Laura Woodward is a CELTA Tutor at IH Cairo
How long were you an EFL teacher, and how long have you been a teacher trainer?
I have been an EFL teacher for thirty-four years and a teacher trainer for nearly thirty years.
What are your hopes/aspirations for your trainees?
Essentially, I want to bring out the best version of themselves as teachers. I hope that they are willing to work hard and try new/different techniques and do their ultimate best. I sincerely hope by the end of the course that they are very different teachers from when they started, with a toolkit of teaching ideas and a renewed enthusiasm for teaching and learning.
When you were an EFL teacher what did you like most, and how do you bring that into the classroom for your trainees?
I still consider myself to be a teacher and I still teach whenever possible. I love the interaction between my students and the joy of building their confidence to use the language, and I firmly believe that I apply the same enthusiasm to my trainees. Teaching is not only a career, but a love of learning and sharing. Skills can be taught, but one’s enthusiasm for the work is something completely different, so as trainers, we need to constantly remind our trainees that our students are human beings and we that need to respect their efforts no matter how small.
What advice would you give your trainees for successfully completing the course?
Obviously, they need to work hard, but they need to enjoy the course as well, and be willing to learn and do their best. It’s not about the grades, although of course, we want them to pass. First and foremost, it’s about the development of yourself as a teacher and building a genuine rapport between yourself and your students. Learning a language is quite intimidating, so we need to encourage our students as much as possible and respect the fact that they are often worried about making mistakes and looking foolish, so we must do our best to help them to understand that mistakes are part of learning and that they will not be criticised by their teacher.
What advice would you give your trainees for an interesting and rewarding career?
Try to teach as many levels and age groups as possible. Try also to teach different types of classes: ESP, EAP, etc, but most importantly, to try to develop oneself as much as possible. Attend conferences, apply for different PD courses; join WhatsApp or Facebook teachers’ groups; read a chapter a month of a suitable methodology book; observe your colleagues and ask them to observe you, and so on.