I’d been teaching Vocational Education for two years at a University in Shanghai. While it was a great gig, I felt discouraged because I wasn’t connecting with my students like I had hoped to. I knew that language was a barrier but most of the strategies I tried had fallen flat and I figured that the only fix was to learn Mandarin, which would take forever! At that stage, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to teach Business in China again and started to wonder if it was time for a career change.
Back in 2013, I’d heard about CELTA when a colleague told about a CELTA course he’d completed and how great it was because he had learnt so much and how it had ‘rebooted’ his love of teaching. He also told me how it had provided him with the opportunity to teach English overseas and back home in Brisbane. After doing some research I found out that CELTA qualifications were highly regarded and that if I was going to teach English overseas, it was certainly the best qualification to have. I decided I would complete a CELTA qualification myself one day, just as soon as I had a spare four weeks, which at the time was an impossibility.
Then in June, 2015 I found myself in between work contracts and I couldn’t believe my luck when I discovered that Lexis TESOL Training Centres were about to start a CELTA 4-week intensive course from their Maroochydore campus. I applied online and after attending an interview with Dave Fox, the Training Manager (who would also become our ‘fantastic facilitator’ and our ‘occasional counsellor’), I was accepted into the course. LTTC gave me a heap of information about local, short term rental options and a few short weeks later, I was living in an apartment on the river and studying CELTA.
Those four weeks of my life were amazing! The course was everything that my colleague had described and so much more. I laughed, cried and stressed over assignments and met so many great people. I learnt how to teach English ‘live’ in real classrooms with real students from around the world. It was so great to be shown how to teach English, then be able to teach what we had just learnt and receive honest and supportive feedback which helped us to improve and refine our practice.
I made great friends, learnt fantastic new skills and eventually conquered the assignments (with the help and support of Dave and Liz who worked tirelessly with us). We formed study groups and had a couple of nights out to keep as sane as the workload was challenging at times. Maroochydore is the perfect place to study! As I progressed through the course, I realized that I was receiving the tools I had needed to make that perfect connection with my Chinese students. Suddenly, I couldn’t wait to get back to China!
My love of teaching had returned and I couldn’t wait to share and practice everything I’d learnt from my CELTA course. With a greater awareness of my own language and culture, I now had new strategies that would help me effectively manage those elusive obstacles I kept facing in my Chinese classrooms.
In September 2015, only a few weeks after successfully completing the CELTA course with LTTC, I happily returned to China to teach Business at the same university – but this time my experience was different. I found that my previous frustrations had disappeared because I started pre-teaching vocabulary, clarifying grammar and using phonetics with my students and they loved it!
I encouraged more discussions on language and now had a new stable of teaching strategies to apply to my lesson plans. I started doing things that I had previously thought ‘were not my job’ as I wasn’t an English teacher. After CELTA, my approach to teaching is way more holistic as I now see the symbiotic relationship that English language teaching has in my business classroom.
In addition to this, I was offered work at night teaching English to three young girls which was high energy and great fun! I couldn’t believe I was able to do this having only taught adults and I always thought kids were scary!
On another level, I’ve developed a fascination with languages and cultures, including my own. CELTA continues to open up many new, exciting doorways for me. I’m heading back to China again in March this year and looking forward to sharing my ‘Business-English’ philosophy with a new group of students.
If you are thinking about completing a CELTA course with LTTC, I would highly recommend it. It’s going to be hard work, but Dave and his team will be there to support and guide you. Your class mates will become your friends and Maroochydore is such a great place to spend four weeks of your life. I’m sure you will also learn a lot about yourself and the rewards will flow as a result of the effort you put in. I do hope that your experience will be as fruitful and positive as mine has been.
Whilst teaching in China I’ve had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places and meet wonderful people. Below is a picture of me trekking in the mountains while staying in a local family in a Tibetan village. You can see the village in the distant valley below right. You can see the tip of an old Castle-tower bottom left.
Whilst visiting Nanjing, I ‘photo bombed’ these kids at Zhongshan Mountain… they were so much fun! Chinese people are so friendly and welcoming, it’s a great country to work in and explore.
Lexis TESOL Training Centres (RTO: 41178) provides CELTA and Certificate IV in TESOL 10429NAT courses in Noosa, Brisbane, Byron Bay and the Sunshine Coast. For more information go to http://www.lexistesoltraining.com/