I had my first CELTA interview the other day. It went terribly and I received an email rejection. I would like some feedback before I try to apply to another training center. I have been teaching English in southeast Asia for about a year and a half. I must get a CELTA certification if I am to find work in a legitimate school, as opposed to the typical language factories.
I have a humanities MA.
ESL experience 1.5 years
Tutor experience 10 years (academic writing, LSAT prep, GRE prep, etc..)
The pre-interview task
I blew five grammar questions (I have not taught much grammar mostly IELTS prep, business English and literature, so my grammar has gotten rusty). I was asked to fix those errors. Everything else seemed fine.
The interview: the horror begins
The interview was to be via Skype at 10 am. I logged onto Skype 15 minutes early. At 10 I tried to contact my interviewer (skype showed him as available). No reply, so I waited. At 10:15 I sent a message. "I will be online for the next several hours." Just as I sent the message, my neighborhood lost power. I tried to call the school but I could not get through. My cell phone network is notoriously bad at making international calls.
I got my laptop and materials and headed to a KFC, they always have reliable wifi. Sure enough, their network was down. I headed to an internet cafe that I have used before: they were closed! I travelled to a second internet cafe, which I had never used before. I logged on the computer to find the interviewer was still there. It was now 11:04 as we began the interview.
We began with an overview of the course. This went well. Next we discussed two of the grammar questions that I had gotten wrong. He asked me if I knew why they were wrong. The first one I knew. The second one I only had a partial explanation. He explained it to me fully. I said something like "wow that is really interesting." (Note: I positively responded to his feedback.)
He then asked me to talk about a time I was given feedback that I disagreed with. I told him that I had worked for an international school with appalling standards. My director told me to fabricate test results and to not follow the syllabus. He said the students were too stupid and lazy to learn. I told the director that I would not cheat my students and he could fire me if he liked. Of course, he fired me.
The interviewer said that was not what he had in mind. He asked me what I would do if I received feedback in the CELTA course that I did not understand or agree with. I said that if I didn't understand the feedback that I would try hard to understand and ask questions. He then asked, "but what if you understand it and don't agree with it?" I said that if I didn't agrree there would be no point in arguing, reasonable people can disagree. What is more, I want to take the course to learn the CELTA method, so I would just carry on. He then said that there is no CELTA method and that the CELTA course is based on sound research. Basically, that what they teach just is the way to teach English. I kept my mouth shut and let him continue.
He then moved on and asked me to explain how I would teach two similar sentences. Just as I was about to give an answer my internet connection died!!! Why? The employee at the cafe told me that they cut off the internet every 40 minutes, at which time you have to pay your bill and log on again.
Why would they have such a bizarre policy? Why would they not ttell me that before hand? Why would they use such an odd time increment?
This is Asia!
By the time I paid the bill and logged back on the interviewer was gone. He sent me an e-mail and told me to answer the question via e-mail. I answered the question and sent it to him.
The next day I received an e-mail from him telling me that I was rejected. An excerpt from his e-mail:
Wow! I take from this several things. I understand I need to bone up on my grammar. That, I understand. But two things trouble me. First, he does not think that I would be able to handle/use feedback. Second, he does not feel there is anything that I could due to remedy this and thus did not suggest that I reapply. Does that sound like a correct interpretation of what he wrote?Cambridge ESOL regulations prohibit us from accepting candidates onto the course who we do not feel will be able to respond to the intensity of the course; in your case, with evidence from your application, we are not confident that you can analyse language appropriately in various teaching contexts, interact appropriately with trainers and respond appropriately to instruction and feedback. (my bold)
Once again I would like to thank you for the effort that you have put into this application and wish you the best of luck in your future teaching career.
I have no idea what I could have said or done to make him lose confidence in my ability to "interact appropriately with trainers and respond appropriately to instruction and feedback." I was polite and enthusiastic.
Everyone who has made it this far into my post, thanks. I appreciate any feedback. As I said earlier, I need to get a CELTA. There just is no other option, other than changing careers.