Getting Accepted onto a Cambridge CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL Course
Courses which are validated by external Teaching Awards bodies are standardised regularly, while each course that takes place is moderated. This provides the best possible guarantee of the quality of a course.
These courses, along with many of the 4-week courses on the Cactus TEFL site, require you to successfully complete a 2-stage application process, involving a written application form and an interview. Only when you have been 'accepted' will you be able to make your payment and book your place.
The Application Form
The first stage of the application process generally consists of a written application form, which, beyond collecting your personal and biographical data, will also have a 'Pre-Interview Task'. This comprises questions to test your language awareness, i.e. your general grasp of the English language and how it works, and others which give the course provider an idea of how you would approach the job of teaching.
Why test language/grammar awareness before the course start?
Applicants are sometimes surprised at being asked to prove grammar knowledge before the course even starts, as they feel this is part of the reason for attending the course in the first place. In truth though, these courses can be so intensive that some time spent prior to the course researching some of the basics can familiarise you usefully with language awareness, so that once on the course, you are not seeing it for the first time. The grammar exercises don't so much aim to test your inherent ability, as your willingness to go away and find out more, and your potential to teach language.
Also, working your way through grammar exercises will give you a taste of what is to come, and for some, might be sufficient to convince them that teaching English is just not for them after all. Better to find out before you have paid your thousand pounds.
Are all application forms the same?
In a word, no. The Teaching Awards bodies provide guidelines but do not prescribe the entry documentation, which is at the discretion of the centre providing the course. This means there can be quite a lot of variance from school to school. In turn this means, unfortunately, that if you wish to apply to more than one school, you are going to have to complete more than one form.
Once you have submitted your completed application and pre-interview task, the school will look through this form, and will decide whether to move on to the interview stage on the basis of your application. Whilst there is no requirement for them to justify their decision to accept or decline your application, in the case of a rejection on the grounds of poor language awareness, they may wish to suggest you go away and improve your skills before reapplying. At this point you may want to sign up to ELA, the Cactus online language awareness course for teachers , if you didn't do so before!
The interview will either be face-to-face (the preferred format if you live locally), or over the phone, if you are applying from some distance away from the centre.
The interview is not dissimilar to a job interview, and will probably involve discussion of your background and reasons for wanting to do the course, question some of your responses to the application form, and most likely ask you to expand on your answers. The interviewer will also be looking out for indications of your character, your attitudes to learning and your ability to absorb new information. The interviewer will also give you, the candidate, as much information as possible to help you decide whether the course is right for you.
This all serves the purpose of trying to ensure you have what it takes so that if you work hard on the course you stand a very good chance of passing it. Whilst the school will generally aim to fill up places on their course, they do have to guard against accepting anyone whom they predict may have any sort of problems on the course. No one wants someone to spend all that money only to fail the programme.
What happens next?
All being well then, you will be accepted at interview, and then you will either pay the school directly to book your place, or you will be asked to contact Cactus to pay your fees, in which case, Cactus TEFL confirms your place on behalf of the school.
Why apply through Cactus?
Please take note: though Cactus TEFL functions as an admissions agency, we do not charge you a penny extra for our service! You pay exactly what the centre would have charged you direct, but you benefit from all our expert TEFL knowledge and the unbiased advice we can give you.