CELTA advice from Liz

Liz 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 have been an EFL teacher for 25 years and a teacher trainer for 11 years. I started teaching in Greece in 1994 but without a qualification. I stayed there for three years and then completed a Trinity CertTESOL course when I returned to the UK. Since then I’ve taught in Portugal and Italy and the UK. I left Italy in 2006 and returned to the UK to do my Trinity Dip TESOL course at what was then The Language Project (now IH Bristol). They offered me a job after I completed the course and I’ve been here ever since. I started working on the Trinity Cert TESOL in 2007 and then became Course Director in 2008. I am now the Main Course Tutor on the CELTA course.

Did you have a different career before EFL?

I worked in an accountant’s office for a couple of years but got bored and decided I wanted to do something different, so went to Greece to teach English.

What are your hopes/aspirations for your trainees?

That they find a suitable teaching job soon after the course in which they can develop what they learnt on the CELTA course.

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

I am still an EFL teacher and I really enjoy teaching phrases and expressions and then getting students to contextualise these in relation to their own lives. I also really enjoy teaching grammar and getting students to do the same with grammar structures.  When teaching CELTA trainees I refer to my own teaching a lot, both past and present practice, good experiences and bad. The good thing about being a current practising EFL teacher is that I can say things like, ‘This happened in my class a few weeks ago and this is what I did.’ Or ‘This grammar activity worked well in a lesson on present perfect I did with my intermediate class a few weeks ago.’

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

Do all the pre-course preparation before the course starts. You won’t have time to finish it once the course as started.  Observe some lessons too before the course starts (ask the centre where you are taking the course). Clear your diary for the duration of the course if full-time  - you won’t have time for anything else! Look / plan ahead so that you don’t suddenly have a lesson plan and assignment to hand in on the same day and not enough time to do both. Talk to and learn from the other course candidates. Make sure you have a break in the evenings and at weekends. Get enough sleep. Enjoy it!

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

Keep developing as a teacher. This is really important so make sure you work for a school which offers regular CPD and continued guidance and support. Teach a wide range of ages and types of English (YLs, exam classes, business English, teens) to see what suits you and what kind of teacher you want to become. Some teachers are really suited to teaching YLs whereas others are more suited to teaching business English to older people. Attend workshops and conferences, read articles written by experienced EFL professionals.