CELTA Chiang Mai
I chose Chiang Mai to do the CELTA because of the lure of the lush and tranquil Thai countryside. The school itself, and the accommodation, is located a short taxi journey from Chiang Mai airport. I checked into the accommodation* the day before the course started and spent the remaining time getting to know the other trainees and relaxing by the pool. I figured I wouldn’t get too much time to really relax once the course started…I was absolutely right.
We took a short shuttle bus ride to the centre the next morning. The centre itself is beautiful and peaceful – a newly purpose-built Thai-style building set in a quiet corner of Chiang Mai. All meals are prepared and presented on site in the open air dining area and the food was consistently excellent. After a delicious breakfast at the training centre on the first day of the course, our tutors Rufus and Chris sat us down and proceeded to lay out in detail what awaited us over the next month. I had heard how stressful the month of the CELTA could be and to be honest I was terrified. With 4 assignments, 8 observed lessons, mountains of lesson planning paperwork and hours of input sessions on teaching methodology, my stress levels were already through the roof and we hadn’t even started the work yet. Myself and two of the other trainees were informed that we would be teaching the following day, so we spent the rest of the day preparing our lesson plans and observing Rufus, our trainer, teach the class that we would be teaching in only 24 hours’ time. It was safe to say that I wasn’t going to get too much sleep that night.
The next day came, and the feared first lesson went very well in fact. About halfway through, I remember thinking that actually, I could do this whole CELTA thing. The students definitely helped – they were welcoming, engaged and eager to learn and subsequently this aided in improving my confidence in my own teaching. The group of trainees that I was assigned to were all very supportive too, and we spent the month observing each other, giving helpful suggestions and constructive criticism on our individual approaches to teaching. Occasionally, we also found some time to enjoy dinner and go for a swim in the evenings. Aside from the observed lessons, I found the 4 assignments to be particularly challenging; because so much is compressed into one month, time became a real issue when attempting to meet these deadlines. The trainers were very encouraging however, and I never felt like I was trying to do it all by myself. That feeling, of being supported throughout the month, became very important for my morale during weeks 2 and 3 when I was still planning lessons at 2am!
Although the pressure was on during the course, and stress levels for myself and some of the other candidates were high, my memories and overall feelings about the course are overwhelmingly positive. If you want to spend time gaining an internationally recognised qualification, with wonderful people (students, trainees and trainers) in a gorgeous location, then I would strongly recommend doing the CELTA at IH Chiang Mai. As I looked out at the mountains from the balcony on the last day of the course, enjoying a cup of tea and the feeling of achieving my goals, I remember thinking “This…is living!!!”
*A brand new 29 bedroom accommodation and 25 meter swimming pool has just opened on the school’s site in January 2016.