So you want to be a Celta trainer? Part 1: getting to the starting line

image of Cambridge Assessment Celta Trainer in training Handbook coverWho says so?

You do.  You have been asking for help and advice on social media about the ins and outs of getting trained up as a Celta trainer.  This gave me the impetus to collect what I know and what I think about this area in a series of blog posts.  This is for you.

Why listen to me?

I have been a Celta trainer for 13 years and a Celta assessor for 10 years.  In that time, I have acted as a training supervisor and trained Trainers in Training (TinTs) in my capacity as a Celta trainer, and I have conducted external moderation of TinTs as a Celta assessor.  I have been through this process as a trainee, trainer, and assessor, in other words.  I think I know what I’m talking about.  I think I have something useful to say.  Take the following information, opinion, and advice for what it’s worth.

Motivations?

You have decided that you want to become a Celta trainer.  When people decide to make the move into teacher training, they may be doing so for a range of different reasons.  Some of these reasons are good, and some of them are bad.  Some people want to make the move because they are getting bored with “just” being a teacher, with “doing the same thing over and over again”, and see teacher training as “a way out of the classroom”.

Those aren’t great reasons because – apart from the devaluation of teaching generally that they imply – anyone feeling this way about teaching is going to feel the same way about teacher training in a very short space of time.  So, if you want to become a teacher trainer, and be good at it, and enjoy it for the long haul, you will need better motivations that that.

Maybe you really enjoy working in regular classrooms with regular language learners.  Maybe what keeps you fascinated by this work is the way that it provides constantly novel problems to solve, regardless of how long you have been in the game.  Maybe you remember how much you learnt from a motivated and attentive trainer when you were just starting out.  Maybe you feel it is time to give back to the wider community of teachers and learners by offering what you have learnt about language, teaching, and learning over the years in the service of the next generation of teachers.  Maybe you want to explore your own practice as a teacher more deeply and see working with others who are learning the ropes and a useful discipline in your own development.  Maybe you want to learn.

These are better reasons.  But don’t listen to me.  Find your own.

Prerequisites?

The Trainer in Training Handbook sets out what qualifications and experience you need to be approved to start a course of training as a Celta tutor.

Prospective trainers with little previous pre-service teacher-training experience should have:

  • substantial (normally five years) varied and current classroom-based ELT experience preferably in more than one context.
  • Experience of teaching a range of levels and different types of class is a requirement.
  • the Cambridge Deltas Modules (One, Two and Three), the Cambridge DTEFLA, Cambridge English DELTA or Trinity Dip. TESOL. If the proposed trainer-in-training does not have any of the above, a transcript of the award must be submitted to Cambridge English for special consideration before training can be verified. Please note that for the qualifications to be considered they must be a post initial English Language Teaching qualification at Level 7 and they must include a practical component.
  • evidence of professional commitment (involvement in staff development, conference attendance, etc.)

(quoted from the Cambridge Assessment Celta Trainer in Training Handbook V4.0)

There are also personal qualities that will be necessary to do the job of a Celta trainer effectively, efficiently, and consistently well.  In no particular order, these include:

  • Self-organisation
  • Thoroughness
  • Attention to detail
  • Clarity of thought and expression
  • Ability to see the training process from the perspective of a novice
  • Empathy for the learner
  • Approachability
  • Boundary setting
  • Some ability to observe, record, and evaluate live environments in real-time
  • Willingness to make and deliver unwelcome decisions (such as grading a lesson below standard)
  • Grace under pressure

Selection?

Basically, you need to be accepted as a trainer in training (TinT) by a specific centre.  They need to accept you with a prospect of working with you post-training as an Assistant Course Tutor (ACT) for at least 3 courses.  This means that centres should not offer to train you without also agreeing to offer you at least this amount of work post-training.  It also means that you should not look to be trained at a centre where you do not plan to remain for at least three courses post-approval to consolidate your training.

This also means that a centre should not charge you for your training.  They should only offer to train you if they foresee a use for you within their team.  If they think they should charge you, then your training cannot be valuable for them and they are only doing it for the money.

You should also already be working at the centre in some other capacity (for example as a teacher) or be working for another centre who cannot offer the training you are seeking.

There should be a thorough and rigorous application process.  At the least, this should involve a wide-ranging and rigorous interview between you and the centre.  The potential training supervisor should be involved (you need to have the chance to decide whether you will be able to work with this person, after all.)  Expectations about the training process, time investment, and post-training commitments need to be made clear and agreed.

If both you and the centre agree to enter into a training agreement, then the centre would send an application on your behalf to Cambridge Assessment.  Part of this application will be an outline of the training programme that the centre proposes you undertake and this, as well as your application, need to be approved by Cambridge before you may start training.

In the next instalment, I’ll describe the training process, the training plan, and the pre-course work you will need to do.

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