An Interview with Samantha Birkett - Head of Teacher Training, San Francisco
Samantha Birkett has a BA in Comparative American Studies - History, Literature and Spanish from Warwick University. Since then she has gotten her CELTA and Delta qualifications and has worked her way up to Head of Teacher Trainer in San Francisco.
Tell us about your background in teaching
Your degree was in Comparative American Studies - History, Literature and Spanish. Can you tell us a bit about how and why you initially became interested in the CELTA course?
My undergraduate degree allowed me to study abroad for a year. I chose to study in Chile and fell in love with the country, its culture, travelling generally, and Latin America specifically. Once graduated, I was desperate to go back any way I could. Teaching English seemed like the obvious route, and I quickly came across the CELTA course in my research.
Did you have any teaching experience before taking the CELTA course?
None! I was shy, didn't like public speaking, and wasn't sure whether I would like teaching at all. Luckily, I did!
Teacher Training in the USA
San Francisco must be a fantastic city to take the CELTA course in. What makes San Francisco special?
It's extremely cosmopolitan and international, meaning you can find languages, cultural heritage and food from all over the world; its setting and geographical location are beautiful, its hills, cable cars and pastel houses are famous the world over; it attracts people from all the corners of the globe, helping make the CELTA an authentic experience for our trainees.
Can you tell us about some of the facilities offered in the San Francisco Teacher Training Centre?
Airy classrooms; interactive whiteboards; numerous photocopiers, computers and printers; many, up-to-date teaching materials for trainees' dedicated use; an in-house café. We also enjoy a very central location.
There are other TEFL courses offered in the USA. Why do you think the CELTA course stands out among the others?
It's the most widely recognized and respected by employers. Cambridge University ensure all CELTA centres follow their criteria, making CELTA the gold standard of TEFL courses.
How is the job market for CELTA qualified teachers in San Francisco and the California region?
San Francisco, and the Bay Area in general, has a number of English schools, and many of our trainees have found work locally. As the CELTA becomes more widely recognized in the U.S., employers are increasingly becoming aware of its benefits and are starting to see it as the preferred TEFL qualification for perspective staff.
The Cambridge CELTA and Delta Qualifications and Careers
The CELTA course introduces different techniques and teaching methodologies. How do you think what is taught during the CELTA course changes people's outlook on teaching?
The CELTA approach is extremely communicative and student-centered. Many trainees start the course thinking that teaching is lecturing or explaining and all about the teacher. By the end of the course, they are more focused on the students and their needs, and they are also equipped with the tools to ensure that the students and their needs remain the focus of their lessons.
Do you think the Delta course is widely known already in the USA? What do you think the future of Delta will be in North America?
The Delta is starting to become more recognized in the U.S., and I've noticed many more enquiries in the last year than in the previous two. I hope, like the CELTA, that the DELTA will continue to gain momentum and start to be seen as a more practical, internationally recognized, and cheaper alternative to an MA in TESOL/ TEFL. We always recommend it to our trainees as part of their continuous professional development and to anyone who wants a career in this field.
The CELTA and Delta qualifications allow people to travel and work in so many different countries. Are you interested in taking your qualifications and experience elsewhere?
Absolutely! I just don't know where yet.
Thanks a lot to Samantha for sharing her views on the CELTA qualification!