“All by my CELTA…”

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Yeah, the ‘C’ is pronounced as an /s/. That threw me, too.

2016 hasn’t been the best year on a global scale. If you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past 11 months, then first of all congratulations, and second, just take a 3-minute glance at a news website or Twitter. I’ll wait.

The Ph.D continues to be tricky, and this year proved no exception. While it seems to *finally* all be coming together, getting through what the Thesis Whisperer calls The Valley of Shit was a nightmare. Combine that with the  global events of 2016, and it soon became high-time to think about what it was that I was doing at that point in time and where the future was going to lead me…

…so what better way to cope with a crazy life and a huge workload than by doing an intensive four-week CELTA qualification?

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My 2016 in a nutshell

My choice to do a CELTA course while simultaneously writing a Ph.D thesis wasn’t exactly spontaneous. It was something I’d wanted to do in the past, as I have my PGCE for foreign languages and a few years experience of lecturing linguistics at University level. Additionally, while linguistics is my thing, the bits of knowledge about the way my own mother tongue worked were few and far-between in my brain. Finally, while ‘shit’ and ‘fan’ haven’t made full acquaintance in the UK after this year’s developments, the Brexit ‘result’ was enough of a push to get me thinking about life after the Ph.D.

To compress four weeks into a few points, this is what happened:

  • I discovered new pedagogical approaches and methodologies that can be applied to EFL and beyond
  • I was able to complete four essays with deadlines of less than 7 days while still progressing with the thesis (thank you, time management apps!)
  • I taught over 30 students from far and wide, each with hugely varying levels of linguistic competence, to effectively use and enjoying using the English language
  • I enjoyed being taught again, rather than just reading and writing all the time
  • I got some of the best sleep I’ve had in a long time; the CELTA wears. you. out.
  • I made some superb friends who I’m sure I’ll be in contact with for many years to come
  • I was able to pass with a higher-than-average score (why yes, that is my own horn I’m tooting)

Was it tough? Ridiculously so. If you’ve ever done a teaching qualification like a PGCE, imagine that compressed into four weeks… but as you can see, it’s not impossible.

Was it worth it? Again, ridiculously so. Albeit tough, it was a welcome break that lead to full-on mental refreshment when it came to the Ph.D. I’ve been able to progress so much further with my thesis in these post-CELTA weeks than I feel I have done all year. I’m energised to start my lecturing again in January, and to combine my new CELTA skills with the rest of my teaching skills. I also hope to restart one-to-one language teaching sessions and/or working with local English academies, because teaching is so fun!

If there’s enough demand for it, I’d be happy to write a quick post giving tips for any budding/current CELTA trainees with regards to what to expect and how to manage your time effectively. Just let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

As for now, it’s time to thesis, and then consider where in the world I should go next. Literally.

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