Month: June 2009

Why choose the CELTA?

CELTA? TEFL? ESL? TESOL? If you’ve just discovered a whole new set of acronyms you never knew existed, welcome to the world of English language teaching!

ESL stands for English as a Second Language. And CELTA is right up there in a world choc-a-full of ESL certifications. It stands for Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA). It’s Cambridge University’s month-long certification offered in very few cities around the world. Of course, it is the most prevalent in UK and the most-widely known in Europe but language schools around the world are becoming more aware of the CELTA.. most of the better known language schools make it mandatory for teachers to have a CELTA before they apply.

So when I began my search for the ultimate qualification in the ESL world, the CELTA was a natural choice. I still had to go through reams of forum questions and answers, bouncing the ball back and forth. But it took little convincing to convince me that the CELTA is they way to go.

Of course, there are people without the CELTA and even without any sort of formal TEFL (Teaching of English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification out there teaching their way through paradisical lands. But they do have a much much harder time getting jobs and getting the best salaries.

With 240 centers around the world, I thought I would definitely find one near me. Then, I found out there were only 8 centers in the US offering this course, and I immediately crossed my fingers. Mercifully, I found a center in San Francisco, merely an hour n a half away. Sigh, I wanted to do it, pretty badly. So I signed up for the course at St. Giles International, an English language school that also offers the CELTA.

St. Giles has a location to die for. No wonder people from all over the world choose this school over the many others in SF. St. Giles is smack in the middle of SF downtown, and what a downtown it is. It’s alive and buzzing, with lots of tourists and lots of office goers milling about all the time. There is a BART and MUNI station at the very entrance of St. Giles and tons of restaurants all around. There is also the Westfield mall should you need to get away from the chilly winds and warm yourself while window-shopping.

The school itself is on the fourth floor of a charming, old building. There is a Mediterranean cafe right outside the building and a coffee shop adjacent to it . Most weekdays, there’s a huge queue of people waiting outside the building coz there’s a Guatemalan embassy on one of the floors and there’s a bunch of immigrants waiting outside.

Inside, the elevators look like they belong to the 50s. The unvarnished wooden panels and gold trimmings are prolly not gonna brighten your day but surprisingly, the elevators move up quite fast. In no time, you’ll be at the third floor, smiling your way into St. Giles.

The CELTA tutors pretty much rock. Maureen Thomas is super duper sweet and Gabi sorta balances off her sweetness. Gabi is Hungarian-British and quite cut-n-dried in her approach. Maureen is the complete opposite. She’s fun and funny and laces all her criticisms with generous doses of appreciation. Both had a lot of experience and made the course a lot of fun for the 12 mad-hatters that made up the CELTA course.

I will give you lots more information about the CELTA, things we learned and some useful lesson plans in the following posts. Stay tuned.