Surviving CELTA

It’s over.  Four weeks of intensive teacher training and it’s over!  They warned me before we started but I ignored the health warnings.  Like you do.  Anyway, to cut a long story short, it was the hardest work I have ever done (and that includes finals at Uni);  120 hours at International House Lisbon and another 120 hours work at home.  This means work and sleep with nothing much between.  But the good news is that we all passed and can feel quietly smug as we plan our strategic assault on the world of teaching English as a foreign language.  Is the unsuspecting world ready?

The students were entirely international citizens as were the tutors.  Paula and Xana are scarily professional but I suspect that hearts of gold lurk somewhere beneath those warm-ups and student-centred lesson plans.  They’re both Portuguese from South Africa; not one drop of English blood in their veins yet they seem to know the lingo rather well.  Turning to the students; Alex was the earth mother of the course; she teaches yoga and loves all things Indian, Twenty years in UK and NL have made her distinctly British and she says she feels like a foreigner in Portugal, although she is Portuguese.  Logan is a jive-talking high-fiveing American graduate who wants nothing more that to be Scottish.  He has a magnificent repertoire of Glaswegian expletives which, fortunately, no one can understand.  He plans to take over Latin America when he leaves.  And I think he could do it.  Anna is a Brit who has spent most of her life in Atlanta so now speaks with a fine US accent laced with traces of scouse.  She’s already a teacher so was the star of the course, of course.  Amy is Welsh but has lived in Alentejo for years, fluent Portuguese speaker and rather good at English, too.  She turned from mouse to lion during the course, faced her demons and defeated them to general applause.  English rose Katherine is the closest to being a Brit but home is the Algarve and has always been. Now she and I can start to get the Algarvians talking proper like what we do.  Carina is a Portuguese pixie with a wicked smile and an English accent that is almost perfect, to the extent that it is impossible to tell that she is Portuguese.  Or anything else.  Her dad has a restaurant in Lisbon and we had our post-course meal there.  She also likes Stravinsky, so we are almost soulmates.

So, that’s it.  Over the four weeks, we got to know each other rather well; the kind of well that means we have suffered together and survived due to a mutual defence pact and support.  The kind of well that means we’ll keep in touch and check out how the others are doing.  The kind of well that involves Facebook, Twitter and all that stuff but I hope it will also be the kind of well that means we’ll try to get together some time and get pissed together.  Again.

Next week is house-move, then I must re-launch Flight Into Darkness.  But first, I have a hangover to nurse.   It’s a hangover that I’ve really earned.  We all did.


5 Responses to Surviving CELTA

  1. Brian Berry says:

    Hi Roger. I know what you mean about forming a bond with people you have been through hell with. It happened to me some years ago when I took my three exams to become an A.D.I. (Approved Driving Instructor). That was tough. Some poor souls dropped out some appeared to be on the brink of suicide and some failed. When A.D.I.s Pass each other they usually share a greeting even if they have never met. We know what we have been through!

    So many congrats. Hows that for good English? Are you now a writer who teaches or a teacher who writes?


  2. Anonymous says:

    Aw, Roger, you made me blush by calling me a pixie :D. I might be missing the wings though.
    Anyway, I’m glad to know the moving went well and I hope that you can reform the English speaking gents down there.
    I’ll be leaving a review of your books – no, I did not forget my promisse – as soon as I finish reading them.

    Give my love to Katherine if you happen to see her.
    Best of luck .


  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks! I hope all is going well with you. I’ve not done any teaching yet but have advertised my services. let’s see what happens! PS, pixies don’t have wings! xx Roger

  4. Jaci says:

    Hi Roger! Just wanted to know your overall experience at International House Lisbon. My husband and I want to make our move to Portugal (I have Portuguese citizenship) and figured teaching English would be an interesting career move. I can find very little information into students’ experiences with the CELTA course and would find your thoughts invaluable. Was the course helpful? Were you able to secure a teaching afterwards? Thank you in advance!!

    • rogerjhardy says:

      Hi Jaci, after CELTA I found myself looking after my guesthouse in Carvoeiro so never did use the qualification! I think the ones that looked found something but, until you get established, it requires some tenacity to get known…maybe advertising, and the like, IH help with their contacts, of course.

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