CELTA tutor Scott Donald interviews ex-trainee Clic CELTA Online: Maria Jesus
Hi Maria Jesus! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. It’s been about 9 months since you finished the CELTA course, but you had some teaching experience before starting the course, is that right?
Yes! Before the CELTA I had two years experience. The first academy was more like a nursery, and it wasn’t really “teaching”, it was more about looking after the kids and playing with them, but I learned a lot of games and ideas about how to manage children.
My experience at the second academy was quite different. They were concerned about my lack of teaching experience, and they kept talking about the CELTA course. That was actually why I decided to do the CELTA.
Did you do any research about where you could do the CELTA, or did you know anybody who had done it?
Well, I knew about the CELTA because I was looking for another job, I saw that all the academies wanted the CELTA, “CELTA, CELTA, CELTA!” so I was like, “What is this CELTA thing!?” I googled it and CLIC’s name appeared. I called the school, asked for some information and that’s how it all started.
Great! You did the online course, but when was the interview? Before covid? Did you know at that time it was going to be an online course?
No, no, no — this was before covid! I had my interview with Claire at CLIC some time in the winter.
And then what happened, you got an email from CLIC about the course going online due to the lockdown?
Yes, but I didn’t care. I was already having C2 classes at CLIC, and they had gone online. I was happy because I had lots of materials, and I was able to work from the comfort of my own home.
Absolutely. I missed my coffeebreak with the other tutors, but at least I saved some money going to my own kitchen for the coffee! So I don’t know if you’d realised, but your course was one of the first fully online courses (we’d been running blended online/offline courses for years), and as a tutor, I was very open to seeing what shape a fully online CELTA would take. I was pleasantly surprised that, from my perspective, there was really very little difference. After the course with your group, I
felt confident that the online training and your practice lessons would easily transfer to the physical classroom. Was that your experience?
Well, I think so… though, to be fair, I did have some previous experience of teaching in the physical classroom. For someone who didn’t have previous experience it might be a little more complicated. But, hey — if you give them a week in the face-to-face environment, let them get used to their positioning, gesturing, giving handouts to students — it’s more or less the same!
I’d agree, and I’d add that the first few days with a new class, or at a new school, always takes some kind of adjustment. Tell me a little more about your experience of the CELTA course then. Mike and I were your tutors, and your fellow trainees were a mix of so-called “native” and “non-native” teachers: we had trainee teachers from Italy, Slovakia and even as far away as Kazakhstan! Did you get on well with your fellow trainees?
Yes! There were times, especially near the start, where we were planning lessons with more support from the tutors, and near the end I sometimes talked to the other trainee teachers about lesson plans. I’ve kept in touch with one of the other teachers in particular: we send messages about job opportunities and share our classroom experiences.
You’ve had a number of interviews since the CELTA, and now you’re working for a school just down the road from you in Seville — congratulations! Did any of the interviews ask or comment on the fact that your CELTA was online?
No, they never mentioned it…
That’s interesting. And are you enjoying your current teaching job?
Yes! I originally interviewed for the position of substitute teacher, and then I ended up in a full time position teaching kids.
That’s great. So even though the CELTA is primarily aimed towards teaching adults, you felt the sessions about young learners were helpful, or that other sessions could be applied to teaching children too?
Yes, exactly. I always keep the young learner’s session in mind when I’m with my students!
Glad to hear it. What about the intensity of the course, sometimes people are concerned about that…
I didn’t find it that intense.
I’m tempted to say that’s because you had some experience beforehand, but actually, in my experience, it can be hard to predict who will find the course intense, though preparation tends to be the key to reducing that stress.
In the end you finished the course, and you even met up “in real life” with the students you’d been teaching after covid restrictions were eased, is that right?
Yes! We went for food and drinks. One of the students is an official tour guide and she even took us on a tour of the Alcazar [Seville’s beautiful palace and royal gardens]. The students even sent messages to some of the other teachers who lived in other countries.
That’s lovely! Maria Jesus, thank you very much for the interview. Do you have any final words for people who are considering doing the course?
Just do the CELTA! The tutors are very good, very supportive and understanding. The CELTA will give you lots of confidence for future job interviews and obviously with your teaching as well.