Thinking about taking the CELTA in San Sebastian? We caught up with the Director of Studies at the San Sebastian centre, Iñigo Casis, who answered some of your burning CELTA questions. From the challenges to expect from taking the CELTA to what you must do when in the city, get the low down on the San Sebastian CELTA experience.
Hi Iñigo! Thank you for speaking to us all things CELTA. Let’s start with a little bit about you. You haven’t always wanted to go into English Language Teaching, as you have a background in engineering. What made you take the leap into ELT?
I became a teacher after finishing my degree and after teaching many technical subjects I decided that I wanted to do something different. I did the CELTA course and I immediately fell in love with ELT and I decided I wanted to make a career out of it, a decision I have never regretted.
As the current Director of Studies at the centre in San Sebastian, did you need to complete any certification or achieve any type of work experience to get where you are now?
I got my DELTA after some years of teaching and that gave me the opportunity to become a Director of Studies. I think a DoS needs to be able to help the teachers at the school so the more you know the better. As a Director of Studies I delivered several teacher training courses and after a while I became a CELTA trainer.
The CELTA has now become increasingly popular with non-native English speakers. What do you think is the biggest challenge that they face?
Non-native English speakers have so much invaluable knowledge and experience to bring to the classroom from their years as a learner of English themselves. Some of this is extremely beneficial when they train to become English teachers as they can reflect upon the challenges they faced as students, and use this in a positive way to help their own students fulfil their language learning potential. They are also the ultimate role-models for their students; they have reached the highest levels of language proficiency required to teach it and impart that knowledge they have gained.
There are, of course, challenges that everyone faces on the CELTA course due to its intensive nature and all trainees are different. I would say, however, that non-native English speakers often find confidence a significant factor on the course. Standing up in front of a class for the first time is not easy and this is made even more nerve-wracking when you are worried about making little language slips which the students might notice. There is also the fact that they may not have had much experience in academic writing, which they need to use throughout the CELTA course. When combined with the stress of the course, this can prove difficult for candidates who don’t often use English in this way.
We get a lot of questions from people who want to know how to prepare for the CELTA. What one piece of advice would you recommend?
It’s very difficult to just give candidates one piece of advice for the CELTA as there are so many elements to the course which require preparation. However, my main two for trainees to consider before starting the course would be:
- Make sure your friends and loved ones are aware that you will be otherwise occupied for the duration of your course; this may mean postponing social events, asking family and friends to ease the burden of some responsibilities and reminding them that they may need to emotionally support you when times get tough.
- Take yourself away to a quiet corner and revise the basics of English grammar. It would also be useful for you to think about what grammar students are taught at different levels as you’ll be teaching students with varying levels of English. You can view a brief overview of the different levels and grammar requirements on many websites for students of English. You’ll thank yourself for this when you have to teach real students only a few days into the course.
For trainees who are starting their CELTA course soon, you can find more information on how to prepare for the CELTA here.
What is the centre like in San Sebastián?
Our centre is a real year-round language school in which we deliver English and French classes throughout the year, as well as teacher training courses including the CELTA. We are committed to providing high-quality teaching to both our trainees on the course our students. In fact, we give our own teachers 2 hours of paid teacher training each week in order to maintain the high standard we set ourselves.
Our flagship San Sebastián centre is situated in Gros, a lively part of the city close to many of the best restaurants and bars in town. The centre is also very easy to reach from other areas of the city and further afield. We are a 5-minute walk from the train station in Gros, and a 15-minute walk from the main Donostia/San Sebastián train station.
When a trainee has completed their CELTA, how easy it is to find work in and around San Sebastián? Does the San Sebastián centre offer guidance?
Many of our CELTA trainees go on to find teaching work in San Sebastián and the surrounding areas due to the high demand for English teachers in this part of the world. At the end of the course the Director of London School of Languages, José Mari Sánchez, gives all trainees a session on how to go about finding work, both in the local area and all over the world.
For those who are looking for a new job, TEFLwork has English Language Teaching jobs from schools across the globe.
Why should a trainee choose San Sebastián to take their CELTA?
There are two main reasons why I would urge potential CELTA candidates to choose our CELTA course. One of these is the location; we are situated in the heart of the city and as such there is so much to see and do when you have those precious few hours of freedom at the weekend. What better way to take a break from work than a short walk along the beach or a hike up one of the mountains to take in the breath-taking view of the city from above.
The second reason is that we provide a very high-quality teacher training course and are committed to helping teachers achieve their potential on the course. We constantly reassess our material to ensure we provide trainees with the most up-to-date teaching methodologies and ideas for use in the classroom.
What places do you recommend people should visit in San Sebastian (once they have completed their CELTA, of course)?
There are so many places, it’s hard to choose only a selection! To reward themselves for all their hard work, CELTA graduates should definitely start by sampling some of the great food and drink the city has to offer. For a great selection of pintxos and live music, ‘Gastropote’ is the place to go on Thursday evenings. Based in a local food market, it turns into a great venue for an evening of good food and good music. If jazz music is your thing then a visit to ‘Altxerri’ is one for the to-do list. Not only does it provide live jazz music in a cosy underground bar, but it is also a great place for a relaxed evening drink with friends. After a tiring 4-week CELTA course, what better way to unwind than with a very large glass of delicious gin and tonic in your hand? We highly recommend the local ‘Gintoneria’, which has one of the largest selections of gin in the city, and conveniently, is only a 10-minute walk from our centre in San Sebastián. What are you waiting for?
Thank you, Iñigo!
And what are you waiting for? The first step to applying for the CELTA in San Sebastian only takes fives minutes! All you have to do is complete our online form and voila, you have taken the first step of an exciting journey to become an English Language Teacher.
TESOL in San Sebastian
San Sebastian is a charming old city famous for its circular beach, pinchos (or pintxos) and known for being the city with most Michelin star restaurants per square meter in the world.