Cambridge Train the Trainer FAQ

If you are interested in professional development courses leading to certificates issued by Cambridge Assessment English, you may have come across the following framework of teaching qualifications. This image is a simplified version of a table that can be found in the Delta handbook for tutors and candidates:

Cambridge Train the Trainer FAQ

Even though Train the Trainer is an advanced qualification, there isn’t much information available on the most relevant website, so teachers on social media keep asking for more details. I have just finished this course with IH Lima, and I hope that those interested in obtaining this qualification will find my post helpful. Please note that this article is based on my personal experience and online research, which means that you should always double check everything with an authorised course provider.

Why is Train the Trainer placed slightly higher than Delta on the framework?
Good question. Train the Trainer is definitely not that demanding! I believe the main reason is the fact that Delta is supposed to make you a better teacher, but it doesn’t prepare you for being a trainer. I guess the idea behind this is that you should at first reach a certain level of development as a teacher before getting involved in training.

Do I need to have a Delta to take this course?
No. Having a Delta is an advantage, but the course provider may accept candidates with other qualifications. The course is aimed at experienced teachers interested in teacher training, and each application is evaluated individually. I am sure that having Delta Module One and Three certificates helped me compensate for my relative lack of experience and get accepted onto the course.

Do I need to have training experience?
Again, it’s desirable but not obligatory. I had delivered just a couple of workshops before taking the Train the Trainer course.

I have been training teachers for many years. Should I take the course?
There were some experienced teacher trainers on my course, and their comments were really positive. Many trainers receive very little support and have to figure out a lot of things by themselves, so they will benefit from receiving formal training.

What areas does the course deal with?
The Train the Trainer course comprises these six modules:

The training class focuses on the main differences between teaching students and training teachers.
Analysing and designing training sessions will show you how to plan a variety of input sessions.
Delivering training sessions is the most practical part of the course. You may be asked to plan and run a mock training session.
Observing teachers consists of watching a recorded lesson and analysing it as if you were the observer.
Managing feedback helps you identify various ways of giving oral and written feedback to teachers. You analyse a recorded feedback session as well.
Course planning and trainer development goes beyond standalone sessions and teaches you how to plan longer courses. You also receive advice on further professional development opportunities for trainers.

How long is the course?
Approximately 30 hours. There are even intensive week-long courses for those who can afford to take time off from work. I chose a course that lasted 8 weeks and consisted of 4-hour Zoom sessions every Sunday, so it didn’t interfere with my job.

What do I have to do to pass the course?
When it comes to the course delivered by IH Lima, you just have to attend all the sessions. Other providers might have other criteria, but there is no final exam and you don’t need to produce any written documents to be sent to Cambridge Assessment English.

How can I learn something from a course without formal assessment?
The course is structured in such a way that you can’t just sit back and listen to other people. In addition to your tutor’s input, there are many tasks you have to complete and plenty of interaction with other trainees. I enjoyed talking to experienced teacher trainers and I feel that I have learnt a lot from them.

Is the course standardised?
Other bloggers have taken the course with different providers, and it seems the course content was pretty much the same. I recommend reading Rachel Tsateri’s reflections and James Fuller’s series of eight blog posts with information about each session. My tutors used materials provided by Cambridge Assessment English, so I don’t think there will be huge differences between courses.

Do I have to work for the centre running the Train the Trainer course to be accepted as a trainee?
No. The course is open to external candidates as well. Most of my colleagues on the course were from Peru, but there were also participants accessing the Zoom meetings from Ecuador, Uruguay, Scotland, and Bangladesh. I was the only trainee based in Colombia.

How can I find a course provider?
I think Cambridge Assessment English could do a little bit more to promote the course. Unfortunately, you can’t find course providers using this otherwise helpful Find a teaching qualification centre search tool. Google doesn’t always help because there are other courses of the same name that aren’t related to teaching at all. What you have to do is look for training centres running Delta courses and check if they offer Train the Trainer as well. I have found the following providers:

South America: IH Lima, São Paulo Open Centre, Seven
Europe: ACE TEFL, Applied Language Studies House, CELT Athens
Asia: Apollo English, ATI Ankara, ICD Lahore, ITI Istanbul
Africa: Britishey
Australia: Lexis

This list is by no means complete. If you would like me to add other providers, please get in touch and I’ll update this post.

What can I do with the Train the Trainer certificate?
You become eligible to train teachers on the CELT-P and CELT-S courses.

Will this course help me become a CELTA trainer?
Not directly because you have to go through a separate training process for that. You can read this series of posts written by Anthony Gaughan for more information. That said, the knowledge gained on the Train the Trainer course definitely applies to CELTA trainers too, so I suppose having this qualification on your CV may increase your chances of becoming a CELTA trainer in the future.

Is taking this course online a good idea?
I don’t think that attending the Train the Trainer course through Zoom represents a major issue. Our tutors used this platform in an effective manner, and I really enjoyed the activities we were asked to do in breakout rooms.

However, it was quite disappointing to see that the materials weren’t adapted to the online environment at all. We simply received the handouts that are used on in-class courses as PDF files. Some trainees actually printed them out, which of course meant that they couldn’t share their notes on the screen. The handouts are full of useful information, but working with them wasn’t a user-friendly experience. I believe that the materials should have been shared as Word documents or made editable by using a tool such as PDFescape.

That was my only criticism of the course; I found the content very useful for my professional development, but I think that persisting with the PDF file format wasn’t a step in the right direction. I don’t know how exactly other course providers share the materials, so I recommend that you ask them about that during the application process.

Gary Barkhuizen: Language Teacher Educator Identity

When I wrote my post on social media, I made positive comments about Twitter. Not only can this social network help you connect with like-minded individuals, but you can also find out about some interesting offers. This tweet caught my attention a couple of months ago. Gary Barkhuizen, a professor at the University of Auckland, announced that his brand new book was available for free for a limited period of time. Since I like collecting useful resources, I took advantage of that option and downloaded the book. To my delight, I found out that Language Teacher Educator Identity is based on the author’s interviews with English teacher educators based in Colombia.

Gary Barkhuizen: Language Teacher Educator Identity

At the beginning of the book, Barkhuizen lists fourteen types of language teacher educators, ranging from academic leaders to teachers of English for specific purposes. He also differentiates between continuing professional development, which focuses on developing a knowledge base, and intervention-based teacher training. I am particularly interested in the latter because even though you can learn a lot from reading books and academic articles, I feel that I have made a lot of progress as a teacher thanks to my CELTA and Delta Module Two tutors. A simple comment from an experienced teacher trainer who has observed your lesson can lead to positive changes in your teaching practice. Of course, many teachers eventually figure out a lot of things by themselves, but quality teacher training can considerably speed up the process.

By the way, it was quite amusing to see the usual Colombia vs. Columbia mix-up in the book. This is a touchy subject because Colombians usually aren’t happy to see their country’s name misspelled. The good news is that this is the first time I have seen someone make the mistake the other way round! It seems Barkhuizen (or possibly his editors) decided to join the good fight by referring to the place of his doctoral studies in the US as ‘Teachers College, Colombia University’. Twice. I for one approve of this change in spelling conventions!

The main body of the book refers to a study that was conducted with seven teacher educators enrolled in a doctoral programme at a Colombian university. Barkhuizen interviewed them twice, and the book includes their biographical information and key comments from the interview. This is very valuable data and I really enjoyed reading it. I was particularly intrigued by mentions of decolonial pedagogy and social justice in some of the respondents’ answers.

As its name implies, Language Teacher Educator Identity deals with who teacher educators are, what they do, and how they feel about their role. Barkhuizen points out that the transition from being a language teacher to working as a teacher educator often leads to experiencing identity tensions because teaching students is not the same as training teachers. I hadn’t really thought of this before, but since I would like to become a teacher trainer in the future, this is something I need to be aware of.

The author also makes several recommendations relevant to language teacher education pedagogy. I agree that is important to take the context of teacher education and language teaching into account, and that teacher educators should make their goals explicitly clear. It is also necessary to pay attention to the teachers’ needs. Not doing so may result in delivering ineffective workshops serving only as a box-ticking exercise with no practical use. Another crucial point is keeping in touch with new knowledge and not relying on outdated ideas.

After describing what roles teacher educators usually fulfil, Barkhuizen focuses again on Colombia. He references Viáfara and Largo’s article Colombian English Teachers’ Professional Development: The Case of Master Programs, which is worth reading. Among other things, the authors mention ineffective policies, lack of support, unfavourable job conditions and other issues that MA candidates and graduates have to face, which won’t surprise anybody working in education. Barkhuizen then refers to his interviews with the group of Colombian teacher educators again, this time presenting their reasons for pursuing their PhD degree. It was nice to read their honest answers, and many teachers who are in the same situation will undoubtedly sympathise with them.

The final section includes forty questions encouraging research into teacher educator identities. I appreciate the fact that the author doesn’t shy away from topics such as opposing or resisting the existing system and its practices, which is something that deserves to be researched. There are quite a few thought-provoking topics that I would like to find out more about. I would definitely be interested in reading experienced teacher trainers’ answers to some of the questions.

Language Teacher Educator Identity is a book that focuses on an area that doesn’t usually receive much attention. Barkhuizen refers to relevant research and his own study conducted with Colombian teacher educators. What I really like is that the book is interspersed with the author’s personal stories relevant to each area, which is perfectly appropriate for a text dealing with identity. I am glad that the Twitter post promoting Language Teacher Educator Identity appeared in my feed because this book provided me with plenty of food for thought, and I will definitely read it again if I become a teacher trainer at some point in the future.