How much grammar do you need to know for CELTA?

by celtaconfessions

I’ve just been reviewing Week 2 Day 3, our first 60-min TPs, and I felt compelled to write a post to answer the question “How much grammar do you need to know for CELTA?”. It seems especially apt after the previous review of the input session Grammar (Introduction to Language Awareness).

You see, there was this trainee who’s a wonderful teacher – I’d recommend her without reservation – but grammar wasn’t her strong point. Her pride was such that she refused my offers of help, and consequently, I had to watch her suffer on at least two occasions, one worse than the other, or perhaps it was me who suffered more because I could feel her insecurity and noticed the errors she kept making.

Presenting tenses graphically by Chiew Pang

Do you know your tenses? Copyright 2013 Chiew Pang

If you’re a native speaker, unless you’ve done courses, you may not be very familiar with grammar. For your Celta course, you will probably have to do at least two DI lessons plus the fact that your students are adults means that they will at some point or other ask you grammatical questions.

CELTA courses DO NOT teach you grammar; in fact, they assume you have more-than-basic knowledge of it. So, if you ask, “Do I need to know grammar?” the answer from me will be a definite “yes”.

“How much grammar do I need to know?” A rudimentary knowledge is essential. You must at least know the name of the tenses! You can’t afford to confuse the past perfect with the present perfect, for example. You can’t have the students know more than you in this aspect because they will know the names and form of the tenses even if they don’t use them properly.

In this lesson I was reviewing, her main aim was “for, since and ago”, but she had spent the whole night preparing an analysis on the past simple, the present perfect and the present perfect continuous, probably more for herself than for the students. Subsequently, she spent too much time on this part, which ought to have been a cursory revision, and not enough time on her main aim. It could be that she was following the coursebook, which would be yet another lesson for future Celta trainees – use only what’s necessary! Know what your main aims are – don’t try to do too much because you won’t have the time to cover all of them.

You won’t have enough time in the course to devote to learning grammar points from scratch; it’s all right to have to study them in greater detail in preparation for your lesson, but you can’t be burning the candle at both ends because you’ll be messed up in the morning, and end up with an under-par lesson.

So, if your grammar knowledge is lacking, or even rusty, I’d suggest doing a course before Celta. I don’t get paid for saying this, but I can recommend Cambridge English Teacher; they offer a 5-hour grammar for teacher language awareness course for free – you’d only need to register.

Recommended books

[Learning Teaching: 3rd Edition Student’s Book Pack] [by: Jim Scrivener]

Teaching English Grammar: What to Teach and How to Teach it by Jim Scrivener ( 2010 ) Paperback

The Practice of English Language Teaching (4th Edition) (With DVD) (Longman Handbooks for Language Teachers) by Jeremy Harmer ( 2007 ) Paperback

Grammar for English Language Teachers by Martin Parrott

Practical English Usage by Swan and Walter, also here.