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CELT - Teaching in Ireland after 5 yrs. in Asia

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Joined: 11 May 2016
Posts: 2
Location: Lisbon

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:47 pm    Post subject: CELT - Teaching in Ireland after 5 yrs. in Asia Reply with quote

Hi folks,

Just wanted to write my first post on my experience of doing the CELT course in Ireland after having spent 5 years teaching English in Bangkok at a university there.

Like many, I have an unrelated degree (MSci in Chemistry). I've also got an i-TO-i TEFL cert from 5 years ago which helped to prep me for teaching in BKK.

A few have mentioned that it's a tough transition coming from Asia to Europe, and they are absolutely right - since beginning doing teaching practice sessions on the CELT, I essentially feel like a new teacher. Certainly, I have some built-up confidence from teaching before, a fair but limited knowledge of grammar, and some classroom skills, but the teaching is so radically different and methodology-driven that I can honestly say that Asia didn't prepare me very much! In Thailand, as a teacher, I was left mostly to my own devices to figure out the best ways to teach students, and although I know I was liked as a teacher over there, I can see that there has been a rather large gap in my training that is only now starting to be filled.

The CELT course is, however, a bit intense and leaves little to no time for preparation or studying notes.

I'm always a bit surprised by the difference in the attitude of the students. Certainly, there are a mixed bag of students where I am training just now. I've heard that EU students are generally more demanding, and there are a few like that, but a lot of the students seem to lack a sense of purpose of why they are learning and question what is being taught when their language level is clearly lower than what they believe it to be - some Asian students do this as well of course; I just didn't expect it - it may be because some of these students are simply on 'holiday' from Brazil and studying English during their stay.

Another phenomenon with a few students was that they tried to dominate the class, which overwhelmed quite a few of the younger teachers. This combined with teaching in a commercial school must be a tough act to swallow at times for those teaching in Europe.

It's definitely a hard-landing, and the culture is radically different. My initial feeling is to fly straight back to Asia where the pay and conditions were better as I have a general, sinking feeling that I may not be able to find any kind of satisfying, reasonably-paid work here; however, I am going to stick it out, do the course, and then try to find a decent gig somewhere - at least this will give my skills a well-needed kick-start.

I've read a lot on this forum about the difficulties of finding satisfying work in Europe, but I remain hopeful that there may be some good jobs somewhere, even with my mediocre qualifications.
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Joined: 22 Aug 2012
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you in Lisbon now? I am in the city on a break and it seems a nice place to live. A lot will depend on the level of the students that you teach, and also if they are teenagers or adults. My old boss used to be very good at placing teachers at the correct level. Schools will also be set up differently so best to do your research and find a place that will fit in with your teaching style.
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nomad soul

Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 11454
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post! Thanks for sharing.
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Joined: 11 May 2016
Posts: 2
Location: Lisbon

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2016 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm in Ireland, which is a vibrant place and there seems to be a lot of teaching jobs available.

I'm thinking that at 40 yrs. old now, it's time for a serious re-evaluation in terms of future potentials - not many have the free time to invest in a PhD at 40 years old, so I will try to find an online MA programme that has reasonable accreditation as full-time studying is not an option. In saying that, neither is plodding along teaching at private language schools without some kind of qualifications enhancements along the way. There's also the option of doing a DELTA, and looking towards science teaching.
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Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11534
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2016 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greetings, and I agree with nomad that this is a very useful post; thanks for sharing.

I'd like to add 2 cent's worth, though - the students on your CELTA course aren't necessarily very reflective of 'real' European students, either!

It sounds like you're teaching summer school students, and in that case it's understandable that the Brazilians are more focused on holiday-making than on improving their English. Further, Brazilians (along with Spanish and Italian students) have often been over-assessed prior to going abroad; proficiency assessment is big business:-) so they may genuinely not realize their limitations. Brazilians obviously aren't actually European, of course, but they are pretty similar to Spanish and Italian learners in my personal experience.

On the 'dominating student' thing; western students will show a far higher variation in motivation and self-confidence than you'd likely find in Asia. The teachable trick is to learn to accept the ones who self-select early in a course but to bring in the quieter ones naturally over time so that it all balances out by mid-course. This isn't a useful tactic on a 30-day CELTA, though!

Overall, your idea of doing an MA degree and/or a DELTA should help you land something reasonable somewhere. It's not all private language schools here, but in the more desirable areas you can expect to pay some dues at a private school or two while building local rep, contacts, and language skills. Later, there are options for working directly for corporations, there are some university and international school jobs, and teacher training or DOS jobs do exist, though in none of the above are there high numbers of openings. It takes some commitment and patience to find satisfying work in Europe, but definitely can be done.
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Joined: 01 Feb 2016
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2016 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Your idea of upgrading your educational profile is a very good one.
You seem to be in flow and that can lead to educational choices that
may not serve you the best in the long term. 40 is a very interesting age
because you likely have far more of a career timeline ahead of you than you
may realize, but choose your next educational layer carefully.

If you are going to do an MA, do not do it online. I frankly think they have
real value, especially as a second one. However, unfortunately, to have
maximum flexibility in different markets over time, I would do a degree
in situ.

If that is not on, then, I think go DELTA. It is well recognized and will open doors. However, as valuable and practical as a DELTA is, I would try for an onsite MA-TESOL, Applied Linguistic, or similar.
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Joined: 01 May 2010
Posts: 69

PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2016 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doing a PGCE could be another option, if you're thinking about international schools as an option.
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Joined: 16 Apr 2007
Posts: 21

PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2016 11:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This post caught my eye because I'm about to move to Dublin with my (EU citizen) spouse and was scanning posts for anything about teaching in Dublin.

manicminer, I had a similar experience to yours. At least according to my experience teaching in Italy, teaching anywhere Anglophones are in short supply often means being handed a set of course books and a classroom of students (read: clients). And it's not as if Italy is an undesirable destination, but somehow my schools always ended up being short on teachers in September and hiring some real lemons. I learned a lot, but as you say, kind of doing more or less my own thing.

When I moved to New York, I found that schools are a lot more meticulous about teaching and more methodologically driven. At first I found it stressful like you, but actually now I find that it makes me much more interested in ELT as a fulfilling career. As rewarding as it is to bond with students (and that's what brought me back to teaching in the first place after a break), it took the intellectual challenge of always having to try new methods and techniques to really hook me for good. Hopefully that'll be true for you as well!

I think part of the demanding students aspect is partly because of the fact that instead of squeezing in some English in their spare time, a lot of students have invested time and money in their stays. Which as you say creates some interesting classes--it's always challenging to balance between the Brazilian 21-year-old on vacation and the German businessman who wants to learn All The English in his two weeks. (Or, to be culturally balanced, the Swiss kid who is spending her whole gap year at the school and isn't too bothered by class on a day-to-day basis, and the Venezuelan who has poured her savings into doing a month-long course.)

Anyway, I'd love to hear about your experience in ELT in Ireland so far! (or maybe I should start a new thread...)
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