Fatima Elmcharfi completed our 100% Online CELTA course in July 2020. She is American and has been living in Saudi Arabia for over a decade. Before the 100% Online CELTA course, Fatima tutored part-time and helped homeschool children. She then decided to gain the CELTA to further her career. In this blog post, she explains more about the challenges of the course and what her plans are now that she is a qualified teacher.
Why did you decide to get a CELTA qualification?
I took the CELTA course for a few reasons. To begin with, I needed more qualifications to help me find jobs. I am considering studying medicine which is a very expensive and lengthy process in America. Because of this, I thought having more qualifications would help with finding jobs. Also, English teaching has always been a possible career option for me. I thought that getting the CELTA by the time I get my bachelor’s degree would be a very wise thing to do.
What attracted you to the 100% Online CELTA course with Oxford TEFL?
Taking the CELTA was always something I wanted to do. However, I never found the time to do it. My family and I usually travel during the summer, but this summer I found myself stuck at home, struggling with lockdowns and quarantine, and with nothing to do other than stare at my siblings’ faces. Therefore, I decided to take some extra summer courses. I was about to sign up for some courses when my mom asked me if I was willing to sign up for this Oxford TEFL 100% CELTA course. I was surprised and happy and instantly agreed. It was very convenient and the timing was perfect too. It would be over in a month and I would gain experience with online teaching too. I did hesitate when I gave the tuition some thought but I came to the conclusion that it’s definitely worth it.
What was the application process like?
The application process was a bit lengthy. I had to do a lot of reading but I didn’t mind that because I’m what many would call a ‘bookworm.’ The interview was fun and informative and the interviewer made it clear that I needed to be fully dedicated to the course and that I needed to have enough free time due to the intensity of the 4-week course.
What was your day to day life like during the course?
I found myself forgetting what free time was when I started the course. The teaching practice started at 11:00am and the day itself ended at a little after 6:00pm. Being an early bird, I’d wake up at 4:00am every day and tried to finish my work before lessons started. I tried to get some done in the evening too but I found myself exhausted and tired after a lengthy day of constant talking and/or listening. You’d think sitting all day would be a piece of cake but boy, was it hard. I have no idea how I found time to finish my assignment and lesson plans. I guess that’s what happens when you’re up early and sleeping late everyday! In hindsight, I managed somehow. Perhaps it’s as they say, everything is calm in the eye of the storm.
What was the teaching practice like?
Being a fully online college student, you’d think I’d know a bit about online teaching. However, this was my first time teaching online and I simply loved it. At first I was a bit confused with using breakout rooms and other Zoom tools. However, I completed the course without facing any technical problems. Some of my classmates had problems with the connection but that wasn’t something they could help. I guess I was just lucky enough to not experience technical issues, thank God for that.
The first couple of classes were a bit challenging in terms of time management. I also couldn’t figure out how to use Concept Checking Questions (CCQ’s) and reduce my teacher talking time (TTT) in the first half of the course. However, I got the hang of it soon. You know what they say, practice makes perfect! To be completely honest, thank God first and foremost, I wouldn’t have been able to get through and improve without the feedback sessions after the TP’s. I got wonderful constructive criticism and a chance to reflect on my teaching. My tutors and classmates were extremely supportive and helpful, I appreciated those sessions more than anything.
The learners were very diverse in terms of ethnicities and religions. They were also quite supportive and teaching them was fun and engaging. To put it simply, teaching practice was my favorite thing about the course.
What were the other people on the course like?
My classmates were from all over the world. I’m American (living in the Middle East) and my classmates were from Canada, America, Tunisia, Oman, China, Vietnam, Spain, the Czech republic, Turkey, the UK, and many other countries. I was one of the youngest learners (20) with only one other learner younger than me (18). I’d say the oldest learner was quite possibly in their mid 50’s. I guess another fun part about this course being 100% online is the diversity!
What were your tutors like?
The tutors were quite experienced and helpful. Adam had some good pointers that will stay with me for quite a while. Higor was warm, fun, and knew how to point out better strategies without making it seem like you failed. Sinem and Sarka were also extremely helpful and warm. They were all different and unique yet extremely skilled and experienced individuals.
What was the most challenging aspect of the course for you?
Time, exhaustion, stress, and fear of failure! By the time the afternoon input sessions were over, I found myself extremely exhausted. All I wanted to do was hit the bed. The exhaustion and lack of time stressed me out and had me anxious about failing throughout the course. It’s just like me to fear failure. Everything was going so fast; it was simply intense.
What has been the most rewarding aspect on the course for you?
I am now better able to use the communicative approach in language learning. Further, I now understand that learning online can be just effective as teaching and learning in a traditional face to face classroom.
What’s your best piece of advice for someone thinking about taking the 100% Online CELTA course?
Make sure you have enough time! Forget homeschooling your kids or siblings, cooking is a big no, if you work you probably won’t have time for it either. However, if you do have free time, go for it! It’s an unforgettable experience. If you don’t have time for the 4-week course, you should consider the 14-week part-time course instead.
What are your plans now?
I’m looking for online jobs. I want to focus on gaining experience and applying what I learned! I’m a much better teacher now. I helped quite a few learners and met some amazing people in this course. That’s honestly more rewarding than anything.
Who would you recommend the 100% Online CELTA course to?
I would recommend the CELTA to anyone who is interested in teaching! I’ve already recommended it to my Dad, he’s an English professor with decades of experience, and to a couple of college friends. This certificate is very useful and important to everyone.
Best of luck to everyone, one month of stress is worth it. Trust me, you can do it!
Don’t miss this chance to gain your CELTA qualification 100% online. Complete the application form here and take the first step to becoming a certified CELTA teacher intensively over 4-weeks or 14-weeks.