how to become an ELT teacher traininerI became a CELTA tutor in August 2014 and have found ETpedia a very useful source of materials for my input sessions, so it’s with great pleasure that I follow John’s lead in offering you 10 tips to help you become a teacher trainer.

While the focus is on CELTA tutoring (which is where my experience lies) a lot of the tips are relevant to training in general.

1.Invest in your own development.

Showing that you are interested in professional development is a vital first step. After all, if you can’t build on your own training, why should others trust you to train them? The investment doesn’t have to be financial: reading methodology books and blogs, attending webinars, and reflecting on your own teaching are all good ways to develop. You should also consider doing higher-level qualifications such as the Cambridge Delta or Trinity DipTESOL. Having one of these certificates is a pre-requisite of becoming a CELTA tutor.

2.Find out what training opportunities are available at your school or in your local area.

Can you mentor less experienced teachers? Lead one-off seminars? Do a conference presentation? Observe and give feedback on colleagues’ teaching? You may be required to show evidence of previous training experience to become a trainer on a course like the CELTA.

3.Be flexible.

Becoming a CELTA tutor is often a case of being in the right place at the right time. There are already a lot of tutors out there, and while you might feel it’s the right time in your career to be trained, there won’t necessarily be a place available. Instead, build a portfolio of training experience, and look around for other opportunities. Put yourself forward to help other teachers in your local area, and if and when the opportunity arises, your name should be in the forefront of the minds of those selecting who will be trained up next. You could also look around for opportunities to be trained in other places, bearing in mind that you need to stay where you’ve trained for at least three courses according to Cambridge regulations.

4.Question your beliefs.

Training other teachers is a prime opportunity for you to question the beliefs you are passing on. Remember that you are the ‘expert other’ in most cases, and that for some of the people you’re training what you say may be considered the ‘right answer’. That means you need to be very sure that you’re comfortable with the messages you’re spreading!

5.Decide what makes you different.

As a trainer, the changes are quite high that you’ll be competing with other trainers for the same work, or trying to sell your skills to an organization with a tight training budget. What is your Unique Selling Point? For me, I think it’s my access to a global network of amazing teachers, and my awareness of online resources. What’s yours?

6.Brush up on your ELT terminology, then simplify.

While jargon is occasionally useful shorthand (Do you ‘chest’ handouts?), it can be overwhelming to trainees. You need to know the main terms used in the area you’ll be training in, and any variations there are which trainees will need to be familiar with, for example that the ‘present continuous’ and ‘present progressive’ are actually the same thing. Then consider how to make it as easy as possible for your trainees to navigate, for instance, using PAIRS as notation on a lesson plan, rather than SS-SS.

7.Learn about a range of approaches to training.

For me, this has been through methodology books like ‘The Developing Teacher’ by Duncan Foord and ‘Professional Development for Language Teachers’ by Jack C. Richards and Thomas S. C. Farrell, as well as blogs like Diary of a Newbie CELTA Trainer.

8.Work on your computer skills.

This is a general tip for all teachers, but is particularly important for trainers who may be required to use a range of tools as part of their job. For example, I use Word for observation feedback, PowerPoint for some input sessions (when we teach how to teach), and each of the places I train in seems to have a different set-up of technology in the classrooms. Touch-typing is also an extremely useful skill to work on as it can save you a lot of time. There are lots of resources available on the web to help you in these areas. You could ask your colleagues to give you some tips too.

9.Practise what you preach.

If your trainees have to finish their lesson on time, you need to finish on time too. Want them to give short, clear instructions? Demonstrate this in your training sessions. Leading by example is a great way to inspire trainees’ confidence in you and prove you know what you’re doing, even if you’re faking it really!

10.Keep reflecting.

Once you’ve become a trainer, it can be easy to slip into routines. Keep questioning what you’re doing and reflecting on the training you’re giving to ensure that you stay up-to-date with developments in the field.

Sandy Millin has been working as a CELTA tutor since August 2014 and has worked on courses all over the world. From August 2015, she will be the Director of Studies at IH Bydgoszcz in Poland.

She blogs about teaching and training at and tweets @sandymillin.