An Interview with Jim Pearson - Head of Teacher Training, Liverpool
Jim Pearson is the Assistant Director of Studies/Teacher Trainer at our Liverpool Centre so here is a bit about Jim in his own words.
I come from a background in building and labouring, but a bad back and a love of languages soon took me around the world to see new places, people and cultures. From there I quickly found myself helping out in classrooms in India, Thailand and Laos but I was never quite satisfied with my own standards of teaching and wanted a qualification that would help. This is when I discovered CELTA and on completion, ran into two ambitious sisters who were opening a language school in Liverpool. 10 years on and I’m still working for those two sisters here. CELTA gave me the know-how and confidence to teach any class I was faced with and helped to nurture my skills and love for the subject.
The Teacher Training Centre in Liverpool
Can you tell us a bit more about how you started working for Leanne and Victoria at the Teacher Training Centre in Liverpool?
I had recently completed my teaching qualification when, fortuitously, I met Leanne who mentioned that she was due to open a language school and that they were looking for a teacher. At that time, however, they were not a teacher training centre.
It sounds like you found your job (that you've been in for 10 years) very soon after you completed your CELTA course. Is it common to find employment so soon after?
It's not uncommon but I was certainly in the right place at the right time. Of late, lots of new schools have opened around the world. The economic crash of 2008 saw an increase in people wanting to retrain and/or improve their skill set. For many, this included learning English as a second language. As a result, there are numerous schools hiring. I would argue that, as long as you are willing to relocate, it is easier to find work following completion of the CELTA course now than it has ever been. Many centres are keen to employ newly qualified teachers as they are more receptive to a specific school's chosen methodology.
Do students who take their CELTA course with you in Liverpool have any sort of assistance in finding work after completing the course?
One of the input sessions we run on the course is on how to find work, what to look out for etc. We offer support beyond the course, however long after completing the course that may be. I regularly get emails asking for advice, my opinion or support from candidates who completed the course 2, 3, 4 years ago, and some even longer ago than that. We, of course, act as referees for those looking for work.
What is Liverpool's main attraction as a city?
It's big without being too big and small without being too small. It is a very friendly city and relatively inexpensive. Liverpool is vibrant with lots going on and as a university city, there is a youthfulness about the city.
Do you have a lot of students coming from far and wide or are most of them from the local area?
50/50. We get candidates from all over the world and of all ages and backgrounds. We also get lots from the immediate area.
The CELTA Course
What is the main difference between your teaching methods before and after taking the CELTA course?
CELTA teaches you how to aid the language acquisition process. We don't “teach” as such, but facilitate acquisition. This may sound like jargon, but it is backed by a lot of research and we read up on modern teaching techniques as much as possible. CELTA teaches you how to put learning in the hands of the learner rather than standing at the front of the class explaining grammar to the learners.
You must see your students make quite a dramatic change during their month long intensive CELTA course in Liverpool. Can you give us a brief description of the typical before and after CELTA student?
After CELTA teachers are more confident, aware of learners' needs, but most importantly, have the skills needed to set foot in any classroom anywhere in the world.
The CELTA qualification of course gives you the advantage of better teaching techniques and methods. What other advantages can CELTA bring, in terms of life choices and career paths?
The opportunities for CELTA trained teachers are enormous. It is essentially your ticket around the world to not only see a country but to immerse yourself in the culture of that country.
You mentioned that you worked in the teaching industry in India, Thailand and Laos. Can you tell us the best part about working in these countries? What is the hardest thing?
The most reward aspect is seeing a new part of the world and making life-long connections. Resources were often a problem with very limited materials to work with or quite dated ones. Coming from England, it was also quite refreshing to see a bit of sunshine!
Do you have any advice for anyone who might choose to go to teach in South East Asia after taking their CELTA course in Liverpool?
Don't sign anything before going to the country and seeing where you would be working. Arrange your own accommodation as it will probably be cheaper, unless of course, it is included in the terms of the contract. My biggest piece of advice though, is to throw yourself into the culture, eat the food, visit the people and make the most of an opportunity of a lifetime.
Do you plan to take your teaching qualifications abroad at any point in the future? If so, where is high on your list?
No. Friends, family and the rest are all here, I have no plans to move. (but if I could, I'd go to Australia).