While some CELTA trainers might recommend that you come onto the CELTA course without any preparation, others believe that having certain books handy can help insecure trainees brush up on their knowledge of the English language systems (grammar, lexis, pronunciation and discourse) and have a better grasp on teaching pedagogy.
In Jason Anderson’s recent blogpost on the changing demographics of CELTA participants, he wrote about how the future of training might continue to see more experienced teachers (many of them non-native and therefore with a better understanding of English grammar) sign up for the CELTA so as to have the added teaching qualification. While many trainers still deliver this course with the assumption that their participants would be inexperienced and unfamiliar with the English language systems, if this trend of experienced NNESTs (Non-Native English Speaking Teachers) on CELTA course were to persist and grow, it would be ineffective and even short-sighted for teachers to continue ignoring the knowledge that the majority of their course participants might already know the language teaching basics that they are investing precious training time into.
One solution could be to ensure that less confident and less knowledgeable trainees are given the chance to prepare for the course via an accessible booklist that contains a selection of books that can help the CELTA participant before and during the course should they need any support with the concepts covered. In this way, stronger and more experienced CELTA participants (who might make up the majority of the course) would then get some time on the course for input that is more suited to their teaching contexts and stages of development.
A few months ago, I crowdsourced a group of CELTA and DELTA trainers on the CELTA & DELTA Trainers Facebook group, and asked what books they might recommend to people embarking on a CELTA course.
Here are their ten recommendations:
- The CELTA Teaching Compendium by Rachael Roberts
Garnering the most number of recommendations, this eBook by Rachael Roberts provides practical tips on different areas of the CELTA, from error correction to lesson planning to teaching techniques. Filled with examples of what to do and what not to do, this handy eBook does not need to be read from cover to cover so can be used to dip in and out of whenever the need arises.
For more information about this book, read my review here.
- Concept questions and timelines by Graham Workman
A handy book containing photocopiable timelines, ready-made concept questions, and materials covering 53 areas of grammar, this book is especially useful for those less confident about their knowledge of English grammar and their ability to explain it to students. Described by many as a lifesaver, this book bypasses the convoluted grammar explanations and focuses on the simple timelines and concept questions to help both the teacher and their students understand how English is organised.
- Teaching Tenses by Rosemary Aitkin
Not unlike the previous book, Teaching Tenses aims to help new teachers build their language awareness through a look at the tense system in English. Exploring both meaning and form of the verb patterns, this book also provides suggested contexts to present the tenses in as well as raising awareness of common student errors. Another useful book for CELTA participants who might need a hand in getting to grips with teaching English grammar.
- Teaching Grammar by Jim Scrivener
Going beyond simply understanding tenses and timelines, this book is a comprehensive look at the different areas of English grammar in a practical way. Readers are taught not just how to explain the grammar structures, but how to present them and how to get students practising them in different teaching contexts. Whilst no. 2 & 3 are aimed at new teachers lacking in some English grammar knowledge, Scrivener’s Teaching Grammar can be beneficial to both the experienced and non-experienced teacher.
- Teach Yourself Teaching English as a Foreign Language by David Riddell
David Riddell was my CELTA tutor way back when I did my CELTA at International House London over 15 years ago, and I remember feeling delighted when he autographed this book for me. So, I was particularly pleased when David’s book was mentioned by one of my respondents.
This is a practical book that provides the new teacher with teaching skills and techniques, different approaches to different teaching contexts, tips on lesson planning and using coursebooks, and even information on career development. A quick browse through this book can help prospective CELTA participants get a feel of what the course would entail while those with some teaching experience might find that this provides a useful refresher on the basics of teaching English.
- Classroom Management Techniques by Jim Scrivener
How can I get students to listen to me? What do I do when there’s a disruption? How can I get students to work in groups? How can I arrange the classroom in such a way that works for my lesson? This book deals with all these questions and more, offering a step-by-step guide to both new teachers and experienced ones.
- ELT Playbook by Sandy Millin
CELTA tutor and prolific blogger, Sandy Millin, has self-published this book as a guide to newly-qualified teachers to help them think about their own teaching practices and explore their attitudes and beliefs towards what they do in the classroom. The book is divided into six sections, each containing five tasks to encourage teachers to reflect and develop in areas ranging from boardwork, how class activities are set up, how language is examined, teaching language skills, and the different uses of English around the world. There is even a section on teacher health and wellbeing, a rarely-dealt-with topic that could do with more coverage in teacher training books.
- CELTA Train
no.8 and No.9 of this list aren’t books as such but websites for new teachers and CELTA trainees. While CELTA Train also covers basic areas like grammar, language presentation, lesson planning, teaching language skills, and so on, the expansive nature of blogging means that there is space to cover other useful subjects like the use of dictations, time management, and how we can help students record vocabulary – topics that don’t normally get coverage in a book of limited space.
- What is ELT?
What is ELT? is a website created by CELTA tutors, Rubens Heredia and Andreia Zakime, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, that deals with a wide range of topics related to English language teaching. An attractive and easy-to-navigate site, posts can be found categorised under teaching (methodologies, techniques, etc.), language (the four systems: grammar, lexis, pronunciation and discourse), resources and materials and professional development. Recent posts related to Dogme, ice-breakers, pairwork and teaching word stress all go towards helping both new and slightly-experienced teachers come to grips with everything to do with teaching and learning English.
- Trinity CERT TESOL Companion by Jason Anderson
There are other entry-level teaching qualifications that serve as good alternatives to the CELTA, and the Trinity Cert TESOL ranks highly amongst them. As both qualifications cover similar ground (to some extent), participants of the Trinity Cert TESOL could also possibly benefit from this list of books, and similarly, CELTA trainees could also learn a lot from the Trinity CERT TESOL Companion.
Jason Anderson’s book is an extensive reference for both pre-course preparation and in-course support, and in addition to the usual units on teaching practice and teaching language and skills, this book pays attention also to understanding learners, using materials, and the importance for teachers to experience learning themselves. Not unlike Sandy’s book (see no. 7), quite a lot of emphasis is placed on reflection and readers are encouraged to ‘pause for thought’ throughout the book and learn to evaluate their own teaching practice.
And while not strictly an English language teaching book, Edward de Bono’s How to Have a Beautiful Mind came highly recommended by one user who described it as a book about thinking and creativity and talked about how the tasks and activities in it really helped her in her teaching and learning.
Many course providers and language schools might already have some of the above books in their library, so if you are about to start on a CELTA course, or are already on a course, you could look into the possibility of borrowing these books. This way, you might be able to build a better picture of the books you would need for your own personal library by the time you finish your course and embark on continuing your professional development.
And of course, your post-CELTA professional development would not be complete without an annual subscription of English Teaching Professional! *wink*