Developmental stages: Pre-CELTA


Before CELTA, my only experience of formal foreign/second language learning was studying French for a couple of years at high school. I was in an international school in Oman; I studied it up to grade 10 and I think I got a B for it on my GCSEs. I can really only remember five other details about it:

  • We used Tricolore.
  • At some point there was a short text/conversation about shopping on the Champs-Elysees.
  • I liked the teacher.
  • I was intrigued by the fact that the French found it necessary to have both patisseries and boulangeries.
  • We watched Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources.

I completed my CELTA in November 2001. Before my first Teaching Practice (TP) session, I hadn’t done any teaching.

I had been drifting aimlessly for a couple of years. At uni I studied history, which I found fascinating but had no intention of pursuing any further. After graduating, I did a job I didn’t particularly like while writing crap poetry and dreaming about being the fourth member of the Dirty Three. I then spent a few months backpacking in Europe. Before too long, I ended up back in Brisbane.

A couple of months into another job I didn’t particularly like, I happened to talk to a couple of close family friends about their CELTA experiences. It sounded like something I could try – I’d always had a knack for (the English) language after all – and it could also facilitate future travel so I went for it. I needed some help from one of those friends on my pre-course task – from memory I was struggling with a question about Present Perfect Simple and Continuous.

In my diary, on Wednesday September 12 2001, I described my reactions to the events of the day before and then wrote: “More positively, I have my TESOL interview at UQ tomorrow at 9am & hopefully I’ll know next week whether I’ve got a place in the course.” The next entry was on Thursday October 4, where I mentioned being “completely preoccupied  with my ESL course” and that I was due to start on the following Monday. I was obviously quite excited about it, although I actually had very little idea of what I was getting myself into!

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