IH Journal of Education and Development

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The CELTA Course

The CELTA Course

Scott Thornbury and Peter Watkins

Cambridge University Press in collaboration with Cambridge ESOL, 2007


As a relatively new teacher trainer who was/is looking to build up her bank of input sessions, I welcomed the long-awaited Cambridge-approved Trainer and Student Manual on ‘The CELTA Course’ by Scott Thornbury and Peter Watkins (CUP), 2007.

As a teacher, one has the need to supplement and adapt existing material as one would do in the classroom.  The same is so of the trainer.  The Trainer’s Manual is a great resource book of new ideas and suggestions to dip into.  It has a guide for each unit, how to set up activities, suggested variants and expected answers. The material itself is very easy to use and fairly ‘idiot’ proof. It gives guidelines on the main focus of each unit, the learning outcomes and key concepts.  The units are generally planned in sequence of how the input sessions could be delivered – of course, one doesn’t need to follow the units verbatim in sequence or tasks – it can supplement an already existing session.  The authors also stipulate that the book doesn’t need to be done in the order that it’s presented and the units have been written as ‘stand-alone entities’. The units themselves move from the ‘warm up’ to the ‘reflection’ and group discussion stages.  The book also comes bundled with a section on ‘teaching practice’ and guidelines for TP as well as feedback.  For the novice CELTA tutor this is very useful – especially the suggestions for guided lesson planning and observation of lessons as well as how to conduct feedback and write TP reports. An introductory quiz and review materials at the back of the book add to its appeal. 

The Trainee Manual is divided into five key units: Learners and teachers, language analysis and awareness, all 4 skills, planning and resources and developing teaching skills and professionalism.  The book itself consists of 40 units covering a variety of topics that one would expect to cover on any given course.  It also has a section on tutorials and what to expect and a section on assignments with some step-by-step ‘how to’ (for the candidates who’ve not done a writing task for years and who want to avoid the pitfalls of writing a bad assignment).  Coupled with this, I also liked the fact that the book has a section on classroom observations, warmers and fillers, a brief guide to the English verb and a glossary on common CELTA terminology, for those who haven’t got a clue what ‘realia’ is.  A further reading list and a useful websites section rounds off the book nicely.

The books themselves are designed to work in tandem – ‘according to particular circumstances and needs’ of the course and centre.  They are written with adaptability and flexibility in mind.  The aim of the CELTA books is to provide ready-made sessions to save on preparation time as well as be a useful model for new centres structuring their courses.

So would I use the books as a core model for the participants to use in a CELTA course?  Not in its entirety no –but then that’s my preference.  I don’t like to be tied to a particular coursebook or structure – but then they certainly appeal to all trainers and trainees alike in providing a good, practical guide.

Reviewed by Mary Solomon, IH Dubai

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