CELTA pre-course FAQs (1)

Before you even apply for the course

Do you need to have teaching experience to enrol?

How much teaching experience do trainees have?

No, As you can see in the chart, above, nearly 40% of trainees on our CELTA courses (data from 2013-2015) had no previous teaching experience.

If you do have some, it will help you to cope with being in the classroom. However, it's interesting to note that some past trainees who did have previous classroom experience (usually in other fields) have said that they sometimes felt it was more difficult for them because they had to "de-program" and "re-learn" quite a lot. The course assumes that the majority of trainees have no experience, so nothing to worry about!

Do you really need to do a TEFL course in order to gain employment?

Most reputable schools, not only in Spain, but also in the rest of Europe and in most other parts of the world, will expect their new teachers to be trained to teach English. The Cambridge CELTA is probably the most respected and well-known training course in the world, and the one which the majority of people refer to when they ask "Have you got the TEFL?" or "Are you trained to teach English?"

The second consideration here is your own confidence. Starting to teach English is made a great deal easier if you have some idea of what you are doing, why you are doing it and how to go about teaching. The course gives you this confidence and means you can walk into a classroom feeling prepared and ready to teach.

Should I get a TEFL/TESL certificate, or go for a masters degree?

It depends a bit on where you want to teach. It is a pretty standard requirement in the USA but other countries, particularly European, look for a course which has a strong practical element with at least 6 hours observed and assessed teaching practice.

There are other countries of course which will employ you simply by virtue of you being a native-speaker graduate. However, the latter is not a serious option if you want to do justice to your learners and yourself.

Further information on different sorts of TEFL/TESOL courses.

What level of knowledge of English grammar is expected prior to enrolment?

Rather than "level", we prefer to look at it as "instinct". Our pre-interview task helps us to see whether you can instinctively analyse grammar, ie. whether you have a "feeling" for language so you can help students with their problems.

Your learning of the grammar really takes place when you teach it, because you have to research it when planning a language lesson. But we also include some input sessions on the course to help you develop this area.

Should I do CELTA at home or should I come to Barcelona?

Well, Barcelona is a great choice for your CELTA course and a month in Barcelona is probably a more exciting experience than being at home. Another big plus is actually being on the ground ready to look for jobs. If you think you'd like to live and work in Barcelona, then you definitely want to come and do the course here.

A more in-depth look at whether you do your TEFL course at home or abroad.

Applying for the course

What is the application / interview procedure?

In outline, the application procedure is as follows:

  1. Complete the application forms and pre-interview task (see next question) and email them back.
  2. You'll receive a message setting up a time for you to call us for an interview. We usually reply to you within 24 hours of receiving your application form, if you DON’T hear from us, please email us again or call us on +34 93 268 33 04. Interviews are held between 9am and 6pm Barcelona time (GMT+1), Monday – Friday. You are told during the interview if you have been accepted.
  3. Wait for an acceptance letter with details for payment. Gloria will send you this electronically within 24 hours.
  4. Payment: 8 weeks before the course begins, or immediately if the interview is less than 8 weeks before the course. See full payment details
  5. You will then receive the pre-course task (see below) to do before your course starts.

What does the interview consist of?

This usually lasts up to 30 minutes and we ask you some questions about you and the pre-interview task you have done. We also tell you about what you are letting yourself in for, ie. the course, and you can ask any questions you may have too.

The pre-interview task is not a test - obviously you don't know all the answers without having to think hard about them and even having to look them up in reference books (which is what teachers do all the time).

It's more a test of your attitude and instinctive approach to teaching, your inner resources and, where language is concerned, how you would react if a student asked you this type of question. This gives us a good idea of your skills and qualities and, therefore, of how you will respond to only four weeks of training - whether it will be enough to bring you up to pass standard and allow us to award you the Certificate.

Note that feedback from trainees shows that doing the pre-course task and the reading is very useful in preparing for the course.

What are the deadlines for registration for the course?

The real deadline is when the course is full. There is a maximum of 18 places on any one course. However, we often run concurrent courses so 18 is not necessarily our maximum in any one course period, nor are there necessarily always 18 participants on any one course.

To be sure of a place, we recommend fees are paid 8 weeks before the start date or as soon as you have been interviewed.


Help! I need somewhere to stay

Once we've accepted you for the course, we'll send you an accommodation request form if you want to use our accommodation service.

A good alternative is to look for somewhere to stay on CeltaStars, our support forum. We'll send you details of how to join that along with acceptance.

Once you've been accepted...

What is the pre-course task? How much time and preparation is involved?

The pre-course task involves about 12-15 hours of work. Although it isn't assessed or marked, it's very useful as initial preparation for the course, especially the sections on Language Awareness and Phonology.

We'll send it to you as soon as you've confirmed your place with payment.

Do you recommend some pre-course reading?

We most definitely do -- and so does virtually everyone answering our post-course feedback questionaire!

The reading list we provide:


Access to a methodology book is very useful - either of the following:

  • How to Teach English, by Jeremy Harmer (Longman)
  • Learning Teaching, by Jim Scrivener (Heinemann)


A good teacher's grammar book, such as one of the following, is also recommended:

  • Grammar for English Language Teachers, by Martin Parrott (CUP)
  • Practical English Usage, by Michael Swan (OUP)

Here in Barcelona, these are available to you in the school library but do read one of the methodology books before you come. You'll be glad you did!

If you want your own copy, we can offer you a 20% discount on books from the Bournemouth English Book Centre.

What should I bring with me?

Should I bring my laptop/tablet with me?

It's not essential to have your own but most trainees seem to find it useful to have theirs, especially if they want to be able to work in the evening or at weekends.

If you do bring it with you, do make sure you keep it safe at all times: both in the building and outside, don't leave it lying around.

See also information on the computer facilities available to you at IH Barcelona.

What is the dress code at IH Barcelona?

Smart, casual and clean is what is expected: no suits or ties are necessary (though see also the comments on dress code in our post-course FAQs section).

The most important consideration in any context is the students - and the fact that you will be in front of them. Will what you are wearing look clean, comfortable, neat and professional, or will students be looking at your suntan, tattoos and underwear (?!).

Please note that during the course, flip-flops, mini-skirts, revealing T-shirts and any clothes that are torn and/or dirty are not acceptable. We don't wish to seem sexist, but shorts for men are not acceptable either. Clean, tidy jeans on the other hand are fine.

We will let you know if we do not think you are dressed appropriately.

Living in Spain

How much money I should have with me for my first month in Spain?

You'll need to bring money with you to pay for accommodation, around €400 plus €75 Accommodation Bureau charge if you decide to use our accommodation service.

If not, more, as a rented room is at least €350 a month these days (and you have to find your accommodation yourself!).

Some other indications of the cost of living:

  • Food: A meal in the IH bar is around €6-8; in a bar outside, around €12 plus. Evening eating out can be "tapas" (small portions), around €12 or possibly less, or a meal, from say €12-20 or more. Cooking in your accommodation is obviously much, much cheaper and fruit and vegetables especially are very reasonable.
  • Drinks: A beer or Coke etc is around €2 or more, depending where you drink it. Spirits are more expensive - drinks in a club can be over €10-15 each if you're not careful!
  • Transport: The metro and bus system (if you need to use it) is cheap - €9.80 for a ten-trip pass.
  • Other expenses: Allow around €20 a day average, or around €400-500 for the month doing the course, which is what past trainees say they spend during the course.

Further information on the cost of living in Barcelona.

In our FAQS section

In our FAQs section you will find some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about doing the CELTA course, which you will find divided into the following three pages:

Before the course

During the course

After the course

See also

FAQs for non-EU residents

TEFL, CELTA, TESOL... What's the difference?

Why Spain and not the UK to take a TEFL course?

Report on survey of former CELTA course trainees

All about Barcelona

Barcelona Online

Our Barcelona directory is a great place to find out further information about the city.

Further questions...

Still got questions about the CELTA course? Contact us and we'll be happy to answer them.

Alternatively, if you're already a member of our trainee support group, ask the question there.



IELTS Tests Eaquals

Help us help the planet

Environmental policy