Torbay is the jewel of the English Riviera, offering beautiful beaches and traditional British seaside (think fish and chips and Victorian promenades). It was also the home and inspiration to the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie.
It also has a buzzing CELTA scene. It’s an ideal place to take the course, as you can finish a hectic CELTA day with a stroll through a nearby public garden or on the beach.
We were pleased to catch-up with Lara Leonard, a CELTA Tutor at the school in Paignton, Torbay, who told us a little about herself and the perks of taking the CELTA at their teacher training centre.
Interview with Lara Leonard, CELTA Tutor, Torbay, UK
Hi Lara, thank you for letting us interview you. I understand that you have been teaching for over 27 years. Did you always want to teach?
No, not at all. I originally wanted to get into journalism, but while working (in advertising) for our local paper, a colleague commented on my language ability and suggested the CELTA course. The more I looked into it, I realised it would suit me down to the ground. A month after that conversation I did the course and haven’t looked back since.
What attracted you to become a CELTA tutor?
I’ve got a lot of wide-ranging experience, and am a very practical teacher – and the CELTA is a very practical course – so I felt I had a lot to offer. It’s also great to meet new people and see them develop so much in such a short space of time, and in some cases become a colleague in the weeks following!
Was there any certification that you had to achieve before becoming a CELTA Tutor?
Naturally, Tutors are required to have a DELTA or equivalent before they are considered, which I already did.
In practice, I had to shadow several courses under the guidance of our Head Trainer, Lucy Gubbin, produce my own input sessions and (as trainees do on the CELTA) reflect on my performance to improve it for next time. Lucy then wrote her final assessment to send to Cambridge, who in turn confirmed my status as Tutor.
You have taught in China along with the UK. How did both teaching experiences compare with one another?
The CELTA candidates in China were already experienced teachers, so had a good awareness of the language and effective classroom management techniques. However, the teaching style they had adopted was very teacher-centred and therefore not as communicative. In essence we had to ‘unteach’ some habits, and encourage a broader approach.
What advice would you offer someone who is just about to take the CELTA?
It is a good idea to get hold of a grammar reference book that you like, even better if it’s one designed for students themselves as the explanations will be clear and simple. I’d also recommend coming on the 8-hour language awareness course we run before each CELTA. Everyone who has done it says it’s really worthwhile.
StudyCELTA also offers CELTA Preparation course which offers you a better insight into the different teaching methodologies used in the CELTA.
What is the job market like in Torbay and around the UK for people who have just achieved their CELTA?
As with any work in Torbay, it does tend to be seasonal. However, there’s lots of work in the summer, and we do, where possible, try to employ our ex trainees, and give them any extra support they need.
Why should people take the CELTA with the centre in Torbay?
We’ve been running the course for over 20 years now, have 8 experienced tutors, and have a very high success rate. As well as a training centre, our school is a large, fully functioning, all-year-round school, so we have all the facilities and resources candidates might need ready-to-hand, and many experienced teachers for them to observe. In addition to the standard 4 week courses, we also offer two 5-week CELTA courses a year to reduce the intensity a little! Torbay itself is a lovely environment and accommodation is comparatively cheap.
What is your favourite thing to do around Torbay?
I love the boat trips around the coast in summer, walking along the picturesque promenades and beaches and perhaps having a cocktail (or two!) on a terrace overlooking the harbour.
Is there anything/anywhere you would advise your CELTA trainees to see while they are in Devon?
As it is an intensive course, you probably won’t have time for much extensive sightseeing. However, luckily we are 5 minutes from the beach and coastal path, and a short walk to Paignton Zoo, which is very beautiful.
For more information on what to do around Torbay, check out the tourist information page.
Thank you, Lara!