So you have been thinking of following a CELTA course.

This is a great decision. The CELTA course will give you not only the accreditation you need in order to find a job as an English teacher, but it will also provide you with the kind of practical knowledge and understanding of what it is to be a good TEFL teacher.

But you are feeling a little apprehensive.

You have been asked to do do a pre-interview task and you are not sure what to study in order to prepare for it.

Have no fear. A "pre-interview task", which is the name used by Cambridge ESOL, is really a test of your knowledge of the English Language.

Most centres will want to know if you have....

  • a knowlegde of the Grammar of English
  • ability to analyse language
  • ability to identify errors made by students
  • ability to explain simply and clearly
  • ability to express yourself in writing accurately without errors or grammar, vocabulary, punctuation
  • ability to express yourself in writing in an organised, logical and economical way
  • a high enough level of English which would allow you to teach upper level classes

Whether you are a native speaker of English or a non-native speaker, these are abilities and knowledge which will help you to complete the course successfully!

So how can you prepare for this test?

Some Suggested Grammars & links to help you prepare


Grammar for English Language Learners
If you have not studied grammar before, and many native speakers find themselves in this position, you may start with a good grammar reference book for learners of English. This will help introduce you to some of the terminology that you need to learn and which will be used by your tutors during your CELTA course.

Leech, Cruickshank & Ivanič – An A-Z of English Grammar & Usage (Longman)
Murphy, R – English Grammar in Use (CUP) Swan, M – Practical English Usage (OUP)
Swan, M & Walter, C – How English Works (OUP)

Grammar Resource books for teachers of English
These are grammars that are recommended if you have a good working knowledge of the grammar of English and are used to studying grammar reference books. If you are planning to buy any grammar books or resource books for teaching grammar, here are some titles recommended highly - which you will also find very useful later in your own teaching.

Aitken, R - Teaching Tenses - Ideas for Presenting and Practising Tenses in English (Nelson)
Cown, R - The Teacher's Grammar of English (CUP) Parrott, M – Grammar for English Teachers (CUP)
Preston, T - A Concise Grammar for English Language Teachers (ELT)
Thornbury, S. - How to Teach Grammar (Longman)

Some online resources for grammar and related terminology


Terminology for the Course

A Glossary of terms can be downloaded from the Cambridge ESOL website. Click here to download the TKT Glossary

Important Note


Each CELTA centre will usually have their own pre-interview task although they all try to assess very similar things.

Our own pre-interview task format at CELT Athens includes the following:


  1. Correction and explanation of errors to an intermediate adult learner
  2. Analysis of a number of utterances re their form and their function
  3. Explanation of pairs of easily confusable words to a learner
  4. Identifying the stressed syllables in words and stressed words in a conversation
  5. Writing two short essays (one 150 words and one longer piece)