Interview with Sharon McCall, CELTA Main Course Tutor, Cape Town
It’s clear from talking to Sharon McCall, the CELTA Main Course Tutor for Cape Town, that doing the CELTA in Cape Town is very special experience. So we interviewed her to find out just what makes it so good…
Before we talk about the CELTA, what is life like for an English language teacher in Cape Town?
Life as an English language teacher in Cape Town is pretty idyllic! We work at the foot of Table Mountain surrounded by incredible beauty and we have the world come to us! We’ve taught students from Europe, Asia, South America, the Middle East, Africa, as well as from small islands dotted around the world.
We’re exposed to so many different cultures without having to travel and feel connected to the rest of the world through the students we’ve met. They really add to our culturally rich city. An English language teacher’s working hours are very friendly. Fortunately we don’t work long hours or at night and have the luxury of time to enjoy life with family and friends. There’s enough time in the working day for a leisurely stroll along the beach, a yoga class, hiking, cycling along mountain paths, which is all so good for our mental and physical health. The internet has now connected us to international conferences, webinars and courses, so we always feel connected.
What makes the CELTA at Cape Town special?
The school provides a very personalised CELTA training experience with lots of nurturing and one-on-one support from the trainers. Groups aren’t big and the trainers can adapt the course to suit the trainees, ensuring that the course criteria are met to the best of the candidates’ abilities. Our campuses are well-equipped, spacious and well-run. Our courses are planned meticulously and run smoothly and candidates always know what’s expected of them.
We are also up-to-date with the use of technology and our candidates pick up useful tech skills which will stand them in good stead when they get a job. We teach with ActivPanels and some of our easier input sessions are flipped, meaning that trainees watch short videos at home, do an online quiz to monitor their learning and then are prepared for the next more challenging input sessions at the centre. Trainees can refer to these videos for revision or if they need to clarify something they are confused about in their own time. Trainees also get to see how an LMS (Learning Management System) works with a group.
Our trainees teach adults from mostly Central African countries. Most of them are asylum seekers and are in Cape Town for tertiary education, to create a safe, new life for themselves or to make money to send back to their families. Their chances of succeeding are low if their English skills are low, so they are very appreciative students and the trainees find teaching them extremely rewarding. It’s wonderful to empower others to help fulfil a dream!
The cost of living in South Africa and the exchange rate also makes for a richer experience for someone coming from another country. You can eat out at gourmet restaurants, go on uber trips and wine farm adventures, all of which are all very affordable with foreign currency. Quality, world-class training plus a unique tourist experience makes Cape Town the perfect place to do a CELTA.
People think that the CELTA course is very stressful, is this true?
CELTA has got a nasty reputation for being stressful, but in actual fact it doesn’t have to be! It all boils down to the candidate’s ability to manage time properly. The course isn’t an academic one, and if trainees listen to the tutors, follow advice and rubrics, react positively to feedback and meet deadlines, there’s absolutely no reason for a meltdown on the course. A positive attitude and taking things in one’s stride goes a long way to coping with the workload.
The course is practical and useful and it’s incredible to think that you can be qualified to do a new job in just a month. The work put in is definitely worth the effort. Many candidates are amazed at their personal growth over the course, not just the teaching skills they’ve picked up. So don’t be a procrastinator, don’t be lazy, don’t try to organise a friend’s wedding, don’t adopt a naughty puppy, don’t get accommodation two hours travelling time from the centre or don’t try to hold down a job at the same time as doing the full-time course. These are the candidates who find the course stressful.
When I did my CELTA course, I coped by going for a walk on a mountain on my way home every day. It helped me to get above the world, to clear my head and to defragment after a day of teaching and input sessions. I was then ready to tackle lesson planning and assignments when I got home with clarity of thought.
So think, ‘what helps me cope?’ Know this and put it into practice when you do the course!
Why should people take a CELTA course?
The CELTA course is for those who wish to make TEFL their career and for those who want to get jobs with reputable institutions. The CELTA course provides lots of practical teaching experience and helps to build confidence for when the candidate has to stand in front of a class on their own for the first time. The tutors are guiding ‘coaches’ who observe practical teaching and give invaluable feedback on how to be more effective in the classroom – every teacher’s end goal! It’s all good-and-well to learn theory but it’s much more memorable to learn from experience. These are the lessons that stick with us.
How should a student prepare for the CELTA course in Cape Town?
Brush up on basic grammar knowledge. The British Council LearnEnglish website is very useful and can be used to get clarity on areas candidates may be rusty on. This will help you with the CELTA application task. Clear up your calendar. Have four weeks free of other commitments so that you can give the course your all. Come early to enjoy all Cape Town has to offer or stay a little longer than four weeks and reward yourself with a safari or a trip along the garden route after the course is finished. Don’t try to do all your sight-seeing during the course because you won’t have the time to do so.
Work through the Pre-Course Task and Model Answer document that the school will send to you after you’re accepted on the course.
You can also get a lot of excellent advice and guidance on preparing for the CELTA on this website too.
Remember, be centred and calm.
What advice would you give someone if they are considering teaching English?
Contact a language school near you and ask to come in and observe a few lessons at different levels. Chat with the teachers and ask them about their challenges and joys. Consider whether you are passionate about the language and about people. You’ll soon figure out if this is the job for you or not. You can also contact the StudyCELTA team who will be happy to help you with the right steps to get qualified.
Applying for the CELTA via Cape Town…
With full-time, face-to-face CELTA courses beginning in January and February as well as throughout 2021 in the idyllic setting of Cape Town, it could well be a life-changing decision waiting to happen. So apply today!
Applying is easy through our online application form. Make sure you set aside 10 minutes of your own time and then a member of the StudyCELTA team will be in contact with you about the next steps.
Read the latest travel information and guidance from the South African government. You can also discuss travel and accommodation considerations during the CELTA interview process.
More ways to Prepare for your CELTA Course!
Are you looking to prepare for your CELTA? Do you want to brush-up on your grammar before the course? Are you interested in the methodology that you will be introduced to on the course?
Take a look at the Pre-CELTA Bundle via our friends at ELTCampus. An online course which will enhance your confidence before starting the CELTA and give you a leg-up on the course content, so you can pass the CELTA with flying colours. Now with bonus online CELTA content!