Artyom Schelkunoff is from Tallinn, Estonia. After finishing his secondary education, he decided to complete our 100% Online CELTA course. In this blog post, he explains his experience on the course and provides some tips for those thinking about gaining this qualification.
1. What were you doing before you enrolled in the CELTA course?
Before the CELTA course, I was working as a private English tutor. My main students were teenagers, but I also worked with a few adults. I taught general, conversational, travel, business, and academic English. As for the study formats, I taught both one on one and in groups of two. Besides teaching the language itself, I helped people with their English homework as a separate activity, prepared kids for school and teenagers for the upcoming school exams. I also prepared my students for language tests (Cambridge, IELTS), and helped with writing motivation letters to universities. Apart from that, I was translating a sci-fi book of Roman Boroznyak, a fantasy writer from Estonia, called “The Late Revolution”.
2. Why did you decide to get a CELTA qualification?
In short, to break new ground. That entails learning modern teaching methodology, acquiring new social connections, and becoming a better version of yourself as a teacher!
3. What attracted you to the 100% Online CELTA course with Oxford TEFL?
If Oxford TEFL didn’t offer such a convenient opportunity, I would have to spend much more money, time, and energy! However, I didn’t have to pay a single penny for the accommodation in Barcelona, which would be as costly as the certificate itself, if not even more expensive.
4. What was the application process like?
It included the completion of a pre-interview task and the interview itself. I was interviewed by Higor Cavalcante. He asked me to briefly reflect on the pre-interview task and explain some subtleties in my own words. I was very pleased when Higor said that I managed to answer one of the questions from the task, which all of the candidates failed at. But the application process did not end there. We were all highly advised to read some thematic literature, which prepared me personally for the course and oftentimes came in handy.
5. What was your day-to-day life like during the course?
Hectic! Truly hectic! I even had to deny myself the things that are vital in my life – sports, walking my dog, having fun with my friends, spending time with my family. But any success requires sacrifice and earning CELTA is no different. In the morning, we would have some time to plan our lessons beforehand and then started our teaching practices. After that, came the feedback session, which helped us to analyze our slips and mistakes and help our colleagues to become better along these lines. Then, we would have a 1.5-hour break, and then came the input session with one of the four teachers. So it all came down to acquiring theoretical knowledge during those seminars and implementing it in practice during our teaching practices. However, besides all of the above, we had to observe lessons, be it a video or a live lesson on the course, and reflect on them! Sounds crazy, right? So, this course is very arduous but worthwhile. You are going to spend 8 hours a day working on your portfolio, but on the other hand, imagine how much joy and happiness you will feel at the end of your work!
6. What was the teaching practice like?
There were many ebbs and flows, but overall, it was enlightening. It was the heart of the course – you monitor your colleagues’ lessons and then comes your finest hour, and you show everybody what you have achieved so far.
7. What were the other people on the course like?
What I liked the most is that both teachers and students were friendly! They came from different countries, which made us all more international-minded and diversified the milieu. There were a lot of Spanish, French, American, and Asian people on the course and their average age was about 30 years. However, that didn’t prevent me from communicating with them at all, though I am only 19 years old. So if you are about my age or in your twenties, don’t be shy or afraid that you won’t have anyone to chat with!
8. What were your tutors like?
I have only one word to describe our tutors: professional. They were guiding us throughout the whole month! If a student had a question or a serious concern, they would help them right away, just like a lifeline saves a drowning man. We could contact them any time and they would come to the aid and give valuable advice, even if we came from another group and no matter how busy they were!
9. What was the most challenging aspect of the course for you?
There were two of them – planning and communicating. Planning is vital, as it provides the framework for your lessons. Now, what is perhaps not obvious is that on the course, you are going to spend as much time on planning as the robbers of Swiss banks don’t! Not less than 3 hours of planning the structure of your lesson and 45 minutes of teaching itself. At the beginning of the course, you don’t know these subtleties or think that it won’t be applicable for you. But when it’s the second week already, you start feeling it. As for the communication part, you need to learn to remain one organism with your colleagues and teachers. Otherwise, you won’t survive till the end. So, morale, discipline, and endurance are the first things you need to obtain and keep working on during the course.
10. What has been the most rewarding aspect on the course for you?
It is difficult to name one single thing, it is rather a mixture of many skills that I have improved. For instance, I have become much better at planning, communicating, monitoring students’ work, and asking ICQs (Instruction Checking Questions) and CCQs (Concept Checking Questions), which are all an integral part of being a competent teacher. I have also enriched my professional vocabulary, as the CELTA course has its own conceptual and terminological apparatus, which makes you a better contemporary specialist. I have also gained a new experience in communicating with people from other countries and thus became more culturally astute. So, to sum it up, this course was like an elevator that took us all to a new level of teaching. And now it’s your time to press the button of this very elevator. I am sure it will get you only to a higher floor!
11. Which one thing do you wish you had known before the course started?
It is widely believed that CELTA is so daunting, that only native speakers have the power to crack it. So, if you think that this course is not for you just because you are not a native speaker, then you are quite mistaken. People from all over the world choose Oxford TEFL to get their CELTA certificate, so you are going to estabish new useful networks from all continents of our planet! Moreover, a lot of course takers are afraid to fail their CELTA just because other people say it’s extremely difficult, but statistically speaking, 97% of the candidates get a pass grade, so you don’t need to worry about failing it whatsoever.
12. What’s your best piece of advice for someone thinking about taking the 100% Online CELTA course?
The best advice I can give is to treat this online course as if it was face-to-face. First of all, that will help you build rapport with your teachers, colleagues, and students. But most importantly, that will help you to take the course seriously and not underestimate it. That was my main mistake on the course, as I sometimes belittled the value of some classes and weakened myself at the moments when I needed to remain strong. And all that was just due to this ‘online’ effect. Of course, it is difficult to stay tough within 4 weeks of such an intensive work, but you have no choice.
13. What are your plans now?
Currently I am studying at a university, so it is very difficult to reconcile study and work. Nonetheless, I am planning to open my own language school in the near future. If other certificates of higher tiers are required at that time, then I will get them to become even more professional.
Find out more about Artyom’s experience on our 100% Online CELTA course here:
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