An Exchange 2 – Gaijinhan

An Exchange 2

Si Wei has been asking some really good questions that I think it should be shared. The following actually sounds like an interview question though.

Is CELTA hard? What would be the most challenging part of CELTA that you had to overcome?
I have to admit, CELTA wasn’t a breeze but that may be because it mattered to me to do well in it, so I put in a lot of effort for the course. If you ask whether CELTA is easy to pass, I would say yes, it is not difficult to pass. But it is difficult to do well. If you look at the statistics in 2000 (I know it’s old but I don’t believe it changed that much), out of the 10,000 trainees every year across the world, over 60% finished the course with a Pass grade, a little over 20% finished with a Pass B grade and 4% finished with a Pass A grade. Only 4% failed the course. So if you get a Pass B grade, you’re the top 25% the world over. And of course a Pass A simply shouts you are a natural teacher.
 
There are too many aspects of it I find challenging I don’t even know where to start. Students came from different backgrounds and had different first languages so being sensitive to their cultural practices and first language hindrance was really crucial in planning for lessons. Something like don’t create activities requiring body contact because in some cultures, women having physical contact with men who are not part of their family is frowned upon. As I mentioned earlier, these students were refugees and many of them have horrible stories to tell. Some of them escaped to Thailand while their family members may get killed anytime back in their own country. So, be careful not to make unnecessary remarks that are inappropriate even if you think it would be useful for class. As a new teacher, time management was really difficult for me too since I didn’t know what to expect. Many times, most of the trainees including myself didn’t have enough time to finish all our activities because we overestimated the ability of the students. But after a few practices, you will understand the class dynamics and learn how long each activity would take them. Just remember, if you think it’s going to take you 5 minutes to finish an activity, they will need 10. If you do not have time to carry out all your activities, just skip some instead of rushing through every one. Like what I was told back in camp, “doing 10 proper chin-ups is better than doing 20 half-fuck ones.”
 
Another thing is time management outside class. As it was an intensive class, we had assignments due every week and on average 2 practical lessons to teach per week. The teaching plans are pretty detailed so they take a lot of time. Of course if you intend to just finish with a Pass grade, you don’t have to take as much time doing up your lesson plans, activities and assignments. For me, I take a lot of pride in doing my work well and since it’s only 4 weeks, why not put all your effort into it?

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