambridge University Press
Discover English (2nd Edition) Bolitho and Tomlinson Macmillan
Teaching Tenses Aitken Nelson
English Grammar in Use Murphy Cambridge University Press
Practical Techniques for Language Learning Lewis and Hill LTP

Information from Cambridge English Language Assessment

Click on the links to view the leaflet about the CELTA qualification from Cambridge English Language Assessment:   -leaflet side A   -leaflet side B