An Interview with Dave Fox - Head of Teacher Training, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Byron Bay, Perth, Cebu, Kobe, Tokyo and Seoul
Dave has found himself in numerous countries all over the world thanks to the CELTA course. He's told us a bit about his experiences and why he thinks CELTA provides you with so many new opportunities.
"Fortunately throughout my career I have been able to get involved in various aspects of the industry from teaching and teacher training through to marketing and academic management."
So Dave, how did you first get into English language teaching?
Well, I was managing a pub in London and my visa for the UK was about to expire so I thought I would go and get lost in Europe. I wound up in Hungary and after a little while ran out of money. So I went around to some of the language schools in the city I was living in and one of them was very keen to hire a native English speaking teacher - provided I had the right qualification.
Why did you choose CELTA over other TESOL courses?
"That’s what’s so great about CELTA – it’s recognised everywhere."
Actually, I was very lucky. The owner of the first school I worked for in Hungary told me to do a CELTA course and booked me in with the centre in Budapest. I didn’t know at the time that CELTA was the best course out there. I hadn’t done any research so I was lucky I got good advice. These days I come across lots of people looking for work who have ‘qualifications’ from weekend-long TEFL courses or online courses with no practical element and I can’t offer them anything. It’s really important that you make sure your TEFL/TESOL certificate meets the criteria for work in your country of choice. That’s what’s so great about CELTA – it’s recognised everywhere.
Dave Fox is Head of TT in Byron Bay, Brisbane, Cebu, Sunshine Coast, Perth, Seoul, Tokyo and Kobe
What did you like most about the CELTA course?
"The fact that you are teaching from day 2 of the course means that you don’t have time to stress about being up in front of a class"
Everything! CELTA isn’t difficult, it’s just a lot of work - particularly the full-time option. If you are willing to put the work in though, the course is very rewarding. The hands-on nature of the course, the ‘practice what you preach mentality’ of the tutors and the interaction with colleagues and students are all fantastic elements. But for me, the fact that you are teaching from day 2 of the course means that you don’t have time to stress about being up in front of a class, and this was the best thing about the course. I was so nervous about being up there at the beginning, but by the end of the course I was much more comfortable.
What career paths are open to people in the TESOL industry?
There are many different paths you can take in the industry. Some people stay with teaching their whole career as it is a fun and rewarding way to make a living. Some people look to up-skill and do a Delta diploma which opens up teacher training and academic managing pathways, or a DELTM/IDLTM (Diploma of English Language Teaching Management/International Diploma of Language Teaching Management) which teaches you about all the different aspects of school management. If you are lucky, you get to do a bit of everything. Fortunately throughout my career I have been able to get involved in various aspects of the industry from teaching and teacher training through to marketing and academic management.
Where has TESOL taken you?
TESOL has taken me all over the world. I spent 12 years in Europe – Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the UK – teaching, training and running schools, and the marketing part of the job has taken me to Spain, Germany, Japan and China. This has allowed me to meet people from all over and experience different countries and cultures.
What do you like most about your current position?
"Whether you are counselling students, covering classes, meeting agents or writing new courses, you never get bored."
The variety – no two days are ever the same in this job. Whether you are counselling students, covering classes, meeting agents or writing new courses, you never get bored. Also interacting with students visiting my country for the first time allows me to see it through their eyes and stops me from taking it for granted.
You have recently set up a new centre in Tokyo, that’s exciting! What made you choose there?
"The English language industry in Japan is booming"
Tokyo has always been a goal for us. Once our Kobe centre was firmly established as the leader in Cambridge teacher training awards in Japan, we knew we would be moving into Tokyo. The English language industry in Japan is booming and the concentration of schools in Tokyo is phenomenal. For a long time in Japan, there has been a sense that TESOL qualifications aren’t necessary, but we’re now contacted almost every day by schools that are desperate for CELTA qualified teachers, and we knew we would be able to provide the quality training they need.
The Tokyo location also gives us a base for our other teacher training programs like CELT-S for secondary school teachers and CELT-P for primary school teachers. With the big changes coming in Japanese English language education in 2020, English teachers in all contexts are realising that it is time to upskill or risk falling behind.
What is there to do nearby the Tokyo CELTA centre?
It’s Tokyo! Our training centre is located in the geographic centre of a region of 30 million people. Too bad our trainees will be too busy to enjoy it….
What is the TEFL industry like in Japan?
"It’s a really exciting time to be in the TEFL industry in Japan."
As I mentioned, it is absolutely booming. Adult English education, as well as the primary and secondary sectors, is really shifting its focus towards the idea of ‘fours skills’ education, so communicative language teaching is coming on strong. After years and years of Japanese English speakers having good receptive skills but weaker productive skills, employers, schools and the government know they need to get teachers who are properly trained to help restore the balance and give Japanese people the English they need to compete on the global stage.
We ran a series of seminars around the country last month and we had people flying in to attend a two hour session on communicative language teaching. The response was amazing! It’s a really exciting time to be in the TEFL industry in Japan.
For more information on the courses in Japan, please click here.
Why do you think so many people go overseas to take the CELTA nowadays?
I think a lot of people like to take the CELTA in the country they initially hope to work in. We get people from all over flying into do the course – the USA, China, Sweden, Ireland, Russia to name a few – and quite often it’s because they have fallen in love with the culture of the country and want to experience it as a traveller rather than a tourist. Living and working and getting a more authentic experience. Quite often I think people are just keen to get over and get involved! It’s also a lot easier to find work if you are on the ground. Being present for a face to face interview trumps calling in from abroad every time.
What advice would you give to people looking to prepare to take the CELTA at one of your locations?
"CELTA opens doors to lives and cultures most people never get to see."
Remember why you are doing it. CELTA opens doors to lives and cultures most people never get to see. But to be able to take full advantage of it you need to be able to provide something in return and the best way to do this is by making sure you get as much out of your CELTA as you can. This way the ‘exchange’ is equal – amazing teaching for amazing experiences.
What would you tell someone considering a career in TESOL?
Do it! I have experienced so much more than I ever imagined I would, and it is due to TESOL. If you want to see the world and get paid to do it, this is the industry for you.