This month we spoke to English teacher trainer Ana Rosa Vargas, of the CELTA Course in Guadalajara Mexico. Ana Rosa is the main tutor on the CELTA training course with a career that spans 44 years. She can reflect on much that has changed in the industry, locally and internationally and what language teaching practices work. A depth of experience such as this is what enriches the CELTA programme in Guadalajara.
Ana Rosa, what moments in your English teaching career have stood out to you?
Actually many moments have stood out in 44 years of teaching. Some moments are when a CELTA trainee who is weak or doesn't believe in themself wants to quit. I persuade them to continue, giving ideas and supporting them to succeed. Then I receive from them that kind of look that says ‘thank you’. Another moment is when trainees come to me saying that what I’ve taught them works. That they want to learn more.
Finally, the moments where I have learnt from others either by observing lessons or when I take courses. I've had the opportunity to keep learning throughout my teaching career. Two people have marked my teaching career; Jeremy Harmer and Jean Pender with their trust and guidance.
What areas of English language teaching are you passionate about?
I am a passionate about teaching phonology, especially when people improve their pronunciation. Something I love and teach wherever I go is reading skills. These skills changed my world. It's helped me when I mark tasks, when I want to know about something and specially when I motivate others to read and they change their lives too.
What strengths do you look for in your trainee CELTA teachers in Guadalajara and what qualities will keep them growing professionally?
One strength I look for is willingness to improve and openness to criticism. Because with these traits, they can become excellent teachers. I also look for creativity and enthusiasm because with these two abilities, they can transform the classroom.
What are the profiles of some of the people you train and why are they choosing to do the CELTA course in Mexico and in Guadalajara?
In Guadalajara, we have two types of CELTA teacher trainee. On the one hand we have locals or people who have relatives in Guadalajara who study and stay in the same city. On the other hand, we also have trainees who come from abroad to Guadalajara to get the CELTA qualification in order to move to other places and see the world.
What does the CELTA training centre in Guadalajara offer to cater for the different needs of teachers?
We offer help for both types of trainees. We suggest places and institutes to work outside Mexico but we also help those who want to stay in the city. One advantage is that I live in Guadalajara and through our networks I know many schools and institutes as well as how things work here, so I know and recommend what is best for the trainees.
TESOL in Mexico
Mexico has a strong community of creative and well-equipped teachers. This includes foreign native-English-speaking teachers as well as Mexican nationals. MEXTESOL conferences always boast a range of great influencers in English language teaching from around the world - from Jeremy Harmer to Carol Read. We also have local specialists including Mario Herrera and current MEXTESOL secretary Jorge Torres Almazán. Groups such as the English-Speaking Union, the National Association of University Professors of English, and Comexus also provide students and teachers chances to develop their skills as English language teachers.
In Mexico, what kind of career prospects and programmes are there for qualified English teachers?
English speaking skills are essential for many professions in Mexico. That means English teaching jobs are abundant, with students of all ages. English language learning is a strong and central focus of the national curriculum. Given the high demand for English, there is a lot of work in private language schools for CELTA qualified teachers.
Working as an English teacher in a Mexican university
With a minimum of a Master’s degree, as well as a TEFL/TESOL certificate or diploma such as Guadalajara’s CELTA or the Delta, teachers can apply for work at the universities. In Guadalajara, we have MA and PHD programmes from several universities if CELTA graduates are interested in developing their career at a tertiary teaching level.
Getting work teaching English or through English in an international or bilingual school in Mexico
There are many International Schools and Bilingual schools, from preschool through high school level where teachers can find jobs. These jobs will also require that the teacher is licensed as a primary or secondary teacher along with their CELTA qualification. The majority of international schools are located in Mexico City or Guadalajara.
And finally Guadalajara itself: great food, nearby beaches, ease of movement, big city meets small town
For me, Guadalajara is the best city in Mexico. It is big enough to have everything I need but still with characteristics of small places such as friendly people and peaceful spots. The infrastructure helps because the city has wide straight streets that even with a lot of traffic, are still easy to commute on from one place to another.
The weather is beautiful, from 7 to 36 degrees celsius all year round. Not too hot, not too cold. And food! We have a wide variety of food for all tastes.
The city centre is colonial style, from 1530 with beautiful building and impressive murals, however the suburbs have elegant modern shopping centres. Guadalajara is the symbol of Mexico because it is the origin of mariachis, charros, tequila and folklore. We are also about 3:30 from Puerto Vallarta or a wide variety of beaches.