CELTA Assignments

CELTA Assignment: Lessons from the Classroom

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I decided to take the CELTA because it seemed like a fairly easy way to make some money while I traveling. However, a mere month’s exposure to teaching has given me the confidence to pursue teaching English as a serious career alternative, should I ever get sick of political antics and swindlers’ conspiracies. All through my life, people told me I would make a decent teacher. Now, I believe it. I believe it because I have braved the utterly nerve-racking schedule of assignment submissions and lesson planning and teaching without falling apart. Though I learned a lot from our wonderful trainers (full credits to Gabbi and Maureen) and my absolutely wonderful classmates, I really have miles to go before I sleep (literally).

A month is a very short time to learn something but it is admirable that all of us have had such a tremendous growth curve. Personally, I know I have become much more confident about standing in front of a classroom full of students and talking about the finer points of the English language. (more…)

CELTA Assignment 4: The story

Written sometime in mid-2009:

The last of the four assignments we did during CELTA was a piece of cake. The only horrid part about it was that we had to do it in the last week, when we also had to present our hour-long lesson plan, which had us all in a frenzy! In the midst of all the excitement, the end of the course and all, we also had to deal with the Fart Machine madness.. hahaha. Fernanda, the crazy Brazilian teacher doing the CELTA with us, was intensely fascinated by all things nubile. She bought a fart machine to use on her students back in Americana (near Sao Paolo) but used it in class with us first! hahaha…. I have to admit, it was fuuuuunny, and I was her partner in crime 😉

Anyway, so in the midst of the madness, we had to do this assignment on lessons we’ve learnt during the CELTA. Again, there were all kinds of arbit guidelines we had to follow.. it was intensely stupid, but the only way to ensure my $2500 did not go in vain was to follow the guidelines. Sigh.. bureaucratic paperwork! (more…)

CELTA Assignment: Language Skills

Most of the students in my elementary teaching group are students who have come to San Francisco for a few weeks or months to study English at St. Giles. Many students eat out regularly at cafes and restaurants. It can be a challenge to find a good place to eat everyday – a place that is inexpensive and in the neighborhood.

Yelp.com can be a useful resource for students to help them decide where to get the next meal. To develop their reading and comprehension skills, I chose to introduce students to reviews on Yelp.com. I chose the reviews of a neighborhood restaurant that all students will be familiar with. An authentic text will help students develop and practice their receptive skills while exposing them to written English used by native speakers.

With the chosen text, students will be able to practice skills such as skimming for gist, reading for comprehension and scanning for information. (more…)

CELTA Assignment 3: The story

The third assignment we did during CELTA was also fun. We had the choice of doing the assignment on either Reading Skills or Listening Skills. Since we also needed to reproduce the materials for the assignment, everyone obviously chose to do it on Reading Skills. Much easier to just copy, paste text from somewhere than get listening material. I wonder why they even give us a choice.. haha!

We also had the choice of picking reading material straight from the book or choosing an authentic text (text that has actually been published – online or on paper – and not been graded to the reading level of the ESL students). I definitely wanted to an authentic text.. I was bored to death with the awfully boring stuff in the ESL textbooks, and I thought students must find authentic texts more interesting, even though it can be more challenging and may contain words they haven’t come across. (more…)

CELTA Assignment: Focus on the Learner


For the purpose of this assignment, I interviewed Maryanne Yamamoto, a 28-year-old Japanese student in the Elementary English class. Maryanne works in a trading company in Japan. Her job requires her to read documents written in English and speak in English with clients. She wants to improve her spoken English and receptive skills so that she can communicate effectively.

Maryanne began studying English in school at the age of 13. She studied English literature for four years in college but says she didn’t learn much. “We study Shakespeare but not full book, only short (extracts),” she says.

Maryanne said she likes to learn English by speaking, writing, looking at pictures and working with friends. With the help of a Multiple Intelligence questionnaire (Multiple Intelligences and Language Learning, 2005 Alta Book Publishers), I determined that she has high linguistic intelligence, visual/spatial intelligence and interpersonal intelligence. This proves that she learns best by seeing, speaking, visualizing and hearing the language, and working in groups with other students. (more…)

CELTA Assignment 2: The story

So here’s the second in the series of CELTA assignments I decided to post on this blog. It almost seems like the number of posts in the CELTA category are going to exceed the total number of other posts in different categories! Shame, considering I started this blog more than two years ago. Stupid internet addiction has overtaken life, sigh.. I barely write anymore, I should I should. Promise to write more beginning next month (am harboring a huge secret inside me that’s just waiting to burst out.. when I can’t hold it in any longer, I’ll write it down here).

Oops, I did it again.. the digressions.

Anyway, so this assignment, the second we had to do during the month-long course, was a hundred times more interesting than the first, which if you’ve seen it, you’d know was dry as a rehab doll 😉 This assignment, which our trainers called ‘Focus on the Learner’ was more my style, i.e. journalistic. (more…)

CELTA Assignment: Language Analysis ‘get/have sth done’

4. To “get”/”have” something done (as in “She got /had her car repaired.”)

Basic Meaning/Use

Meaning: To arrange for something to be done by someone else.

Use: We use this form when talking about something that somebody else has done for us.

Illustrative Presentation Context

Zara lives in San Francisco. She is a very busy lawyer. One day, she found water dripping from the roof. Soon, there was water all over the floor. She called the plumber and told him to fix it. The plumber found the leak and repaired it. Now, there is no leak. (more…)

CELTA Assignment: Language Analysis ‘would you mind’

3. “Would you mind” as in “Would you mind opening the door?”

Basic Meaning/Use

Meaning: Will you please

Use: A commonly used polite way of making a request, mostly used in formal language. Though it is used in a question form, the phrase is just another way of requesting someone.

Illustrative Presentation Context

Sunil was a student at St. Giles. One day, his phone rang when he was in class. He answered his phone. It was his mother calling from India. She could not hear him clearly. He had to talk louder. The other students were looking at him. They could not work because he was talking so loudly. The teacher asked him to go outside the classroom to talk. (more…)

CELTA Assignment: Language Analysis ‘get over’

2. “get over” as in to “get over a wall” and “get over a relationship/illness” (cover both meanings)

Basic Meaning/Use

To cross something in the way
To feel better after something bad has happened

“Get over” is used to describe the action of crossing something high that is blocking the way. Usually, one needs to work hard to cross it.
“Get over” is also used when someone feels better after something bad happens.

Illustrative Presentation Context

When I was a kid, my neighbor had many fruit trees in his garden. He had a big wall all around his garden. My brother and I loved stealing apples from his garden. Once, the neighbor found us stealing his apples. He shouted  and came running. He had a stick in his hand. He was going to beat us. My brother and I ran to the wall, climbed it and ran away. (more…)

CELTA Assignment: Language Analysis ‘used to’

1. ‘used to’ (as in “He used to smoke”)

Basic Meaning/Use

Meaning: A past action that happened regularly or all the time in the past but does not happen now. A situation that was true in the past but is not anymore.

Use: We use this form when talking about past actions or situations that happened regularly over a period of time in the past but don’t happen anymore.

Illustrative Presentation Context

Jack lived in London. He hated it. He hated the cold and damp weather in London. He decided to move to California. Now, he lives in Los Angeles. He loves living there. (more…)

CELTA Assignment 1: The story

Only been six years since I did the CELTA in June 2009, feels like a lifetime and some. I first posted my assignments on my blog (now defunct) after I finished the CELTA, and didn’t realize they would attract so much attention. Hundreds of CELTA trainees have, over the years, used these assignments as a guide to do their own. Several connected with me via comments and there was even a strange coincidence where I met someone on another ESL training course, who had actually used my assignments while doing his CELTA in Paris! So since my blog is now dead, I thought I would at least re-post the assignments here for anyone who may still find them useful.


Now I know every CELTA center sets its own assignments for its CELTA trainees but I don’t think they are vastly different from center-to-center. For one, Fernanda, the Brazilian woman who was at St. Giles International in San Fran with us showed us a bunch of assignments that her friend did at the Sao Paolo center, and they weren’t so different.

Of course, if you’re a current CELTA trainee, you could just take these assignments, make a few minor tweaks and present them as your own. But the assignments are usually so easy (and interesting) that it’s fun to apply your brains and get them right!

Of the four assignments we had to do, only the first was seriously boring. The CELTA trainers are really anal about the guidelines set by Cambridge. It’s best to talk with your co-CELTA trainees and ensure you have understood the guidelines in the same way you have.

This assignment was really helpful in giving us an idea of how to do language analysis in our lesson plans too (and all CELTA trainees must do the language analysis for every grammar and vocabulary lesson they teach, which is more than half the lessons you would be teaching during the course)

For this assignment, we were given phrases for language analysis. Everyone in my group had to resubmit this assignment because none of us really understood then how anal our CELTA trainers – Maureen and Gabi – were going to be.

The four phrases we had to analyze were

  1. Used to
  2. Get over
  3. Would you mind
  4. To ‘get’/’have’ something done

We had to analyze the language items by presenting its basic meaning and use, an illustrative context, a marker sentence, pronunciation features, concept checking questions (CCQs) and the grammar form/pattern.

Anyway, check it out. If nothing else, it will give you a great template to analyze language items for your lesson plans. Since the assignment is very long and postach.io doesn’t allow me to attach documents ( 😦 ), I’ve divided it into five mini-posts which will follow.

Drop me  a line if these were useful.

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 http://bit.ly/Vo16L right outside the building and a coffee shop adjacent to it http://bit.ly/A86oH . 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.