An Interview with Mike Carter, Teacher Trainer in Seville, Spain

If the sights of Seville look familiar to you, it’s probably because you’ve seen them in movies and TV shows. From Lawrence of Arabia to…

If the sights of Seville look familiar to you, it’s probably because you’ve seen them in movies and TV shows. From Lawrence of Arabia to Star Wars and Game of Thrones, this stunning Spanish city has stood in for Naboo, Dorne, and even Cairo. But Seville isn’t just a film set. It’s also a beautiful, historic city on par with the likes of Venice and Oxford, and it has a well-established CELTA centre.

Taking the CELTA alongside the stunning sights of the Royal Alcazar and the Plaza de España is an experience you won’t forget. Surrounded by sun (300 days of it a year!), world-renowned historic architecture and delicious food, you won’t want to leave. But don’t take it from us! We chatted with Mike Carter, one of the Teacher Trainers at the Seville centre and he told us everything you need to know about taking the CELTA (or DELTA!) in Seville.

Originally, you studied sciences (Biochemistry and Immunology) at university. What made you decide to go into English Language Teaching?

I was working for a scientific publishing company (Blackwell’s Scientific in Oxford). It was a serious graduate job but I found it desperately boring! Then I met two friends of friends who were teaching English in Oxford in the summer and abroad the rest of the year. I loved the idea, found a CELTA course, and that was the start of my ELT career.

You’ve been teaching English since 1987 after you took the CELTA in Bournemouth. Why would you recommend trainees take the CELTA before starting an English teaching job?

Of course, it’s possible to get a job as an English teacher without any qualifications or experience. However, speaking English well does not make you an English teacher – it’s a profession, and like any other you need to learn the basics to do it effectively. I would say that you owe it to your future students and to your own self-respect to take a professional course first. Also, a renowned qualification will allow you to work in much more professional schools.

You’ve taught English in Greece, Thailand, and the UK, along with Madrid. Out of the four, what experience was your favourite or most memorable?

I’ve enjoyed all my teaching experiences. Teaching in Thailand, though, was very memorable as it was so different from Europe in nearly every way. The students were lovely and they particularly preferred doing things in groups rather than any individual work. When I left, all my 4 classes invited me to dinner during class time – that’s four dinners one after another (2 in the same restaurant!). I had to eat as little as possible each time!

As you have been teaching at the Seville centre since 1991, do you have a particular classroom experience that has stood out in your career?

There have been a massive number of memorable experiences over the years. I remember one class particularly as I took them from beginners to an intermediate level and the group was full of great characters. They were hilarious! Once, at the end of term, we went out for dinner and drinks as a whole group. We were out celebrating all night and then they suggested having the class at 9’30 am as usual because they really enjoyed the classes. It was amazing – all 10 of us went out all night and all 10 came with me to the morning class.

For trainees who may have no prior teaching experience, what advice would you give them before they take the CELTA?

Firstly, I would suggest that they do the pre-course task and as much of the recommended reading as they can to try and build some foundation of knowledge before the course. They might also think of doing an online grammar course before starting. Secondly, if they have time, I’d recommending taking a language course themselves to experience being a language student.

Check out the online Grammar Refresher course on our sister site, ELTCampus.

For those who are looking to take the DELTA, what should they consider before starting the course?

I would definitely recommend doing as much reading as possible, particularly in areas where candidates feel less confident, like phonology and discourse and developing speaking, reading and listening skills. I’d also recommend reading something that challenges their teaching beliefs, for example ‘How Languages are Learned’ (by Spada and Lightbown). DELTA is all about becoming more critically aware of what you do in the classroom and why. Looking into different historical methods and approaches of teaching English is fascinating and eye-opening!

What are the facilities like at the Seville centre? What would trainees expect on-site?

Our Teacher Training Centre is an attractive spacious building and is a very pleasant place to study and learn. We ask trainees to bring laptops with a Wi-Fi connection (or tablet + keyboard) as we’re trying to be ‘green’ and save paper by giving course input and documents digitally. However, there are 10 desktop computers available and printing facilities included in the price. There’s a library of course books and methodology books on site.  There’s also a lovely rooftop terrace – a great place to relax! The school’s right in the centre of Seville, so there are great places all around to visit and great bars and restaurants.

Can you offer any inside knowledge of where trainees should go in their CELTA down-time while in Seville?

Hmmm…there are so many great places to go out in Seville. One of the most popular these days is the ‘Alameda de Hercules’ – a great part of town for young people of all all ages – with loads of great bars and restaurants to try. If you want something more traditional, like flamenco music and dancing, there are some very bars you can visit, particularly in the Triana area (over the river).

Once a trainee has completed the CELTA, how easy is it to find work? What is the ELT sector like in Seville and Spain?

Learning English is still big business in Spain and in Seville but the market has changed a lot in the last 10 years. There are many smaller local ELT academies as well as the larger more established schools. Additionally, there’s much more focus on Exam Classes as English certificates have become so crucial for work and study.  The market for children’s and teens’ classes is still as buoyant as ever and the Very Young Learners’ market is growing, with children as young as 2-3!!! Basically, there’s plenty of work for English teachers in Spain and Seville if you look for it!

From layers of history to the world-class, modern CELTA centre, taking the CELTA in Seville will be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. The Seville centre has been offering the CELTA for over 30 years, so they know what they’re doing. With a CELTA-famous Director of Teacher Training and  knowledgeable tutors like Mike, you’re in good hands.

While there’s not much time to enjoy the beautiful, sunny city of Seville. You’ll want to stick around afterwards to see the sights and enjoy the weather. And who knows, with a healthy ELT-market, you just may decide to make it your new home.

Find out more about the CELTA in Seville.