I knew I wanted to teach, the same way birds know they have to fly south for the winter and apples fall downwards from their branches and not upwards. It was an instinctual urge, it was a gravitational pull. It was, in short, a natural law, the way things ought to be for me.
But it’s easy to figure out what you want to do. You just feel it. So I wanted to be a teacher, but the tricky part was figuring out how to go about doing it. Where do you start and who do you need to get in touch with? I had had some limited experience with teaching, but that of course was not enough to help me get my foot in the door in any respectable school. What I needed was something that could help me get a more comprehensive understanding of what teaching meant and also provide me with some solid proof that I was ready to work as a professional.
Of course the answer turned out to be the CELTA course. It checked all the items on my list. Did it offer me theoretical background on teaching methodology? Yes. Did it have a practical component, i.e. would I actually have to teach students on the course? Yes. Would I get an internationally recognized certificate issued by the University of Cambridge? Yes. After so many “yes”-es, of course I myself also said “yes”, yes to taking the course and starting my official journey in the realm of English Language Teaching (or ELT).
I suppose once the wheels are in motion, things seem to just work out and information starts pouring in. I looked up CELTA centres on the internet. After being just slightly taken aback by the fact that there is a centre in almost every country on the planet (and after disappointingly waving away the thought of doing the CELTA somewhere in a tropical country – which was way too far and way over my budget), I was glad to see that there were some closer to home.
After some research, Shakespeare School stood out among these. Not only was it also in Romania, which meant travelling and spending would be kept to a minimum, but I had also heard of them before. I browsed their website and read testimonials from previous candidates. The centre received raving reviews. But then again, most do. So I dug a little deeper and ended up on the centre’s school website (because apart from CELTA, they offer English classes for young learners and teens), and read about their projects, their commitment to teaching, and the lovely words their students had about their time at the school. Now here was the proof I needed. They didn’t just train teachers, they kept the same high standards in their classrooms. That level of respect towards this profession made my final decision easy. I got into contact with them and enrolled on the course.
I opted for the full-time one, which takes a month. I had not been aware, before this experience, of how fully you can exploit the twenty-four hours in a day. On the CELTA, you quickly learn how to meaningfully use every minute of your time.
The amount of information I learnt, the time and the effort I put into preparing and teaching my lessons made this experience an intense one. But my amount of work was mirrored by that of our trainers. When you find yourself having to keep on top of so many things at once, trying to practice new teaching techniques, devising lesson plans, designing engaging materials, you cannot but be thankful for all the guidance and help you receive. And that’s where Georgiana and Nicoleta, our two trainers, shined. It soon became obvious to all twelve of us doing the course that they knew what they were talking about. Not only did they have a comprehensive knowledge of anything related to ELT, but they showed us they were able to put all of it into practice when they taught two demo lessons each so we could observe.
But the difference between a good trainer and an excellent one does not lie in how much they can tell you, but in how well they know when to hold back from giving you all the answers. Little by little, Georgiana and Nicoleta started taking a few steps back so we could take some forward and become more independent as teachers. This way, by the end of the course, we had benefitted from their wealth of knowledge, but also had the opportunity to work things out on our own and make decisions by reflecting on our teaching practice, without having to over-rely on our trainers.
When the course finished, I felt like I had been on a roller-coaster ride. There were highs and lows, but all along the way it was, without a doubt, one of the most thrilling things I’d done. I changed in the course of that month. I felt my teaching instincts were more refined, and was more confident in planning lessons, because I knew the “how to” but also the “why” i.e. I could judiciously choose one activity over a different one, one approach instead of another.
After the course I started working for Shakespeare School. I had made my dream of becoming a qualified teacher come true and found a place where I knew I could grow even more. I later went on to get a full DELTA, and am now a CELTA trainer myself.
It’s been a long journey. It’s actually not over yet, as you soon discover when you start working in the ELT field. There’s always something new and exciting waiting for you around the corner. In any case, it all started with a simple thing: a genuine wish to teach, and a course that helped that dream take off.