Life as a Student and ESL Training

February 26, 2008 3 Comments »

esl training celta certification

I have entered the terrifying world of responsibility again. I may go into shock. I actually have to set my alarm every day and be somewhere by 9AM, and I don’t get back home until 5:30PM. Unfortunately – this new lifestyle is not making me any money – but it’s the path to my ticket back out on the road!

If you are an active reader of the blog, then you have solved the riddle above – if not, then you may be confused – wondering if I have sold out and set back to a desk job writing and sending emails all day. Do you really think I would give up that easy – no, not me. Or maybe you are wondering if I have taken a job at Starbucks in order to get medical insurance. That would actually be a good guess, considering I have seriously thought about that option in order to be insured – but you would be wrong.

ESL Training and CELTA

esl training

Learning to run a classroom


I decided to enroll in the CELTA ESL certification course in New York City through Teaching House.  There are a number of different choices out there for ESL training and certification, but I liked the structure of the CELTA course best.

CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults)  training is the most prestigious, globally recognized certificate available to ESL teachers.

What CELTA will give you is building blocks you will use every time you teach. They focus on these skills in the month long intensive course:

  • Lesson procedures page
  • Concept check questions
  • Whole class feedback techniques
  • Methods of presenting languages
  • Organized and creative teaching

I have begun my 4 week intensive ESL training course in learning how to teach ESL (English as a Second Language) and I am in shock.  It’s quite different than my old life just traveling around on my career break and blogging!

I have to get up and be somewhere every day
I can’t wear my sweatpants all day
I have to ride the subway at peak hours among the entire car of zombie-like commuters. Not a single person looks happy on their commute – it’s like looking at the living dead.
I have tons of homework – I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about modal verbs.
I had to teach the first day
I realize that I know nothing about English grammar…nothing. Sure, I can speak it, but explaining it is like me trying to explain how to put together a rocket for NASA….a disaster that inevitably will crash and burn.
I had to dig out a dictionary for the first time in 10 years. (seriously – when was the last time you ever looked a word up in the dictionary?)

However, on the positive side of things, the moment I stood up in front of the class and started teaching, I remembered how much I loved it. My memories of volunteer teaching in India came flooding back to me. I enjoyed learning about where the students were from and it made me long to get back out on the road. It felt as if my travels were coming full circle in a way – it wasn’t but a few months ago that I was the student trying to learn speak Italian – and now I’m teaching Italians (and many other nationalities) English – life can be strange.

esl training

Volunteer teaching in India

Daily ESL Training Course Schedule

Every morning I sit through 3 hours of lecture on how to actually teach, and the afternoons are spent teaching real students. What this CELTA course doesn’t include is a grammar education – no one is teaching me sentence structure, verb tenses, etc. However, you can bet that when I am teaching a grammar lesson to the students I have read every piece of material I could find on the grammar rules so that I won’t get tripped up. Therefore in a roundabout way – I’m learning.

Learning to Love Language

The class leaves me absolutely fascinated with language itself. How we ever learned it, how others learn multiple languages, the sounds of words, the stress of words. We use all of this but never ever thing about it. Now – I am forced to think about it and it’s rather fun.

This new student life hasn’t left me much time to do other things recently. Being an overachiever pretty much guarantees that I have my head stuck in a book at night trying to be the absolute best, smartest, ESL teacher ever; some habits die hard. Type A personalities are hard to change.

Being back in school taking ESL training is a humbling experience – but I believe that it will lead to great things. In fact – it’s fun to try to put my ‘plan’ in motion. I’ve been floundering here in NYC, not really sure where I fit in and no real plan. Now I feel like I have purpose again. I’m aching to get back and explore again, and this is my means to that end.

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