Madrid is the heart of Spain. It is the country's capital and most populous city. It also happens to be the third largest city in the European Union. With low rainfall (it’s the driest capital in Europe) and beautiful architecture, it's hard not to fall in love. Not to mention the cuisine! Combine that with a strong culture, it is one of the world’s major cities. It’s also a great place to take the CELTA. Spain has a bustling ELT scene, and as the most populous city, Madrid has many opportunities for English language teachers.
We chatted with Steven McGuire, Director of Teacher Training at the Madrid centre about his experience in the ELT world. Having taken his CELTA and Delta at the centre in Madrid himself, he is an expert on the Madrid centre. Over his career in Madrid, he has been a teacher, IT Coordinator, Assistant Director of Studies, Director of Studies, CELTA tutor and Delta tutor. He also developed the centre’s Young Learner Certificate course. In addition to his role as Director of Teacher Training, he still works as a Delta tutor, so he really is an authority on all things CELTA and Delta. We asked him about the course, the centre and the city.
What got you interested in English language teaching?
I have always worked in training of some kind and an English-teaching friend suggested that I combine my training skills with teaching English. In 1995 I took the plunge, came to Madrid and I’ve been here ever since.
Why did you decide to get involved in the teacher training aspect of ELT?
Long before I got my first job of responsibility, I shared ideas and gave advice to new teachers in the staffroom. I remembered how experienced teachers had helped me in my first year. I began giving workshops as part of our in-service training and this led to giving talks at English teaching conferences. This gave me the confidence to take on a more senior role at the Madrid centre. In 2003 I became Director of Teacher Training, started tutoring on CELTA and now train on DELTA, the Madrid Young Learner course and a range of others.
How have you seen the ELT landscape change over the past 25 years?
Perhaps the most striking thing is the different approaches to teaching English that are available. Students, especially young students, are looking for new and innovative ways to learn English. Obviously, technology plays a bigger role these days and students can do so much more studying outside the classroom. The other thing is the enthusiasm of newly qualified teachers who want to improve their skills as quickly as possible in a very competitive market. Teachers want to broaden their range to teaching different kinds of learners and make themselves even more employable. CELTA is the starting point and it provides teachers with the foundation skills on which to build upon.
You wrote Madrid’s Young Learner Certificate course. What are some of the ways teaching young learners differs from teaching adults?
I do not have enough space here to answer that question fully, but I will touch on a few things. Motivation plays a much bigger role with young learners and lessons need to be carefully designed to sustain their interest. Teachers need to deal with aspects of classroom management, like discipline, praise and reward; aspects that don’t usually figure in adult classes.
One of your key interests is technology in the classroom. What are some of the innovative ways you’ve seen technology being used in the classroom (or that you’ve used yourself)?
We were one of the first centres to offer the CELTA Blended course in Spain and over the years we have used technology to reduce paperwork, and that in turn reduces trainee stress. We use Dropbox on all our courses, so trainees and tutors have continual access to each other’s work, offering more opportunity for support right throughout the course. We also offer training on effective use of PowerPoint to aid learning and deliver more engaging lessons.
What would be your one piece of advice for CELTA candidates?
Ask your tutor and keep asking! Some trainees see asking for support as an admission of defeat. Our job is to get you to a point where you are confident to get into class and give your own, independently planned, engaging lessons. We want to help you get there - so exploit us. That’s our job!
Can you tell us a little bit about the centre in Madrid? What kind of facilities do you have?
We are very proud of our flagship centre in the heart of Madrid and it is well-located for train, bus and metro. There are twenty-eight well-equipped classrooms with the latest technology. Our jewel has to be our student library, which is a great study place. There is free WIFI and access to computers and printers and a range of additional teaching resources. It is also a busy school, so there is a great teaching buzz about it with students learning English, Spanish, German and French. We have an in-house cafeteria, where you have can have a coffee or a full lunch at a reasonable price.
What is the ELT job market like in Madrid?
I think Madrid is the still the easiest place to find work in Spain as there is a steady demand for qualified English teachers. We do everything we can to help you obtain your first post. The centre is always interested in anyone who would like to work for us if they fit our profile.
How does the centre help CELTA graduates find a job?
Our CELTA Plus after-care service has proved useful to new teachers seeking their first teaching post. We provide a list of contacts to schools and act as a reference to trainees who have studied on any of our courses.
Check out TEFLwork for opportunities for post-CELTA jobs.
What is your must-see while in Madrid?
People say Madrid is a city that has something for everyone. For culture vultures, there is the Prado, the Reina Sofia and The Thyssen, as well a huge range of other museums and beautiful parks. If you prefer socialising, there is a vibrant nightlife and every cuisine is catered for. It is also a very friendly city, one you just might fall in love with and like me, decide to stay.
Choosing Madrid to take your CELTA will offer you opportunities to grow and develop as an English teacher. The centre offers full time, part time and online blended formats, as well as the Delta, so there's something for everyone. Not only that, the centre is full of knowledgeable tutors like Steven and it has a long history of offering the CELTA. With stunning culture like the Museo del Prado, El Retiro park and Plaza Mayor, you won’t want to leave. And as Spain’s capital and one of the largest cities in Europe, you just might not have to. As Steven mentioned, you will be well-poised to find your first post-CELTA job in the city.
What are you waiting for? Develop your English teaching skills. Discover this world-class city. Apply for the CELTA in Madrid today.