(There is) life after CELTA

“My blog is dead. My social life has disappeared. I’m living with my aunt, taking cold showers and eating one square meal a day.

No, I haven’t gotten divorced – I’m doing CELTA.

CELTA, for those who don’t know, means Certificate for English Language Teaching to Adults. And it’s a lot of work.

Let me rephrase that. I’d been told it was a lot of work by friends who’d done it. I was told the same thing during my screening for the course. Work, shmork was my response. I’m not some bedwetter just out of college who wants to pay for a trip to Thailand with sporadic teaching jobs. I’m an adult; I know from work.

I must concede, however, that they were right. It is a lot of work. It’s so much work that I almost decided to skip this month’s column. Work’s been coming out of my ears for two weeks now. And I’m loving every minute of it.”

The above paragraphs were written nearly halfway through the CELTA course. I’ve now “graduated.” I hit a point during the third week when I thought I was going to jump out of a top-floor window (in Rome that’s about the fifth floor). Nothing seemed to be going right. I wasn’t sleeping, and no matter how much studying I did it just wasn’t enough. Now that moment seems a thousand years ago.

Reading over what I’d written – the only thing I’d managed to write besides lesson plans and assignments all month – it almost seems I was exaggerating. I wasn’t. CELTA really is a kind of black hole. You can’t do anything else while you’re doing it: no work, no love-life, no entertainment. I’d compare it to the first month with a newborn: it sucks you in totally.

Thankfully, I have a daughter. On weekends, the only time I was able to think of anything but Monday’s lesson plan or some knotty grammar problem was when I was with her. She, alas, was more demanding than the Cambridge curriculum. Thank evolution!

Now my last lesson is behind me and I’m back home in Umbria with my family. Our daughter has begun walking and I’ve turned a year older. Summer is over and we’re putting blankets on our bed at night. The same wars that were going on in August continue into October. The world hasn’t stopped turning, not even for a second.

As the spumante goes flat in the fridge, though, a friend’s balmy sagacity zips by like an advertisement on a fast-moving bus: “That wasn’t your last lesson, dear; it was your first.”

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