The Socially Distanced Classroom

Here in our CELTA Centre in Munich we are about to start our first fully face-to-face CELTA course since Covid-19 put us all into lockdown. Amanda and I have had to think carefully about how to do this safely for all involved.

Photo by cottonbro on

Problem 1Participant Numbers

The local authorities have allowed us to get back into the classroom but of course with lower numbers of people than we are used to. Before Covid we would squeeze up to 16 learners, 6 trainees and one tutor into the classroom, now we can have a maximum of 12 people in the room. If we were going to run our upcoming course with 6 trainees in a TP group, we would only have enough space left for 5 learners. We are actually running the course with just 4 trainees so we are able to fit 7 learners into the classroom. Unfortunately this doesn’t comply with Cambridge’s requirement for an average of 8 learners.


We are not sure yet how we are going to get around this one. One solution may be to livestream the lessons to another room from where the trainees could observe but this is far from ideal. A static camera will not pick all the little things up that are actually of paramount importance to the EFL lesson.

Alternatively, we could give a different trainee time off from observation each day, this time could be used for further study, lesson planning etc. Again, this is not ideal. Peer observation can be one of the most useful parts of the course. Only by observing others doing it right or wrong are you able to start seeing the benefits of doing certain things in the classroom.

We are hoping that Cambridge will come back to us and say that they will accept that in these challenging times it is not going to be possible to fill a room with so many people!

Problem 2Pair/Group Work

How can we show our trainees how to do things properly and how things could work post-Covid while acknowledging the current rules? The majority of tasks in an EFL classroom are done in pairs or small groups, how can we do this while still keeping to the 1.5m distance which local and national rules require?


We think this can still be done (perhaps requiring raised voices from the learners….)

Problem 3Contaminated Materials

One of the problems with Covid-19 is that it can be transmitted quickly by way of touching contaminated materials. In order to reduce this risk, we need to think of ways of not having lots of handouts. This is true for our language lessons as well as the CELTA course itself. Our CELTA course up til now has been very photocopy heavy, what can we do to reduce this?


I am pleased to say that I have turned the problem of possible material contamination into a positive and have overhauled all of my input sessions to bring them into the 21st Century. Our input sessions will now be all singing, all dancing and will only require reliable wifi and trainees who are not technophobes. Matching tasks will now be done via learning apps, questions can be posted via Mentimeter and games can be played on Kahoot. From the very beginning of the course Amanda and I will be demonstrating ways in which the trainees can teach their learners without having too many handouts.

Photo by Anthony Shkraba on

Let’s see what happens next week…… are you doing a face-to-face course or are you a teacher / trainer who is wondering how to get back into the classroom? Let us know how you’re getting on.


Author: Emma Jones

A CELTA Tutor based in Munich and co-author of The Ultimate Guide to CELTA

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