Lorraine Kipling, who took the CELTA with us in August 2009, looks back on her experience and how it helped during her first two years of teaching:
My CELTA training experience at IH Belgrano was entirely positive. Of course it was stressful at times, but that was to be expected. Anyone who says they got through the CELTA month without the occasional wave of anxiety either has nerves of steel or pants on fire. Looking back, it makes me smile to think of the hours spent scrutinising the planning for a brief practice lesson. Oh for the luxury of such time in the real world! During training, however, there is so much to take in, and the intensity of being a trainee was both exciting and exhausting. It was also an invaluable introduction into a professional and communicative approach to teaching which I wouldn’t have missed for the world.
Although I ultimately ended up back in the UK to get stable teaching experience, I am very glad that I chose to take the CELTA course at IH Belgrano. In addition to living abroad and immersing myself in a different culture, an experience which I would recommend to anyone considering becoming an English teacher, it was also useful for logistical reasons. For me, relocating to a new country meant that that I had to arrange my resources in advance, so that I would be able to dedicate my time to training. I didn’t want to be tempted by paid work, and being abroad also minimised other distractions that may have arisen had I stayed at home. I truly admire those who are able to train part time while continuing their day jobs, but I’m very glad I chose the full-time option abroad.
One thing I would have planned differently, though, is that I would have given myself more time to adapt to life in BA. Regrettably, I arrived just two days before starting the course. I was fortunate in that my fellow trainees were all lovely, and we would go out to eat or attempt tango lessons together at the weekends. However, the intensity of the course prevented too much socialising or tourism, and by the time I finished, I felt that I still hadn’t fully seen all that BA has to offer. I would certainly recommend that future trainees who are able take an extra week, or month, to get to know the city a little before the CELTA lockdown takes over.
In the end, I did get to see more of Buenos Aires. When CELTA was over, I got work with three different agencies teaching in-company at various locations around the city. I can’t count the number of times I crossed 9 de Julio in a week, dashing from class to class. In contrast to the stability of classroom teaching I had experienced at International House, this type of work wasn’t for me, and so, after putting my time in, I decided to look for positions outside of BA. That’s how I ended up back in the UK, and I am happy to say that I have been working in a very supportive Academy for over two years now.
I cannot stress how valuable it has been to find work in a supportive environment where I have continued to develop my teaching skills and build on the foundation CELTA provided me. To a teacher fresh out of CELTA, it can be very tempting to accept whatever work is offered, but I would earnestly recommend that people think about what is best for them as a teacher, and what they want to do with their teaching in both the short and long term. For me, though I had not imagined the CELTA would take me back to the UK, it has been the best thing that could have happened in terms of my progression as a teacher.
I am now thinking about working abroad again, and am doing so with confidence in my abilities as a teacher and an eagerness to continue developing my skills. One of my colleagues once said that CELTA is not just a teaching qualification; it’s a licence to learn how to teach. I couldn’t agree more.