An Interview with Chris Bunyan - Head of Teacher Training, Bournemouth (Winton)
Chris Bunyan is the Head of Teacher Training in Bournemouth and has taught in seven different countries so far thanks to his CELTA and Delta qualifications. He started off with no teaching experience but purely a passion to see the world, and has found the teaching qualifications to be the key to being able to work and travel.
What was the CELTA experience like for you, Chris?
I know I’m biased but from the moment I stepped into the classroom when I was a nervous teacher trainee on my own CELTA course, I have loved it. I still think it’s an amazing course for many reasons; 1) the amount of development in 4 weeks is phenomenal; 2) the hard work and creativity that the trainees put in is rewarded by their sense of achievement and the satisfaction that comes from doing a great job for their students; 3) it may be hard work but it’s also lots of fun!
I shudder to think of what my teaching would have been like if I’d gone abroad and started teaching without first having done the CELTA. It’s set me up for a rewarding career in a fascinating industry in which I’ve met some amazing people and seen some incredible places. So, without a moment’s hesitation, I would definitely recommend CELTA to anyone thinking of a career teaching English.
In your own words, tell us a bit more about yourself.
I've been teaching since 1998 and teacher training since 2003, when I trained on my first CELTA in Johannesburg. I've also been a Director of Studies, too, and am now Head of Teacher Training here in Bournemouth, running CELTA, Delta and other courses in the UK and overseas. I've lived in a few countries, in Southern and Eastern Europe, South America and South Africa, and I love travelling around and meeting people from different areas of the world - I think I've visited nearly 50 countries now, and hope to see many more. I'm very interested in how language is used and how people learn languages, so I did an MA on these subjects. However, I also love music, books, fine art, illustration, kayaking, and cooking food fro all over the world.
What made you want to embark on a CELTA course in Spain in 1998?
Well, I was fresh out of university, I wanted to see the world and have an adventure and, to be honest, my girlfriend had researched the CELTA and was going to do it in Spain, so, after saving up some money, I followed her. I had always been interested in languages and people, so it seemed like a good move.
What did you enjoy about the CELTA course and how do you think it has been beneficial in your career?
I know there are good teachers out there who don't have a CELTA, but I can't imagine starting a career teaching English wihtout it. It was incredibly challenging but you reap the rewards in the classroom, knowing you are really helping your students and having fun at the same time. Also, I still vividly remember my tutors, fellow trainees and some of the input sessions. For me it was truly life-changing. It gave me the confidence, skills and foundation to continue to develop after the course, and a few years later I felt ready to start the Delta.
You've lived in several continents so please tell us some of your favourite experiences teaching abroad.
Perhaps my favourite city to live in is Buenos Aires in Argentina. The food, people and nightlife are amazing. The best country I've lived in, though, is perhaps South Africa, with its amazing natural resrources and wild life. I've also taight and lived around Spain and in Poland, which was fascinating. Wherever I've been, I've always had a fantastic time, met some amazing people, eaten great food, seen breath-taking places and had adventures I will remember forever. I think it's an important point to make that, wherever you go, if you're CELTA-qualified you can get into a good school with lots of support and usually a good social network, too.
Do you have any advice for anyone who might choose to teach abroad after taking their CELTA course in Bournemouth?
If you don't have a specific country in mind, you literally have the world to choose from and so will have more options of the best jobs at the best schools. I wouldn't necessarily go for a typical holiday destination – I'd choose the school based on the development it could provide me with, so at interview ask about ongoing training, observation and support. And of course, if you're not leaving the UK immediately, Bournemouth is an amazing place in which to live and teach.
What is the mixture of students like in the Bournemouth centre?
We're really lucky in that we have lovely, highly-motivated studentsfrom all over the globe, from South America to East Asia and everywhere in between. Some are here on study trips, some have made their homes in Bournemouth, but either way you are helping people in their real lives to improve their job prospects and achieve their goals. The advantage of multi-national classes is that students have to use English to find out about their classmates lives and countries, which is fascinating for a teacher who's interested in the world.
What kind of job opportunities are there for graduates of CELTA and Delta from Bournemouth at the moment?
We're lucky that Bournemouth is a massive centre of English Language Teaching, so there are lots of schools and students, especially in the summer months. With a high level of English and a CELTA, you are a very attractive prospect to most language schools around the world, depending on that country's work visa regulations. If you want a position of responsibility in the UK, though, to start in management or teacher training, you'll need the Delta. Whereas the CELTA is a teaching certificate, the Delta is a diploma, at the same level as a Master's qualification. It's a really interesting course that goes much deeper into how people learn languages.
What is Bournemouth like as a place to live and take a CELTA course in?
I'm actually from the north of England but I love it here. The town has a great cosmoplitan atmosphere, the nightlife is buzzing, the beaches are wonderful and the weather is some of the best in the UK. If you want natural beauty, we're between the New Forest and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coast. You can get a boat to France, a 2-hour train to London, or fly to Europe from Bournemouth airport. I love it.
There are many training centre's in the UK so why should students choose Bournemouth?
Well, I'm biased but I think our personal touch and the amount of support we provide is really appreciated by all our trainees. We also have a great mix of teacher trainees of all ages from many different countries, all of whom really help each other in a very colloborative supportive atmosphere. And if you haven't been to Bournemouth before, it's about time you checked it out!