After reading Rodrigo Sigoli’s article about the Cambridge Train the Trainer, I decided it would be suitable to have my first post of the year about my experience taking the course. I haven’t written here in ages and hopefully this will be a reminder to use this blog more often. If you are expecting this to be a more technical evaluation, this won’t be it. This will be purely based on my experiences with a quick back story.
The first time I got involved with teacher training was somewhere back in 2006. It was at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, more specifically at CLAC, a project in which undergrads received scholarships to teach primarily other undergrads and people from the local community. We always had new trainee teachers and I was invited to give some training sessions.
Like many other trainers, I started because I was a good teacher, and training people to do things the way I did seemed logical. However, there is nothing logical about that. Just like speaking a language does not qualify you to be a teacher, being a good teacher does not make you a trainer.
Since I understood that I could not just say I was a trainer, I have looked for credentials that would allow me to work with training without feeling I was being unethical. If you ask me what to do in order to responsibly work as a teacher trainer, my answer will be vague: it depends.
ELT is a rather informal industry and there are teachers, very good ones, who come from different professions. While I do believe that ideally one should start with a BA in languages, or whatever degree that would teach you about language, we know the world is far from ideal and that’s okay. Knowledge does not have to come exclusively from one single source, and not pursuing a more traditional path does not make one less of a teacher. Having said that, when our professional has such loose requirements, the same goes for every other ELT context, training included.
After a BA in Languages, a postgraduate degree in Education, language and teaching certificates and diplomas, I got to a place in my life that I rationally did not feel like a fraud whenever the words ‘teacher trainer’ were associated with me in my teaching context. Then last year I heard about the possibility of a Cambridge teaching qualification that was new in Brazil: Train the Trainer.
On the Cambridge sitethere isn’t much information about it. It is a course for experienced teachers and it is at the Proficient to Expert Stages on the Cambridge English Teaching Framework. According to the info provided by Cambridge, the course will help you to design and deliver training sessions and courses; observe teachers and give feedback, and understand how to further develop as a trainer. It sounds really exciting and, let’s be honest, being able to say that you are a Cambridge certified trainer is pretty cool. Another thing that called my attention was the fact that the course enables you to be a CELT-S and CELT-P trainer. In my case, I would not need the Train the Trainer to be able to deliver those courses, but this called my attention anyway.
There aren’t so many opportunities to take training courses that are for trainers. Overall, my experience was very positive. I learned a lot about delivering training sessions and I believe this has had a very positive impact on the sessions that I have delivered since then. We also learned about feedback, even though there wasn’t anything really new to me there. I had a wonderful group of trainers taking the course with me and I think that made all the difference, alongside with Henrique Moura, who is, in my opinion, one of the best trainers in Brazil. My classmates were either DELTA qualified or experienced people who already work with teacher training. The discussions were very rich and with remarkable insights.
Would I recommend the Train the Trainer course then? Yes, but we need to talk about the classmates again. According to the overview of Train the Trainer, the minimum entry requirement is to be a CEFR B2 language user or above. The course does not even require an initial teaching certificate, such as the CELTA. Depending on the center, they may screen candidates more or less carefully, but this doesn’t seem to be encouraged, at least not based on the information on Cambridge website. Basically, anyone can take this course and they will be Cambridge certified trainers.
I am not going to digress into the reasons why Cambridge has decided being a B2 speaker is enough for this course, but the implications seem quite obvious. This certificate will not make much difference in your cv if your employer knows what the course is like. On the other hand, what you learn in this course may help you tremendously if you are a trainer or would like to become one.
Have you ever taken this course? I’d love to know more about your experience.