High time for an update methinks. For those of you who remember, a year ago I applied to get onto a CELTA (Cambridge English Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) course. I'd been wanting to get a language teaching qualification for years, and finally the time seemed right.
Well, I won't lie, it was hell. Interesting, worthwhile even(!), but hell nonetheless. The workload, as I'd been warned about, was insane, and I found it impossible to maintain my usual level of output in terms of the work that actually pays my bills. This wasn't a major problem for my established clients, they seem to appreciate my contributions and were prepared to be patient, but I was forced to pull out on a project handed to me by a new client. I still feel bad about that, but something had to give.
OK, back to the actual course. What was so horrible about it? Let me tell you...
We had to teach one lesson per week, either to a beginners' (A2) or to an advanced (B2) group. The students, all of them adults, were lovely people of different nationalities, motivated, likeable, no problem with them at all. We were required to write up detailed lesson plans before each session. This was horrendously time consuming, but I actually learnt a lot from that.
The core problem for me was that, when it came down to the classroom teaching, we had to then stick to that lesson plan, and that lesson plan was scripted out to the minute, with us being assessed by our teachers throughout. I felt like an ill-programmed robot, like some kind of automaton, constantly clock-watching, forgetting my lines and unable to properly respond to the students' input.
The sessions left me feeling drained and deeply frustrated. My enthusiasm for the language, my ability to relate to the students' struggles built on years of experience as a language learner myself, my willingness to let them steer the lesson to the points that roused their interest and engaged them - in short, everything I thought that I, as an individual forged by decades of language acquisition and exposure, had to offer - was absolutely stifled by this setup.
I do, of course, understand, from the assessors' point of view, why the protocol was designed like this, and I also realise that real-life teaching is a whole different ballgame. Still, the whole experience left me somewhat traumatised, and six months after finishing the course I can't help but feel crestfallen when I think back to it.
Having said that, I learnt a lot from this, and it's changed my perspective on a couple of things for the better, I think. I shall expand on that in the next post.