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CELTA and how to get a teaching job with no experience
CELTA - getting a teaching job
The journey continues.
Okay - so the Cambridge CELTA course is coming to an end and you’re still there! Well done for not strangling the cat (or one of the trainers)!
But don’t get too excited. The journey has only just begun.
As a CELTA survivor I feel somewhat comfortable in sharing my post CELTA experiences. I am no expert at anything and I acknowledge that I am a virgin English language teacher.
However my brief experience in the real world of teaching English has been interesting and I have already picked up a few tricks of the trade.
My story..so far
After finishing the CELTA course I went on a four week trip to Laos and Vietnam. In Luang Prabang, Laos, I did some volunteer work at a drop in centre for university students.
It was an enriching experience. With no one looking over my shoulder I was able to have a go at all the techniques I’d learnt during the course. It was reaffirming to have enthusiastic students who were grateful for some help. It also ignited my passion to teach.
Once I was back in Australia I pulled a resume together which included my trainers’ report along with a copy of the Cambridge CELTA certificate plus a brief outline of my relevant work history as a newspaper journalist which emphasized my writing experience and training of cadet journalists.
I took this around a few private colleges not expecting to hear back from any of them. Too my surprise it was not long before the phone was ringing asking me to come in for a talk with the director of one of the schools.
The Economy and the English language Teacher
With global economic doom and gloom the private language colleges were (and still are) feeling the pinch so the directors are under pressure to reduce the wages bill. This was good news for me as I was cheap to employ as I had no experience other than my certificate.
I was given a few days work teaching a lower intermediate class plus an intermediate class in the afternoon. This consisted of two hours of teaching in the morning, an hour for lunch, followed by two hours of teaching activity based classes in the afternoon.
During these three days the director popped in to observe my teaching to make sure I was not a complete dud. I was given the thumbs up and given more work as a relief teacher.
Tip - make sure you have one lesson down pat and that's the lesson you're doing when the director pops in to check your teaching is up to standard!
It was hard going with little help from any of the other teachers as everyone is extremely busy. To go from teaching one hour a week in the CELTA course to four hours a day, five days a week is gruelling for a new kid on the block.
The Lesson Plan
The one major bit of information that the CELTA course failed to impartwas that:
- when you get work in the schools they all work from a set of books with detailed lesson plans set out. You can basically follow the book. It is nothing like doing lesson plans during the course.
- you still have to prepare by going over the lesson plan, photocopying etc, but the lesson is done for you
- and joy of joys, the answers are also included in the book along with tip for teachers.
But be careful. Not all students are angels and as with any relief teacher, some students slacken off, others do not feel comfortable with the change of teacher while some cultures seem to have problem with female teachers unless of course you are a hot young thing (which I’m not). Mix this with the stress of four hours of teaching and keeping up with a new environment and it can all get a bit overwhelming.
After my first month of teaching I decided to try to find work closer to home. I also decided I did not want to put myself into such a stressful situation.
A Fresh Approach
With my resume in hand I knocked on their doors and spoke to the directors.
This time I was keen to observe experienced teachers. I wanted to check out the lay of the land before diving in. Of course I asked for any relief work but also outlined that I was trying to learn by observing before I head overseas for a job.
Slow and Steady
This gentler, slower approach is much more sustainable. I have been given relief work with elementary classes and I have managed to get my foot in at a local university that runs study tours for overseas students during the summer months.
I am also booked in for observing at another school and hope that this will also lead to some relief work.
Being given only elementary classes is excellent. I don’t feel pressured and I’m confident with the level of language that I have to teach as I’m able to answer their questions.
I can actually start thinking like a teacher rather than feeling so anxious that I lose my way in the heady confusing world of English grammar, electronic equipment, photocopiers, scissors, student rolls, foreign names, time tables, school schedules not to mention the cramped conditions teachers seem to have in their staff room.
I am now relaxed enough to put together fillers for the last fading minutes of the lesson, can work out fun ways to start a lesson to grab the students’ interest and can see the overall aim of the lesson.
My advice is:
- go gently into the workplace if it’s a completely new area of work
- check out the school first by asking to come in and observe because all schools are different – find one that suits you with a supportive director and staff
- remember that all schools are profit driven and strive to keep fee paying students happy
- be clear with yourself as to why you want to teach and what you feel you still need to learn
- if you are thinking about doing the Cambridge CELTA or are doing it now – ask you trainers to show you some of the texts used in the language schools so you can see first hand what is expected of you in the real world
- ask for directors and /or teachers from language schools to come in so you can ask questions about employment.
To be continued.