CELTA Trainer-in-Training


Once the CELTA was over, life resumed again. Except I still had to write the evaluative essay – a 1500 word piece reflecting on the rigors of the training and my self-perceived strengths and weaknesses as a qualified CELTA tutor. According to the Trainer-in-Training handbook, this is…

…an evaluative piece of up to 1,500 words on the process of undergoing training and what the trainer- in-training feels his/her strengths and weaknesses are as a prospective tutor. The trainer-in-training’s interactive journal, daily log sheets, Observations and notes made during the course will provide the basis for this piece of work.

I had spent at least two weeks on the pre-course tasks and an entire month on the during CELTA tasks (see all the CELTA Trainer-in-Training tasks here), and I’d been very good about doing things on time. But I have to admit I procrastinated for at least a week before I sat down to write this essay the weekend after the CELTA was over. Which was a silly thing to do because it’s incredible how quickly memory fades, especially when one is seven months pregnant as I was at the time.

The 1500 word limit seemed monstrous – before I started. But when I finally sat down to break it down, I realized it was going to be incredibly difficult to contain all my thoughts and reflections and (ahem) criticisms in 1500 words.

Anyway, the first step was to organize the essay into sections – headings that I could write under. This is how I went about it:

a. Pre-course task
b. Interview

a. Input sessions
b. TP Observations and feedback
c. Tutorials
d. Written feedback on assignments
e. Peer observation tasks
f. Trainee progress

a. Trainee reports
b. Post-course evaluation

Once I had divided the essay into these broad headings, I started looking through the notes I had made before and during the course for each of these topics. In the end, all I had to do was select the relevant portions from my notes, add commentary, and plug it into the evaluative piece. Sounds pretty easy, and it was. Polishing it up and ensuring that it flowed smoothly took a bit of time but I think I was able to wrap this up in about 3-4 hours.

Here’s the finished product – my sweat and sleepless nights summed up in 1500ish words. Read and enjoy but please don’t be a monkey and copy (Cambridge is strict about it and I’ll be pretty upset if you plagiarize my work). You can download my Evaluative essay here.




This is the last in the series of tasks I had to do as a Trainer-in-Training. Well, the last one I had to do on the course. There was a mammoth of an evaluative essay I had to write after the CELTA was over, but hey, the CELTA was over by then. Read that again with an accompanying drumroll and fireworks show – the CELTA was over, finally! That’s how relieved I was at the end.

Getting back to the task on hand (see what I did there?), there are two standard tutorials for each trainee during the course – these are called the Stage 1 and Stage 2 tutorials. On an intensive course like the one I trained on, the Stage 1 tutorial happens mid-week in Week 2, and the Stage 2 tutorial happens mid-week in Week 3. As you can see, there is very, very little time in between the two tutorials but what a difference a week makes.

The Stage 1 tutorial was done in the form of written feedback in trainees’ CELTA5 booklets. To be honest, neither the trainers nor the trainees really have time mid-course for two sit-down sessions of tutorials, so it was just as well the Stage 1 tutorial was just a few lines of (mostly encouragement – it’s only Week 2 after all!) feedback from the course tutor.

The Stage 2 tutorial was more serious (more…)


This was one of the most interesting of the During CELTA tasks (a complete list is here) primarily because it allowed me, as a Trainer-in-Training, to track trainee progress along with my predictions and reflections throughout the course.

I had to pick four trainees in the first week of the course and reflect on their development through the four week intensive CELTA course, noting strengths and weaknesses in their teaching practice and response to TP feedback.

The course tutor had asked me to prepare a Find Someone Who for the first day of the course, as an introduction and ice-breaker activity. For this, I had to go through the candidate application forms and isolate interesting facts they had mentioned in their personal statements. I also needed to profile all the candidates before the start of the course for the Trainee Progress task. So I combined my efforts and made this killer table, killing two birds with one stone. (more…)


We’re getting ever closer to the end of the endless CELTA Trainer-in-Training tasks :D. Now you know why I canceled my two-week holiday to Hong Kong before the start of my training in August last year.

The Written Assignment task was the eighth in the series of tasks I had to do before and during the intensive CELTA on which I did my training. And the one I almost didn’t do. There were two parts to this task:

TASK 1: Shadow marking of written assignments
Before you begin shadow marking, look again at the criteria for the assessment of written work in the CELTA Syllabus. Include the copies of these assignments and your comments in your portfolio.

TASK 2: Designing written assignments
In the latter stages of the course, design two written assignments which you think could be used on future courses. Attach these to your portfolio.

I avoided marking the assignments because I hadn’t done the Pre-course task related to this, and therefore felt under-prepared to dive into the assignments during the course. Essentially, I had to do the pre-course task and familiarize myself with the written assignment assessment criteria before I could mark the assignments.  (more…)


This was the seventh in the series of During CELTA Trainer-in-Training tasks. All the trainees were assigned peer observation tasks for the duration of the course, wherein they were expected to make notes while their colleagues taught so that they could contribute to the teaching practice feedback discussion afterwards.

There’s great value for trainee teachers (and qualified teachers!) in having peer observation tasks to follow. In an intensive CELTA course, where teachers have very little time to complete their various tasks, it is natural for them to become pre-occupied with their own work when others are teaching. This is because teachers at this stage are not aware of the benefits of peer observation tasks. In my own experience, I have found that observing teachers is useful not only to learn new ways and techniques of doing things in the classroom but also what not to do. (more…)

CELTA TRAINER-IN-TRAINING: Teaching Practice Feedback

The sixth in the series of “During CELTA” Trainer-in-Training tasks (see the complete list here) – the Teaching Practice Feedback task – was one of those tasks that needed pre-course prep work as well as regular updates throughout the course.

I divided it into two parts:

  1. Pre-CELTA: Make a note of different approaches to feedback I expect to see during the course.
  2. During CELTA:
    • Notes on feedback observations (during/after every TP feedback session)
    • Reflections on feedback observations (weekly – this turned out to be one of my weekend tasks while the CELTA was on)

Let’s go through it one by one.

1. Pre-CELTA: Here are some preliminary notes I put together about different approaches to feedback. I reached back into the recesses of my cobwebbed, pregnancy-addled brain for memories of how feedback was conducted during my own CELTA (2009) and CELTYL (2010) courses, and made the following notes.. (more…)

A complete list of CELTA Trainer-in-Training tasks

Here’s a list of all the tasks required of a CELTA Trainer-in-Training (or T-i-T, as you will be amusingly known for the duration of your training). You can click on the links below to see associated posts with a description of each task, and downloadable documents and templates you can use during your course.

  1. Pre-Course Tasks
  2. During Course Tasks
  3. Post-Course Tasks

I wish someone had given me all of this to work with when I started the course because it took me a few days to wrap my head around the very dense handbook and organize all the tasks I needed to do. I decided to upload all of my material here so that future T-i-Ts (I’m guessing you are one or you wouldn’t have landed on this page) wouldn’t have to go through the heartache I did when I first started to get organized. Good luck!

CELTA Trainer-in-Training: Teaching Practice Observations

Here’s another one in the series of CELTA T-in-T preparation posts.

This task was the meat of the month long intensive course. This is where I had to observe trainees on their teaching practice (TP) along with the main course tutor and assistant course tutor (or tutors, as may be the case. On my course, due to unavoidable circumstances, we had three!), and shadow write the feedback.

According to the guidelines in the CELTA Trainer-in-training handbook, I only needed to make a note of 2-3 strengths and a similar number of points to focus on. The main course tutor, however, sent me a template of the feedback form (I’ve attached the template file below) she used and it was a lot more detailed – with a running commentary on the lesson. Later, I found out she was a shorthand specialist (she used shorthand for her Teaching Literacy input session) and was able to make very detailed notes in no time during the lessons. I guess it also helped she has more than ten years experience as a CELTA tutor. (more…)

CELTA Trainer-in-Training: Input Sessions

This was probably the most important and the most daunting of all the CELTA tasks I had to do. Of the 30+ sessions to be delivered during the CELTA, I was asked to pick any three I felt comfortable delivering and getting observed on. The Main Course Tutor (MCT) advised me to refer to The CELTA Course, by Scott Thornbury and Peter Watkins, but told me explicitly to design my chosen sessions myself, rather than relying exclusively on this or other books.

Though I’ve designed and delivered several input sessions on a wide range of topics before (I’ve done a lot of teacher training since 2012 – both in ILA Vietnam and here, at BC Riyadh), I was very nervous about these sessions because I knew I’d be observed on each one and ultimately, my performance during input would determine whether or not I qualified as a CELTA tutor.

I chose three sessions – Teaching Reading and Using Authentic Material, Teaching Modals, and Teaching Young Learners. I spent several hours poring over The CELTA Course and other teacher training books I had before I designed the sessions. And even then, each session probably went through at least five more revisions before I was satisfied with it.

The MCT’s feedback on the first session on Teaching Reading and Using Authentic Material was quite positive. She said the session was designed well and appropriate for the CELTA trainees’ requirements. The only thing she commented on in terms of delivery was that I needed to milk each feedback stage more in order to really underline the key points and drive them home. Here are the materials for this session. As always, TN stands for Trainer Notes, HO for Handouts. (more…)

CELTA Trainer-in-Training: Sessions Design

Here’s the third in the series of During CELTA tasks all Trainers-in-Training need to complete. This was also one of the tasks that was easy to do before the course actually began.

The task requires the T-i-T to select four input sessions, and anticipate / predict how they might be delivered. One has to consider the key points that should be covered in the session, the anticipated style of session delivery, and the interaction patterns one expects to see. The T-i-T must then observe these particular sessions and comment on how closely their predictions matched the session delivered and reflections from this exercise.

As usual, I designed a template document for this task (Session 0 Template) and then set about choosing the sessions from the CELTA timetable that the Main Course Tutor had shared with me. I then selected four sessions I was particularly interested in: (more…)

CELTA Trainer-in-Training: Materials and Sessions Design

This was another ‘During CELTA’ Trainer-in-Training tasks that was easily completed before the CELTA began, thereby reducing my sky-high-workload during the four weeks of the course.

The task involved creating handouts that could be given to trainees before, during, or after an input session. These weren’t live handouts – I think they were just meant for the course tutor and assessor to gauge my material development skills.

I chose to create handouts for the following sessions: (more…)

CELTA Trainer-in-Training: Input Log Sheets

This was one of the several ‘During CELTA’ Trainer-in-Training tasks I had to complete for the portfolio. I had to observe experienced CELTA tutors on my course deliver their input sessions and comment on various aspects.

T-i-Ts are required to attend at least 80 percent of the inputs – so about 25 of the 30+ inputs delivered on my CELTA course. This meant that while the other tutors had a chance to deliver their session and take a break, go for lunch, check their facebook, I was in the CELTA room almost all the time – waiting for one input to end and the next one to begin.  (more…)

CELTA Trainer-in-training: Candidate Interviews

This was one of the more hands-on tasks pre-CELTA (see the complete list in this post). I attended a CELTA candidate interview, made notes, and then wrote down my observations and reflections.

According to the handbook, a trainer-in-training is required to sit in “on a number of interviews”. Unfortunately, I didn’t have this option because most of the candidate interviews had already been done even before I had submitted my T-in-T application. The timing was really bad – I arrived back from a long holiday a week before Ramadan started. In Saudi Arabia, Ramadan is like Christmas in the West, Dusshehra in India, Tet in Vietnam – most people return to their home towns or home countries and everything shuts down. The course administrators expected a lot of candidates to go away on holiday, so the interviews had started a couple of weeks earlier. Both prospective T-in-Ts for the course were invited to shadow the remaining interview before Ramadan started. (more…)

CELTA Trainer-in-training: Written Assignment Standardization

This is probably going to be the shortest post in the series.

This CELTA Trainer-in-Training task (here’s the complete list) requires the trainer-in-training to go through the written assignments on LMS Fronter, which contains all the CELTA standardization material, make notes based on the assessment criteria specified in the syllabus, and then compare it against the tutors’ feedback and final grading.

There are several sample assignments and accompanying tutor remarks for each of the four assignments required on the CELTA:

  1. Language skills
  2. Language tasks
  3. The learner
  4. Lessons from the classroom

It was actually quite interesting reading the various assignments and comparing my thoughts with the official feedback. This was the only task that I sort-of avoided (more…)

CELTA Trainer-in-training: TP Standardization

As part of my pre-course preparation (here’s the complete list of Pre-Course tasks), I had to watch several videos on LMS Fronter, which contains Cambridge’s archive of CELTA standardization material. Once you get your Trainer-in-training (T-in-T) approval, Cambridge will send you a username and password so you can access this website. The ‘rooms’ I was able to access on the LMS were: TP Standardization lessons, Written Assignment Standardization packs, Discussion tasks, YL Ext., and the assessors’ standardization material.

There are fifteen videos with accompanying lesson plans and tutor comments under TP Standardization. Perhaps because I had previous teacher training experience, my trainer asked me to only watch a couple of videos. Just as well, because I found watching these videos supremely tiresome. But it was useful in a way because it prepared me for teaching practice observations throughout the course where the tutors and I sat at the back of the classroom, observed three TPs everyday, and made detailed notes for feedback.

Here is a sample of the notes I made after watching one of the videos: (more…)

CELTA Trainer-in-training: Familiarization with the course program

This CELTA Trainer-in-Training task (for a complete list, see this post) involves a close study, analysis, and reflections on the course programme followed by your center. The questions, along with my answers, are below:

1. Study the timetable and compare this with the syllabus specifications.

  • reflect on how the syllabus units are translated into a timetable

There are 5 syllabus topics which have been realized over 32 input sessions, observations of experiences teachers, several supervised lesson planning sessions, TP, peer observations, and lesson feedback.

  • reflect on the extent to which teaching methodology is made explicit. Note that methodology may be delivered explicitly in discrete sessions or implicitly within other sessions

I believe teaching methodology will be made explicit in the Input Sessions relating to Unit 1 of the syllabus. Methodology will also be implicitly taught within other sessions via loop input, modeling of activities, in SLP and TP feedback. (more…)

CELTA Trainer-in-Training: Familiarization with CELTA documentation

This was the first of the pre-course tasks and involved a close reading and analysis of the handbook. The idea behind this task is to give you a good inside-out view of the course so that you’re prepared for the day-to-day happenings over the next four weeks. The task was divided into two parts:

A. Familiarization with the CELTA syllabus
B. Familiarization with the CELTA administration booklet and Candidate profile

A. Familiarization with the CELTA syllabus

Here are the questions you need to answer in this section: (more…)

CELTA Trainer-in-Training: Day 0

Most people come to this post for a list of all the CELTA Trainer-in-Training tasks. The list of tasks is at the bottom of this post or more conveniently, you can see it here. If you’re interested in the story, read on.

I’ve just completed my CELTA trainer-in-training and found that extensive and meticulous preparation before the course went a long way in ensuring I still got decent sleep and actually enjoyed the four weeks of CELTA.

During the course, I only worked about 12-14 hours a day, everyday (there’s no such thing as weekends on the CELTA), and my trainers repeatedly said I looked very relaxed and stayed on top of all the tasks easily. Imagine how stressful life would’ve been if I hadn’t done as much preparation as I had. Future CELTA T-in-Ts, read on to find out everything you need to do to keep your head above water during the course.

I’ve wanted to train as a CELTA teacher trainer for three years now – ever since I completed the Delta in early 2012. Foolishly, in 2013, when the opportunity to train as CELTA and YL ext. trainer was presented to me, I turned it down because I had itchy nomad feet! I’d been in Vietnam for nearly five years and had an urgent need to get out and go somewhere new. And so I ended up in Saudi Arabia where my teacher training dreams were quashed for the next year or so.

Finally, the opportunity presented itself again in June this year and I applied for the position of trainer-in-training.

The Interview

…was an hour long. The interviewers questioned me about my teaching and teacher training experience, how my teaching had evolved sine having done the Delta, what my thoughts were on training and my organizational skills. When I left the interview, I thought there was no way I’d get the job because I’d been so relaxed during the interview. At one point, I’d found myself with an arm draped over the back of the chair like I was in my living room. There was one more step in the selection process before I got the results. (more…)