Life after CELTA | An interview with Resham George

Resham George.png

I remember getting interviewed for a language school in India, where the interviewer first asked me what the CELTA was, and then promptly asked me why I bothered getting it.

Here’s the next interview from my Life after CELTA series. I started this blog series to capture the range of career options that are available to CELTA-qualified teachers in India and the challenges they face in a job market where Cert-TESOL courses aren’t seen as having much value from an employer perspective.

Resham did the CELTA in Bombay a little over a year ago. I wanted to catch up with her because she’d been a drama teacher for a couple of years and I thought it would be interesting to see what sort of expectations she had of the course, whether these needs were met, and if she’d been able to find a job in ELT.  I think her honest and thoughtful responses are going to be very useful for people who are thinking about doing the CELTA and those who’ve just come off the course and are worried about what to do next.

What sort of work were you doing before the CELTA?

Before the CELTA, I edited academic material for a company in Bangalore. I also worked as a drama teacher for 2 years, working with kids between the ages of 4 and 18.

What motivated you to do the course?

When I started off as a teacher, I was pretty much learning how to teach on the job. This was extremely stressful and it made me question my teaching abilities. It can be really difficult overcoming the normal obstacles of being a teacher and it becomes discouraging when you are not trained. I remember feeling like an impostor. When I switched to editing, I soon became bored with my job. I missed interacting with students and the connections I formed with them  as I helped them overcome their individual problems. I knew that I didn’t want to return to teaching theatre. Then I remembered how on my first day at school, my ESL teacher placed a book in my hand and helped me understand the words. That’s how I realized that I wanted to become an ESL teacher. Having learnt from my past mistake, I began researching qualifications to meet this goal. The CELTA was the most recommended out of all the qualifications, so I immediately applied for the course.

What did you expect from the course and did it live up to your expectations?

After getting through, my first step was to Google the things that I could expect on the course. Most accounts included stories of sleepless nights and sudden bursts of tears. Somewhat arrogantly, I didn’t think that I would be that person. After all, I had some teaching experience. I knew where to use my articles and what tenses to use. How hard could it be? The reality was completely different. To manage the course, you have to be super organized, completely committed and ready to sacrifice any semblance of a life for that month. I came in expecting a challenging and stimulating course. What I got was a course that demanded that you sink or swim based on your efforts and ability to adapt to a steep learning curve. Was that a good or a bad thing? I’m not entirely sure. The speed of the course made you use each day of the course as effectively as possible – something that wouldn’t happen in a longer course. But it also meant that most of the pedagogy was absorbed only towards the end of the course. So I was only able to really try out the techniques taught in the CELTA towards the end of the course (and in the months that followed it). If you’re a quick learner, you’ll be fine. If like me, you’re not, then don’t beat yourself up. Because while the course is going on, it might feel like you’re not succeeding. But I guarantee that after the course, once you start teaching regularly, that’s when you realize how much you actually absorbed from the course.

You’re completely immersed in the programme. It becomes a part of every aspect of your life – whether it’s your ride to the centre (I usually used that time to go over my lesson plans) or your dreams (and yes, I did literally start doing my lesson plans in my sleep). The course effectively puts you into the shoes of your learners – instead of being given a list of dos and don’ts, you’re given models to follow. That takes some getting used to, but it makes it easier for you to choose the techniques that you want to try out.

What was your experience with looking for a job after you completed the course? Did you try for any overseas jobs? What challenges did you face?

After the CELTA, the job hunt began almost immediately. Our trainers had prepped us for an uphill struggle, but it was more difficult that I thought it would be. I had expected the CELTA to instantly open doors all around the world. That’s not the case. If you apply for jobs abroad, you’re usually competing with “native” English speakers – qualified and unqualified. It’s tough not to be discouraged or bitter when you realize that the work you put into getting this qualification doesn’t stop international organizations from choosing people based on their own biased (and sometimes racist) criteria.

I have found jobs in the EU for “non-native” speakers, but they almost always apply to people who have a work permit for the region. In my experience, it’s a good idea to check out forums and blogs to find out about which countries accept “non-native” speakers who aren’t from the EU. This includes several countries in South and Central America (Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, Chile to name a few). Some Asian countries will accept you if you have some relevant teaching experience in addition to the CELTA (one of my CELTA batch mates had taught for a few years before the course, and he got a job in China). Japan is pretty stringent, but if you have relevant experience (they usually ask for between 1 to 2 years or more), you could get a job there. Thailand is another possibility. If you’re applying abroad, it’s a good idea to get some teaching experience in India before applying. Include a teaching video/introduction video with your applications – this usually garners more positive responses.

In India, while the CELTA is rapidly becoming more recognized, it is still relatively unknown (compared to the more traditional teaching qualifications like the BEd). I remember getting interviewed for a language school in India, where the interviewer first asked me what the CELTA was, and then promptly asked me why I bothered getting it. So if you’re applying in India, be ready for experiences like this. Also, join as many relevant social media groups as possible – I got my current job by responding to a post on the CELTA India Facebook group.

Where are you currently working now and what sort of work does it involve?

I work at Kings Learning, one of the leading English language schools in Bangalore. I teach General and Business English courses, IELTS and online classes. In addition to training, I also create and edit content for enguru, a language learning app that helps users become familiar with General and/or corporate English. There are several steps involved in this – we start by choosing topics, then building relevant word lists at the appropriate level. After that, we create different sentence structures or activities that help users learn this vocabulary and become familiar with using the words in their own contexts.

The use of apps in English language learning is a relatively new development, but given the positive response that many apps have had, this could be a promising alternative to teaching after doing the CELTA. Some skills that are important in this line of work are grammatical accuracy and knowledge, the ability to grade your language and careful attention to detail.

Have you been able to use what you learnt on the CELTA?

Yes, definitely. While I could speak and write accurately before the course, the ability to explain language (that I developed during the CELTA) was particularly useful for content development and my classes. Similarly, the ability to grade language was useful – both in terms of writing content and teaching classes. Techniques such as ICQs (Instruction Checking Questions) and CCQs (Concept Checking Questions) made it easier and more efficient to check students’ comprehension. On that note, even learning that the teacher’s role in the classroom should be minimal was valuable input for me – one that I constantly try to follow in my classes. The lesson plan format we used in the course was also extremely useful – while I rarely get time to make my plans as detailed as they were during the CELTA, I use the general structure and template to create most of my plans, giving them a cohesive structure.

What sort of impact has the course had on you professionally and/or personally?

Professionally, the course has opened many doors. I had applied for ESL teaching jobs before taking the course, and the number of responses that I received (positive and otherwise) has risen drastically after adding the course to my list of qualifications. Many of my colleagues have a CELTA, and I work with a supervisor who has a CELTA and a DELTA. This course has allowed me to be on an equal footing with my colleagues, also making it easier to work with them since we have common points of reference.

Personally, the CELTA was a big boost to my confidence. I went from questioning my role as an educator to being able to conduct classes and corporate training sessions with relative ease and comfort. It helped me become more efficient, especially with students with little to no familiarity with English – which was something I had viewed as nearly impossible before the course. It helped me become more organized, giving my lessons (which had previously been improvised and, frankly, at times chaotic) some much needed structure and direction. Rather than throwing in random activities, I was clear about the types of activities and their use in the development of language. The CELTA allowed me to direct my creativity to make my activities both communicative and meaningful.

Where to next?

At the moment, I’m quite happy teaching in Bangalore, since my job exposes me to a variety of teaching contexts and challenges. I hope to eventually use my teaching certification to travel to different countries. There might be a bias for “native” English speakers – but with the CELTA and some relevant teaching experience, I do think that I’ll get more opportunities. So hopefully, in a few years, I’ll be posting pictures with my class in the Andes or Mexico City! 🙂

What advice would you give to teachers in India who’ve just completed the CELTA?

I’ll start with some useful advice I got from my CELTA trainers – start teaching as soon as possible. Regardless of salary, it’s necessary to use your skills in the real world immediately. This might be a bitter pill to swallow, especially if you’ve worked before and you’re accustomed to a fairly high salary. Chances are that when you’re done with the course, finding a well-paying job will be difficult. In my case, I spent 2 months at home, teaching English for free to a young boy. This allowed me to employ some of the CELTA methods and internalize them as part of my teaching approach.

Try to work with people who have done the CELTA – it helps if you’re working within the same framework. It also means that you don’t fall back into old teaching habits or forget the new skills and pedagogical framework you’ve acquired.

Use social media as much as possible, whether it’s to find out more about the ELT field or jobs. It helps to have a community of people who have a similar approach to teaching. On that note, keep in touch with the people who did the CELTA with you. I’ve gotten some great advice and support from my batch mates, whether it was celebrating when someone got a job or comparing approaches to working with learners.


Life after CELTA | An interview with Parvathy Nair

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I think I am up to any challenge the classroom has to offer.

Here’s the next installment in my Life after CELTA series in which I attempt to document the professional journeys of Indian CELTA trainees. Parvathy Nair did the CELTA in Mumbai exactly a year ago. I was interested in catching up with her because in many ways, she represents how many trainees on the CELTA in India differ from those on courses elsewhere. The CELTA might be a pre-service course in other countries but in India, it tends to be a mid-career course that teachers do as a way of reinvigorating themselves professionally or finding new directions in their teaching careers.

Parvathy came to the CELTA, having taught school-level English in Pune for many years. I was curious about what she hoped to get out of the course as an experienced teacher of English and what kind of impact, if any, it’s had on her teaching practice.

What sort of work were you doing before the CELTA? 

I was teaching as a primary teacher in a CBSE School in Pune, when I took a month-long break for my CELTA. And now I am the Head of the Department.

What motivated you to do the course?

I did not have a certification that qualified me as a language teacher. Specialising in English for my B.Ed. did not help me in any way either. The B.Ed. was more about the philosophies of education proposed by the various thinkers and educators of modern India and there was little about language teaching. I felt it was high time I learnt the pedagogy of language teaching. And CELTA fit the bill.

What do your employers/colleagues know about the CELTA? 

When I told my employers about the course, they asked me why I wanted to do it – a reaction that probably stems from the comfort zones that the teaching fraternity often operates out of. I had to convince them that this certification was important for my personal and professional development. But a couple of my colleagues who had taught in international schools knew about the CELTA.

What kind of impact did the course have on your approach to teaching?  

Pre-CELTA, I was in an ‘ignorance is bliss’ mode, and thought that the techniques that I was using were the most appropriate. But once I completed the course, I discovered multiple approaches to teaching language. While the CELTA, by definition, is targeted at teaching adults, my experience over the last year has been that it works wonderfully for young learners as well.

What kind of impact has it had more generally on your professional life? 

I have become a very confident teacher. And I think I am up to any challenge the classroom has to offer. I never thought I had it in me to teach a class that comprised a visually impaired child, children with learning disabilities, first-generation English learners and children with conventional needs, all at the same time.

Have you had opportunities to apply what you’d learnt outside your regular school context? 

Yes, I have been fortunate enough to apply it in the curriculum that I am designing for the RTE students. These are first-generation English learners without much access to learning resources and are typically from economically challenged backgrounds. While they attend their regular classes during school hours; two days in a week are dedicated to language learning under my supervision. I used my CELTA learning experience to design the approach used on this course.

Many newly CELTA-qualified teachers in India would like to work with schools but find this challenging without a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.), existing experience teaching at a school, and/or lack of awareness among school administrators about the CELTA. What advice would you give them?  

If a teacher intends to teach in an ICSE, CBSE or State Board school, a B.Ed. is a must. These schools do not see the CELTA as a recommended qualification, but just an additional self-development course. The CELTA does not impact your pay scale and does not offer job security either. A B.Ed. on the other hand ensures a salary as per the prescribed government pay scale and also secures your job (unless the school flouts the government-laid rules and regulations). The IB and IGCSE schools though, do not have B.Ed. as a prerequisite, as the affiliations are not based out of India. But these schools are far fewer in number and do not cater to the larger population either.

CELTA course administrators will have to work with policy makers, government and schools to emphasise the importance of this certification. Until such time, B.Ed. will remain a prerequisite.

What are your plans for continuing professional development?

There are two courses that I would like to take up in the future – an M.A. in English Language Teaching and short course on the history of English.

Where to next? 

At least for the next two years I intend to continue in the same school.

In India, we get a lot of trainees, who like you, come to the CELTA with many years of teaching experience. What suggestions do you have for experienced teachers who intend to do the CELTA? 

Unlearning is, as much a part of learning and one should have an open mind. I would leave it at that.

Parvathy blogs at The Nomadic Gene although it’s not strictly ELT focused. You can also connect with her on Instagram. She’s a talented poet and I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing a link to ‘I sent the horses back home’ which she wrote in response to the sexual assault and murder of an 8 year old girl in Southern Kashmir last year. 

Life after CELTA | An interview with Kumar Sharma

Kumar Sharma ELT

I sent my application to over 100 schools and agencies and only one bothered to reply …

Here’s another interview in a series I’m doing to address concerns about post-CELTA career options for Indian teachers. Some trainees do the course to ostensibly travel and teach but a South Asian passport and a non-native speaker of English (NNEST) tag mean that most doors are firmly closed. But there are those who’ve been able to find opportunities despite these challenges and I’d like to showcase one of those stories.

Kumar was on a course I tutored on last year. He was very determined about getting a job overseas. He left for China earlier this year. I caught up with him about his experiences so far and asked him to share advice for teachers who’d like to follow in his footsteps.

What sort of work were you doing before the CELTA? 

I was working as an English teacher at a private language institute in central Mumbai.

What motivated you to do the course? 

I was an English teacher without any teaching qualifications, so I did some research and came across the CELTA. I wanted to improve as a teacher and explore the world of ESL. I discovered that CELTA could be my passport to teach abroad and that was a deciding factor to do the course.

How did you go about applying for jobs overseas after finishing the CELTA? 

Once the CELTA was over, I knew I had to start looking for a job and put my learning into action. I searched online and registered myself on international job portals. Websites like and to name a few, post job openings daily. I sent my application to a lot of employers and finally got a reply from my current employers.

What challenges did you face? 

The biggest challenge I faced was finding companies who hire non-native English teachers. I was told during my pre-CELTA interview that its almost impossible to find ESL teaching jobs abroad because of visa restrictions.

Tell us about your current job and your teaching responsibilities. 

I am an ESL teacher in Changchun, China. I teach primary, elementary and middle school students. I prepare PowerPoint presentations and lesson plans for the grades I teach. My school provides me with the textbooks for these classes. I’m tasked with completing the lesson plans a week in advance and submit them to the school coordinators. I also co-ordinate with the local teachers to discuss the progress of the kids. It’s very important to be flexible and spontaneous as a teacher, so even though I have a lesson plan to follow, I sometimes adjust my teaching to suit the class.

To what extent does this job meet the expectations you had of it?

I am completely satisfied with this job. I wanted to teach abroad and get sense of the culture of teaching and learning. I came to China with no expectations at all, because I didn’t want to feel disappointed. But I wanted to do justice to the opportunity given to me and I am glad I was able to achieve that. I am working to get experience, because the time I spend in China will add value to my CV and make me a better teacher at the same time.

Tell us about the city you live in. 

I live in Changchun – it’s the capital city of Jilin province. It’s usually very cold here – winters can be as cold as -35 degrees Celsius. Changchun has been voted the happiest city in China, and I must say it deserves the title. People here are very warm and hospitable, not just because I am a foreigner but even with each other. The public transport in this city is efficient; you can reach any part of the city with ease. You can either travel by trains, buses or taxis and the fares are cheap. The cost of living in Changchun is also very low compared to other major cities in the country, you can easily save quite a lot of your salary. The cost of utilities like water, gas and electricity is also very reasonable. Parks, restaurants, temples, schools, malls, universities and tourist attractions – they have it all in this city! I can go on and on about it, because that’s how much I love it and as I write this, I’ve just been here five months!

What’s the most surprising/unusual thing about living or working in China? 

I can’t think of any unusual experiences as such but what surprised me the most is how much importance is given to a child’s overall development. In schools, kids are not just given an education in terms of subjects (like back home), but also moral and physical development. They make them responsible right from a very young age. The future of these kids is in safe hands for sure.

Have you been able to network with other expat English teachers who work in the area?

To be honest, I haven’t really got a chance to network with any teachers from other cities, but I have colleagues from Ukraine and Russia and we often exchange information about our respective countries, lessons and kids. I am sure over time, I’ll be able to network more. It’s still early days in China for me.

What do employers in China look for when recruiting teachers? 

Employers want teachers who are energetic, passionate and hard working. Teaching in China focuses on fun but teachers must also be good at discipline his/her class. If the kids in your class seem to be enjoying themselves, you’re seen as a perfect fit. There’s also a harsh reality about teaching in China – employers often discriminate between employees based on their nationality. White skin is unfortunately a qualification that can fetch you a higher salary. If you’re a white European or a native English speaker then your pay is going to be more.

What sort of perceptions do they have about English teachers from India?

There are very few Indian-English teachers in China. The general perception about Indians is that we don’t speak good English. The fact that we receive our formal education in English is unknown to them. A lot of Chinese people are surprised that I speak English fluently. However, I’ve not yet had any opportunities to speak with any other Indian teachers in China. All the schools I teach in are okay with the fact that I am from India and this doesn’t seem to have an impact in their behaviour or attitude towards me.

What advice would you give to CELTA-qualified teachers from India who’d like to teach overseas? 

The road ahead isn’t easy. But if you believe in your skills and abilities then you can overcome any obstacles. I’d advise teachers to be patient when searching for teaching jobs overseas. If you’re a non-native English teacher, then be prepared for a lot of rejections because the visa rules in most countries are getting stricter by the day. Don’t take the risk of working illegally in any country as that could jeopardise your career. I sent my application to over 100 schools and agencies and only one bothered to reply, and I grabbed the opportunity. It’s also very important to get teaching experience post CELTA. Don’t always look for money. Every teaching opportunity post CELTA, even if it’s seemingly insignificant is valuable. Back your CELTA with self-belief, hard work and dedication. All the best!

NB: Kumar has consent in place for the image used in this post. 

Life after CELTA | An interview with Arundhati Moebel

Here’s another interview in a series I’m doing to address concerns about career options and professional development among newly qualified Indian teachers who have done the CELTA.

I met Arundhati Moebel on a course I tutored on earlier this year. I was interested in her journey because she was an experienced teacher of German and wanted to explore her reasons for doing the CELTA at this stage of her career and the impact it’s had on her teaching and professional life.

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1. What sort of work were you doing before the CELTA?
I am a product of the Goethe Institute and have been teaching German ever since  I
completed my teacher’s training course in Munich 25 years ago, with a break in between when I had my children. My first real job was at the Ecole Française Mumbai. (French school) where I taught German to French children.

I worked at the Max Mueller Bhavan in Mumbai where I taught up to the Intermediate level & also Business German. For 2 years I taught at Indo-German Chamber of commerce to young business students. A large part of this training was cultural & social differences. I recall how those students doing Masters degrees were more enthusiastic to learn about social norms & rules of etiquette in the West, rather than bother with grammar & vocabulary. It was a very enjoyable experience for me. I then got married & moved to France & have been living here for 17 years. I work at the Ecole Internationale Bilingue Monceau in the 17th district of Paris.

2. What motivated you to do the CELTA?
I got an offer from an International school to train their students for TOEFL/IELTS. That’s how I first got in touch with the British Council in Paris. They offered me two workshops to train IELTS students over the last 6 months.

Some of my Indian friends teaching English in Paris had taken a TEFL course & some
taught without any training at all. I felt that I needed a legitimate qualification, not only for myself but also for the school I work in. And one night I met an American at a dinner party who had completed her CELTA course in Mumbai and was raving about it. She was so excited that I felt compelled to meet her on the next day again, where she explained the entire procedure of admission & the course details to me. That was it! I came home & consulted my family first about my absence & then jumped straight on to the British Council website. As soon as they  confirmed my application, I booked my ticket & a week later I started my CELTA course in Mumbai.

3. Are there any benefits or drawbacks to doing the CELTA in India as opposed to
The biggest advantage for me was staying in the comfort of my parents’ home where I
didn’t have to worry about meals. I used to feel sorry for my course-mates who had come to Mumbai & had no means of preparing food. It did make a very big difference, as time was scarce & there was so much input every day.

Besides that, my tutors were extremely dedicated & supportive. I was instantly at ease with my batch-mates, as we were all confronted with  similar situations. In fact I’m still in touch with them from time to time, a part of India for me!

4. What kind of impact did the CELTA have on your teaching style in your German
To be honest, a lot that I learnt on the CELTA, I was familiar with, during my Goethe training – the methodology, pedagogy & especially non-teacher fronted communicative lessons. But I needed to brush up my teaching skills, get rid of old, bad habits & refresh my memory. Besides learning how to teach with new technology & searching for resources for my future English lessons. I have incorporated a lot of new ideas in my German lessons, all thanks to CELTA.

5. What kind of impact has it had on your professional life? 

I have also been asked to take over the Cambridge centre at our school, which I consider  a big honour. And this would never have been possible without CELTA!

6. Have you had opportunities to teach English after the CELTA?
Yes I did. As soon as the academic year started in September, I was assigned a 6th grade class for a month, until the school recruited a Canadian teacher. It was the best opportunity for me to put everything that I had learnt, into practice.

7. In your experience, how do French employers perceive the CELTA?
The CELTA is unfortunately not recognised by the French Government, just like in India. Private organisations, however, will accept you with open arms, as Cambridge enjoys a fine reputation in France.

8. What are your plans for professional development?
At the moment I’m completely devoted to students in my German classes. I am teaching grades 6, 7, 8 & 9. I’m constantly in touch with the Goethe Institute in Paris where I get invited to open days, workshops & training sessions. The Germans are extremely professional when it comes to organising these events and I’m proud to be part of the Goethe family.

9. Where to next?
Time permitting I would like to teach English at our school, even if it for a few hours. I have signed up for the 3 day TESOL colloquium next weekend in Paris, through which I’m convinced that I will get new ideas & meet lots of interesting people from different parts of the world. It will be exciting to work with Cambridge & run exams for them. I have already met some of the invigilators who encouraged me to take the CELTA. And now I have it.

10. What advice do you have for experienced teachers of languages other than English who intend to do the CELTA?
I would definitely recommend it to anyone who intends to teach English. Because even if you teach another language, it doesn’t mean you can teach English. You need to
familiarise yourself with grammar rules and find sources of information. It was best
decision I took this summer. With the CELTA certificate, I can teach English just as I can
teach German. As the French say: it’s like wearing two caps.

Life after CELTA | An interview with Khadija Tambawala

Khadija Tambawala.jpg

Last year, I blogged about the types of qualifications Indian ELT professionals could explore after completing the CELTA (Post-CELTA Development (PCD) | A primer for Indian ELT professionals). I wrote that post in response to the questions I got from teachers who’d just completed the CELTA. There’s also understandably a lot of anxiety about career prospects after the CELTA. Many of the conventional routes that CELTA qualified teachers take in other countries are either not available in India or are closed to teachers from India.

So here’s the first in a series of interviews I hope to do with Indian ELT professionals documenting their post-CELTA journey, with the aim of addressing some of these apprehensions and showcasing the rich range of meaningful career opportunities that are possible for someone who wants to work in this field.

I met Khadija Tambawala a couple of years when I was doing a demo lesson at a CELTA course. We met again, recently, albeit virtually, on a MOOC. I was curious about Khadija’s post-CELTA journey. Here’s what she told me.

1. What sort of work were you doing before the CELTA? 

I did the CELTA two years after I graduated, during which I experimented with different kinds of work to see which one I liked best and considered worth pursuing. I worked as a content writer for a social media marketing company, as a PR professional, as a voice artist (something I still do in my free time), and also as a production executive and content creator for English e-learning services.

2. What motivated you to do the CELTA? 

In 2014, I got an opportunity to volunteer as an EFL teacher for a month in Yemen, and even though I had no direct experience teaching English, all the work I had done until then was based on my love for the language and proficiency at it. So, I went for it, and what an experience it was! It was absolutely exhilarating, and once I came back I decided that this was something worth exploring because I found it so challenging and enjoyable at the same time.

3. When and where did you do the CELTA? Have you completed any other formal qualifications since then? 

I did the CELTA in May 2015 in Mumbai with the British Council. Since then, I haven’t completed any other formal qualifications.

4. What kind of impact did the CELTA have on your teaching style? On your professional life? 

The CELTA shaped my teaching style because I didn’t have substantial teaching experience before it or any other teaching qualification like a B.Ed, which other CELTA participants often do. It exposed me to very effective ways of teaching English as a second language, great methodology and techniques, and things I would never have known otherwise. I felt better equipped and more confident about teaching and training in the field, post the CELTA.

5. In what contexts have you been teaching post-CELTA? 

Post CELTA, I worked with an MNC to train their employees in spoken and written communication skills in a full-time capacity, and after that, I started freelancing as a corporate trainer for different clients. I’ve mostly worked with young adults and junior level employees in organisations, focusing on grammar, conversational skills, soft skills and employability skills.

6. In your experience, how do Indian employers perceive the CELTA? 

Either they’ve never heard of it, and are just looking for someone who has relevant teaching experience, or they are aware of it and are only willing to hire people with a CELTA because they think it brings some credibility to the training and they can vouch for the trainer. Sometimes, employers just have ‘CELTA’ as a required qualification in their job profiles, but don’t really know how that should translate to the training quality and experience once the person has been hired. They believe getting a CELTA-qualified trainer will guarantee quality training and are thus also willing to pay for it, because it shows them that you’ve invested time and money towards your craft and are serious about it.

7. Did you apply for any jobs overseas? What was your experience? 

The first few months after I completed my CELTA I often contemplated looking for a job oversees and getting a year or so of experience teaching people from around the world, thus widening my repertoire. However, the opportunities are extremely bleak if you aren’t white-skinned or don’t hold a passport to prove you’re a native speaker. I did a lot of research about teaching in places like China and Vietnam, where it is believed that some schools and institutes are willing to hire “non-native” English speakers, but it honestly didn’t seem worth it to me. Most of them had crazy working hours, or were in extremely remote places, often hard to find on a map, so I gave up the idea.

8. How have you been developing yourself? 

I’ve been looking for a substantial qualification to further my career, something that doesn’t just look fancy on paper but also adds significantly to my skills and knowledge- I’m primarily considering an M.A. in ELT- but there aren’t a lot of options if you’re looking to do it in India. I’ve done a lot of research on credible digital M.A.s in ELT too, but can’t find anyone to vouch for them or share their experiences. In the meantime, I’ve been doing whatever I can to upskill myself, like taking courses through sites like Udemy and FutureLearn, participating in webinars and following blogs and websites that I find interesting.

9. Where to next? 

As a freelancer, I’m currently working on getting more consistent work which would be ideal. I’m looking to explore different kinds of training as well as polish the kind of training I already do. Within the next few years, I not only want to get another useful qualification, but also work on different kinds of projects with varied clients.

10. What advice do you have for new CELTA qualified English teachers in India? 

One very important thing I would say is, don’t expect the CELTA to create jobs for you overnight. From what I’ve seen, in India it’s quite a niche qualification for a niche industry, which not a lot of people are even aware of; but if you look really hard and in the right places, you will find people who are interested in your qualification and willing to hire you for what you bring to the table. It’s not like an MBA that often promises high-paying jobs in big companies, but what you learn from the CELTA is something that will always be with you and can’t be replaced by any other qualification.

I would also advise newly qualified CELTA teachers to keep themselves updated with what’s relevant to their fields. It’s easy to get comfortable at a full-time job that pays the bills, but keep developing yourself professionally, or one day you may just become obsolete!

If you have questions for Khadija, please put them into the comments section and I’ll pass them on to her. 

Post-CELTA Development (PCD) | A primer for Indian ELT professionals

Post-celta development.jpg

When I do demo lessons at my local CELTA in Bombay, I frequently get questions from the trainee teachers about what they should be doing next. I usually tell them to wait for the last session on CPD where they might be given a handout with the deliciously cruel subtitle ‘glutton for punishment’ like I was. Nevertheless, some reach out to me later with more questions about what they ought be doing next. I suspect some of the confusion and anxiety is down to what’s perceived to be a lack of options for formal professional development in India beyond more traditional modes such as doing a Masters in Education or English.

I know how cost conscious my peers are in India. Those prices sure are scary when you convert them into rupees. I have a legend (₹₹₹₹₹) next to each category to give you a really rough idea of how much your aspirations might set you back by.

1. Trinity Cert IBET  ₹₹₹₹₹

Let’s face it, you basically have two choices in India: join a school, or work at a corporate. If you are interested in teaching Business English or ESP and have zero corporate experience, you might want to explore the Certificate in International Business English training. The good news is that it’s offered online and so you can complete it from the comfort of your cozy Indian home. The Consultants-E offer a bonifide online version. International House offer their own version of the Certificate in Teaching Business English (also online) which is cheaper but not endorsed by Trinity (but is moderated by Cambridge Language Assessment- ahh the lovely simple world of ELT qualifications). Pearson have a First Certificate for Teachers of Business English but there isn’t much information available on their site. Oxford TEFL also have a more reasonably priced online version but it isn’t accredited to any institutional body.

2. Certificate in eModerating ₹₹₹

Perhaps you love that cozy home of yours so much so that you never want to leave, even for teaching lessons. If that’s the case, you might want to acquire skills that help you teach online through asynchronous platforms like Moodle and synchronous virtual ones like Adobe Connect. The Consultants-E offer a four week course and International House has a five week version. The Consultants-E also offer a course which focuses solely on virtual synchronous training called Teaching Live Online. The British Council offer a version as well which I’ve incidentally completed (you’ll find my reflections here).

3. Certificate in teaching young learners (YLs) ₹₹₹

International House offer an online version. Cambridge used to offer a two week long YL extension to the CELTA but I believe it’s no longer available. NILE also offer an online version. Trinity offer their own f2f version at a range of accredited centres in the following locations: China, Czech Republic, Japan, Malta, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, Uruguay, United Kingdom, Vietnam. Oxford TEFL offer an online version.

4. Certificate in ICT ₹₹₹₹₹

Don’t know what ICT is?! Well, you’d better enroll for this nine week long online course offered by the Consultants-E, endorsed by Trinity.

5. Certificate in Advanced Methodology ₹₹₹₹

You sought Friereian pedagogy at the CELTA but instead got ‘find someone who’. Perhaps these ostensibly ‘advanced’ courses (Advanced Methodology & Advanced Methodology for Teachers of Modern Language) are up your alley. Both are online and uniformly expensive.

6. Certificate in teaching one to one ₹₹₹₹

You gotta hand it to International house – they have a course for everything including what in India is sometimes unfortunately called personal tuitions. 

7. Certificate in Teacher Training ₹₹₹₹

This might be something you’d want to park until you get some more experience but it’s worth noting that there are online qualifications you can explore such as International House’s Teacher Training certificate. NILE also offer a course in trainer development.

8. Cambridge DELTA  ₹₹₹₹₹₹

The DELTA isn’t offered in India yet (at least not all of it) although there are unconfirmed rumours that this might change in the near future. The DELTA is modular (module 1 is an exam, 2 involves teaching practice and 3 is an extended assignment). You can take them in any order, full time or part-time. Here are your options if you’re in India:

  1. You can do Module 1 through the British Council India. It’s not listed on the site but you can write them a message here. Bear in mind that the fee you’ll pay will only get you a proctored exam and nothing else. You’ll have to do the prep yourself. Alternatively you could purchase support online with the Module 1 prep course from International House.
  2. The Distance Delta (between 9 and 15 months in duration) is offered by International House London and the British Council. You can do module 1, 3 and apparently a part of 2 remotely but the actual teaching practice will need to take place at International House London or one of their other centres. I recall seeing Kuala Lumpur at one stage but I don’t see any other locations listed now.
  3. Travel abroad to do the intensive Delta (roughly two months). You could go to one of the International House centres in Bangkok or Chiang Mai, Hungary, or Turkey  (all places Indian ELT professionals have trekked to in quest of PCD). You could also explore CELT Athens which is managed by Marisa Constantinides (a real live energizer bunny) – a colleague recently did a 6 month distance version with module 2 in Athens and found it a fruitful experience (see comments for more details).

9. Trinity DipTESOL ₹₹₹₹₹₹

Trinity’s answer to the Cambridge DELTA isn’t very well known. It’s a four unit course that’s offered as an f2f or blended program at accredited centres. Oxford TEFL offer a blended version with the f2f component taking place in Prague, Kerala, Cadiz and Barcelona for the 2017 intake. Since they do offer an Indian location, the DipTESOL may be worth exploring. You may want to read this article from Pete about perceptions of this poorly understood qualification and listen to this podcast from the TEFL Show. Trinity also offer a  Fellowship Diploma in TESOL Education Studies.

10. NILE online courses ₹₹₹₹

The Norwich Institute of Language Education offers a whole host of 8 week long online courses on specific topics like Academic English.

11. International Teacher Development Institute ₹₹

These guys are brilliant and they offer month long courses almost every other month. The courses are facilitated by thought leaders in our profession.

12. Coursera free or ₹

Check this MOOC platform’s list of language learning and teaching courses regularly. You might find some gems. The courses are all free but you can pay a nominal fee and get a certificate from the university or institution that’s teaching the course. You could also check out FutureLearn and Canvas (lots of advanced stuff for teaching professionals) which work on a similar principle of paying for a certificate.

13. Teach Now program

I’m not too familiar with this nine month online course but it appears to be an international program offered through a local provider – The Teacher Foundation – as an alternative to a B.Ed to help candidate prepare to teach in the K12 environment. You’ll apparently be able to give tests in India that’ll qualify you for American teaching licenses.

14. British Council teacher training courses ₹₹

The British Council India offer five online moderated courses and two face to face workshops. I’m not entirely sure if individuals can nominate themselves for these courses because it says your school or institution all over the registration from. You’ll find information on the Certificate in Primary English Language Teaching (CiPELT), Certificate in Secondary English Language Teaching (CiSELT), Content & Language Integrated Learning Essentials (CLIL), Learning Technologies, Teaching Knowledge Test (TKT) Essentials, and workshop on resources here. The British Council Teaching Centre in Chennai offers a three day Business English Teacher Training workshop with a focus on the Cambridge BEC.

15. Post-Graduate Diploma in Teaching English ₹₹

This course is offered by the English & Foreign Languages University in Hyderabad. It’s a distance course and doesn’t look all that exciting, sadly like many teaching qualifications offered by Indian institutions. I’m including it in my list as the token Indian rep.

If you reckon this is all child’s play, stay tuned for my post on affordable distance and online Masters programs.

Do leave a comment if there any other courses which are either online or face to face but easily accessible and affordable for Indian ELT professionals that I can add to my list.

And finally, some sound advice from Amy Lightfoot.

Courses and formal qualifications are just the tip of the iceberg. Informal development activities can sometimes be even more productive and enriching than the ones listed in this post.

DELTA Post-hoc: the good, the bad and the fugly

I’d originally planned to keep a daily journal here of my journey with the Delta. It was motivated by a naive optimism which died as quickly as the assignments and reading tasks that piled up on my desk. The DELTA or Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages is a practical qualification offered by the University of Cambridge to experienced teachers as an intermediate step between the CELTA and a Masters. From what I hear anecdotally, it appears to be valued more by employers than a Masters specifically for its teaching component. The Delta can also contribute towards the credit requirements of a Masters programme so many who’ve done the Delta go on to do a Masters in ELT, TESOL or education. I’m not going to talk about the what and how of the Delta because Sandy Milin, on her blog, does an excellent job of providing a comprehensive analysis and suggestions for all aspects of the programme. Instead, I’d like to share my experiences with the Delta and what I found of value and what I found an utter waste of time.

A bit of context 

The Delta is a modular program with three very different modules. You are not compelled to take all three although it’s required to attain the full qualification.  One of my peers on the program who interviewed with a British university during the course was told by his prospective employers that they were only interested in proof that he’d passed Module 2. The course can be done as a distance, intensive or blended program.  Doing a distance module 2 is theoretically possible in India but not practically so because you need to find a local accredited tutor and arrange to have a Delta assessor fly down to observe your final assessed lesson.  It is possible to do Modules 1 and 3 through the Distance Delta program run by International House and the British Council. There are some other institutions that offer distance versions of these modules – I know someone from Poona who I think did Module 3 from some place in Poland. She adopted a blended approach doing 1 and 3 as distance programs and doing a six-week intensive Module 2 with International House, Dubai. I chose to do all three modules in the intensive format with a language school in Bangkok. This made sense to me for reasons related to cost, time, proximity and a culture (Thailand) that’s broadly familiar to me.

The actual program lasts eight weeks although I had a week off in the middle for Songkran – Thai New Year. This turned out to be a blessing because I needed some time off and was able to catch up on reading for upcoming assignments.  These eight weeks include teaching practice, tutorials and input specific to Module 2 as well as input sessions for Module 1 and 3. Module 1 is basically an exam and Module 3 is an extended 4500 word assignment.  The intensive Delta is generally done in the run up to the two annual submission dates to Cambridge (first Wednesday of June and December).  When I came back from Bangkok, I had about three and a half weeks to prepare for the Module 1 exam and write the extended assignment.  I chose to do the Module 1 exam at the British Council Delhi although in hindsight it might been easier just to go back to Bangkok than grapple with with the BC’s fumbling customer support, in addition to Delhi’s disgusting 47 degree heat.  I submitted my Module 3 assignment last night to my tutor in Bangkok who will upload it to Cambridge today.


The good 

Early in my career, I yearned to teach EFL – something I could never manage to do because I come attached to a non-native speaker tag and a third world passport.  I have also taught very little General English; it’s mostly been Business English and ESP. Module 2 gave me the opportunity to teach a multicultural group general English in an EFL setting. We taught lessons every other day and I couldn’t have asked for a more motivated bunch of students. Many of the learners were refugees from West Africa, Iran, Sri Lanka, China, and Vietnam – fleeing religious and political persecution. Others were the wives of Japanese expats as well as local students. I’ll really cherish my time with these learners. The lessons were initially observed by a tutor and three of my peers. So, you can imagine the amount of detailed feedback I received on my teaching. Gradually, the tutor withdrew and only observed assessed lessons which are called LSAs. However, save the last week, my teaching practice partner observed all my lessons.  This developmental feedback was my biggest takeaway from the Delta. The last time I received any kind of substantial feedback on my teaching was back at the Celta.


The proof, of course, is in the performance. After returning to Bombay, I taught two demo lessons at a local Celta batch that was running here. The difference was particularly palpable in the pre-intermediate class. I’ve never been particularly strong with lower-level learners because I have limited experience with them. But I was in my element this time around. I’ve also become far more effective at exploiting content to its fullest potential. I can now walk into a class with a text that’s no longer than 25 words and run an hour long engaging lesson around it.  I also think I am better at getting students to notice language features and addressing emerging needs.

The Delta provides some exposure to relatively unfamiliar and unexplored areas of ELT such as English as a Lingua Franca, discourse, pragmatics and phonology (although phonology has always been an area of focus for me) but this is largely a matter of individual initiative. The topic of the LSAs are left up to you and a lot of my peers chose the easy, well-worn routes of lexis, grammar and speaking that they’re comfortable with.  I think it’s far more stimulating to select an area you’re not familiar with although your reading load will increase.  I investigated vowel sound distinctions from an ELF perspective, deixis in blog posts, pragmatic aspects of spoken discourse and critical reading.  Sure, it was challenging but it compelled me to read books and authors like Jennifer Jenkins, David Crystal and Brian Paltridge, who I would have never ventured to  explore.  My knowledge of ELT terminology was fairly decent before but on account of all the reading and studying, it’s far deeper and I can use specialised lexicon to describe aspects of ELT such as testing and conversation analysis.


The bad 

There’s a lot of work and you only have 8 weeks (thankfully I had 9) to do it all, well less in reality since the deadlines are spread over this time so you end up with just a weekend to write your background essay and plan your assessed lesson. Writing the essay wasn’t as time consuming as doing the amount of reading required to support it. I suppose this is where the Distance Delta wins out because you get more time although the fact that you’re probably working at the same time partly cancels out this advantage.  In her post on tips for the Module 1 exam, Sandy Milin recommends not doing the Module 1 and Module 3 submission at the same time. I would disagree – I think it’s entirely possible albeit challenging to study for the exam and write the extended assignment simultaneously particularly if like me you are not working full-time.  In our group of eight, one person had already taken the exam, and of the seven others, one opted to defer both module 1 and 3 and and another decided to do only the exam in June. So, five of us ended up submitting both.


Tutors are given considerable flexibility in what content they choose to cover and how they decide to approach it. There is an inherent risk in this because tutors may select content based on their own preferences. For example, both my tutors seemed uncomfortable with technology and one was dismissive of edtech. As a result, we barely discussed tech trends in ELT at all – if it came up all, it was because my peers and I suggested it as a solution to a problem we might have been discussing. Other approaches such as the use of corpora and concordances were discussed peripherally as if they were accessible only to publishers – quite perplexing at a time when a range of tools make it possible for individual educators to construct and analyse their own corpus.  I’m not sure how much of this is specific to just this centre and this batch. I hadn’t seen an OHP in years and while I can see the merits of being skilled in running a tech-free classroom, it’s completely divorced from my usual teaching context which is filled with gizmos. Nonetheless, these are still superficial, manageable aspects of the course – I think what’s far more serious is how the Delta is somewhat out of step with the times. I feel that my usual cocktail of professional development of MOOCs, webinars, blogs, eltchat and Twitter is far more powerful, relevant and directly useful in my work than the sort of PD offered by the Delta.  The Professional Development Assignment (PDA) is a slightly crude form of action research – it’s really just an extended reflection exercise and the way the whole thing is set up nudges you into reporting on very banal aspects of your teaching. The experimental practice is only experimental if you decide not to play it safe. The course allows you to choose approaches such as task based learning and test-teach-test and deem these experimental. Half of my peers did TBL when our regular coursebook – Cutting Edge – had a task-based lesson in each unit – hardly experimental. My tutorial group was a little bit more unconventional in selecting suggestopedia, silent way and NLP.


The fugly

A lot of the input sessions resembled exam prep classes because time constraints and the volume of material that needs to be covered compel tutors to go through things rapidly in a lecture format. They tried to incorporate some discussions, tasks and activities but this was not consistent.  I found some of these sessions very disengaging. This sentiment was shared across our group and was a regular subject for a bit of a whinge over coffee. The Module 1 exam is the least practical and purposeless component of the course. The exam attempts to evaluate your ability to assess issues underlying ELT materials but I think the ability to complete some of those tasks is no indicator of a person’s skill in selecting or developing materials.  The ostensible aim is to encourage the candidate to read widely but I hear that most people simply try to mug up Thornbury’s A to Z of ELT and regurgitate it in some form in the exam. The last comment I want to make is about the type of essays you are required to write. I believe the Delta handbook refers to it as a hybrid genre where you bring your own perspective into an academic essay. But it is not an essay at all; it’s merely a research report with a rigid structure. From the examples I see on and those of my peers, the Delta criteria seems to reinforce ‘let’s just check the box’ variety of writing. My perspective is limited to the examples I read but it appears as if you don’t require much insight into a topic to pass the essay and mediocre writing seems to do the job just fine.


My experience with the Delta is based on my own background and the specific course and centre that I attended. I know there are many out there who have found the three modules to be of value. My own experience, as you can see, has been mixed. I believe the course has less to offer to those who read extensively, regularly invest in their PD and are on top of developments in the field. I have come away with some insights but fewer implementable ideas than I’d imagined.

More information on the Delta is available at Cambridge’s site and Sandy Milin’s blog is an excellent guide to the Delta. Her exam tips were particularly useful.  A suggestion that I can’t underscore enough – work your way through the prescribed reading before you land up at Module 2. Make notes and select areas that you want to explore for your LSAs  –  it will ease up your stress levels enormously.