An Interview with Sandie Warren - Head of Teacher Training, Canterbury
We speak to Sandie Warren, head of teacher training in Canterbury, about the importance of getting qualified, the rewards of English teaching, and a few local's secrets to discover in Kent.
Tell us a little bit about yourself...
My name is Sandie Warren, Head of Teacher Training in Canterbury, Kent and I have been running CELTA courses at our centre since 1990. I work with a small group of caring, dedicated professionals who all share a common passion for teaching and training, all holding a minimum of the Cambridge Celta and Delta and with many years of teaching and training experience, both in the UK and abroad.
What is the best thing about teaching English?
The best thing about it is the satisfaction of seeing how it can change people’s lives in so many ways, by opening educational paths, creating new job opportunities, facilitating career enhancement and enabling people to travel, work, live and communicate with people from all over the world.
Through English, they can share knowledge, cultural values and develop mutual respect for other cultures.
It also encourages people’s creative and imaginative abilities in order to overcome language barriers and connect with their students; in essence, this is what helps them to teach effectively.
Why is it so important for hopeful English teachers to get properly trained?
It is pompous and patronising to think that just because we speak a language that we are able to teach others its intricacies.
I tried doing this many years ago when hosting students and was frustrated by my lack of understanding of my own language and ability to guide my students.
Of course I knew the answers to their questions but couldn’t explain why. This is what led me into doing my initial training course.
CELTA guarantees a consistent, minimum standard of competence and a firm foundation of basic teaching skills from which teachers can develop in their own way. It lends the teacher credibility and gives them an awareness of learner difficulties so they are better prepared to deal with them effectively in the classroom.
It is a guaranteed ‘starter kit’ that is tried, tested and really works.
Are there many job opportunities for newly-qualified teachers in Canterbury? Or do many trainees move abroad?
There are some job opportunities at our school, particularly for candidates on summer courses, where many of our successful candidates ‘cut their teeth’ on junior programmes, some getting opportunities to work with adult learners.
Many younger candidates go abroad but return to us every year for several months / weeks, refreshing their skills in multi lingual classes and benefitting from observation by our CELTA tutors.
There are also three universities and several language schools in Canterbury which draw from our pool of qualified teachers.
Why is Canterbury such a great place to take a CELTA course?
Canterbury is an historical ‘gem’, entrenched in history and with remarkable architecture and our school is situated right in the heart of the city.
It is within sight of the beautiful cathedral, 10 minutes from the famous Kings School and universities.
We are a small centre operating from a listed building, old and full of character, with few ‘mod cons’, but what we do offer is a caring, personalised experience, where even the least confident trainees can realise their potential.
Can you share some ‘local’s secrets’ about Canterbury?
Our owner, Colin Stone, is Orlando Bloom’s father. Orlando is the patron of the Marlowe Theatre and an occasional visitor here.
Under the city streets, there is a whole hidden history of Roman England, including Roman baths, Roman forum and a theatre, to name but a few.
The best places to eat are The Moat Tearooms and Tiny Tim’s – both offer fabulous afternoon teas.
There are a host of secret cafes along the river running through Canterbury which are great places to go off the beaten track. Try the Willow Cafe, for example.
Visitors to the city must visit the wonderful cathedral, the river tours, Westgate Gardens, the Roman Museum, Westgate Towers, and the Marlowe Theatre.
There are street markets every week, plus a great social scene with buskers, live music, live acts in local pubs and a vibrant, cosmopolitan atmosphere
There are great connections to the coast (Brighton for example), and to cities such as London, Oxford and Cambridge, plus great international connections, via Eurostar.