Teacher Training in London: Interview with CELTA Tutor, Kara Robin

  Train to be an English Language Teacher in London and experience life in the big smoke! When you take the CELTA at our partner…

Train to be an English Language Teacher in London and experience life in the big smoke! When you take the CELTA at our partner school at London (Holborn), not only do you get high quality teaching and facilities at the centre but you are also in the heartbeat of the city, where some of London’s most famous monuments are only a stone’s throw away.

We speak with on-site CELTA course Tutor, Kara Robin, who speaks with us about her own ELT and CELTA journey; this includes the places where she has taught, fantastic tips on finding a job in London and also her own recommendations on what to do (after you have taken the CELTA) while you are in London.

Teacher Training in London (Holborn)

Hi Kara, thanks for letting us interview you! Let’s start at the beginning of your ELT career. What made you decide to go into English Language Teaching?

I studied psychology at university, but when I finished I still really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. I decided to spend some time volunteering in Costa Rica where I was suddenly responsible for delivering English lessons. I thought that this would be easy since I am a native speaker…. but confronted with a group of learners, I had no idea what I was doing! I really enjoyed the teaching and muddled through, but also felt that I wasn’t giving very useful lessons and I didn’t know how to really help my students.

When I came back to the UK, after applying for various types of jobs and working as a temp for a while, I decided I wanted to go to Spain and teach English there, but this time with some training. I enrolled on a full time intensive CELTA course in Budapest at the start of the summer in 2008 and then got work one week after finishing at a school in London. I did eventually make it to Spain one year later, but though I got into teaching in order to facilitate living abroad, what I discovered was that I love the job. 12 years later and I’ve never looked back… I couldn’t imagine working in any other industry!

In your career, you have taught a mix of children, teens and adults. Do you have a preference and why?

I really enjoyed teaching young children while I was in Spain, though I certainly found it a challenge. You can have so much fun in the classroom with them and really let your inhibitions down. That said, my real passion is working with adults. They are there out of choice and really recognise the importance of learning English for themselves (whatever it is that is motivating them). For that reason I have always found it the most rewarding and it’s what I’ve ended up doing the most of.

As a CELTA Tutor, what would be the one piece of advice you would give to trainees to help them prepare for the course?

Clear your schedule! The CELTA course, however you are doing it, is intensive, so make sure that you have the time necessary to devote to it. If you are doing the full time course, tell your friends and family that you are going AWOL for a month. The workload is manageable, but not if you are trying to juggle it with other things – it’s only 4 weeks, but make sure that it is 4 weeks with no other distractions. (But also, have a drink at the end of each week to unwind with your fellow trainees and make sure you are looking after yourself!)

What has been the highlight of your ELT career to date?

I loved living and working in Seville! It’s such a beautiful city and the pace of life is much more relaxed than London. I also really loved the fact that by teaching English, I was in contact with people from the city much more and so felt that I got a much deeper insight into the city than I might if I was doing another kind of work that didn’t involve so much interaction. (It also meant that I got invited to private ‘casetas’ at the April fair in Seville and treated like a celebrity by my students!)

What made you decide to get your DELTA in the UK and how did you find the process of completing the course (and all the modules)?

I decided I wanted to move back to the UK to be closer to family and friends, and I wanted to do the DELTA to further my knowledge and open up different opportunities. Eventually, I knew I wanted to get into teacher training and I’d need the DELTA for that too. I did an intensive course, which was very intense but I loved it. Module 2 was the biggest chunk and I really enjoyed writing the background essays to my lessons – the geek in me loved delving deep into the language and skills I was teaching. I also found the experimental lesson a really interesting part of the course as I think it’s really important to push you out of your comfort zone and try new things out. This is probably the most valuable thing I got out of the course – not being afraid to try new things out and experiment in the classroom. When I went back to teaching after the DELTA I couldn’t stop experimenting and this has continued as a CELTA tutor!

What would be the first piece of advice you would give to CELTA graduates once they have finished their course and are looking for work in the UK?

I think that getting experience in a voluntary setting is a really useful thing to do. There are many organisations that are more than happy to have newly qualified teachers volunteer with them for a few hours a week. This can be a space to experiment with the techniques you’ve learnt on the course and get more comfortable with your teaching without the pressure of teaching 25 hours a week and 6 people observing you at the back of the class!!! If you do want to get into paid teaching work straight away, my advice would be to go to schools in person with a pile of CVs and ask if you can leave it with the director of studies. You might just be the right person at the right time!

Check out TEFLwork for opportunities for post-CELTA jobs.

What are the facilities like at the London centre? What would trainees expect on-site?

We are a big language school with 2 buildings and many classrooms! All our classrooms are equipped with interactive white boards and so you can make your lessons modern and fun by incorporating multi-media into your lessons easily. We have a student lounge with computers that you can use and a student canteen where you can eat a filling hot meal for only £4.50 during the week. We are right next to Bloomsbury square, so in the summer, you can eat al fresco on the grass and soak up a little vitamin D in your lunch break.

What are your recommendation for students to do in London after completing their CELTA?

If you are coming from abroad to do your CELTA with us, definitely don’t plan to go home straight away, give yourself at least a few days at the end to enjoy London (as you will have very little time during the course). If you have some time to explore the city, check out all the parks. My favourite is Hampstead Heath – a huge chunk of countryside in the city. You can check out the views from parliament hill, go for a dip in one of the swimming ponds (in the summer) and transport yourself back a few centuries at Kenwood House. Hop on the 168 from outside the school to get there.

Thanks Kara!

Take the CELTA in London!

London has so much to offer! Not only does it have a bustling ELT industry but plenty of sights, events and, surprising for most, a lot of greenery and parks. It’s a place for people who like the hustle and bustle of the cosmopolitan life and a fun place to be once you have completed the CELTA.

So start your ELT career today, take the first step and apply online! All you need to do it spare 15 minutes (max!) to complete the application form. You don’t have to pay anything until you have been formally offered a place on the course.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with a StudyCELTA member of staff.