A month before embarking on the CELTA course, at nearly 32 years of age, I had moved back home to my parents in a small town in the middle of Ireland. A place I hadn’t lived in since I was 17. I had travelled back from Canada, having left my partner of ten years behind and my cosy full time job. I did not give all this up for CELTA. However, I no longer had a home, a job or friends in this new life I was starting. CELTA, you gave all this to me and more. Initially, you gave me a focus. Ultimately, you gave me new skills, a career and lifelong friends.
I have always wanted to live in another language.
I spent the months before my departure from Canada applying unsuccessfully for jobs in Spain. I started to notice that a lot of job opportunities I was overlooking were for English teachers. I wasn’t a teacher. My mother ran a Montessori school. I spent my school holidays working there and I took Speech & Drama Lessons up to Irish teaching standards. But my mother was a real teacher. My dad, too, was a real teacher in the local secondary school; my sister a primary school teacher. They all have a degree in teaching. I have a degree in Drama and Spanish that I spent years glossing over with rehearsed answers in interviews. I worked in Finance. I wasn’t a teacher. Or was I…
I started to look into what it took to be an English teacher. Some places didn’t need a certificate. Great! Some places needed TEFL. I had vague recollections of my university days. Wasn’t TEFL something you did while backpacking in Thailand? I didn’t want that. I did more research and the information was endless. And contradictory. A degree is enough! You don’t even need a certificate! You can get one on Groupon! The acronyms were just as confusing. EFL, ESL, TESOL, TEFL. When I saw that people with experience were seeking advice on forums for certification, I knew I needed to be properly certified. CELTA it was. I figured if I was going to invest in this, I may as well go for the gold standard of CELTA – International House. Seville was one of the few to run off-peak in September. So with no savings, my lovely family pooled together for the next flight to Seville, temporary lodgings and the CELTA course. I packed my bag for four weeks. I didn’t come back for four months.
Following the course – the survival of which merits a post of its own – I stayed put. I had fallen in love with teaching. On paper it was a bad time of year to get work. But armed with the information we were given on job hunting (they didn’t just kick us out the door), I ploughed on, vowing to give it one more week. On a CELTA course there is no time for procrastination. I would have previously considered myself a procrastinator, a perfectionist. I taught my first private class the very next day. I lined up three interviews with schools that same week.
On returning to Ireland for the Christmas holidays, I found myself feeling obligated to pay my family back what I owed. Living so happily in sunny Seville made me feel a little guilty. So I took a finance job in the new year instead of continuing on in Seville.
My thoughts have turned to teaching again now that I am debt free and the new school year is upon us. I don’t just have a certificate. I have a crew. During this year, feeling unfulfilled and dismayed on rainy days, I found myself inspired by the journeys this crew has made. With their support, I have forgiven myself for not staying in Seville. Just the other day I was speaking with Kate going to Granada; Ellie prepping for Italy or maybe Korea. The opportunities are endless and, like anything in life, what you make of it. I have saved every penny and I am now ready for the job hunt for the new school year in Spain. I cannot describe the feeling of job hunting and finally searching for a specific profession. Because, yes, I am a real teacher.