David O’ Donoghue, from Cork, did a ten-week CELTA course with us here in the Language Centre last autumn. I caught up with him to hear about his experience and what he has been up to since the course ended.
Tell us a little about your background?
Upon completing secondary school, I went on to work in a number of different roles across various sectors; working with adults with intellectual disabilities, technical support for a payment processing company and customer service for a print-on-demand company.
Why did you decide to do the course?
I was growing increasingly weary of working within an office environment and I felt that I was not born to do the work that I was doing- put simply, I didn’t enjoy dragging myself into work every morning. I had often felt that I would be well-suited to a teaching role as I enjoy engaging with the public and I am somewhat charismatic (I do a lot of drama and play music in my free-time). I felt that the time was right to train as a teacher, especially as I had done some ESL teaching in Cork on cover-basis previously and loved it.
What did you know about the course before starting it?
I had heard that it was extremely intense but that it opens a lot of doors in the teaching field. I understood that the Celta was now a requirement for teaching in private English schools in schools across Ireland.
The course is supposed to be very intensive; did you have to do anything in preparation for the course?
I was sent a link for a mini-grammar course and that was useful for revising a number of grammar points.
Tell us about the first day of course; what is it like?
On the first day, it became immediately clear that the course wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. The structure of the course was outlined in detail.
What was the hardest part?
Personally I found the written assignments the most challenging. We had four such assignments to complete.
What was the teaching practice like?
Teaching practice was a very new experience and forced us to consider how we allocate our time as teachers and how we can keep the students engaged with the topic. Personally, I feel that we learn a lot from observing our fellow trainee teachers and from the feedback sessions as we are forced to reflect our our role as teachers and develop a natural flow in our lesson structure.
How is the course assessed?
We had eight teaching practices to complete and four assignments (of which we had to pass at least four). Teaching practices were graded; below standard, to standard and above standard.
A final grade was issued upon completion of the course: Fail, Pass, Pass B and Pass A depending on the trainee’s overall performance.
How many trainees are on the course? How did you get on with them?
We were twelve trainees in total. We all got on very well and supported each other especially for the final teaching practice where we had to work together to link our lessons.
What were the tutors like?
Very experienced in their field. They would try to make you come to your own conclusions as to what worked or didn’t work in a lesson rather than spoon-feeding you feedback.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about doing a CELTA course?
Although many of us had commitments outside of the course (children, part-time jobs etc), it is best not to have too many outside commitments if possible- if you have children, consider how you can work around parenting to make time for lesson planning or if you are working, consider cutting down on your hours for the duration of the course.
What have you been doing since the course?
Working full-time at an English school in Cork city. I am registered with an online teaching company and so I hope to establish an online clientele as well.
What’s next for you?
I plan to teach English on Colombia for a period of 6-12 months at some stage in the near future. In the meantime, I hope to continue working in the school in which I am working and attain as much experience as possible. I also hope to teach more one-to-one classes and give online classes.
I may consider doing the DELTA (a more in-depth English teaching qualification) in the future.
Thanks, David. Best of luck in your future endeavours.
You can find more information about our CELTA courses here.