“Learner”, that’s the term used in the CELTA handbook to refer to students of English. It’s a revealing term; it’s all about learning, not studying. And I think it suits perfectly.
It has been almost two weeks since I started my CELTA course, which is short for Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. It’s a qualification dreamt up and certified by the University of Cambridge, administered by representatives in many countries – International House in the case of Thailand.
In short, I am immensely enjoying it. And I use “immensely” advisedly. I am learning many techniques that I can and will apply to my private tutoring, but more than that I am relishing the process of learning. There’s a phrase that I like to use: “tickles the brain”. And the CELTA lesson plans, lessons, and assignments do exactly that.
It has been a good long while since I had to learn from observation, analyse a body of new knowledge, and come up with creative ideas. In a sense this is perfect preparation for the new job which is to start in November, a main part of which is coming up with initiatives to build a culture of learning in the company.
Not that my brain has been idle in recent months. The subtitles translation work is in itself very stimulating, but it’s a different kind of challenge, and the skills required are more specific and linguistically focused; whereas the skills I’m making use of now to (hopefully) do well in my CELTA course are more global and applicable to other situations.
There’s also something satisfying about being a student again: participating in classroom activities, taking notes and arranging and typing them up later. I’m not going to lie. I’ve always been studious, and that side of me is having a field day.
People-wise, I’m meeting many new faces with intriguing stories behind them. Both the other trainees – as we are called – and students we teach have much character, which is always nice to see, and come full of ideas and contributions that are sometimes hard to come by in my experience of living in Thailand.
I’ve been forewarned about the workload which will keep me up all night. But so far, and probably because I’ve opted for the part-time rather than the full-time course, that hasn’t been the case. The work has been manageable and enjoyable. I don’t know for how long that will be the case, and I’m eager to find out.
What I do know is that, two weeks in, I already don’t want it to end. It’s going to be a roller coaster ride of a lifetime. Apart from bringing some wonderful people into my life, pointing me toward the CELTA will be another thing I’ll always be grateful to Wall Street English for.
The CELTA comes with a hefty price tag, 56,000 baht in my case. But so far it’s worth every penny.