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Finding your first job after passing your CELTA

Updated on March 29, 2013

CELTA, TESOL - getting that first job

The CELTA course is over. Now what?

Well it’s time for the fool hardy and the brave to set forth with their CELTA Certificate in hand to start knocking on the doors of English language colleges.

Landing a teaching job can be a bit difficult when you’re a freshly squeezed CELTARIAN.

But a bit of bravado and a willingness to give it a go, not to mention a shelf full of grammar books, will soon have you in front of a class of eager students hanging on your every word!

First Job

My first job came as a bit of a surprise. I really didn’t expect to hear from this school but sure enough it wasn’t long before I was given an interview and a class for a week.

The director popped in during one class to observe, just to make sure I wasn’t a complete dud. I got the tick and off I went.

It was hectic though and a bit harrowing.

While all the teachers were friendly and supportive they were very busy preparing, so as the new girl I was often left fumbling around trying to find out where the resources were and where some extra fillers were not to mention trying to get a handle on the grammar points.

This was a big successful language school in Australia that drew its clientele from all over the world with students having varied reasons for studying English.

Most of the students were fine but one or two proved to have an attitudinal problem and as a new teacher it was sometimes difficult to know where to draw the line. With students, or I should say the students’ parents paying through the nose to have their darlings learning English in a foreign country, I was very aware that they were paying customers and that I needed to be diplomatic in addressing mobile phone usage during class.

The Business

But time is a wonderful teacher and with it comes confidence, but never ever forget that the language schools are businesses about making money and that happy customers mean happy teachers who have jobs!

My next school was located closer to home in a wonderful coastal tourist hub. This is my kind of school; relaxed, friendly with a sea breeze.

The director is very supportive and only gives me work teaching elementary and pre-intermediate classes. This has proved to be a very wise move.

It gives me a chance to actually get a perspective on the whole lesson rather than just freak out about grammar and the possible questions that students in higher levels may ask (and I can’t answer confidently!..yet).

Relief Work

I approached this school after relief work and also stressed that I was keen to observe some experienced teachers. This last point seemed to carry weight and the next day I was called for my first day of teaching in my second school.

The work has continued at a weekly pace with most weeks averaging three to four days of work.

I have also been to a local university to observe a very experienced teacher in action which was very beneficial. I realised I needed to slow my lessons down, to feel comfortable in addressing problems as they arose rather than slavishly adhering to the lesson plan in the book.

Going over the lesson plan and doing the activities and tasks the night before is crucial. There is nothing worse than finding you don’t understand the task once you are in front of the class. You look and feel like a complete dunce! And the students pick up on the error quickly and if they don’t they look as confused as the teacher.

I’ve learnt to find my own tasks that are more interesting than provided in the books. The internet is a wonderful resource for ESL teachers with a never ending supply of games and activities and explanations on any topic and level..

The BBC and Onestop English are two excellent sites for teachers, but there are many more.


Sounding like you know what you are talking about is very important. Being well prepared as a new teacher is without doubt going to make for a lot less stress and a more enjoyable lesson.

Having some fun warmers and fillers when the class is waning is also extremely handy.

One of my all time favourites is:

Divide the class into two teams.

Put two chairs at the front of the class with backs to the board.

A student from each team sits on the chair and you write a word on the board.

The teams have to describe the word to their team mates on the chairs without saying the word. Who ever gets the word first gets a point for their team. Students from each team take it in turns to sit the chairs to guess the word.

This is an excellent way to build and test vocab from previous lessons.

Students love it and get very competitive. You get a good ten minutes from this activity and it’s a great way to end a morning’s lesson before lunch.

The afternoons can prove tiring but I’ve found a little music particularly something the students all know, like ABBA, (yes ABBA) is a great way to a break the ice and lift the general mood. I’ve found it not only lifts the spirit but students relax particularly if it’s a speaking task.

If you have group of new students a getting-to-know you activity first up is a must. A survey that students move around asking each others questions helps them feel more comfortable in their new environment. They love talking about themselves and will happily chat to each other for a good 10 to 15 minutes.

One again the Internet or fellow teachers will prove some very useful material for these activities.

Happy Feet

One more thing: wear comfortable shoes. Being on your feet for most of the day is a bit of a shock to the system. And take your own cup for tea and coffee!


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      Shereen 2 years ago

      When was it that you got your first job and how long did it take you to secure a position? Did you find it difficult and apply to a lot of jobs?

      Do you think that it would be difficult to find a job in England as a CELTA graduate with an undergraduate degree?

      Thank you for your help.

    • profile image

      Kadence 3 years ago

      What happens when your newrtok is down? Speakers broken? Overhead projector broken or (more likely) the remote to operate it is lost?Does every CELTA grad take a uni job in Korea?CELTA prepares you to teach unplugged because that is the situation a lot of teachers will find themselves in. You can always adapt and incorporate technology later. The trouble begins when you have relied on tech and find yourself in a position where it is not available.

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      Mari 3 years ago

      Lovely, informative blog! I see that many people are asking about their chances of getting a uni job without a masters or being outside of Korea... I have my Masters of Ed in Language Education and four years of teaching experience in public schools in the US and a public language center in Korea. My problem is that I don't have uni experience... I have been offered an interview at a uni, but the pay is significantly lower than my current pay and the vacation is only two weeks more. For this interview, I would have to fly there and take some time off work, so I'm not sure it's worth it. In your opinion, will this be my only chance? I guess I am asking... how are MY chances? I know I read your uni received 100 applicants at one point; how many qualified people usually apply to the average university? Do you have any advice that will help my resume stand out among the other qualified people?

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      Jinny 3 years ago

      I am in the same phase as you with regard to lesosn planning: I hammer out some bullet points to keep me on track, and the rest (comp. checking, how to transition, etc.) comes naturally. However, I took a TESOL certification course (Trinity, comparable to a CELTA) before I started teaching. So, I can appreciate the value of the long-form lesosn plan. All the same, the long lesosn plans *are* confusing to follow in class. If I do use/make long plans, I read the long versions several times before class to internalize the details, and then make a one-page "reference" plan including:--main lesosn steps (same as you)--any important phrasing that is harder to remember --any important details (page/track numbers, for example)--references to the page in the longer lesosn plan, so if I do need to refer back, I know where to go.The long-form is for getting your thoughts nailed down before lesosns, and for giving to whomever is observing you so that he/she can see your thought process. For the same reason, sample lesosn plans for job applications should also be long-form, I think. I hope you are enjoying the CELTA, and I am confident that it will ultimately be useful. I can only imagine what it would be like to go through that training after several years of teaching, though! I think I would have a really hard time keeping my mouth shut. ;)

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      maddot 6 years ago from Northern NSW, Australia

      Then you'll probably love teaching!

    • adomcruze profile image

      Adom Cruze 6 years ago

      Loving this Celta Course..