How a CELTA intensive course can change your life (it did mine!)
Thomas Edison said: ‘Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work’. The best opportunities in life demand effort because that is what produces the returns, however you choose to quantify them. When I think of opportunities that have changed my life, I think of CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults).
Teaching wasn’t my first profession. I’d spent many years in banking and project management when ‘downsizing’ at the organisation I worked for prompted me to take some bold decisions. I could easily have reverted to type elsewhere but it felt time for a more invigorating challenge. I had a long-standing interest in the English language and a degree in English which I’d never really exploited. Browsing the internet for retraining opportunities, the CELTA intensive course caught my eye.
It was clear that CELTA was a universally recognised qualification which opened doors immediately to the world of TEFL. LILA*’s reputation in delivering the training to a high standard shone through and I felt that having the renowned city of Liverpool on my CV in this context would help it to travel well. These assumptions were well founded.
In no time at all, after a successful interview and some pre-course study, I was in the CELTA classroom! It was a whirlwind of a month. There were no dull moments, no comfort zones, no places to hide. There was a lot to learn, a lot to impart and a lot to be assessed on through input sessions, teaching practice and assignments. In the event, what I learnt most about was myself: how to dig deep, how to be resourceful and how to adapt my personal style to the environment. It was far from easy to pass but, with the right attitude and response to the expert tuition and feedback, it was still harder to fail.
However intensive the course and however capable the candidate, no one is the finished article after a month. What you do have though is access to a proven methodology which will serve you well for a lifetime in the classroom and the realisation that your services are immediately in demand. Job opportunities were presented even within the confines of the course.
Hard on the heels of CELTA, I was able to do some brief voluntary work and observations at LILA* which reinforced my relationship with the school and cemented my learning. I was then delighted to be recruited to the teaching staff. As a fledgling teacher, it was encouraging to know that such a high calibre institution was interested in my services. A number of my CELTA peers enjoyed similar success and within a few short weeks we were all gainfully employed in our new profession!
Whilst my role wasn’t permanent and full time, it was more than enough to satisfy my needs and there was always the opportunity to express preferences about the quantity and focus of the work on offer. I became quickly absorbed in all things TEFL and my former career was seamlessly consigned to history. My life was changing and there was no looking back.
The initial offer of employment was far from a flash in the pan. LILA* was a modest commute for me and I began quite openly speaking to prospective employers closer to home. This quickly bore fruit as I found myself on the teaching staff at another well-established and highly reputable school. I was beginning to register a high volume of classroom hours at a rapid rate of knots and enjoy the full gamut of teaching experiences in terms of student ages, backgrounds, levels of ability and class sizes. This exposure further bolstered my confidence and skill set.
CELTA is necessarily a generalist teaching qualification and many teachers excel with nothing more than this behind them. Others follow up with a DELTA (Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults) or specialise in chosen fields. I felt my background lent itself well to business English so I signed up for the Oxford TEFL ‘Teaching Business English’ online course. CELTA was a prerequisite for subscribing. This course was intensive too, so I was grateful for the conditioning that came with CELTA! I successfully completed the course and began to increase my focus on business English in the classroom.
I now had a taste for formal study and self-development. I took another Oxford TEFL course, this time in Teaching Pronunciation, which I felt was a frequently neglected but critically important aspect of the job. Any apprehension that I may have felt pre-CELTA had evaporated and I was devouring new opportunities for personal stretch and fulfilment. My CELTA inspired mindset shift was continuing to influence my day-to-day outlook in a hugely positive way.
Almost a year on, my career is still on an upward trajectory. I’m being offered longer contracts and a greater variety of work from an ever-expanding range of sources. Most of what I do is traditional classroom-based teaching in my region, but that’s really down to personal choice. I receive regular approaches to consider, for example, working abroad or from home. The global demand for CELTA qualified teachers is truly immeasurable!
Last but by no means least, CELTA has transformed my life from a social perspective. My CELTA cohort were all wonderfully supportive and remain firm friends. The atmosphere in the workplace is upbeat and professional with everyone taking a real pride in what they do. CELTA was my passport to this world and I can’t recommend it highly enough as a place to start. It really is a life-changing opportunity – just don’t wear your overalls!