IH Bangkok and Chiang Mai CELTA FAQs
Please visit our Course Content section for a detailed answer to this question
Perhaps because of its location, IH Chiang Mai and its two provincial branches attract a very wide range of trainees, which makes for a stimulating and mutually informative learning environment. Characteristically, a course will be a mix of English speakers from at least three or four different English-speaking countries, with usually one or two from somewhere else in Europe or Asia too. A big range of ages is also typical, clustering around the late 20’s to early 30’s but with its extremes anywhere from 19 to 69! There will normally be a fairly even split between those with no previous teaching experience at all and those who already have some teaching behind them.
CELTA regulations set a ratio of 6 trainees to 1 trainer. Any one CELTA course at IH Bangkok runs with between 12 and 18 trainees, for which our 3 full-time trainers work on the course. During busy months, we will run 2 courses back-to-back at our Bangkok training centre but there will always be the 6 trainees to 1 trainer ratio.
No. Indeed, the course was originally designed as a pre-service training course for people with no teaching experience. In all probability, there will be people attending your course who do have some teaching experience but there is no need to compare yourself unfavourably with them in your early teaching practice because you feel more nervous. Your tutors will take your inexperience into account and, in any case, experienced teachers may find themselves with some unlearning of bad habits to do while you have the decided advantage of being a clean slate.
Not for the course. It is a strong recommendation that applicants should at least have educational qualifications that would allow entry into higher education in their own country, but the centre is allowed to exercise their discretion in respect to this if a convincing case can be made for your suitability to the course. Please bear in mind, however, that to work legally as an English teacher in Thailand and many other Asian countries, a degree or its equivalent is required.
No. The course is open to non-native speakers and around the world an ever increasing number of non-native speakers become CELTA-qualified each year. No formal academic requirements are set, but you must demonstrate in your application and in your interview that you have sufficient competence in both spoken and written English to cope with the demands of the course and the needs of your prospective students. In practice, this means you need a near-native-speaker competence, but it will be no barrier to you if you have acquired your present competence in the language through living in a native-speaker country, for example, without taking any examinations. It’s also worth remembering that as someone who has almost certainly studied the language formally yourself at some point, you will actually have an advantage over native speakers in some areas such as grammar knowledge and you will probably also be more sensitive to your students’ needs.
All over the world, many people in their 50’s and even 60’s have successfully completed the CELTA course. (Here at IH Bangkok, our oldest successful candidate so far was actually 69, though we’re not quite sure if she deserves a place in the Guiness Book of Records.) However, the longer you have been away from a learning environment, the harder you will find the steep learning curve expected of you. You may also find that you have a lot of unlearning to do with regard to teaching methodology and ideas about “correct” English. What is more vital than age is that you approach the course with genuine modesty and an open mind. It is also crucially important not to underestimate just how tiring the workload can be regardless of how old you are.
No. This is not a course requirement. Nor are you expected to know anything in advance about the language of the country where you are taking the course as the CELTA is designed to equip you to start teaching English through the medium of English anywhere in the world. However, you will find later that knowing something about your students’ native language helps you to understand their difficulties and the experience of learning any foreign language is enormously helpful to a language teacher. Having gone through this will certainly be counted in your favour in your initial application.
The kind of grammar that is relevant to a language learner is not the kind of “grammar” you may have been taught at school and may feel you’ve now forgotten. This will have been mostly information about formal written style, in fact, which is a different thing entirely. As a native speaker, you already have a perfect knowledge of the grammar of your own language. However, what you are not able to do is to explain it and you probably don’t know the terms to describe it either. Most people are in this situation when they apply for a CELTA course and before accepting you, we need to see at least that your mind works in such a way that you notice grammatical differences, you can make a reasonable attempt at explaining them and you will improve quickly with some help. Before the course begins, working your way through the pre-course task which you will receive on acceptance can help and if you feel that you need to further consolidate your knowledge, we also offer a Grammar Refresher course directly prior to most of our CELTA courses.
CELTA centres are obliged by the terms of their agreement with Cambridge Assessment English only to accept trainees whom they confidently expect to pass the course, which is why the application process is quite rigorous. This application process follows the same procedure at every centre and applications are routinely vetted by Cambridge-appointed assessors. The written application is designed primarily to give the centre a clear idea of your current level of language awareness and your existing knowledge about teaching. The main aim of the interview is to assess your potential to build on this and your ability to handle the demands of the course. A secondary aim is to ensure that you understand how the course is organised and what you will be committing yourself to, and finally, it is an opportunity for you to ask any questions you have. Whenever possible, IH Bangkok prefers to interview applicants face-to-face but because most of our applicants come from abroad, we will normally have to ask you to phone us or (preferably) conduct the interview using Skype. For the whole application process, please see Apply.
For an idea of what a typical day on the course might look like, go to Course Content. The course will keep you busy ten or twelve hours a day, six days a week or more. It really is no exaggeration to say that it will take over your entire life for those four weeks, so it is essential to keep them totally free. Trying to combine the course with any kind of professional commitment or even personal commitments will not just seriously jeopardise your chances of passing but will end up a source of enormous stress for you.
Well, yes, it is intensive. No matter how much this gets emphasised, some trainees are still surprised by the amount of time and energy it consumes. This is basically because it squeezes so much into 4 short weeks, but then it’s also worth remembering that it is just 4 weeks and will soon be over! The course runs Monday to Friday all day, and in the evening and during the weekends you will find yourself planning lessons, completing written assignments, catching up with background reading and so on. So combining the course with anything resembling a holiday/vacation is out but on the other hand, you will benefit from allowing yourself a break occasionally. In fact, it is crucial to plan your time sensibly so that you do get adequate rest. On weekends at least you will find yourself with some hours free and also towards the end of the course your planning load will gradually lighten.
Trainees are responsible for arranging their own visas in time for the course. An ED visa is not required as the Cambridge CELTA is a short course and ED visas are only applicable for full-time courses for more than 3 months in duration. Instead there are the following options:
- A 30 day visa exemption on arrival is possible for some nationalities, which can be extended by another 30 days locally. For a list of nationalities entitled to the free 30-day visa, see The Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
- We, however, strongly recommend that you apply for a 60-day tourist visa before you leave, applying as a tourist, to cover you for the duration of the course and your stay in Thailand. The 60-day tourist visa costs the local equivalent of 1,900 baht and can also be extended locally by 30 days for a further 1,900 baht.
- Post-course, anyone intending to work in Thailand will need to apply for a job and once successful supply the new employer with all the required documents so the employer can apply to the MoE for a letter allowing the teacher to apply for a non-immigrant B 3-month visa outside of Thailand – this is normally a 2-day trip to a nearby country but there may be exceptions during Covid pandemic times. This can then be extended to a year long non-immigrant B working visa and an application for a work permit is made upon return with the initial working visa.
- If you are making the application within 21 days of the expiry date on a 60-day tourist visa, it may be possible that you will not have to leave the country to do this, but really in most situations you will have to make the journey as it takes time to process all the documents. You will need to have the original of your university degree, your transcripts (or in the case of British universities, any similar official record of what you actually studied), a criminal background check, and your actual CELTA certificate in order to make the application. all of these documents must have exactly the same names as in your passport.
The deposit once paid is non-refundable. Failure to complete full payment of the course fee a month before the course starts may mean the applicant forfeits their place on the course and their deposit.
For all teacher training courses run by IH Bangkok and Chiang Mai:
More than 1 month before the course start date
- Cancellations are permitted but with a loss of deposit only and any related transfer costs
- Postponements are permitted without charge on one occasion.
- Any subsequent postponement after the first will incur a 100 USD administration fee. This fee will need to be paid in advance before any rebooking confirmation is made for a later course.
Less than 1 month before the course start date
- No cancellations can be made
- Postponements may only be permitted in the case of a severe medical condition to the trainee with written evidence from a hospital medical doctor stating the trainee will not be medically fit to follow the specific course and is subject to the following two conditions:
- 1) If a replacement can be found and the booked course remains full then the trainee may postpone following the rules above for cases in which there is more than 1 month before the start date
- 2) If a replacement cannot be found to make the trainee’s original course full, then the trainee may postpone 1 time but must wait for a course to have a remaining spot available at best 1 week before the start date of a given course. In these circumstances the trainee needs to understand that they cannot be guaranteed a place on a specific course dates in advance. They will need to wait at least until 7 days or possibly less if bookings are unclear before the start date to receive an e-mail from IH Administration Team confirming availability on those specific course dates or not. It may turn out that we may not be able to give a full 7 days for a particular course if we are waiting for final confirmations from other candidates for a particular course. If that means there is not enough time for a trainee candidate who has previously postponed at the last minute for medical reasons as above, then it needs to be accepted as a no for that specific course and we will look for availability on the next course. In all cases, the trainee should wait for confirmation from the IH Administration Team before making any travel arrangements.
- Only 1 postponement less than 1 month before the course start is permissible.
- The above also applies to accommodation if we are arranging it for you. Please note that once you check in to the accommodation refunds are not available.
Please note that in cases that trainees have problems, these conditions have given a favourable solution to both parties in numerous cases without causing the trainee additional expenses.
There is no CELTA course textbook as such. During the course, you will receive a very large number of handouts from your trainers in input sessions which will effectively comprise one, and if you are accepted, before the course begins you will receive the Pre-Course Learning Task, a booklet which introduces clearly and readably the content of the entire CELTA syllabus and is accompanied by exercises on each topic with an answer key. This is the most useful single piece of background reading you can do. However, we recommend you also have a look at one of the teaching methodology books recommended in the Pre-Interview Task download and purchase one of the recommended grammar books to use as a reference during the course and beyond. We do have brand new copies of Jim Scrivener “Learning Teaching” for 1200 baht and Michael Swan “Practical English Usage” for 700 baht, which is cheaper than Amazon and you don’t have to use any extra precious baggage allowance. IH also has a reference library with a wide range of teaching and language books that you can use during the course.
There will be at least two trainers on each course, one of whom will act as the ‘Main Course Tutor’. All CELTA trainers worldwide, including those recruited by International House Bangkok, have to be approved by Cambridge Assessment English. The requirements to become a CELTA trainer are set very much higher than those for the trainers on most EFL training courses, in fact. Before undertaking the training necessary to become a trainer, your tutors will have acquired the Cambridge DELTA (a diploma requiring a year of intensive study, assessed by dissertations, examinations and observations of teaching) and will have taught for at least 7 or 8 years in at least two different countries. In practice, they have usually taught for longer than this and in more than two countries and often have some experience of administration in language schools too. To find out more, go to Meet Our Trainers
Input session topics include: the language itself (grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation); the language learner; teaching methodology (for example, classroom management, ways of clarifying and checking meaning, ways of providing practice for students, ways of responding to student errors, etc.); how to structure different lessons so that they meet different aims (i.e. “lesson types”); the selection and exploitation of resources and materials; teaching for specific purposes (for example, teaching young learners or teaching one-to-one) . Sessions usually last 75 – 90 minutes each and are led by a trainer but typically require a lot of active involvement by trainees, discussing answers, solving problems and analysing what you have been shown. Though there are one or two sessions that do take the format of a ‘lecture’ to which you are invited to contribute, these tend to be the exceptions rather than the rule.
Not all of it! That would be impossible in just four weeks. What the course does aim to do, however, is to equip trainees with the knowledge and ability to shed light on grammatical problems in the future for themselves. One of our main tasks is actually to encourage trainees to see grammatical questions as interesting rather than threatening. The journey into the complexities of the grammar (and the pronunciation) of the language you’ve been speaking all your life can be a fascinating and revealing one. We also hope to lead you to see that there is no reason why students should not find learning about grammar exciting rather than boring if they are taught in a way that enables them.
TP is a two-hour block and takes place every day. Trainees are divided into TP groups (with a maximum size of 6 trainees), and each TP group, with one trainer, is responsible for a particular class of students for a two-week period. Halfway through the course, the group changes to a different class at a different level. Typically, the TP groups are organised into elementary and intermediate levels. Trainees teach eight 45-minute lessons to make up the 6 hours of teaching practice. While you are not teaching yourself, you are required to observe each other.
There is a considerable amount of lesson planning guidance from the trainers in the early stages of the course. As the course progresses however, the formal support decreases, since you are expected to be able to plan independently by the end of the course. Trainers will still make themselves available to answer questions and give advice, even at the later stages.
The students you teach are fully aware that they are being taught by unqualified teachers and will have paid only a nominal sum to attend, although this does not mean that they are not motivated. Many of the students will be Thai but we also have many others from the Asian region. This means that the first language of communication for the students is English. The minimum age of the students is 16 and most are in their twenties. Class sizes will vary but will not normally exceed 15.
TP feedback is conducted either immediately after your lesson, or the day after, depending on the timetable you’re on. You will be expected to write a short self-evaluation of your own lesson and very often you will be given time to discuss each other’s lessons first as a group without the trainer. Once the trainer joins you, s/he will naturally take a directive role in the discussion. Contributions will be invited from all observing trainees and on days when you have taught, you will be expected to reflect on your own performance. Developing an ability to evaluate your own teaching is a very important component of the course. Trainees do often find feedback stressful, especially when they feel they have given an unsuccessful lesson. But the role of feedback is to lead you to see what you need to change in order to teach more effectively. By the end of the course, many trainees often agree that it was these feedback sessions that turned out to be one of the most rewarding aspects of the course. This will only be true, however, if you are eager to learn how to improve and open to constructive suggestions. This kind of attitude is crucial to success on the CELTA course and both overconfidence and refusal to accept criticism can be a barrier to progress.
Contrary to what some applicants and even some trainees seem to believe, there is no “CELTA method”. A search for any such thing in linguistics or teaching methodology textbooks, for example, would draw a blank. No single teaching approach is adequate for something as complex as language and, in fact, it is one of the well-respected features of the CELTA course that it is eclectic and introduces you to a variety of teaching approaches. Of course, in four weeks it is impossible to examine every known approach to language teaching, so attention is paid to those that have proved most useful, most flexible and most effective. All are often loosely described as “communicative” teaching and if there is one principle underlying all of them upon which trainers would agree, it is that involving students actively in the learning process is more effective than the teacher simply telling the students things. Again and again, you will hear your trainers encouraging you to give “student-centred” lessons and to reduce the amount of teacher-talking time and the stages during which the students are focused on the teacher instead of working independently with each other. You will be helped to develop the roles of facilitator, guide and resource and to dispense with entirely or use only very sparingly roles such as performer or lecturer.
CELTA trainees will receive one of the following marks: Pass, Pass B, Pass A, and Fail. The CELTA is not a course you can be sure of passing simply through being accepted on to it. However, as centres won’t accept you unless they judge that you have the potential to pass, the failure rate is very low (less than 1% internationally). Other trainees do drop out as well, usually because they realise that teaching may not be for them. The majority of candidates are awarded a Pass grade, with only a small percentage (around 25%) achieving a Pass B or above. There is no ‘quota’ of particular grades for each course. CELTA grades are regarded as having a very limited “shelf-life” as all trainees go on developing quickly in the months that follow the course, so having just a Pass grade does not hold you back in any way in your future career. In addition to the certificate with its overall grade, you will also receive a personalised report from your trainers outlining your strengths and development potential. At all stages of the course, trainees have all evaluations made of them in their possession and so should have a perfectly clear idea of their overall progress and their potential final grade. This will also be discussed in a mid-course tutorial with one of the trainers. Any candidates in danger of failing will be warned well in advance and told specifically what they need to work on in order to reach the required standard overall.
The two components of assessment are:
- Teaching Practice
- Written Assignments
The key component in assessment is the teaching practice.
It is also a requirement that you pass at least 3 out of the 4 written assignments in order to pass overall, but trainees can re-submit any or all of the assignments if they are not up to standard on first submission, so it is extremely rare for trainees to fail this component. (Please note that if a candidate’s written English is very poor, this can be grounds for failing an assignment. Normally, of course, this problem will have been detected during the selection process unless there has been some ultimately counterproductive effort to defraud.)
Teaching practice is assessed on a very wide range of criteria (42 of them, to be precise), which will be given to trainees at the beginning of the course when they receive their official “CELTA 5” record-keeping booklets. The criteria are collected under five headings: lesson planning and use of resources; awareness of the learner; language analysis (i.e. dealing with meaning, form and pronunciation in the classroom); development of learners’ language skills (i.e. reading, listening, speaking and writing); and teaching skills and techniques and general professionalism. Not all of the criteria have equal weight. Those things that are seen as more critical to an effective lesson and/or more difficult for the novice teacher to do well will be given more significance.
A Pass is awarded to a candidate whose “overall performance” in the teaching practice (and in the written assignments) “meets the specified criteria”. The Pass candidate will be someone still in need of help and guidance during their first few months at work.
To receive a Pass B (in addition to fulfilling the requirements for a Pass) a candidate has to consistently demonstrate in their teaching practice “a level of achievement significantly higher than that required to meet pass-level criteria” in classroom teaching skills (that is, those gathered under all headings above except the first). It is expected of a Pass B candidate that they will need only a minimum of further help and guidance immediately on graduating from the course.
To receive a Pass A (in addition to fulfilling the requirements for a Pass) a candidate has not only to show consistency in significantly exceeding Pass requirements in classroom teaching skills but also in lesson planning (the first of the headings listed above). It is also expected that the Pass A candidate “will be able to work independently” without the need of any guidance immediately on graduating from the course.
There is no CELTA examination. Assessment is continuous. You will receive a detailed evaluation of every lesson you teach, which will include an overall grading of the lesson as “at standard” or “below standard” for the stage of the course you are at. In other words, the standards expected of you are constantly raised as you receive more input and feedback and gain more teaching experience over the course. This means that if you remain “at standard” throughout the course, you have made constant progress. It also means that what is happening towards the end of the course is more significant than what is happening towards the beginning, so that falling below the standard once in the early stages, for example, is unlikely to have any effect on your final grade. For this reason also, higher grades cannot be decided by simply adding up the number of times a candidate rose above standard. Attention will also be paid to the stages in the course at which s/he rose above standard and over how wide a range of lesson types.
Recommended grades are decided by the course tutors at the end of the course, at least two of whom will have observed you. In addition, every CELTA course is visited for one or two days towards its end by a Cambridge-appointed “assessor”, who will observe TP and feedback and read through candidates’ lesson plans and written work etc. The assessor’s primary role is to ensure that a course is running according to Cambridge CELTA regulations. In this sense, s/he is “assessing” the centre and the tutors rather than the candidates. Part of such an assessment, however, involves the assessor reading through candidates’ “portfolios” (which are maintained by the candidate during the course and contain all lesson plans, tutors’ comments on TP and written assignments), ensuring that the tutors’ views on candidates’ progress correspond with general CELTA standards and in cases where a grade is not yet clear, trying to help tutors establish exactly what a trainee has or has not yet demonstrated. In the rare event that the tutors recommend a Fail for a candidate, that candidate’s portfolio is automatically referred to Cambridge Assessment English for a second opinion. There it will be re-examined by several experienced trainers and the centre’s recommended result may be either confirmed or overturned. The candidate may submit a letter querying the result for consideration together with the portfolio if they so wish.
Usually within one week of the course ending you will receive a document informing you of your recommended result. This document is issued by IH Chiang Mai, and will state that the result is ‘provisional’. A result can only be considered ‘official’ once it has been endorsed by Cambridge Assessment English, which will happen at some time over the following few weeks. If you need confirmation of your result or a reference in the meantime, tell employers to contact IH. Approximately a month after the course ends, you will receive two things. One is the actual CELTA certificate itself. The other is a detailed report on your performance and your potential for development from IH Chiang Mai. Cambridge sends the certificates here to IH Chiang Mai, we inform candidates of their arrival and then forward them with the report by registered mail to the address of your choice.
Worldwide, over 600 CELTA courses run and over 10,000 candidates gain the certificate every year. The Cambridge CELTA is the most widely recognised and, certainly within Asia and Europe and increasingly within Latin America, the most highly regarded of all initial ELT qualifications. It was originally designed by and intended for the private language school sector and private language schools probably remain the main source of employment for course graduates but it is increasingly sought after by employers at universities and international schools.
Whether or not the CELTA alone will be accepted as an adequate qualification to teach legally varies from country to country. In Thailand and in many other Asian countries, you will need to have a university degree in order to be able to get a work permit as a teacher. However, the CELTA (or a similar ELT qualification) is also a mandatory requirement for an English teacher in Thailand and a growing number of other Asian countries.
Within the United Kingdom, Cambridge Assessment English Teaching Awards have been accredited by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) at Level 4 on the National Qualification Framework. CELTA is also the first module of a wider qualification, which will meet the requirements for teachers of Assessment English in further and adult education and which has recognition from FENTO (The Further Education National Training Organisation). For more details please see the Cambridge Assessment English website.
The new CELTA syllabus has meant a wider recognition for CELTA holders in terms of migrant teaching, which is a growing sector not just in the UK but in many English-speaking countries.
Cambridge Assessment English also continues to work with various international ELT organisations to promote the recognition of CELTA globally and to ensure that your chances of finding suitable employment will be enhanced with the CELTA.
The course includes a professional development session on how to find work after the course and how you can go on to develop your career. The tutors have taught in a number of countries and organisations and can provide valuable advice on what to look out for and what to be aware of in addition to sometimes being able to point graduates in the right direction for employment opportunities.
If we have a vacancy, we actively try to employ graduates of the course. However, because our teaching sector is small in comparison with our CELTA training sector, we are unfortunately not able to make guarantees.
Excellent! In Thailand and in most other areas of South-East Asia, trained EFL teachers are in great demand. The fact that you will have the CELTA, the best known and most highly regarded initial teacher training qualification you can get, will ensure that you will have the pick of the jobs and can therefore be choosy. What’s more, our knowledge of schools and markets throughout the SE Asia region will mean that you can rely on us for practical and impartial advice on who to work for.
IH Chiang Mai is not only a teacher training centre but is also a working language school. Like in many Asian cultures, teachers in Thailand are held in high regard and so are expected to dress and behave in a manner that befits their high status profession. Therefore, we would ask that our trainees dress smartly when on the school premises. On days when they are teaching, men should wear trousers and a shirt and tie, and women should wear a blouse and smart skirt or trousers. On other days, a shirt and trousers are acceptable but please note that shoulders should be covered at all times, as should any tattoos, and skirts should not be too short.