An Interview with the Rome Teacher Trainers - Italy
The resident CELTA trainers at the Rome Teacher Training centre are: Kerry Allen, Norman Cain, Flo Feast, Chris Jones, Giovanni Licata and Ian Nuttall. They all come from different backgrounds and believe in the added value of working as a team. As you will see in the following interview, they’ve all had different experiences and come from different walks of life but are united in their passion for teaching.
Norman: "Working here has given me opportunities in my life and career that have allowed me to become the teacher and trainer I am today."
Why did you decide to get into teaching English as a foreign language?
Ian: Because I could live and work abroad.
Giovanni: Well, I grew up in a bilingual family where my father is –in a way- an EFL/ESL student. I don’t think I actually considered a career in EFL until later when I turned 30 and it just seemed the most logical thing to do in Rome.
Norman: I fell into it. I was already living in Italy and as I didn't speak Italian, teaching was an easy option for me to find work.
Kerry: I'd graduated in Modern Languages and studied linguistics. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, but I saw RSA Certificate courses for TEFL (now CELTA) advertised in a newspaper. Best decision I made!
Where has TESOL taken you around the world?
Norman: All over Europe, North and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
Giovanni: Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand and the US- so far.
Flo: UK, Thailand, Italy, Vietnam, China and Malta
Kerry: UK, Italy and Estonia.
Ian: I’ve worked in different parts of Italy
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Kerry: "I loved teaching and training Estonians, after the country had broken away from the Soviet Union."
Norman: Being part of the training centre in Rome. Working here has given me opportunities in my life and career that have allowed me to become the teacher and trainer I am today.
Ian: Passing the CTEFLA (now CELTA) with Pass A and the DTEFLA (now Delta).
Giovanni: I think when, straight out of the YL-extension to CELTA course, I survived my first class of 7-year-olds in a local state school.
Kerry: I loved teaching and training Estonians, after the country had broken away from the Soviet Union.
On reflection, how did taking the CELTA impact your teaching?
Giovanni: In all possible ways. I simply had no idea what I was doing before CELTA.
Norman: It made me even more aware of the incredible importance of my students and their learning needs.
Ian: It gave me a set of concrete procedures for planning and delivering lessons.
Kerry: The course gave me the tools to plan and carry out a basic skills or systems-based lesson... coursebooks were not as easy to use then!
What is your favourite part about your job?
Kerry: "I love teaching teenagers because it's such a great achievement if they enjoy the lessons!"
Giovanni: Meeting people that come from different walks of life.
Norman: The wonderful interesting, talented students and colleagues who I have met over the years.
Kerry: Teaching? I love teaching teenagers because it's such a great achievement if they enjoy the lessons! I also love watching trainees progress so rapidly during the course.
Ian: It’s a dynamic environment. I meet new people all the time.
Do you think receiving a higher grade for CELTA, e.g. Pass A, will put you an advantage over those with a Pass?
Giovanni: Most teaching is learned on the job, so I don’t think that employers should only look at grades when recruiting new teachers.
Norman: Even with a higher mark on CELTA you still really need the classroom hours, the range of teaching experience, wonderful peer support and CPD to become a 'really' excellent teacher.
Kerry: Not necessarily. For many employers, a Pass is sufficient if the teacher is motivated. However, many language schools simply don't have time to spend with the new teacher to give advice or provide teacher development programmes
How do the Delta modules improve your TEFL skills?
Ian: "Delta gives you the opportunity to relate theory to practice on a much deeper level"
Giovanni: Delta made me more aware of what lies behind teaching techniques that are practiced on CELTA.
Ian: Delta gives you the opportunity to relate theory to practice on a much deeper level and also experiment more with different approaches, tools, techniques etc.
Norman: They turn your view of teaching on its head and really make you think about what you're doing and why.
Kerry: I did the Diploma in 1990/1991...I remember that I found lesson prepa-ration far easier and more interesting afterwards. I spent 7 years, a long time after having done the Diploma, organising courses in state schools here in Rome and designing the course programmes...I wouldn't have been able to do this if I hadn't done the course all those years before!
How does teaching adult learners differ from teaching young learners? What advice would you give to those looking to teach children?
Giovanni: I think that you need to enjoy you lessons regardless of the age group you’re teaching. But, with children you also need to have pure fun sometimes. I can’t feel self-conscious while singing the Jungle Song when teaching 7-year-olds.
Norman: Personally, I think the difference can be over exaggerated sometimes. Both groups of learners need practice, exposure to language and a caring learning environment where they feel safe to learn. So techniques may vary but soft skills, student involvement and teacher support are valid in both cases.
Ian: I would definitely suggest doing our Young Learners course.
What is the best part about living in Rome?
Flo: "Being able to jump on a train and explore the rest of Italy."
Giovanni: Ha! Wine, food, being surrounded by beauty, the skies, the light… did I mention the great wine?
Flo: Aperitivo? Being able to jump on a train and explore the rest of Italy.
Ian: The coffee, the food, the weather, the history, it’s the capital!
What do you like to do in your spare time in Rome?
Giovanni: I love to take long walks through the Old Town and I go to the theatre a lot.
Flo: Get lost in the alleys around the historic centre.
Ian: Chill out on the beach (in Ostia, which is a part of Rome!), go swimming, eat out, listen to music, go to the cinema/theatre.
What is the TEFL job market like in Italy? Is it easy for CELTA graduates to find work?
Giovanni: It’s thriving. You’ll be offered a job as soon as you finish the course. Possibly, even before you complete it.
Norman: Very easy if you are a serious qualified professional. There are hundreds of places to work from private schools to state schools, universities and colleges.
Ian: There’s plenty of work, but permanent positions are hard to find. Temporary work is easier to get.
What advice would you give to students to help them prepare for the CELTA
Norman: "Talk to people online who have already done CELTA"
Giovanni: Sleep well and eat healthy for a week before the course.
Norman: Read about what the course content is on Cambridge or the CELTA centre website. Do do a CELTA preparation course hat helps you find out if you want to teach. Talk to people online who have already done CELTA and get their feedback.
Ian: Speak to someone who has already done the course.
Do you have any other plans for your training centre on the horizon?
Giovanni: "We are developing an app that will be used for the running of the course."
Norman: Our Coordinator knows all. Let's ask him...
Giovanni: Well, on a more general level, we are expanding our courses that cater to state-school teachers. As for CELTA, we are using new venues in different regions across Italy to reach out to teachers who can’t move to the bigger cities for a month, we are going to run courses to help future CELTA candidates with language awareness and we are developing an app that will be used for the running of the course.