CELTA advice from Charlie

Charlie is a CELTA tutor at IH Bristol in the UK


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

I am still an EFL teacher as my main job and I have been in this job since 1991, when I first qualified on a CELTA. I started doing a little teacher training in 2004 on the IH Bristol Cert TESOL course. When IH Bristol started doing CELTA in 2015, I became one of our pool of CELTA trainers and since then, I’ve worked on two or three CELTA courses a year.

Did you have a different career before EFL?

I had more of a collection of random jobs rather than a career. I worked in furniture manufacturing, fruit picking and also worked nights in a hotel. English teaching was the first job that I could refer to as a career.

What are your hopes/aspirations for your trainees?

My aspirations for my trainees depends on what the trainees are aiming to get out of the course. I always want each trainee to find the course rewarding and I do my best to support their varying needs. This means that the input sessions that I give trainees have to change from course to course and that the personalised feedback I give after trainees have taught, needs to be adapted to each trainee and their particular needs and interests.

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

My first teaching job was in a remote location with limited and quite old-fashioned materials available. I started creating my own materials and tailoring them to my students and have been interested in developing materials since then. On the course, I encourage trainees to think about the students, to put them at the centre of their teaching decisions and where necessary to change or adapt the lesson material to make it more student-focussed.

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

I would encourage prospective to do as much preparation as they can before the course. At the very least, they should have read a copy of Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener, completed the pre-course assignment and taken steps to familiarise themselves with some basic grammar knowledge: parts of speech and names of tenses.

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

It’s a really good idea to work in a school that can offer you support and professional development, especially at the start of your teaching career. My first job was the complete opposite and for a while my teaching and development suffered a bit. One of the schools where I worked in Japan offered a couple of training sessions.  But the first time I got the level of in-job training and support that I really could learn from was when I came back to the UK and started working for IH Bristol.