Have you ever had the sensation your life desperately needs to take a turn?

Here’s how CELTA came to save my boring life

There I was at lunch time, sat in an office in the insurance company where I was working, feeling a bit bored and frustrated with where my life was going, and I saw an advert in the local newspaper.  ‘TEFL Teachers wanted in Japan.’ It was 1992, I had been temping since finishing my studies, and I wanted to travel, see the world, experience different cultures, and not spend the rest of my life filing papers. I thought ‘why not’ and I applied for the job. I went to a local school for the interview, and after a few weeks I heard I had got the job.

But, there was only one catch, one family issue to sort out

I couldn’t believe it….but I needed to run it past my Dad. My Dad had fought in the war against the Japanese, and I thought he might be against me going there. ‘Claire’ he said, ‘politicians make war, not people, of course you should go, it’s a marvellous opportunity’.

Thanks God! CTEFLA was there to save me!

So off I went, backpack on, for a two-year contract teaching English in Japan. In order to prepare myself I did a CTEFLA course, the old CELTA, in Bristol, and to be honest I don’t know how on earth I would have begun teaching without it – it provided me with so many ideas on how to plan and teach different lesson types, manage the class, and so on.

Teaching English in Japan and discovering Asia opened amazing new horizons for me.

I loved my time in Japan; I got to travel all over Asia, and I met some wonderful people who I am still in touch with; some of my students even went to stay with my parents in the UK. What is more, I loved the teaching, with all ages and levels; no class or day was the same. My students often took me out on trips to the mountains, to see temples, to tea ceremonies; I was very lucky to have such a great time.  I learned a little Japanese – ‘nihongo desu ka?’ ‘skoshi desu’ – Do you speak Japanese? A little, I would say…’aaah, nihongo wa josu desu né’ – ‘ah, your Japanese is very good,’ they would always reply so politely.

Then Spain: that country that constantly hang around my head

I stayed in Japan for two years, but I had always had a thing about Spain – I first came here as a fourteen-year-old to Almeria during ‘Semana Santa’ – Easter – with all the processions, and loved it. So when I finished my two years in Japan, I applied for a job with International House, and I got offered a place in Córdoba in Andalucia…starting in August. Such a beautiful city, but nobody had told me that most of the city went to the beach in August to escape the 40º+ temperatures – what an introduction! But as the city reawakened in September, and I got to know more and more students and places to go, I truly fell in love with the city, the job, and Miguel Angel, who went on to become my long-term partner. I had planned to only stay a year in Spain, but I loved the English teaching in Cordoba so much, I went on to take the Cambridge DELTA qualification, and really enjoy doing training sessions with my peers.

From teaching English in Cordoba to train English teachers in Seville

And the rest, as they say, is history. I moved to Seville with Miguel Angel in 1999, starting working at Clic IH Seville, have grown incredibly professionally, doing a job that I love. I now run the TEFL courses like the one I did so many years before in Bristol; I love training teachers on the CELTA and DELTA courses in Seville and Málaga. I have also had the chance to work on or assess courses, both in person or online, in countries like Brazil, Mexico, Hungary, Ireland, the UK, and the Czech Republic, and have met so many incredible people. I am just so glad I picked up that local newspaper that day in the office in Cheltenham and saw that job advert, and I am so lucky to have had the opportunities that TEFL has given me; there is very little that I would change about my working life, and living in Andalucia is just the best.

Claire Potter

Director of Teacher Training, Clic, IH Sevilla and Málaga