An Interview with Claire Potter: Director of Teacher Training, Malaga

It’s possible you’ve seen Claire Potter around one of your TEFL courses. As a CELTA assessor and teacher trainer for many years, she just may…

It’s possible you’ve seen Claire Potter around one of your TEFL courses. As a CELTA assessor and teacher trainer for many years, she just may have been on your course. She’s well-known around the world and has been immersed in the industry for over 20 years. While she’s worked in Japan and Spain, she’s also assessed the CELTA all over the world. She now holds the position of Director of Teacher Training in Malaga and Seville. She is a wealth of knowledge on everything CELTA, DELTA and living in Malaga.

Situated on the stunning Costa del Sol, Malaga is nearly 3000 years old. It boasts ancient architecture, a vibrant economy and over 300 days of a sun a year. Surrounded by impeccable Mediterranean beaches and mountains, Malaga has a healthy ELT market. It’s the perfect place to take the CELTA. But don’t take it from us. Claire has been a CELTA, DELTA and Young Learners tutor and even set up the CELTA in Malaga. We recently caught up with her and she told us about her ELT journey and what to expect from the CELTA in Malaga.

Hi Claire, thanks for letting us interview you! You have been working in the industry for over 20 years. What drew you to ELT in the beginning?

I always wanted to meet people from different cultures and travel, and ELT seemed to offer me both. What is more, I quickly learned how satisfying it was to teach others, see them progress, and I decided that this was the profession for me.

Can you tell us how you found yourself the Director of Teacher Training in Malaga and Seville? What did the journey look like?

I began teaching in Japan in 1992 after completing my CELTA course (called CTEFLA in those days.) I then moved to Córdoba here in Andalucia in 1994, where I spent 5 happy years and completed my DELTA qualification. I transferred to Sevilla in 1999 with an ambition to become a teacher trainer, and this was realised in 2001. I became a CELTA and YL tutor, and then in 2004 when I took over as the Director of Teacher Training, I also became a DELTA tutor; I never thought I would train on the courses which I had once completed myself; it is very satisfying and rewarding.

Do you have a moment that stands out when you knew you’d pursued the right career?

Probably quite early on, when I was working in Cordoba and just realised how much I loved the variety of the job, teaching children, teens and adults. At that moment I decided to do the DELTA course to further my qualifications, rather than return to the UK where I had a place waiting for me on a PGCE course to teach Primary.

You’ve told us before that you started teaching in Japan without knowing any Japanese. Do you have any advice for CELTA trainees who are worried about not knowing the language of their students?

In some ways it is an advantage; it ensures that your students have to try to use their English to communicate with you, it pushes them. I never tell my Younger Learner classes that I speak Spanish, so that they have to communicate with me using their English. Of course, it is a very good idea to learn the language of the country where you live, but it is not essential in order to teach students English.

As a CELTA tutor and assessor, you know the CELTA inside out. Do you have any tips for potential candidates?

You have to be prepared to focus solely on the course as it is intensive, and any reading or preparation that you can do beforehand, such as complete a language awareness course, is advantageous. You need to be prepared to work as part of a team, support your peers rather than compete with them, and it is really important to just enjoy teaching your students and the whole life-changing experience.

As we mentioned, you set up the CELTA in Malaga. Why did you feel it would be a good location for the CELTA?

Many reasons – it is a great city, very open and welcoming, and with a population keen to learn English. The atmosphere is very relaxed there, so although you have to work hard on the course, you can have moments when you switch off and enjoy the atmosphere and the city. There are many language schools in the area so that opens up job opportunities to our trainees, and the rest of Andalucia is very accessible, both for work and for enjoyment.

Can you tell us a little about the teacher trainers on the CELTA in Malaga?

Our trainers include Kate, Jessie and Clem, all of whom live in Málaga permanently and are very experienced. Kate used to work in Madrid and has worked on most of our courses since 2014 in Málaga and is also a materials writer. Clem and Jessie both previously worked in Sevilla as trainers but moved to Malaga, Clem to open his own language school in 2011, and Jessie more recently; she has been working as the Director of Studies in Malaga. They are all very experienced, professional and extremely nice and supportive people!

What’s your one thing a CELTA trainee shouldn’t miss in while taking the CELTA in Malaga?

The culture there; it is a city of art and museums, and also a great place to go out for the evening, with areas like Muelle Uno, Pedregalejo or the centre. Oh yes, and the beach and mountains!

What are the facilities like at the Malaga centre?

We havea big classroom for the CELTA input and teaching practice, a staffroom, photocopying and printing facilities, a lending library, a big reception area with computers to use, and generally a welcoming international atmosphere with students studying Spanish as well as our English students.

What is the job market like in Malaga and the surroundings for CELTA-certified teachers?

As I mentioned before there are many language academies in Malaga and in the rest of Andalucia; we have a very good organising body ACEIA whose members schools ensure quality teaching and good working conditions. There are smaller family run schools and bigger academies with several branches. The most important thing to ensure that you get a good job is to hold a CELTA qualification and to be keen and flexible, with a willingness to keep learning.

Take the CELTA in Malaga

Explore this Spanish city while taking the CELTA and settle in for a career in ELT after. There’s much to discover in Picasso’s hometown including beautiful botanical gardens, a Roman theatre and the impressive Alcazaba. Not to mention those beaches. While the city itself has much to offer, so does the CELTA centre with world class facilities and teacher trainers. Find out more about the CELTA in Malaga including upcoming dates and fees. When you’re ready, take the plunge and apply!