I’m off to do a CELTA for a month

From tomorrow, free time will be a thing of the past for a month. Why? Because I begin the CELTA course with ECC in Chiang Mai. I will be released back into civilisation (all things going well) around the 4th April. [You can now listen to our audio diary of doing the CELTA in Chiang Mai in our Podcast here.]

Thomas about to start studying for the CELTA in Chiang Mai, Thailand

CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) is one type of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) course. CELTA courses are validated and the certificates are issued by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) in the UK. From my research, the CELTA qualification seems to carry a little bit more weight internationally than the other available TEFL courses.

For many years I have looked into doing the CELTA, but have never progressed much further than that. I have finally signed one month of my life away and I’m quite looking forwards to the challenge!

CELTA is well known for its intensity. The Guardian Education website doesn’t beat around the bush much in its assessment of this:

Although just four weeks in length, your TEFL course may well feel like four years. When people say that you have to put your life on hold for a month, they’re not joking.

If you live alone, fresh, home-cooked food is likely to become a thing of the past. Your bed may seem like a figment of your imagination. Friends may think that you have fallen down a large hole.

This blog post by a young woman doing the CELTA with International House in London gives me the fear:

Week three of the CELTA course is a hot contender for the worst week of my life. I have two assignments due, on Monday and Thursday, and three lessons to plan……Deciding not to be beaten I stay up until 2 am planning and writing, and set my alarm for 6am to prepare my materials.

Tina will be recording my anguish in a Podcast compiled from various stages throughout the course. We’ll publish this some time in April. Wish me luck!!!!

CELTA course costs in Chiang Mai

The cost of the course in Chiang Mai compares very favourably with other world-wide destinations – especially when you take into account the cost of living here.

Doing the four-week CELTA with International House in London costs £1,240.00. Then of course you’d have to add on living & travel costs in London for a month. From my experience, it would be hard to get by on less than an additional £1,000 – and that is a very minimum for the month, bringing the total to £2,240.00 (US $4,500).

In Chiang Mai, a close friend of mine just did the CELTA, and the course with ECC cost $1600 ( £794 at the time of writing), but her living costs (including rent & bills) amounted to only £158 (US $319) for the entire month! This brings the total course cost to £953 ($1,919) – quite a saving at about 43% the cost of doing it in London.

9 thoughts on “I’m off to do a CELTA for a month”

  1. Good luck with the CELTA. Everything I’ve read indicates that it will be a very long, busy and stressful 4 weeks. Of course once you’re done you’ll be able to look back fondly on it and reminisce.

  2. Can you email me and let me know how your CELTA class was? I am considering doing the same in Chiang Mai.

    muchas gracias!

    North Carolina

  3. I’m considering the TEFL/CELTA as I sit now in Chiang Mai – four years now, I love it here. It’s a little more of a big deal than I’d thought.. am I too old? too lazy? too broke? Probabily not. But a coward? I have too look a little closer at IH versus ECC. I’ll come back and let you all know what happened. Al

  4. Good luck Al! The CELTA courses are so strictly moderated by the Cambridge moderators that you’ll find they are all very similar indeed – whatever school you do them with.

    Something that does however affect your experience is class size – of both students you are teaching during teaching practice and your fellow CELTA students.

    Let us know how it went 🙂

  5. I wouldn’t TOUCH ECC with a 10 foot pole. They have one of the worst reputations in Thailand. They treat their teachers like crap and lie to anyone who signs up for their CELTA course. Terrible place. I complained to CELTA in the UK about ECC but, of course, all they care about is the money they get from ECC. You would have been better taking any course before you paid ECC your hard earned money, IMO.

  6. Hi Rachel,

    I’m afraid that I strongly disagree with what you have said – certainly as far as ECC in Chiang Mai goes. I thought it was a very professionally run course in every way, with great course tutors and great Thai students. No-one lied to any of us about anything, and none of us was treated like crap!

  7. Don’t do your CELTA with ECC, if at all.

    Most people who fail just call the course “harsh,” and nothing more. There’s quite a bit more to it.

    Everyone who passes is just happy to have the CELTA certificate, and had to kiss a lot of ass and bite their tongue and work very hard. What you gain is all of the reasonably positive things that you can gain from someone who is a c*nt with a lot of teaching experience and knowledge being really negative toward you after judging you from a lot of lessons. If this sounds like something you could benefit from, do it, but its a load of bullsh*t.

    The tutors are totally idealistic and incoherent. I got failed on a lesson that had “speaking” as a secondary aim. I provided 15 minutes of speaking exercise in partners, all of which involved the second partner to be listening to the speaker and making value judgments about what they’re saying. (a guessing game). These people are so idealistic that a “listening exercise” is exactly as they teach, and intermediate Thais spending 15 minutes speaking to one another doesn’t involve any “listening.”

    My tutors looked at the draft of my lesson plan before a lesson that I gave, and approved the plan, and then in feedback told me that I shouldn’t have done the plan that I did. I failed my final teaching practise where the second tutor, who had looked at my draft two times and given it the O.K., on the day decided to fail me because I didn’t do an ENTIRE SECTION THAT WAS REQUIRED. EVEN THOUGH HE APPROVED OF 2 LESSON PLAN DRAFTS THE DAY BEFORE, AND THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE, BOTH OF WHICH DIDN’T HAVE THE SECTION.

    All of the students who get failed are a suprise to the other students.

    The first tutor failed me similarly on a teaching practise. The difference here was that he actually invented and dictated to me my lesson plan.

    All of the students who go through the course have to kiss ass. The tutors are not negotiable and frequently sarcastic and personal, and take advantage of the fact that you’ve paid a lot of money and need the CELTA. “I don’t have to please you” kind of attitude prevailed, although the tutors were admittedly quite nice for the rest of the time.

    Quite a lot of the content was similarly abstract and incoherent. We spent an hour learning the difference between an “Exercise” and an “Activity” and the tutors assign real value to these differences . Problem is, the tutors have random interpretations themselves and contradicted one another, which the tutor was pulled up on, and he laughed it off.

    The reason why so many people say not to argue with them isn’t because they know a lot and are constantly correcting people, but because they aren’t sensible people. All of their value judgements are based simply on whatever random negativity they feel like spewing up, and is usually incoherent in some way.

    I had quite a few negative comments on my lesson plan that were addressed a few lines down in the plan, and he didn’t cross any of the comments out.

    All people who do the CELTA give you the advice “don’t argue with them” for a reason. You will want to argue with them, because their arguments aren’t sound and usually condescending, personal and reasonably ignorant. They got their degrees from being uptight and anal, not from being useful, and are riding off the name of “cambridge.”

    It’s not possible for students to always be wrong. You should really doubt the integrity of a teacher who is teaching something that isn’t set in stone that has no clear answer, where its common that people give you advice “don’t argue with them,” because its quite clear that a lot of people want to argue with them, and usually have a very valid point.

    The first thing that struck me about the ECC CELTA was the general quality of the candidates who went into the course. Really smart, hardworking people, some with experience. All of whom were arguing over points with the tutors.

    What this boils down to is that the tutors aren’t problem solvers. They thrive on problems, and everything they have a problem with is a really random, emotional gripe that doesn’t have much of a bearing on the situation.

  8. hi thomas,

    planning to do celta with ecc at chiang mai. i hear some negaives about it. i am not sure as to which one to go for ,IH or ECC. please help.

Leave a Comment