CELTA in Jerez: Interview with CELTA Tutor, Rachel Smith

  Interview with Jerez CELTA Tutor: Rachel Smith Jerez de la Frontera, known as Jerez, is situated in Spain’ Andalusia region, which is a city…


Interview with Jerez CELTA Tutor: Rachel Smith

Jerez de la Frontera, known as Jerez, is situated in Spain’ Andalusia region, which is a city famed for flamenco dancing and it’s sherry production. Taking the CELTA in Jerez is wonderful way to start your ELT career as the centre offers a team of qualified tutors and a range of facilities to support you while the city is perfect for unwinding after four hard weeks of taking the CELTA.

We speak to Jerez Teacher Trainer, Rachel Smith, as she tells us all about how she left the circus to start her ELT career and all of the places around the world she has visited because of her CELTA certificate.

CELTA in Jerez: Interview with Teacher trainer, Rachel Smith

Hi Rachel, thanks for letting us interview you! Before you started your career in English Language Teaching, what was your job? What made you take the jump?

I studied for a degree in Social Administration and Politics in Leeds University but afterwards  I was a trapeze artist working in circus and physical performance.  I was based in Barcelona and working in shows as well as teaching trapeze in Spanish (my Spanish wasn’t very good at that stage either!).  I came to realise that it was the teaching aspect that I enjoyed the most so you could say that I ran away from the circus to take up ELT!

You’ve worked in Poland, Armenia, Taiwan and Portugal before setting up at the centre in Jerez. How did these teaching experiences compare to one another? Did you have a preference?

I have had amazing experiences in all these countries.  I really enjoy working in different  environments as it is a totally different experience to just being  a tourist.

I love the fact that I now run into the same people I worked with 10 years ago at conferences and find that my friends and colleagues have worked in the same places and know the same people!  We are creating a vast network of ELT teachers and this enriches all of us as people and as professionals.

What part of the CELTA do you think candidates find most difficult and how can they prepare for it?

For the majority of candidates the sheer amount of hard  work they need to do to successfully complete an intensive course is the most difficult thing.  Even though we always tell candidates about the intensive nature of the course, they always reach a moment where they feel overwhelmed.

The best thing that students can do is prepare in advance.  A good CELTA centre always sends out a pre course task well before the course starts.  If students complete this work, they will have a good grounding in the language that is used in the course.  Candidates are often scared of the terminology involved in ELT teaching so the task will prepare them. 

In addition, get a good book and read it before the course starts “Learning Teaching” by Jim Scrivener is an excellent purchase.

We have lots of CELTA candidates whose first language is not English.  They can often worry about their writing skills. Cambridge’s ‘write and improve’ website (writeandimprove.com) is an incredible resource.  It corrects their writing and gives them a head start on the course and the confidence they need to do the course successfully.

Candidates also need to let the people in their lives know that they will be busy during the intensive CELTA course and be aware that their whole life will be dedicated to CELTA during the course.  It’s an intense but incredibly rewarding experience and people make life -long friends on the course.

In 2007, you embarked on the DELTA. What made you decide to take the certificate? How did it expand your knowledge as a teacher?

I really recommend that teachers do the DELTA.   The course really deepens your awareness of practical and theoretical issues in ELT.  It helps you to question your classroom procedures and techniques and be more selective in what you do and why you do it.  It enables you to assess what you want to do in your career too – management, training, teaching.

As teachers it is part of our job to constantly seek new ideas and techniques and evaluate their usefulness in the classroom, the DELTA gives you the tools to do this.

Have you seen the ELT landscape change over your career? If so, in what ways?

For me , a really exciting new development is the fact that so many trainees whose first language is not English are now doing CELTA course.  After teaching English in Spain for so many years, I love walking into my Spanish classroom and having people from all over the world in my CELTA classroom. Having a mixture of cultural backgrounds gives a much richer experience to the candidates, the trainers and the students that the CELTA students will be teaching

What is the ELT job market like in Jerez?

There is currently quite a large demand for qualified ELT teachers throughout Spain and Jerez is no different. A CELTA qualification definitely gives people an edge when applying for jobs here in the area and as the only Cambridge Examinations and Teaching Qualifications Centre in the province we have contact with many local language schools and offer guidance for those seeking employment.

I know you are passionate about teaching Young Learners. What makes teaching young learners different to teaching adults?

In fact, I enjoy teaching all levels but I love the energy, playfulness and creativity in a very young learners classroom.  Very young learner classes are often more physical. I really enjoy doing action songs and dancing around with them. Obviously, adults are not so keen to do that but you would be surprised with some classes!

With VYL it is important to set up routines but also to introduce the element of surprise and freedom—I like the challenge of doing that. But genuinely I prefer to have a range of classes and wearing many ‘hats’ during the day.  The advantage of a career in ELT is that you never get bored.

Check out TEFLwork for opportunities for post-CELTA jobs.

What are the facilities like at the centre in Jerez? What would a candidate expect form the school?

The centre in Jerez is located in the heart of the city centre in what used to be a radio station but has been completely remodelled to provide modern, bright classrooms, all fully airconditioned and equipped with eBeams and WIFI. As we have English classes running at all levels during the CELTA course it also gives participants the opportunity to experience the day-to-day working conditions of a language school.

After candidates have finished the CELTA, what attraction or place would recommend candidates to experience in Jerez?

Jerez is an ideal location to wind down after your CELTA course; located in southern Andalusia the city is famous for its sherry wines, flamenco and Spanish-Arabian horses, within easy distance of the Atlantic coastline but having escaped the mass international tourism of other destinations. If you wish, you can also take advantage of your stay and join one of our Spanish language courses.

Thank you Rachel!

Take the CELTA in Jerez!

The CELTA centre in Jerez offers a full time course in July for 2020. This course is a more intensive CELTA and will be four weeks long. It’s perfect for those who do not want a busy, tourist city but still would like  to experience the Spanish culture.

Applying for a CELTA is easy! All you need to do is fill out our online application (usually takes no more than 15 minutes!) and a member of the StudyCELTA team will get back to you.