For those who want to CELTA and surf, where is better than Honolulu, Hawaii? We are very excited to introduce our new school in the city that is famous for beaches, Mai Tais and the dormant volcano, the Diamond Head! It truly is a paradise and we know that number one on the agenda for CELTA graduates is to relax (and where is better than the famous Waikiki beach?).
To find out more about the CELTA in Honolulu, we speak with CELTA Tutor and Cambridge CELTA Assessor, Gabriella Megyesi-Briese! She shares her own ELT journey, her key advice for CELTA hopefuls, the facilities at the school and local job market…
CELTA in Honolulu, Hawaii
Hi Gabrielle, thank you for letting us interview you! You’ve had a career in ELT for 25 years as a Teacher, Teacher Trainer, Oral Examiner and CELTA Assessor. What made you decide to go into English Language Teaching?
I was born in Hungary, and after moving to the UK to study, I constantly thought about ways to improve my English. One day, one of my English professors made a comment about the fact that the best way to learn English was to teach it!
I’d taught Geography in a high school before, and had done some tutoring in English, but I’d never thought that I’d like to be a teacher. However, when I taught my first successful lesson to a group of adult learners on the CELTA course, I was hooked! I kept thinking of more effective, more motivating, and more interesting ways to support learners in their journey of learning English, and it was absolutely fascinating to watch them succeed. The job of an English teacher never gets boring! There’re always new students, new challenges, new materials, and new technology to learn about, but always the same satisfying feeling of a job well done when my students move to a higher-level class, pass an exam, or get a job using their language skills!
Can you explain to us about your role as a CELTA Assessor and how you become one?
The reason why the CELTA course is more expensive and is of a higher quality than many other TESOL courses is because Cambridge ensures that every single course run in the whole world is assessed by an independent assessor who has nothing to do with the center, but whose job is to ensure that the trainers keep up the standards set by Cambridge, and they assess the candidates according to the described criteria. Assessors visit the center, check all the documents, including the trainees’ portfolios, watch them teach, and observe how the trainers assess them. Assessors also talk to candidates and ask for their feedback on the course, on the center, and on the trainers as well.
Trainers with significant and varied experience can apply to become assessors, and if the particular region where the person is based needs more assessors, Cambridge examines the application, checks the references and may agree that the person can train up as an assessor. The future assessor then shadows someone experienced (or a Joint Chief Assessor), and, if the assessor doing the training also agrees and gives their recommendation, the person becomes an assessor. Cambridge does not grant people the opportunity to become assessors easily – one needs to have a lot of experience and training!
When it comes to the CELTA, what advice would you give trainees before they are about to start the course?
A little review of their rusty grammar knowledge can come in very handy, so they don’t have to stress so much when they plan a grammar lesson! Understanding that they are embarking on a completely new journey is also useful, so they are patient and forgiving with themselves if they don’t “get” everything immediately. Finally, getting ready to be guided will help them absorb feedback from their trainers a lot more effectively.
You’ve most recently taught at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Has there been a stand-out place where you have enjoyed teaching the most?
I’ve been lucky because I’ve taught in many great places and had the opportunity to work with some very experienced and fantastic people. The one place that I will always hold dear in my heart is Hastings, in England, where I received my training to become a CELTA trainer. The atmosphere of the school as well as the expertise of the teachers and teacher trainers have stayed with me for nearly 20 years. The school was by the sea, and in the summer we often had classes and CELTA feedback sessions on the beach. The staff included some unforgettable characters and some major names in the ESL field, like Adrian Underhill. It was an intense summer that taught me a lot about teaching and teacher training.
What would you say has been a career highlight for you so far?
Every time Cambridge asks me to do a “nominated assessment” I feel very honoured. It means they trust my experience, knowledge, and expertise to assess a new centre and provide them support, so they can provide high quality courses for their candidates.
What is the job market like in Hawaii?
Being at the crossroads of the east and west, there is a highly diverse student international student body in Hawaii. Hawaii has a consortium of international education schools, which advocates this industry to be an economic driver to the State of Hawaii. However, Hawaii is a small group of islands, so many CELTA grads go on to other countries with the aspiration to teach abroad.
Check out TEFLwork for opportunities for post-CELTA jobs.
What is the centre like in Honolulu? What facilities do you have for your students?
Our centre is located in the heart of Honolulu and is in walking distance to many shops, restaurants and of course the beach! The centre facilities include 13 classrooms with ocean and mountain views. There is also an ocean-view lounge with TV, kitchenette, vending machines and phone, 25 flat screen computers and free wireless internet.
What is your top recommendation for trainees to do in their CELTA down-time in Honolulu?
Most importantly – go to the beach; to ANY beach! It’s amazing, magical, and the best thing to do after a day of training. It’s also great to hike, travel around Oahu or fly to the other islands during the weekend and meet local people. It’s not easy to keep away from the most touristy areas, but once you venture beyond Waikiki, you can discover the side of Hawaii that’s more authentic and truly beautiful!
If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with a StudyCELTA member of staff.