An Interview with Orlando Delgado - Head of Teacher Training Mexico
We speak to Orlando Delgado about teacher training, the recognition of the CELTA, and job prospects for English teachers in Mexico.
Orlando Delgado Mata is now the Teacher Training and Development Manager in the Teacher Training Centre in Mexico City and is also very experienced in working as a teacher and teacher trainer, which he has done for over nine years. He has worked as a CELTA and Delta Assessor for several years. He's taken the time out of his very busy schedule to answer some questions for us...
How did you first hear about the CELTA course?
Well, I first heard about the course when I was looking for training myself, many moons ago when I wanted to become a teacher. The first contact with CELTA was through the teacher Training Centre in Mexico too, as we are the only CELTA centre in the country and have been running CELTAs for more than 10 years now. I remember being really impressed by the syllabus, the content and focus of input sessions but, above all, the practical component on the course. This is exactly what I wanted, real teaching practice with real learners!
The CELTA and Delta courses are without a doubt high up with the most popular EFL Teacher Training courses in Europe. Do you think they have the same prestige within Mexico and the US nowadays? There are other similar courses to choose from, but why do you think CELTA and Delta are so important in the Teacher Training world?
In Mexico, definitely. Former President Vicente Fox worked very hard during his presidency to get national accreditation from the Ministry of Education and get teachers in Mexico standardised through Camrbridge ESOL courses, training programmes and examinations. As a result of this, the Ministry of Education in Mexico (SEP), has now recognised CELTA as work towards a BA in ELT and CENEVAL now offers CELTA graduates in Mexico the opportunity to get a first degree in ELT!
This is real evidence of the prestige CELTA has in the country, both in the private and the public sector. Delta is also fully recognised through the Ministry of Education too and at a higher level of course, as this is taken as work towards an MA in ELT, just like most other universities in the UK. Comparatively speaking, the US is increasingly recognising the prestige of both courses, mostly in the private sector.
You have spent a lot of time teaching English yourself, both in Language Institutes and Primary schools and also teaching Business English at high end companies. How important have your CELTA and Delta qualifications proven to be with this kind of work?
Very important! CELTA is a very good course that gives you the basic tools and skills to survive in the teaching jungle. And like any other jungle, adapting to the environment and its dangers and surprises and wonder requires time and practice.
This is where Delta then comes into play. As an experienced teacher, there comes a point in your teaching career where you need more, you want to develop your skills and hone them, polish them and put them to better use and more carefully consider learners' needs and truly understand your practice as a professional English language teacher.
I hold an MA from a well established and recognised university in the UK, but I can very honestly say it would't be the same without my CELTA and Delta skills. Many people in this field consider MAs to be more like “the history of cooking”, so to speak, while Delta is “real cooking”. So, answering your question, I think both qualifications have proven to be of a great importance in my teaching and training career. I would't be here, doing what I am doing, if it weren't for them.
Why do you think it is so important for English Language teachers to have a qualification such as the CELTA?
Well, as a I said, you need to survive in the jungle. And, don't get me wrong, it is a very nice jungle you want to live in, but a jungle in the end! Teaching is a very enriching and rewarding career, but one that people need training for.
Some people say it is a vocation, and I agree, but it can definitely be more than just that. Teaching is a profession, and like any other formal profession, you need training for this. You also want to enjoy your job, understand what you can do with your skills, put your abilities to good use and learn from your practice, become reflective and improve as a professional. Without training, there is little you can do to achieve this. This is where the course, tutors, syllabus and nature of the course come into play.
Can you describe a typical 'before and after' CELTA student? What changes do you see in people throughout a CELTA course?
Oh yes, I definitely can! There is a real difference in planning and delivery.
CELTA graduates will be much more aware of the structure of a lesson, its main components, stage aims, and rationale behind its sequence and staging. Being a CELTA qualified teacher gives you a different status, that of a teacher that is aware of his planning and can identify clear aims, clear structure and staging, materials and objectives for each stage. It makes you more’ systematic’ if you will, and thus much more ‘aim-oriented’, focused on helping learners achieve the aims of your lesson in the most efficient and effective way possible.
What do students on your courses particularly love about taking the course in Mexico City? Can you tell us about some of the facilities at your centre there?
Well, there are different things to consider here. For one thing, the place! Mexico City is such a vibrant city, cosmopolitan and full of attractions, museums, interesting people and probably the best cuisine in the world!
But that aside, we run a very well structured programme which is standardised across all of our branches and has been piloted by different tutors and centre. We have three CELTA assessors and two Delta assesses in our pool of trainers too, who consistently give feedback on the course design and areas to develop for future course. As well as being an established teacher training centre, with over 70 training courses every year (TKT, CELTA, ICELT, Delta, CAM), it is the tutor's expertise in different fields that makes the course unique and rewarding.
What is the job market currently looking like for CELTA qualified English teachers in Mexico?
As I said, our profession is very well in demand in Mexico. It is very common practice for the Teacher Training Centre in Mexico to use CELTA as a part of our recruitment scheme, with open vacancies after most courses for people that would like to stay in the country and either start their teaching career through us or further develop their newly learnt CELTA skills and specialise later on in the future taking other courses like ICELT, CAM or even Delta. Apart from that, there is a very high demand for teachers in different sects, both public and private, in companies, universities, language schools, online institutes, etc.
What does the Teacher Training Centre in Mexico City do to help their CELTA graduates find work after the course?
Again, we normally offer our own graduates job at the Teacher Training Centre in Mexico City. Additionally, we work with three other agents who do very active recruitment not only for Mexico City but for other cities in the country. So, while we cannot officially secure a job as part of the course policies (which I don't think any centre in the world does), we are quite active in helping candidates get in touch with the right people to get a job immediately after the course. Most candidates find a job before the first two months, and sometimes even the Monday after the course finished!