Applying For A TEFL Course: Do You Need To Be A Grammar Whiz?

g10030481.jpgTo apply for my CELTA, I first downloaded and filled out an application which consisted of some standard name-address-education forms as well as a language awareness “test,” which included questions like “how would you explain the word “generous”?” and “What’s the difference between I have lived in Rome for a year and I lived in Rome for a year?”

I was nervous because, like many American students my age, I’d had little formal instruction on English grammar. In the few “Language Arts” classes I’d had, there was some effort made to memorize prepositions (and refrain from ending sentences with them), name tenses, and justify correct answers with rules. But, again like many students, I just chose the answer that sounded right, as people tend to do with their own language.

However, I was determined not to use a reference book to help me in my application; it wasn’t by any means forbidden, but I didn’t want to get myself in over my head by presenting myself as better versed in grammar and language jargon than I really was. I used my own logic, reason, and critical thinking skills, and did just fine.

The second part of the process involved a phone interview. A teacher trainer from the school called me and went through a few more questions. I think the phone interview was less a grammar or vocabulary test and more a chance to see how I spoke and if I could just give a relatively appropriate response on the spot.

The application procedure seems to have the aim of checking if you can analyze your own language and explain things you take for granted clearly. Being able to name tenses at the drop of a hat and list the rules governing their use takes time, and those in charge of trainee recruitment don’t expect you to be able to do this from the start. But you do need to demonstrate critical thinking skills and the ability to simplify your language and understand what it’s like to be a learner. The TEFL course will take it from there.