CertTESOL Grammar Awareness

The CertTESOL and CELTA are both initial preparatory courses to become English Language Teachers (ELTs), so there’s absolutely no expectation that you should know all the grammar either before the course begins or at the end of the course. 

When it comes to grammar knowledge, the main aim of the Trinity CertTESOL at Atlas is to help you develop a general awareness of English grammar, particularly the various parts of speech and the different tense forms and their uses. We also aim to help you develop your ability to research individual grammar points in more detail when preparing specific lessons for when you set off on your teaching career.

During the course and then in your first teaching job, your understanding of grammar develops on a need-to-know-basis. Certainly, this is a key point to take on board. Most English Language Teachers (ELTs) develop their understanding of English grammar gradually through the first year or so of actual teaching. You’ll typically find that you need to have a more detailed understanding of a specific grammar item for a particular lesson, so you research it in detail only immediately beforehand. And over a series of lessons your grammar knowledge builds up.

So, what to do before the CertTESOL? To get to grips with the basics of English grammar there’s a pre-course task that focuses on developing your awareness of grammar. Alongside that there are a few other options – books, free online resources, and commercial online introductory grammar courses.


Before any CertTESOL or CELTA course, you should receive a list of required and recommended books to help you with the pre-course task and then assignments and lesson preparation during the course. At Atlas, one of the two required texts that you’ll need for the start of the course, and then undoubtedly refer to during your whole teaching career, is Martin Parrott’s Grammar for English Language Teachers. At Atlas, you can borrow the book from us to do the pre-course task and then purchase it at any point during the course should you so wish.

Another book that will serve you well pre-course, during the course and indeed, throughout your teaching career is Michael Swan’s Practical English Usage. A great go-to reference book when you want to delve more deeply into specific grammar items.

Online Resources

English Club has a little bit of everything when it comes to grammar. It keeps the explanations of some grammar rules clear and simple, and has a variety of quizzes, and games to try out. The lessons that focus on verb tenses are particularly useful for CertTESOL trainees in that they focus on how and when each tense is used as well as the actual form. Take a look, for example, at some of the common uses of the present perfect tense.

The Perfect English Grammar website is also useful for CertTESOL trainees. There are plenty of ready to go PDFs that you could try yourself as a trainee, and then use from time to time in class with students.

Grammar Bytes also has a few nuggets to chomp on; including help with terms, and some exercises.

Grammar Refresher Courses

While our CertTESOL pre-course task and the guided research and thinking it will require you to do will more than adequately prepare you for our course, there are commercial, online grammar basics courses that might also be of interest. The ELT Campus Grammar Refresher and Language Awareness courses really focus on what trainees need to be aware of going into a CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL course.

Remember, though, while a good working knowledge of grammar is one of the essential elements that make up a successful English language teacher (ELT), during the CertTESOL or CELTA course, it’s the process of planning a lesson that will really help you develop your deep understanding of language items and grammar as a whole. As we’ve known for centuries, the best way to understand something is to have to teach it!

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