Having spent six months in Thailand during the winter of 2012-2013, when it came to deciding where to do the CELTA, IH Bangkok was the obvious choice. Anyone who has visited Bangkok will tell you how fantastic this bustling city is. If you haven’t visited Bangkok, check out last weeks Blog with Grant to get a glimpse into the excitement the city has to offer. Located in the commercial heart of Bangkok, Silom Road, IH Bangkok is conveniently placed amid parks, shops, restaurants and all forms of local transport.
For me, day one of the CELTA was perhaps the most intense. Arriving early, I met many of my fellow trainees and there was a clear feeling of not really knowing what to expect. As we were ushered into the school by the receptionists (who always did their best to attend to our requests, whatever they may have been), we were quickly split into two groups, then hit with schedules, folders, and assigned to classrooms. For some there was the added bonus of being told they were having their first teaching the next day; I was relieved to find I got an extra day before my first observed lesson. In the afternoon we got to watch our trainer teach the Elementary class. This was actually really fun, with my trainer, Zozo, demonstrating a class that was both fun and informative. When the class was over we met the students. They were all really nice, though even here we were expected to be picking up on student errors and finding out information for the first of our four written assignments.
Teaching on the course was naturally the main focus. We were given a week to complete written assignments; this is more than manageable with good time keeping. Teaching of course needs to be well planned. My first lesson went well, and the relief after finishing and getting positive feedback removed a lot of the stress I’d let build up since day one. My biggest learning curve came at the end of week one. It was Friday afternoon and halfway through I lost track of where I was up to in my lesson. I still passed the class, but it was a mistake I would be careful not to make again. Planning became everything. To take my mind off the frustration that Friday I went for a drink with a fellow trainee named David. We went on for hours about teaching as well as politics, religion, history and maths (perhaps the only time I’ve ever happily discussed maths), and I totally forgot about my frustration earlier that day.
While I appreciate that some people experience enormous amounts of stress on the course, this wasn’t my experience. That does not mean it was a breeze*. The pressure of having to manage time, in planning as well as in the classroom, can be tiresome; I worked hours into the night and had almost no free time during the course. But I listened to my brilliant trainers, Zozo and Brendan, and tried to put into practice any suggestions they had; I truly believe that anyone doing the course can make their lives so much easier if they just follow this principle.
At the end of my final lesson I felt like I was crossing the finish line of a marathon. I didn’t even feel this much relief when I finished my degree! The last day of the course was the (now customary) party with the TP students. It was sad to say goodbye to many of them as we had been through this together (though since starting my job at IH Bangkok I am always happy to see some familiar faces now and then). With the CELTA over I took a well deserved break back home in Manchester, where I told my family all about the experience. I would recommend it to anybody who would ever consider teaching English or thinking of working abroad.
*’be a breeze’– easy