CELTA course report (2a)

Summary • The second phase of our post CELTA course survey largely substantiates the findings of the first phase: trainees at IH Barcelona took an excellent course, found TEFL jobs easily and travelled around the world to teach adult learners but in many cases taught young learners as well...

Objectives of the questionnaire

This was the second phase of our survey [<< first phase ], and again our primary intention was to ensure the quality and accuracy of the careers advice provided to CELTA trainees at IH Barcelona.

Secondly, we wished to validate the first phase results, with comparisons of our findings in this respect being given below.

Thirdly, as previously, we also included questions that would provide us with information on possible areas for ongoing improvements.

Second phase results

The second phase of the survey was carried out in July 2005 with responses from 57 past trainees either 5-7 months (n=24) or 23-25 months (n=33) out from the course, of whom 19 (79%) and 18 (55%) respectively were still directly involved in English language teaching (ELT).

Further information about the survey.

What countries do our trainees teach in?

One of the few amendments we made to our questions following the first phase of the survey was, in the second, to determine what proportion of trainees obtained work in Barcelona itself.

The 37 respondents found their first teaching posts in the following places:

Location of first job # percent
In Barcelona itself 8 21.6%
In Barcelona province 7 18.9%
Somewhere else in Spain 3 8.1%
In another country 18 48.6%
Unknown 1 2.8%
TOTAL 37 100%

Note • Barcelona province includes towns such as Granollers, Mataró, Terrassa and Sabadell. A number of our trainees are taking up jobs there at the other IHLS Group language schools.

We felt it was important to determine what percentage find work in Barcelona, as it has been suggested that there is never going to be enough work for all the English teachers training in Barcelona, at IH and other centres.

It is certainly true that only slightly over 1 in 5 appear to be taking up jobs in Barcelona, though 40% are in fact finding employment within approximately 35km of the city (to which some commute daily).

A total of 18 (48.6%) found work somewhere in Spain, compared with the 49% reported by our first phase report.

It should also be noted that a significant number of our trainees come to Barcelona with the expressed intention of working elsewhere after the course.

Of the other countries our trainees were working in when they responded to the survey, the UK was by far the most common (12 out of the total of 37, or 32%), with Italy second (4 out of 37, or 11%).

Results were consistent with those we found previously: trainees from Barcelona went "literally around the world", teaching in (among other places) Canada, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Portugal, Slovakia, South Korea and Thailand.

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

The figures in the table below show how long it took IH Barcelona trainees to find their first post-course English teaching jobs.

Date of course # Before end Under 2 wks Under mnth 1-2 mnths Over 2 mnths
Early 05 19 3 (16%) 3 (16%) 6 (32%) 4 (21%) 3 (16%)
Early 04 10 4 (40%) 4 (40%) 0 1 (10%) 1 (10%)
Sum. 03 18 3 (17%) 1 (6%) 9 (50%) 2 (11%) 3 (17%)
Sum. 02 12 2 (17%) 3 (25%) 3 (25%) 2 (17%) 2 (17%)
ALL 59 12 (20%) 11 (19%) 18 (31%) 9 (15%) 9 (15%)

Note • In the above and subsequent tables, the rows marked "Early 05" and "Sum. 03" (ie Summer 2003) carry the results for the second phase of our survey [ further infomation ].

The table shows that 20 percent of our trainees are finding work even before the course finishes (though a few may be going back to jobs they were already in), and 70% are taking up work within a month of completing the course.

Of those not doing so, anecdotal evidence suggests that some at least are taking a well-deserved post-course holiday, while others are travelling.

How do trainees obtain their first teaching post?

The results from the first phase of our survey seemed to suggest that sending out CVs "on spec" (or actually visiting schools in person) was the most successful means of finding a job, with the Internet a close second.

However, of the 28 trainees now responding to the question, 12 (43%) specifically mentioned finding jobs on the Internet, with both tefl.com and ihworld.com being mentioned several times.

One of the results of the first phase of our survey was that we set up a post-course support group, one purpose of which is to supply trainees with job ads that may interest them. It was thus pleasing to find that this group was mentioned by 3 trainees.

In any third phase of the survey, we would want to ask specifically how many found their first job through the support group: anecdotal evidence suggests that the figure must be much higher than 3 out of 28 (11%).

Applying to many places, many "on spec", still appears to be the means by which 6 of the 28 (21%) obtained work. Mark Bain "applied to a lot of adverts"; another trainee "sent CVs all over the place"; Luke Howell got his first job in a "telephone interview to Pakistan".

Now teaching adults and business English in Turkey, Krisia Haynes "found it online, sent resume and information, had phone interview, and a week later I was in Istanbul!"

Although the above results seem to suggest that finding work in English language teaching is reasonably easy, one (anonymous) respondee did find that finding a first job "was a bit of a nightmare" and "ended up accepting a few hours here and there" – in three separate towns, Barcelona, Cardedeu and Sitges (the latter both over 40km away).

Although that may be an extreme case, being geographically mobile, and prepared to work for more than one organization, will definitely boost your chances of finding a first job in TEFL.

What sort of organizations do they work for?

The table below shows what organizations those reponding to our survey work for:

Date of course # State school Private lang sch. Private classes University Agency
Early 05 19 3 (16%) 17 (89%) 3 (16%) 2 (11%) 0
Early 04 10 1 (10%) 9 (90%) 2 (20%) 1 (10%) 2 (20%)
Sum. 03 18 3 (17%) 14 (78%) 7 (39%) 1 (6%) 3 (17%)
Sum. 02 12 3 (25%)
7 (58%) 3 (25%) 3 (25%) 2 (17%)
ALL 59 10 (17%) 47 (80%) 15 (25%) 7 (12%) 7 (25%)

Note • In many cases, our graduates are working for more than one employer -- a language school and being self-employed and giving private lessons being one common scenario.

The 10% under "state school" appear to be almost exclusively natives of the country they were working in -- ie. British citizens in the UK, Spanish people in Spain, etc. In Spain, for example, it is virtually impossible for a foreigner to teach in a state school, meaning that that is not a possible source of work for most of our trainees.

The 12% under "university" may include some working giving classes at universities but in fact employed by a language school to do so, with the language school running the university program.

By "agency" we mean either a company sending teachers out to work "in-company" for other firms, often teaching "Business English" or one sending teachers to do private, 1-2-1 tuition, often with children or teens.

Who do they teach?

CELTA – the Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults – course is designed specifically for the teaching of English to Adults.

27 out of the 37 (or 73%) trainees responding to the second part of our survey find themselves teaching teens and/or young learners

However, the results of our survey show that in fact, while over 80% of trainees will spend at least part of their time teaching adults, many will find themselves teaching Business English and/or either teens and/or young learners.

Note that few former trainees will find themselves specialising and teaching only one of the groups in the following table:

Date of course # Adults Business Teens YLs*
Early 05 19 15 (79%) 7 (37%) 13 (68%) 9 (47%)
Early 04 10 9 (90%) 5 (50%) 8 (80%) 4 (40%)
Sum. 03 18 15 (83%) 9 (50%) 12 (67%) 12 (67%
Sum. 02 12 10 (83%) 3 (25%) 2 (17%) 3 (25%)
ALL 59 49 (83%) 24 (41%) 35 (59%) 28 (47%)

*YLs = Young Learners, defined as being aged under-12

In fact, 27 out of the 37 (or 73%) trainees responding to the second part of our survey find themselves teaching teens and/or young learners, with only 5 (14%) specialising and teaching exclusively in one of the four categories in the table above.

A typical timetable in private language schools in Spain is likely to involve young learners after school, mid afternoon, and adults early evening, with business classes possibly as well, early morning or lunchtimes.

Elsewhere, a perhaps not untypical situation is that of Jaqui Baty, now teaching in the UK, whose classes include teaching Germans in 1-2-1 Business English classes; "mainly pronunciation" to a group of Thai and Japanese elementary students; and pre- and upper-intermediate groups of Danish teenagers.

Although sessions on the CELTA course at IH Barcelona are devoted to the teaching of Young Learners and Business English, more focus on these areas of specialisation is what trainees most find is lacking on the course (see below).

These are also two of the areas that appear most frequently in questions and answers on our support group.

How useful is what they learn on their CELTA course

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").

Results for both phases of the survey are shown in the table below:

Date of course # 5 Very useful 4 3 2 1 Not v. useful Ave.
Early 05 19 7 (37%) 7 (37%) 4 (21%) 1 (5%) 0 4.1
Early 04 10 3 (30%) 6 (60%) 1 (10%) 0 0 4.1
Sum. 03 18 9 (50%) 7 (39%) 2 (11%) 0 0 4.4
Sum. 02 12 8 (67%) 2 (17%) 2 (17%) 0 0 4.5
ALL 59 27 (46%) 22 (37%) 8 (14%) 2 (3%) 0 4.3

Overall, the above results seem to suggest that the CELTA course our trainees took was very useful to them in their subsequent teaching, with 83% of them answering "5" or "4" on our scale.

At both stages of the survey, our results suggest that, looking back on the course two years out, trainees seem to appreciate what they had learnt more, as the table above shows.

What changes would they make to the course

As with the first phase results, the principal thing that the trainees felt was missing on the course was sessions on teaching young learners.

CELTA (again, the "Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults") is designed to train you to teach adults -- but, as noted above, most trainees end up teaching some young learners, particularly teenagers.

Teaching in a private language school in the UK, Natalie Smith felt that it "would have helped to have had a couple of hours on teaching teenagers (...) I really wished that we had talked about classroom management and trouble-shooted some possible scenarios (...) I was really in the deep end for my new job. I had great lesson ideas, due to the CELTA course, but the kids ran riot!"

We had stated on our questionaire that responses should not include young learners -- though many felt strongly enough to add this issue. Natalie suggested "maybe just now and then [you should ask] trainees 'do you think your lesson would have worked for young learners, or teenagers?' just out of interest..."

Other issues trainees felt missing included dealing with mixed ability classes, teaching exam classes and using media such as video.

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

As we reported previously, for the overwhelming majority of trainees the course was one they enjoyed and found very useful.

The course has a reputation for being quite intense, which a number of responses commented on. Elizabeth McQuaid nevertheless felt that "we were a very lucky group having the instructors we had: they were very helpful and a calming force when we were all on the edge".

With the benefit of hingsight, Alice Martin felt that "the course was a really good foundation for my teaching but being thrown into the real world of teaching after the course was a shock, as I was left to my own devices and missed the support of the tutors and the school facilities".

One of things that should be noted is that CELTA is an initial qualification in English language teaching. Although once you've passed the course you are "qualified", you shouldn't assume that "that was it". You would hope that the school you were working for would provide proper support but you shouldn't assume that you aren't going to need further professional development.

One of the purposes of our post-course trainee support group, itself one of the results of the first phase of the survey, is to continue to provide support.

Even two years out from the course, former trainers felt that they continued to benefit from it. Deirdre Doyle felt that "without the course, even after two years experience, I wouldn't have been able to prepare [properly] for my classes".

For many, it was not just as teachers that they benefited. One former trainee said it was a "great course overall". "I had a great time taking it," s/he said, "I felt I gained a lot – not just my confidence to be teaching English, but my confidence overall".

For Ruth Gardner, among others, the friends she made on the course were a big bonus: "I'm now working with one of the other girls from the course so you not only get a great qualification but you also make some great friends".


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