An Interview with Robert Martinez - Former Head of Teacher Training, Catania
We speak to Robert Martinez, Director of Studies and Former Head of Teacher Training in Catania, Italy, about what makes English teaching so great - and Catania even greater.
"The best part is that you learn along with your learners, about them, their culture, their dreams and you can be an important part of this."
Robert Martinez is the Director of Studies and former Head of Teacher Training at the teacher training centre in Catania, Italy. He's lived and worked in eight different countries: from Colombia to the US, Italy and Egypt, as well as the UK, Spain, Singapore, and Canada.
Robert is qualified with CELTA (Grade B), DELTA, CertICT (Distinction), PG Dip TESOL, an MA TESOL (Merit) and recently got a MA in Digital technologies for Language Teaching (Distinction again!). He's now currently completing a Diploma in Academic Management AND at the same time, he's working on his PhD proposal. In case you haven't already guess: he loves studying! And teaching, too, of course - he started teaching in Colombia and, in his words: "I've loved every day of it, I couldn't do anything else."
We talk with Robert about EFL teaching and English teacher training and his current base of Catania, Sicily in Italy.
What is your favourite thing about teaching English?
The fact that you are in contact with so many different people and cultures. The best part is that you learn along with your learners, about them, their culture, their dreams and you can be an important part of this. I think that's a privilege!
What has been your best EFL teaching experience?
"I remember the experience being both dramatically stressful but at the same time so rewarding"
Why is it so important for hopeful English teachers to get properly trained?
"You, as a professional, are given better working conditions and are protected in a certain sense."
I believe getting proper qualifications in English Language Teaching is important because it is evidence of how serious you are about the profession. Qualifications add validity to your professional persona besides the fact that, thankfully, serious, professional and reputable schools do require them. This in turn, also means you, as a professional, are given better working conditions and are protected in a certain sense.
Why should a hopeful English teacher choose Catania over another location to take a CELTA course?
"Catania is a wonderful location with tons to offer: great weather all year round, beautiful beaches, excellent food, history all over the island"
Nice question! I can think of a few reasons: First of all, we decided from the beginning that our courses would have fewer candidates than those allowed, that is our courses would have a maximum of 10 candidates when most centres would have 12. This allows us to give more and better attention and support to our trainees with a 1:5 tutor-trainee ratio as opposed to 1:6. We want to be known for the excellence in the service we provide!
Secondly, we are passionate about professional development and technology, and so the support we offer to candidates is very thorough from the very moment they are offered a place on the course, which can be weeks in advance, not from the start of the course. I have created a wealth of online materials which we share with our trainees via a course wiki to help them prepare for the course and maximise their chances of successfully completing it. We follow them during that pre course too via email and discussions via the wiki. This has been one of our strengths in the feedback we receive from trainees on each course.
In addition, Catania is a wonderful location with tons to offer: great weather all year round, beautiful beaches, excellent food, history all over the island, not just the city, you name it!
Click here for more information on the CELTA courses in Catania.
Why do you think the Young Learners course is so beneficial to CELTA graduates who want to teach children?
"Regular support, observations and feedback meetings will help you discover the joy of teaching young learners and teenagers!"
Nowadays, teaching Young Learners is a must in most contexts as it is growing market so while it is absolutely fine for a new teacher not to want to teach Young Learners or at least not initially, the problem is most schools will probably choose a teacher who holds a qualification like the Catania's Certificate in Teaching Young Learners and Teenagers validated by Cambridge or similar or at least who is willing to teach YLs and be willing to take the course while on employment. I think that teaching YLs and Teenagers can be scary a thought initially, but it is really rewarding and very refreshing. A YL teaching qualification post-CELTA would definitely help gain a basic understanding of this age group as well as confidence to teach YL&T classes. This coupled with a good school environment where your Director of Studies and Senior Teachers provide you with regular support, observations and feedback meetings will help you discover the joy of teaching young learners and teenagers!
Please see here for more information about the Young Learners course in Catania, Sicily!
What advice would you give to those looking to progress their EFL career?
How do you think the Delta changes the way you teach?
"I felt I was finally able to understand what was happening in the classroom and how to take my teaching further through reading, studying and action research."
You can find out more information about the Delta in Catania by clicking here.
Can you give us some ‘local’s insights’ about Catania? What are the best things to see and do? Where’s the best spot to try some local dishes?
"Catania is the economic heart and the most vibrant city located on the Eastern side of the island of Sicily"
Difficult question as there is so much to see and do and eat here that I could write pages and pages about it. I've lived here for five years now and I can see myself staying here for a long while! Catania is the economic heart and the most vibrant city located on the Eastern side of the island of Sicily. It is full of historical sites and abundant cultural heritage because of its location in the Mediterranean sea and all the different cultures that have passed through and left behind a rich tapestry of culture, customs and culinary diversity - Romans, Greeks, Arabs, the Ottoman Empire, Phoenicians, you name it! The best spots in Catatonia to try the local specialities are:
• Via Plebiscito.
• Piazza Federico II by Ursino Castle
• The Fish Market
• Panini Vans all over the place!
What are the highlights of living in beautiful Catania?
From a foreigner point of view I'd say the pleasant weather, vibrant night life (second best in Italy!), lots of free sites of public interest, and nearby historical towns within easy reach such as Acireale or Acitrezza.
What do you do in your spare time in Catania?
What's next for you professionally?
"I feel I have the extra responsibility to be a role model, a leader for my trainees."