CELTA course report (1a)

Former CELTA course trainees at IH Barcelona enjoyed an excellent course, found TEFL jobs without any great difficulty (in many cases even before their course had ended), travelled around the world to jobs which generally did involve teaching the adults learners they had trained to teach but in most case also meant teaching young learners...

Objectives of the questionnaire

Primarily in order to improve the quality and accuracy of the careers advice we provide our CELTA trainees at IH Barcelona, we carried out an online survey of past trainees who were either 5-7 months or 23-25 months out from the course. We also included questions that would provide us with information on possible areas for ongoing improvements.

First phase results

The first phase of the survey was carried out in September and October 2004, with the second phase to take place in early 2005. Here, we present first phase results from the feedback obtained.

Further information about the survey..

What countries do our trainees teach in?

Many naturally find work in Spain, with 20 out of the 41 trainees who went into ELT after the course teaching in Spain. The others went literally around the world, with the UK being the most popular destinations (5 trainees), followed by Japan (4) and the US (4). Anecdotal evidence suggests that the UK may head that list at least partly because, after their CELTA course, trainees find many openings at summer schools run by language schools in Britain.

While a lot stayed in Europe (including Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Turkey) others went further afield to such places as Australia, Ecuador, South Korea and New Zealand.

A number of our US trainees appear to have returned to the US after the course and found work there, some in other fields of the teaching profession.

William Wild, six months out, reported working "at six different schools, institutes and companies in two different countries (Switzerland and Germany)"!

What sort of organizations do they work for?

Most seem, at least initially, to work for private language schools. 9 out of 10 of those in teaching six months out are working for language schools, with 1 working in a state school. Only 2 out of 10 report supplementing their income through private classes. Perhaps wages in TEFL are not so bad after all!

Two years out, the 12 trainees still in ELT are working for a greater range of institutions. 7 (58%) are still with private language schools, 3 are at state schools and 3 at universities - the discrepancy being explained by the fact that one works in two places, a language school and a university. 3 out of the 12 are giving private classes.

QUOTE 80% of our most recent trainees find themselves teaching teenagers as well as adults

Who do they teach?

9 out of 10 former trainees six months out find themselves teaching the adults a CELTA course is designed for them to teach. 8 out of the 10, however, also find themselves teaching teenagers, with 5 of these also doing very young learners (which our survey defined as being under-12s).

The typical timetable language schools give is likely to involve a variety of this nature, with young learners after school, mid afternoon, and adults early evening. Our results suggest that, at least initially, CELTA course trainees are fairly likely to find themselves teaching teenagers or young learners.

Two years out, our trainees seem to have been able to specialise a little more. Two out of 12 find themselves teaching only business English, only 5 still teach teenagers (2) or very young learners (3), with 10 still teaching adults, but only 4 of them exclusively so.

This latter figure, particularly, seems to indicate that a job teaching English only to adults and involving no business English, is not the norm, which suggests that post-CELTA some degree of further, more specialised teacher development is probably going to be desirable.

How long does it take CELTA trainees to find a job in TEFL?

4 out of the ten still in ELT who did their CELTA course six months ago say they got their first job before the course ended, with another 4 saying they did so "within 2 weeks" - encouraging figures for anyone thinking of TEFL as a profession: there is work out there!

Our results seem to suggest that the jobs situation has improved. Of those who took the course 2 years ago, only 5 out of 12 (42%) found work either during the course or within 2 weeks. 2 took up to eight weeks, with 2 more (i.e. 16.7%) taking over 2 months to find their first job.

It is, however, also true that the Teacher Training Department at IH Barcelona has taken steps to improve its careers advice service and the improved figures above may reflect that, rather than a better jobs situation in the world of TEFL as a whole.

How do trainees actually obtain their first teaching post?

Sending their CVs out to language schools on spec appears to have been the most successful means of obtaining employment (5 trainees), closely followed (4 trainees) by jobs posted on the Internet [see our TEFL jobs page], out of a total of 16 specifying how they first got work.

2 mention "contacts" of some kind (there's nothing like knowing the right person, is there, in any profession?), and 2 found that "walking the streets of Barcelona", as one put it, and actually going into language schools armed with their CVs produced the right result.

Elsewhere, Lynn Amos says that, while travelling in southern Thailand, she "approached the school directly," and landed the job. You may be able to obtain work on the Internet, but there's certainly nothing like being on the spot at the right time and place.

Good interview technique probably counts for something, too. Nigel Pearn, who "rang up the university institution and asked to speak to the DOS", says he "said I had a CELTA from IH Barcelona, which counted for something", and then "performed well at the interview using a lot of the language learned during the CELTA."

A school's DoS (Director of Studies) is notoriously hard, it should be noted, to get hold off - so perhaps Nigel was lucky. Rebecca Fischer says "After the course had finished I visited about 15 language schools and dropped off my CV." Trying to speak to the DoS at each "proved very difficult" but she did eventually get herself a job. "I also applied by email to various job ads supplied by IH Barcelona," she adds.

How useful is a CELTA course for the classes they find themselves teaching?

The questionnaire asked trainees to rate "How useful has what you learnt on your CELTA course been to you for the classes you are now teaching?", with rating being on a scale of 1 to 5 ("not very useful" to "very useful").

In all, there were no "1s", one "2", two "3s", 8 "4s" and 11 "5s", giving an average of 4.3 over 5.

Two years after their course, trainees thought it more useful (4.5 over 5) compared with a score of 4.1 from those 6 months out, perhaps suggesting that, looking back on the course with the benefit of greater experience, former trainees could better appreciate its value.

What changes would they make to the course/what do they think was missing?

CELTA, as its name - Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults - suggests, is not primarily designed to train people to teach young learners, or to teach business English.

However, our former trainees answering the questionnaire, if they did feel anything should be added to the course (most apparently did not), felt that it was training in dealing with young learners or business English that they lacked - as indeed many (see above) found themselves teaching precisely that.

Clearly, with the course syllabus [pdf] being set by Cambridge English, these are not additions that we can make to the course syllabus. What our survey results do, however, again suggest is that there is - after the course - a need for further specific training for those who find themselves teaching in these more specialised fields.

The CELT YL extension course is one option for CELTA trainees looking for further training, in this case for young learners. One former trainee, Tony Qureshi, feels strongly enough about the need for specific training that he would "make the young learners extension course compulsory".

How did they feel about the CELTA course as a course?

From the comments they made, it appears that nearly all the trainees answering the questionnaire had enjoyed the course and found it a stimulating experience, one of practical worth to their profession.

It was "a perfect mix of practice and theory. I don't think you could/should add much to it (…) and feel that the teaching at IH Barcelona was exemplary," says Nigel Pearn, for example.

For Rae Constant, "the CELTA course was one of the most enriching experiences I have had in my life, it taught me more about communication than any book, film or job... it gave me a chance to express myself. It was great for building personal confidence."

Lynn Amos, probably like most of our trainees, found the course "fast and furious" but says she "gained a lot of information about teaching in general".

Happily, feedback on the course did not produce many negative comments. Karen Madoc, who did the course in July 2002, felt that "the course delivered all that it could in the time it had. It was a great experience and a thoroughly and professionally run course"... but nevertheless, having put in the great deal of work that the course requires, "was just a bit disappointed with my grade" (see also Feedback, below).

Rebecca Murray says "it was great, but perhaps it would have been even better if it was not quite as intensive. A bit of a deeper focus and opportunity to practice would be fantastic". There are always a few trainees that express feelings like Rebecca's, and for anyone who likes a little longer to reflect on their learning, the four-month part time extensive CELTA course (details on our Celta Course site) is perhaps an option worth considering.

Blake Schumacher "felt that there was an unspoken quota in which a certain percentage of students must get a particular grade and a certain percentage must fail". Jenny Johnson, head of the Teacher Training Department at IH Barcelona, however, says that this is not the case. "There is no 'quota' and the failure rate is in fact very low, because the applicant who is not likely to pass the course is either weeded out by the interview process, or decides to withdraw at some point in the course," Jenny says.

Analysis of the 292 CELTA trainees who took the course at IH Barcelona between September 2003 and August 2004 gives the figures shown in the table below.

Pass Pass B Pass A Withdrawal Fail
47% 42% 6% 3% 1%

CELTA results IH Barcelona Sept 2003-August 2004

One trainee, who preferred to remain anonymous, found that the "discovery approach" her tutor employed did not entirely suit him/her: "When I indicated that I needed help from my supervising teacher, she should have helped me immediately rather than waiting for me to try to figure it out during that week of training. I felt that I wasted a lot of valuable time".

In general, however, comments on their tutors were full of praise. You always have at least two tutors on a CELTA course at IH Barcelona. One (anonymous) trainee says s/he had "a good combination of tutors - a good cop, a motivator and a bad cop".

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What about those who do not stay in ELT (TEFL)? >>>


See also

Report 3 (2013)

About the Report

Report 2 (2003-2005)

Still in ELT | No longer in ELT

Report 1 (2002-2004)

Still in ELT | No longer in ELT