An Interview with Jeanette Barsdell - Head of Teacher Training, Portsmouth
Jeanette Barsdell has been in the language teaching business for nearly 30 fabulous years. She started out teaching as a means to travel but soon found that she loved being in the classroom. Every day brings something new and she says that she has never been bored in all that time! Over the years Jeanette has worked in many countries as a teacher, a CELTA and Young Learner trainer, a manager and an EFL entrepreneur.
As a CELTA trainer she believes that her role is to prepare candidates to be successful teachers, valued by their students and employers. Teaching should be stimulating and enjoyable for both learners and teachers. For her great teachers are learners in the classroom too, meaning that if you can keep learning how to help your learners, to work out their needs and how best to supply the language needed, you will always be in demand.
A Bit about Yourself:
Before you had the CELTA qualification, what got you interested in teaching?
Before doing the CELTA I did a lot of different jobs, yacht crew, bar maid, garlic cleaner and then finally I went to University and studied Youth and Community work. A few years later a friend suggested doing a Cambridge CELTA course and at first I thought she was mad but soon realised it was a great way to travel and be paid at the same time.
What do you like to do in Portsmouth in your free time among your very busy schedule?
Portsmouth is a really interesting, vibrant University city. On one side of the city is the beach and fun fair with hovercrafts and ferries to the Isle of Wight, whilst on another side is the historic shipyard, museums and shopping areas. There is a lively theatre and music scene in the city too.
We've noticed you are also the Owner of Unleashed Dog Day Care! Can you tell us one rewarding thing about running each of your Centres – both the Dog Day Care and the CELTA Training Centre?
There are lots of parallels between the two businesses - both are great fun, stimulating, sometimes noisy learning environments. A common feature of both businesses is that we can watch our clients skills and confidence grow as they learn.The dogs remind me that learning should be fun and the CELTA candidates highlight that learning has to be stimulating and they both need to have clear rewards!
The CELTA Course in Portsmouth:
You opened the Teacher Training Centre 3 months ago – we're all very excited for your up-coming CELTA courses! Can you tell us a bit about your centre and its facilities?
The training centre is located in a top Portsmouth language school. The Teacher Training Centre is well resourced and modern. The school hosts adult students from all around the world so there is a very lively and positive atmosphere and a lot of laughs as everyone tries to communicate.
What do you think the advantages are of taking the CELTA course in Portsmouth?
Portsmouth is a great location - it’s a small, accessible city with great transport networks. The school is in the heart of the city, near to shops, transport and some great pubs!
What do you find most attractive or intriguing about Portsmouth and the surrounding areas?
Portsmouth blends the ancient and the modern. It has always been a naval town with a rich sea going history. The city is on the coast and surrounded by the South Downs so you are never far from the sea or the quiet of the Downs.
How is the TEFL job market currently looking in Portsmouth?
Good. There is a huge Summer market in the city and the surrounding areas with high demand for CELTA trained teachers. Portsmouth also has a number of schools open all year round that need teachers.
The CELTA qualification:
You've worked as a Freelance CELTA tutor for over 15 years now. Can you tell us about one of your most memorable moments as a CELTA tutor?
There have been many moments but the best are when you see the ‘aah ha’ moment happen, that moment when all the input and feedback comes together and the trainee ‘gets it’. It’s like the light coming on and there is no going back. Its a really exciting time for both the trainer and trainee.
What specific changes do you see in your CELTA students over the duration of their course?
The combination of increased technical skill and confidence changes and dramatically improves the relationship and dynamic with the learners. The new teachers are able to respond more authentically to students and to provide a better ‘service’ which in turn makes them more valued. Its a win/win situation .
How much easier do you think it is to find work as an EFL teacher once you have the CELTA qualification?
There is almost no comparison! Everywhere I have worked in the world there has always been high demand for CELTA trained people, CELTA people always get the pick of the jobs. The reputation of the course for producing skilled and able teachers is amazing. The course can cost a bit more than others (for good reason) but the payback is huge and well worth the investment in terms of money, time and energy.