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Should I do my CELTA part-time or full-time?

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

Should I do my CELTA part-time or full-time?
Choosing between full-time and part-time study can be a challenge

All CELTA courses share many features in common. Every course has the same basic elements:

  • At least 120 contact hours

  • At least 80 hours of independent coursework/study

  • 4 written assignments of 750-1000 words

  • 6 hours of teaching practice with real students at a minimum of two levels

  • 6 hours of observation of experienced teachers teaching

However, so long as the course follows the Cambridge CELTA syllabus and includes the features listed above, there are many different ways that a course can be timetabled. A typical full-time course will last for four weeks and a part-time course will last anywhere between 10 and 36 weeks.

A full-time CELTA course is often the best choice for someone who would like to get the qualification as soon as possible. However, it is important to make sure that you genuinely have time for this. It's almost impossible to balance a full-time CELTA with other responsibilities like an evening job or doing another course at the same time.

During a full-time course, you are immersed in the world of English teaching for four weeks. It's an intense and enjoyable learning environment where you learn more than you thought possible in such a short space of time. On a full-time course, you can expect to be teaching assessed lessons two or three times a week and that means you'll have two or three lesson plans to write a week. When trainee teachers ask how long it takes to write a lesson plan, I have to give that frustrating answer "it depends" because it really does! Every lesson plan is different, and every trainee teacher is different. There are definitely a few rare trainees who can knock out a good lesson plan quite quickly, but they are the exception rather than the rule, and it's not unusual to spend between 4 and 6 hours writing a lesson plan for a forty-minute lesson on a CELTA course!

You also need to add assignments to the workload when you're planning your time and on a full-time course, you'll have four assignments to complete in four weeks. This means that every week, you'll be going home after an eight-hour day, five days a week, to write up to three lesson plans and an essay. It's doable, and CELTA does have high pass rates, so many hundreds of people do it every year, but it is a challenge, and that's why we advise that you only sign up for a full-time course if you really can commit to clearing your diary for four weeks.

A typical part-time course will last for about 12 weeks. You'll still have the same amount of teaching practice to do, but on a part-time course, you'll only have one lesson plan to write per week and not two or three. Instead of an assignment every week, you'll have one every three weeks or so. When you think about it, a part-time CELTA can be a bigger commitment than a full-time CELTA. You'll have your normal life responsibilities to contend with in terms of work and childcare etc - you can't put that on hold for three months! However, you'll have to find time to attend the course, and to write lesson plans and assignments too. You need to be sure you can commit to solid chunks of study time as well as the course contact hours if you're doing a part-time course. Just like a full-time course, it's a significant commitment, but again, just like the full-time course, hundreds of people do it successfully every year.

In the end of the day, both the full-time and part-time CELTA courses will require you to plan your time carefully and to set aside plenty of time for independent work. Whether you choose full-time or part-time will depend on your preferences, but also on your work life and your other responsibilities. Luckily, whichever course you choose, will lead to the same internationally-recognised qualification, a Cambridge CELTA!

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