CELTA in Oxford, UK: An interview with Head of Teacher Training, Dave Briggs

  Famed for its university, which is allegedly one of the second oldest universities in the world, Oxford has produced some of the most famous…

Famed for its university, which is allegedly one of the second oldest universities in the world, Oxford has produced some of the most famous scientists, teachers and minds of the world throughout history, which includes 28 Nobel Prize winners, 27 British Prime Ministers and a number of world famous authors (Lewis Carroll, JRR Tolkien, C S Lewis—just to name a few!).

There is no wonder why people flock to Oxford to achieve their CELTA certificate, as you are a part of one of the educational centres of the world while also living in a beautiful and historical city.

We caught up with the Head of Teacher Training, Dave Briggs, who teaches the CELTA at the Oxford centre on Magdalen Street. The centre here is in the heart of Oxford and offers an excellent and supportive teaching staff with many years of training behind them. The centre also offers teaching materials and a full teacher training library to help you while you are on the CELTA.

CELTA in Oxford: Interview with Head of Teacher Training, Dave Briggs

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you became the Head of Teacher Training in Oxford?

I took an initial teacher training course in London in 1979! Since then I have taught in London, Cambridge, Athens, Tokyo and Oxford. I also have a DELTA qualification and a PGCE Secondary teacher qualification. I became a CELTA tutor in 1992 and I have trained teachers in Oxford, Dublin, Barcelona and Boston (U.S.A.). From 2006 to 2012, I taught literacy and numeracy to refugee minors.

So I have been around, for quite a while.

What do you find most rewarding about English language teaching?

Every class you teach is different and the wonderful thing about it is that you never quite know what is going to happen in any class. The dynamic is always changing.

What have you found to be the most difficult aspect of the CELTA for trainees? How can prospective candidates prepare for this?

In many ways, the most difficult aspect is the workload, even on a part-time course because the candidates have other commitments. It is a steep learning curve, too.

Candidates should prepare by working at the language analysis. I recommend at interview that if they improve their awareness of the tenses and usage before they start the course it can be a great help.

How can trainees make the most of their time on the CELTA? Why should a candidate choose your centre? What benefits will they get from taking the CELTA with you?

I recommend that they stay receptive and do not resist the advice of their tutors, who are only there to help. As a consequence of running so many CELTAs we have a lot of experience on our staff and we are very well-resourced. The Oxford Centre is part of an expanding organisation and there are an increasing number of post-CELTA opportunities within the organisation, both home and abroad.

Oxford has a long tradition of education. Does this tradition find its way into the CELTA experience at your centre? If so, in what ways?

Mmm…interesting question. I think because we are in Oxford, we are more likely to attract applicants from abroad and that adds to the candidate mix in a very positive way.

What is the job market like for English language teachers in and around Oxford and the UK?

The summer is the boom time. Outside of that it can be patchy. However, once you have been employed by an organisation, whether it be in the private or public sector, and you have proved your worth more work will come your way.

What is your favourite thing to do/place to visit in Oxford? Favourite place to grab a bite to eat and/or a coffee?

There is a kiosk across the road from the school that sells very nice falafel wraps. They are tasty, nutritious and excellent value. As for coffee, Oxford centre has innumerable coffee shops. (I prefer to make my own with my cafetiere).

Thank you David! To find out more of what you can get up to while staying in Oxford (and it’s your CELTA downtime, of course!), take a look here. 

There a three simple steps to apply for a CELTA in Oxford! First, you need to apply online, which takes only a few minutes and then you will need to complete a pre-interview task. Once successful, you will then be asked for an interview, where you will be interviewed by the course tutor to ensure you understand the CELTA, which includes the schedule and the workload, and to also show your English proficiency.