About CELTA

CELTA stands for “Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults”. It is the original certificate course in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) or teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), and it has been running for four decades. It is highly respected and recognized globally, with 7 out of 10 employers worldwide asking applicants to have it.

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Meet Our Teacher Trainers: Úna Ní Chaoilte

  1. Úna, when and where did you start teaching English as a foreign language? Tell us about your background in TEFL.

 

I started my English teaching career in Budapest, Hungary, back in 2003. It was a fantastic first experience, as I met really talented, motivated and experienced Hungarian English teachers who helped me to find my feet in a new city and in the TEFL world. I began teaching General English classes as well as preparing students for Cambridge exams, and I also taught Business English, as this is the area I studied at university.

 

  1. How long have you worked with International House and what do you appreciate about it?

 

After Budapest I moved to Catania, a city in the very south of Italy, on the island of Sicily. I began working for a small school there which grew over the years and became part of the International House network of language schools. Apart from IH Catania I have also worked for IH Belfast and IH Galway in the past, and I did my DELTA with IH Budapest and IH London. I like that the IH network focuses on quality for students and professional development for teachers, and also the fact that the schools are inspected, which helps to maintain standards.

 

 

  1. When did you take up teacher training? Tell us about your motivation to become a teacher trainer and the experience you have gained so far.

 

I became interested in teacher training after I completed my DELTA. I had already done some in-house teacher training when I worked as ADOS at IH Catania, but I wanted to become a CELTA trainer and I had the opportunity in 2013, when I shadowed two CELTA courses over the summer in Catania. I really enjoyed observing the different trainers and their different styles, and also seeing the progress the trainees made over the weeks of the course. Since then I have worked on CELTA courses in Italy, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Algeria, and now I am happy to add Romania to that list.

 

 

  1. What are the main joys and challenges of teacher training?

 

The best part is working with motivated trainers, teachers and trainee teachers who work really hard and enjoy the challenges of the CELTA course. The most difficult aspect is helping people to get out of their comfort zone during the training process and overcome their fears, many of which have nothing to do with teaching itself, but are more connected to their own personal beliefs or past experiences of education.

 

 

  1. Besides training, are there any other professional projects you’ve been involved in (e.g. course design, textbook writing, etc.)? If so, please tell us about them.

 

Apart from CELTA, I have trained teachers for CELT-S and CELT-P and I am also part of the Cambridge Presenting Team for southern Italy, which means I travel around to schools delivering seminars and workshops to help local teachers with their professional development. I also work as a Team Leader for Cambridge Speaking Examiners, which involves both training and monitoring examiners.

 

 

 

  1. What should a prospective CELTA trainee know before they start the course? How should they prepare for it?

 

They should know that the course is very intensive and quite challenging, not necessarily because of the content, but due to the demanding timetable and the amount of information to process in a short amount of time. I recommend doing some background reading from the recommended texts and spending some time on completing the pre-course task to get into the habit of analysing language. They should also catch up on their sleep before the course starts and try to be as healthy as possible, as the course is demanding both physically and mentally!

 

 

  1. In what ways does a CELTA course usually change an English teacher? How are they “transformed” by it?

 

Most trainee teachers get a lot out of the course. Apart from a better understanding of the methodology and best practice in teaching English as a foreign language to students, they also make good friends on the course and are exposed to different ideas and approaches to teaching. Many of the trainees also benefit from the observation process where they are regularly observed by the tutor and their peers, and given feedback on their teaching. This is very valuable to help people become more aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and also to learn from watching others. They also have time to reflect on their progress over the different weeks of the course and can usually see a big difference between the beginning of the course and the end.

 

  1. Share with us a nice memory you have from a CELTA course that you’ve run.

 

I have many nice memories so it is hard to choose one. I like meeting people who are from totally different backgrounds but are united in their love of English. I also like the cultural aspects of the places that I visit for CELTA courses. In Saudi Arabia I learnt how to wear an abaya and headscarf when teaching on the course, while in Algeria we had lovely cups of mint tea and dates on our breaks during the day at school. On the course in Ireland our TP students were refugees who had escaped from very difficult circumstances but were extremely motivated to learn English.

 

  1. Finally, share with us the three professional achievements you’re most proud of as a teacher trainer.

 

I am proud of all the people I have trained over the years, even those who were not able to pass the course, because they gave their best in that situation. The exchange of ideas and personal growth that happens on a CELTA course is something that should not be underestimated and is something that people often benefit from long after the course itself has finished. Having come through the process of being a trainee myself, then a teacher and now a trainer, I can relate to the difficulties that people face and try to help them to overcome them. Making the course less stressful for participants is an objective that I also try to focus on. Helping people to reach their goals, both personal and professional, gives me the most job satisfaction in teacher training. Many of the teachers go on to complete their DELTA or other teaching qualifications in the field later in their careers, which is always nice to see.

 

 

Thank you very much. J

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