Guest Blog: In the fourth and final instalment of the series, guest blogger Peter Read talks about what he’s been up to since completing his CELTA course.
Having partially recovered from the four week CELTA Course I left the CELTA Centre in York with a feeling of elation that was soon tempered by the realisation that although qualified, there was now a real need to put the not insignificant investment, both financial and emotional, to good use. I needed to offer this new-found teaching skill, use the wonderfully versatile English language and provide an enjoyable learning experience for those who, whatever their age, nationality or background wanted to take advantage of such an opportunity.
Eighteen months on from CELTA and I can confirm that for the older TEFL teacher there are opportunities to be an effective teacher and trainer. Travel remains an unexplored option for the future. I nevertheless discovered a harsh recruitment environment that confirmed that all advertised opportunities and offers of employment need careful and conscientious research and consideration. Don’t believe all that is offered and be sure to read the small print! Pictures of sun drenched beaches and descriptions of the opportunities to explore the culture and beauty spots of, exotic destinations require detailed thought before making any commitment. One must be prepared to ask searching questions regarding working conditions, health care, holiday entitlement etc., before accepting any offer made.
Nevertheless, I’ve been able to share not only my English Language teaching skills but also my life skills. Age has in these cases been a distinct advantage over some of my younger TEFL colleagues whose priorities and needs are sometimes different being concerned with developing a professional full-time career. Ageism does exist. For example, in China the upper age limit for TEFL teachers is 55.
I worked for nine months with a Japanese Research Fellow studying at York University. The mature student was presenting a research paper relating to Victorian British Economic History. I’d studied the subject at ‘A’ Level years ago and my knowledge came in handy! Replacing full-time teachers on holiday leave, I’ve taught Lower Intermediate Arab male teenagers. This was challenging and required adept classroom control techniques. Why? Because some had low attention spans and others “simply didn’t want to be there”!
I’m retained as a Business English trainer with a specialist College in York. Most of the adult students have at least Intermediate English and are employed in various professions and want to improve their specialist communication skills using the unique language of their professions in e-mails, letters and telephone conversations. They like to go “off-piste” and like learning metaphors and similes!
Additional EFL activities
Apart from various articles written for specialist TEFL publications, my most recent and successful activity involves teaching English on a pro bono basis to groups of young adults working in the UK in the service industries. I designed the Course recognising a need for this ESP (English for Specific Purposes).
“Workplace and Lifestyle English” is intended for those who have experienced unemployment in their own countries. I use traditional TEFL methods and focus on employment issues, terms and conditions of work, rights of employees, breaking down linguistic jargon and introduce related vocabulary and a glossary of terms. Classroom exercises include completing application forms, interview techniques and questions to ask employers. The same process is followed when dealing with ‘Lifestyle’ issues, including finding accommodation, negotiating rental agreements, dealing with landlords. Despite BREXIT the demand for this course shows no sign of declining.
None of what I’ve achieved and plan to in the future would have been possible without studying for and completing the CELTA. The course provides an essential layered structure, materials and technical ideas that can be transferred to a range of different activities and specialisations.