Before you are accepted on to a CELTA course, you will need to go through an interview. Sounds daunting? Here is some useful information as to what we, as interviewers, are looking for.
CELTA centres are not allowed to accept anyone who they believe doesn’t have a good chance of passing the course so the interview is mainly to assess the applicants’ abilities. The interview could take place at the centre or via Skype if you’re living further away but whichever type of interview you do, this will follow the same format:
- A language awareness test, done either before the interview or on the day.
- Information about the course with a chance to ask questions.
- A one-to-one interview with the interviewer, normally a CELTA tutor.
What is tested in the language awareness test?
Basically questions fall into these 4 categories:
- Meaning & form of language
- Describing language
- Contextualising language
- Lexis & phonology
Meaning & form of language
Meaning of language is either:
- a definition of the language item, for example a spade is something we use for digging or
- the use of a language item, for example we use the present simple to talk about a regular habit; Peter gets up at 6am every day.
Form is either:
- the part of speech a word is; a spade is a noun or
- how a structure is formed; 3rd person singular adds -s
An example question would be to explain the difference between the following two sentences:
A) Peter lives in Manchester
B) Peter is staying with friends in London
So you would need to think about the difference in meaning between the two sentences and the different structures that are used
Sentence A shows that this is a permanent situation (present simple), whereas sentence B shows a temporary situation (present continuous)
Or you might be asked to correct mistakes and give a reason for the corrected version.
She has been living there
since 3 years.
She has been living there for 3 years.
Reason: for is used with a length of time whereas since is used with a point of time.
This is basically to see if you can label language. You might be asked to name tenses or parts of speech such as noun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction.
Language is much easier for learners to understand if it is introduced in context. For example you could ask students what the word “spade” means or you could say “Dave is on the beach with his son and they want to build a sandcastle so they go to the shop and buy a spade for digging.” From the language surrounding the word “spade”, learners will get a good idea of what a spade could be.
So in the test, maybe you will be asked to give a context for language and to think about what problems the learners might have with the language.
Lexis & phonology
Your knowledge of lexis might be tested by asking you to explain the difference in meaning between 2 words, for example small and tiny. Phonology, or pronunciation includes areas like word stress or silent letters so you could be asked to mark the stress on a series of words like this:
investigate record (verb) particular
Or they might ask you why learners might have problems pronouncing the following words:
In this part of the interview, the centre will tell you how the course works. You should have the chance to ask questions, so you could think about what you want to know before getting there and then you have your questions ready if the answers have not already been covered. The CELTA course is standardised throughout the world and all centres follow a syllabus but they do have some leeway in how they write the timetable and put the course together.
The one to one interview
If up until now you have been in a group, you will also have an individual interview. You will be asked some more language questions. The interviewer will also be looking to see whether you are open to feedback and are up to the intensity of the course. They will check your level of English is high enough (C2 according to the Common European Framework) and make sure you do not have any other commitments for the duration of the course. You might also talk about any accommodation requirements or health issues you may have. The centre will be interested in why you are wanting to do the course and will want to get to know you a little. The key here is to just be yourself!
To sum up
- Brush up a little on basic terminology if possible.
- Be yourself!
- Think about what you want to know about the course beforehand.
- Show you are open to feedback .
- Be open about any reservations or health issues you may have.
- Show your enthusiasm!
- Clear your diary for the duration of the course!
Do you have any other tips to share based on your own experience at the interview stage?