CELTA in Palermo: Interview with Director of Studies, Jennifer Holden

Tuesday 14th April 2020

CELTA in Palermo: Interview with Director of Studies, Jennifer Holden

  CELTA in Palermo: Interview with Director of Studies, Jennifer Holden Looking to get a taste of La Dolce Vita while taking your CELTA? Why…


CELTA in Palermo: Interview with Director of Studies, Jennifer Holden

Looking to get a taste of La Dolce Vita while taking your CELTA? Why not CELTA in Palermo! We have already spoken about the fantastic sights, food and architecture that you can experience in Palermo, so now we have got you the inside scoop on taking the CELTA in the city.

We spoke with the Director of Studies at the Palermo CELTA centre, Jennifer Holden! Jennifer has been teaching since 2008 and has a wealth of experience in ELT. She specialises in teaching older adult learners and spoke about this at last year’s IATEFL.

CELTA in Palermo: Interview with the Director of Studies, Jennifer Holden

Hi Jennifer, thanks for letting us speak with you about all things CELTA! But first, what made you decide to go into English Language Teaching?

I studied Linguistics at university and wanted to continue to study Applied Linguistics. A lot of the courses at the time had TESOL components so I decided it would be a good idea to get some experience of teaching English before applying for the course. Three months in India perhaps followed by some backpacking? Well many years later, I’m still teaching and haven’t got around to applying for that Master’s course yet!

When it comes to the CELTA, what advice would you give trainees before they are about to start the course?

Don’t underestimate the level of stress that the CELTA can induce, so..
• Do as much preparation beforehand as possible (pre-course task, reading, vlogs etc)
• Wipe your diary clean, especially if you’re doing an intensive course
• Be prepared to work as a team; expect to learn as much from your peers and your students as well as from your tutors.
• Allow a least a week to unwind at the end of the intensive course – take the opportunity to enjoy the place where you’ve been studying

You’ve taught in Portugal, Thailand and now Italy. Has there been a stand-out place where you have enjoyed teaching the most?

Here in Italy, of course! Perhaps I’m biased but Italian learners are a delight. They’re warm, friendly and motivated to learn. Plus, Italy offers a certain dolce vita which is hard to resist; the food, nature
and weather are quite a heady mix!

You were at IATEFL last year presenting a talk on teaching older adult learners. What attracted you to specialise in teaching older adult learners?

Over the last few years, we’ve had more and more ‘older’ learners come to study English with us. These learners are often 60+ and may be retired and looking to use their free time to reach a goal they’ve always had. Often, these learners have children living abroad and need to be able to speak English to travel and see their children, and, sometimes, grandchildren. So,they have real motivation to learn!

They tend to be the most diligent students, always completing their homework on time and never late for class. They bring a wealth of experience and wisdom to the classroom. Older adult learners is a growing market for the TEFL industry as a whole so it’s important we have more of an understanding of their needs in the classroom.

What would you say has been a career highlight for you so far?

I’ve been very fortunate to work with some outstanding colleagues, speak at several high-profile events and meet some TEFL ‘celebrities’. But I’d have to say, seeing my teachers and students progress and reach their goals is what really motivates me. The email from a former trainee telling me they’ve landed the job they wanted or successfully used an activity that I’d introduced them to,bumping into a former student and hearing all about their adventures in English.…That’s why we do it, isn’t it?

What is the job market like in Sicily and Italy?

Here in the south of Italy the ELT market continues to grow. The state school provision for English Teaching varies greatly so it’s common for student to do extra English at a private language school or
with a private teacher.

Due to the economic situation here, many people need to leave to find work in the north or abroad.This goes hand in hand with having good English skills so there are lots of opportunities for General English teaching, Young Learner teaching and Exam preparation. In the north of the country, there are more opportunities for Business English teaching too. The school can provide assistance with finding work both here in Sicily and beyond.

Check out TEFLwork for opportunities for post-CELTA jobs.

What is the centre like in Palermo? What facilities do you have for your students?

We’re a friendly, well-equipped school. Most trainees say their highlight is the patio garden where they can unwind between sessions. There’s a supportive, experienced admin team who understand
the busy lives of our trainees and are on hand to help too.

The trainers all really care about their candidates and as we mentioned above, Italian students are a delight to teach. Our practice students are encouraging, supportive and welcome the opportunity to
learn from new teachers.

What is your top recommendation for trainees to do in their CELTA down-time in Palermo?

Walking around the old town and soaking up the atmosphere of the city is a delight to behold. It’s best just to wander, (no map needed!) you’ll come across a melting pot of Byzantine, Baroque and Norman architecture. Take in the sights, sounds and smells of the city. Stop for the famous street food, panelle and arancine. Wind your way down to the seafront to take in the sea air and a gelato.

Later, grab a cocktail in a rooftop bar and enjoy the city from above. At street level, Palermo can seem quite chaotic with street food vendors and mopeds going up and down the streets but escaping to the rooftops brings a who new perspective to the city. Then head for dinner; pizza? Pasta alla norma? sarde a beccafico? You’ll be spoilt for choice!

If you can, try to get out of the city too; Sicily’s coastline is stunning, and the beach is never far away. Or head up into the mountains and unwind with nature; the local produce is exceptional. Sicily is an incredible island that offers so much, I’ve been here 10 years and I’ve barely scratched the surface.

Thank you, Jennifer!

Apply to take the CELTA in Palermo today!

If you are looking to start an exciting career where you can teach around the world, Palermo is a great place to start! You can apply for the CELTA through our online form. There are no application fees but the form can take up to 15 minutes to compelte.

Do you have any questions about taking the CELTA? Get in touch with a member of our team today!