Helene Combe

Through my journey as an English teacher and a language learner

Month: July 2017 (page 1 of 2)

CELTA week 4: we did it!

Now, I can breathe again.

As you probably know, I had to resubmit every freaking assignment. I didn’t put enough details, I didn’t get the instructions right the first time, well, basically, I didn’t like the written part of the degree! But I managed it, and passed on resubmission three out of four assignment, and passed every TP. At 5 pm today, I received my result letter, saying that I passed my CELTA.

It took me a year. A year ago, I applied to do a CELTA in a parisian school, which rejected me because my level wasn’t high enough. As a result, I decided to prepare for the Cambridge Proficiency Exam. I got accepted at the University of Grenoble shortly after that (English trainer degree – I graduated a month ago) and passed my TKT (in March). I can’t believe only a year passed.

I was scared, to be honest. I stressed out every day of this final week. I thought that I had failed my written assignments: I need to work on my academic English, I suppose. I thought until yesterday that I wouldn’t make it. I never put so much energy into something else before. It was exhausting, but it was worth it.

Breaking news: in a week (because I need a break, come on), I will be a teacher at BEET language school, here in Bournemouth, for two weeks. It’s just a temporary position, but I feel really lucky that I had the job in the first place, especially in an international school.

A new adventure is waiting for me in September… Business English!


CELTA week 3: bye bye tranquillity

Do you enjoy staying awake at night?

Do you love writing down papers?

Do you like to do and re do the same thing all over again?

Welcome to CELTA, week 3! Not only you will plan your lessons, but you will also lose confidence in yourself like you never did before (#dramaqueen).

The assignments have a purpose, all of them, but they are tricky. I had to resubmit every one of them. I hated myself so much, I stressed out every night for a whole week, I had no social life for a week, but at the end, I get it. I understand why. Teaching practice is something, the written assignment are another, and we need these both to get the CELTA.

I honestly thought that I was more stupid than the others. I thought I shouldn’t be here, that I stole someone’s spot. But during tutorials, my tutors told me “you enjoy practice, that’s the main thing. The written assignments will be done in a week.” They were right. We need to pass at least 3 out of 4 to get the CELTA. 3. I didn’t steal someone else’s spot.

If you have to resubmit, that’s not a problem, it doesn’t matter. But if you fail your teaching practice, you will fail. Week 3 is probably the hardest of all, but at least, you will understand why you are here: to become a (great) teacher.

CELTA week 2: bring it on!

(Technically, I am already on week 3, but whatever)

After a good first week, I was really anxious about that second week. I was afraid that my lesson plans would not be enough, that I wouldn’t be enable to improve my handwriting, or that my tutor will realize that I don’t like grammar at all.

We were teaching a group of 9 adults, Upper Intermediate (B2), a lovely group really motivated and focused. I managed a friendly atmosphere, created the “perfect” lesson… and forgot to xerox my text (and it was a reading lesson, of course). But I learned something that day: always come clean. I came clean to my students: I explained that I forgot to xerox that precise page because I was too busy talking to another colleague about .. my so called perfect lesson.

Today, I came clean again: I forgot to pre teach a word (we are now teaching a Pre Intermediate class – A2). I came clean, explained that I had forgotten that one, and explained. They got it, they were actually pleased to realize that their teacher was not a machine or a walking dictionary.

In CELTA, everything is intense. I never worked that hard in my life, despite everything. But the most valuable lesson I learned on week 2 is that we are humans after all, and that we shall not forget it. It’s okay not to know a word right away. It’s okay to check afterwards. It’s okay to ask a colleague to xerox the freaking text you forgot. Come clean. The students understand the struggle.

At the end of my week, I was very sad to leave my Upper Intermediate class. I learned to create activities for them, to bond with them, to share info with them. I learned from them. We switched on Friday evening, and we are now teaching Pre Intermediate.

Come on, Week 3, show us what you got!

Yes, Doctor Who can be a female

I wanted to write today about my second week at CELTA but something else came up and just couldn’t avoid it.

“The next Doctor Who will be a woman!”

“Have you heard? The 13th Doctor Who is a female”.

I received 3 texts within an hour and saw 25 posts on Twitter. And I have to admit that I don’t get it. Doctor Who is an alien: it can be a male or female, by definition. Also, it’s a fictional character, so basically, there is nothing to yell at, considering that it’s just entertainment. Why are people freaking over that fact?

Because it apparently matters. Because for some reasons, some people cannot be female. Whatever we might say, whatever what Gloria Steinem might do and fight for, whatever our praises for Malala, whatever our hypocritical #genderequity, it’s still upsetting, for some people to see a woman as an iconic character, and worse, a strong, independent one. I mean, do you imagine the other way around?

We couldn’t care less.


My first week of CELTA: thoughts

I have been waiting for this since a long time, well, since I discovered what the CELTA was. I got in March into ITTC, in Bournemouth, England and finally began on Monday the 3rd of July. Here’s a little anthology of some thoughts which crossed my mind on that very first week of CELTA:

-Gosh, that’s going to be intense!

-OMG, I don’t understand one of my colleagues’ accent!

-I need to study my grammar. Really. (5 minutes later, after my NS colleague did the exact same mistake as I did) Okay, we all need to study our grammar.

-Don’t talk too fast!The students are here to learn, not to witness your personal impersonation of Lorelai Gilmore after three coffees.

-Are they going to think that I am not a good teacher because I am French, so sometimes I have to check details? (hint: they don’t freaking care!)

-Is it normal to freak out every single day?

-I may need to do again my Proficiency, or the IELTS, if I want to work abroad, to prove my level.

-One week is already gone, 3 more to go!




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