CELTA advice from Alison Elliott

Alison Elliott is a CELTA tutor at IH Dublin in Ireland


How long were you an EFL teacher, and how long have you been a teacher trainer?

I have been an ELT teacher for 23 years. For 19 of these I have been involved in teacher training.

Did you have a different career before EFL?

I started out studying Anthropology and then trained as a secondary school teacher. I taught in secondary school in Canada before working in English language teaching.

What are your hopes/aspirations for your trainees?

Many trainees train with a view to travelling and working abroad, so I hope they find interesting and challenging opportunities.  For those who stay in Dublin, I hope they find a school that supports them as they start out and provides a wide variety of experience.

When you were an EFL teacher what did you like most, and how do you bring that into the classroom for your trainees?

I certainly still consider that I am still an ELT teacher, though I don’t get to teach as often as I would like.

When I was teaching more, I enjoyed the armchair travel that working in a multinational class offered. I sometimes wonder if I have learned more from working with international students than I have from travelling myself. I have a lot of respect for people willing to commit to coming to another country to learn English. Learning a language is hard and takes a lot of energy. I think learners deserve good teaching and I strive to convey that to the trainees I work with.

Our trainees are as interesting and diverse as our learners and I hope that the respect I have for my language learners is paralleled in my approach to training.

What advice would you give your trainees for successfully completing the course?

Learning any new skills can be frustrating as there is always a time when you know what needs to be done but haven’t quite figured out how to do it. My advice would be to accept that there will be some initial frustration and confusion but to keep at it. By the time the training is finished, things become clear.

What advice would you give your trainees for an interesting and rewarding career?

It is very easy to get into routines that quickly become fixed. I advise trainees to try different types of classes and different levels to keep things fresh.

With a bit of experience, it is easy to feel like you know it all and have nothing else to learn.  It is helpful to step back and look for areas to keep developing.