How suitable are CELTA courses for non-native speaker teachers?

It’s fairly well-known in the ELT world that Cambridge CELTA and Trinity CertTESOL courses were initially designed with the needs of native speaker trainee teachers in mind at a time when ideas of what makes a good English language teacher were very different to what they are today. Back then (1960s-1980s), native speakers were automatically considered the experts and the significant assets that non-native speaker teachers usually possess (such as ‘L1’ knowledge, and understanding of learner needs, schemata and culture) were often wrongly neglected.

My latest article for ELT Journal entitled ‘Initial teacher training courses and non-native speaker teachers’ reports the findings of a mixed methods study into the backgrounds, needs and future teaching contexts of 79 graduates from Cambridge CELTA and Trinity CertTESOL courses. It finds significant differences in all these areas between native speakers and non-native speakers, discusses how the expertise and prior knowledge of non-native speaker teachers is often overlooked, and concludes that such courses ‘are not well suited to the needs, interests and future work contexts of NNS teachers.’

Figure 1 below, from the article, is one of many showing such significant differences; the vast majority of non-native speaker participants have extensive prior teaching experience, unlike native speakers.

To read the full article, click here. 

Figure 1: Previous teaching experience of native speaker and non-native speaker participants on Cambridge CELTA and Trinity CertTESOL courses (c) 2016 Oxford University Press

Of course, the article raises as many questions as it answers, and I hope to conduct further research in this area to understand exactly how such courses, which are becoming increasingly popular with non-native speaker teachers, fit into the career paths of different participants. I’m also interested in the question of how appropriate the methodology promoted on such courses is to the future teaching contexts of non-native speaker participants: How much REALLY gets implemented in the classroom? What factors are involved? Feel free to offer your opinions below.

4 thoughts on “How suitable are CELTA courses for non-native speaker teachers?

  1. Hi Jason,

    A very interesting article! I have worked with many non-native speakers, many of whom were brilliant teachers. The ones who wanted to do the CELTA invariably, as you describe above, had extensive teaching experience.

    When I did my CELTA back in 2007, there were only native speakers so I didn’t get to see them on the course but can imagine they would be strong in grammar and other aspects like that.

    Funny to see in your journal article the one of the main reasons for NS’s taking an initial teacher training course was to travel – that was my reason and I now work in my hometown after 6 years abroad (oh, the irony).

    Thanks again,

    Liked by 1 person

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