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Will I have problems on CELTA if I have no teaching experience?

CELTA can be taken both by people with teaching experience and by people with no teaching experience.  As CELTA emphasises modern teaching and learning methods (such as student-centred activities, pair and group work, task-based learning), teachers who have worked in more traditional, teacher-centred classroom environments are not necessarily at an advantage when they take the course.  Similarly, inexperienced candidates are not necessarily at a disadvantage.  The important thing is that all candidates are prepared to learn new approaches.

Will I have problems on CELTA if I am not a native speaker of English?

Many trainees who successfully complete CELTA speak English as a second or third language.  However, your English should be proficient enough for you to cope with the demands of the course – ideally a C1 (Advanced) level.  If you apply to do CELTA, the tutors will assess your English level carefully as part of the selection process.

Will I have problems on CELTA if I don’t know much about English grammar?

You don’t need to start a CELTA course with a great knowledge of English grammar.  However, you have to show that you can research and analyse grammatical structures so that you can teach them properly in the classroom.

Is there an age limit on doing CELTA?

No.  People who have successfully completed CELTA courses range from being eighteen years old to be in their retirement. Ideally, you should be 21 to do the course. However, 18-year-olds are accepted at the discretion of the centre. 

I’m a non-native speaker of English.  Will CELTA teach me some new English?

CELTA is a teacher-training course, not a language-learning course.  Do not apply for CELTA if you only want to improve the level of your English.

What’s the application procedure for CELTA?

CELTA applicants should complete an application form and task-sheet.  To receive copies of these, they should send an email to the address on the CELTA page on the British Council Colombo website.  If their application meets the required standard, they will then be invited to an interview.  Applicants who pass the interview will be offered a place on a CELTA course.

If I decide to quit a CELTA course, can I get my money back?

Please be aware that trainees who start a CELTA course but decide not to complete it, or who complete the course but do not pass it, are not eligible for a refund.  Make sure you are sure about your commitment to CELTA before paying the deposit and balance.  

How intensive is CELTA?

CELTA is very intensive.  Trainees taking a full-time course should ensure that there are no other demands on their time and attention for the duration of the course.  

Can I have work commitments while I do CELTA?

It is very unwise to attempt to combine a full-time CELTA course with any sort of work commitment, even a part-time one.  The majority of people who drop out of or fail a CELTA course do so because they have underestimated how demanding the course is; often those people have been trying to do some work on the side.  

How many people are likely to be doing CELTA with me?

CELTA courses at British Council Colombo are usually either 12-trainee courses, with two tutors; or 18-trainee ones, with three tutors.

How many students are likely to be in the teaching practice classes?

Teaching Practice classes may vary in size from six to about 18 students.

Does British Council Colombo have a dress code?

There is a dress code.  British Council teachers are expected to be at least ‘smart-casual’ in their appearance and avoid wearing such things as shorts, T-shirts, blue jeans and flip-flops.  CELTA trainees are seen as a temporary part of the British Council teaching staff and therefore are expected to be at least smart-casual in their dress too. 

Does CELTA use a textbook?

No. However, trainees will receive a lot of hand-outs during input sessions (and need to be organized when filing these hand-outs away). 

How useful is it to have a laptop while doing CELTA?

Very useful – lesson plans and assignments can be handwritten, but it is much, much easier to write these on a computer. 

Will I have time to eat during the day?

There is a café / canteen very close to the training and teaching practice rooms.  Provided trainees are organized in their preparations for teaching practice and in handing in assignments, this shouldn’t be a problem!

What is a typical CELTA day like?

A typical CELTA day looks something like this:

  • 08.00-09.15 Input One
  • 09.15-09.30 break
  • 09.30-10.45 input two
  • 11.00-11.45 assisted lesson planning
  • 11.45-12.45 lunch
  • 13.00-15.00 teaching practice
  • 15.15-16.00 teaching practice feedback

What is teaching practice like?

Teaching practice is usually done in groups of 4-6 trainees and held in the afternoon.  It involves teaching two classes of volunteer students, one usually at Elementary level and the other usually at Intermediate level.  According to Cambridge English rules, all CELTA trainees must teach students for six hours during the course, under the observation of their tutors.  These six hours are divided up into eight or nine teaching practices, each lasting 20, 40 or 60 minutes, with each trainee usually teaching every second day.

What are the teaching practice students like?

The teaching practice students are volunteers and over the age of 18.  Often, they are of college age, in their late teens or early twenties.  Some of them take regular English courses at the British Council but are keen to have extra lessons too.  However, because the teaching practice classes are offered free of charge, some of these students are people who couldn’t afford the price of a normal English course taught by a professional teacher – and they are very grateful for the opportunity to learn English that the CELTA teaching practice classes give them.

CELTA trainees are often nervous before they meet their students for the first time, but they soon become accustomed to and very fond of them.  For that reason, it is common on the last day of the CELTA course to hold a little party for the trainees and students together.

How will I be assessed during the course?

CELTA trainees are assessed on their teaching practice performances, their written assignments and their overall level of professionalism.  

Is there an exam at the end?


What grade can I expect to get?

The grades can be:

  • Pass A
  • Pass B
  • (Standard) pass
  • Fail

The majority of trainees who complete a CELTA course get a standard pass.  Pass B is not so common and Pass A is very rare.  Please note that most employers are happy to take on a CELTA-qualified teacher with a standard pass so long as he/she is backed up by a reasonable report from the course tutors.

If I pass the course, when will I receive my CELTA certificate? 

Trainees who complete the course will have a grade recommended to Cambridge English by their tutors.  When this is approved, Cambridge English will send them certificates that state their official grade.  It commonly takes Cambridge English six-to-eight weeks to send out official certificates.  In the meantime, British Council Colombo will give trainees who successfully complete the course an unofficial certificate, stating their provisional grades, and a report.  These can be used to apply for jobs before the official certificates arrive from the United Kingdom.

What will my final report be like?

The tutors will make the reports as positive as possible.  However, they will also make recommendations about what the trainees need to do in future to ensure that they continue to develop as English-language teachers.

What schools recognize the CELTA certificate?

CELTA is internationally recognized and guarantees a high level of training for new teachers. Therefore, the certificate is one of the most recognised and respected qualifications for English language teaching to adult students and it is accepted by schools and institutions around the world, including the British Council, which recruit teachers.  (Note, however, that CELTA is a qualification for teaching adults, not children.).  

Do you provide trainees with help in finding jobs afterwards?

There will be a professional development session at the end of the course which includes advice on finding work after the CELTA course.  However, British Council Colombo is unable to help trainees with individual job-hunting.

Do you employ CELTA trainees at British Council Colombo? 

British Council Colombo has a mentoring programme that allows newly CELTA-qualified people to start work at its Teaching Centre whilst receiving continuing ‘on-the-job’ training.  However, this system operates on a supply-and-demand basis so, unfortunately, there is no guarantee that trainees finishing a CELTA course can then begin working for British Council Colombo. 

If I come to Colombo to do CELTA, will you arrange accommodation for me?

It is your responsibility to arrange accommodation while you are in Colombo.  However, the city offers a wide range of accommodation options, from ‘high-end’ to ‘budget’.  Therefore, finding a satisfactory place to stay for the duration of a CELTA course should not be a big problem.  Accommodation-finding websites such as and should be able to help you.

What are the living costs in Colombo?

While Colombo is not as cheap as it used to be, and you can certainly spend a lot of money there if you want to, the prices of many things – for example, eating out, transport and certain groceries – are not high.  However, foreign visitors may find themselves paying as much as, or even more than they would in their home countries for commodities such as meat, cheese, alcohol and certain types of fruit.  For more information, check out the cost-of-living comparison website