Neda completed her Cambridge CELTA course at Oxford TEFL in Barcelona in October 2019. After working in Pharmacy for 5 years, she quit her job and decided to explore her love for languages. started to learn foreign languages at a very young age. She is fluent in English and German and speaks a little Dutch too. In this blog post, she describes the course and some of the advantages being a non-native speaker offer when studying or teaching TEFL.
- What were you doing before you took the CELTA course?
Before I took the CELTA course I worked in a pharmacy and I was learning other foreign languages. I was also thinking about what I can do with my knowledge of foreign languages. Somehow I ended up meeting a lot of people who were teaching English online and a thought crossed my mind : ‘I like languages and I could do that!’
- What attracted you to Barcelona/ Spain as opposed to other locations?
I narrowed down my choice to two cities, Barcelona and Prague. The weather was one of the reasons that attracted me to Barcelona. I visited Spain on multiple occasions in the last few years and I was curious about living there for a month at least. Barcelona was also outside of my comfort zone so I decided that is what I wanted and needed.
- What do you love most about Barcelona?
I love that Barcelona is a multicultural city and every day you can meet a lot of people from all over the world. Since it is a really big city, I was able to attend all sorts of activities, like dance classes and language meet ups after the classes. Whether you want to go to the beach or climb up hill, you can do both in Barcelona. When it comes to cuisine and various coffee places there is more than plenty of choice .
- Why did you take the CELTA course?
When the idea emerged that I would like to teach English, I started to do my research. I came to the conclusion that I need a certificate, CELTA or CertTESOL, which made sense. Finding the difference between those two certificates was not that easy, but this blog post helped. I was kind of leaning more to the CELTA course, for various reasons, including the start of the course and the location. After reading the curriculum of the course I saw that I would receive real teacher training, input sessions and all the feedback to prepare me well for becoming a good teacher.
- Why did you choose Oxford TEFL as your course provider?
As I was doing my online research, I narrowed it down to two courses in Barcelona. But still no decision was made. For three days I was reading as many reviews about the courses as possible, looking up the provider’s web pages, their youtube channels, etc. Everything I saw or read about Oxford TEFL seemed professional and very well structured. And the fact that Oxford TEFL is accredited by Cambridge was also one of the reasons that attracted me to take that specific course.
- What was your experience on the course like?
Amazing! Every review I read, said it was going to be very intensive, among other descriptions. It was fun, intensive, educational and challenging, all at the same time. Although we had to be in school for seven hours every day, more or less, we would come in earlier and leave school later as the classes progressed. Our course group was very supportive of each other. We encouraged each other, gave each other constructive feedback, hang out together outside of the school. Not only did we get to teach a class ourselves, we also observed each other while teaching. That is how we learned even more.
Neda with her CELTA group
- What were the other people on your course like?
We had quite a versatile group of native and non-native speakers, people in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and even one person in his 70’s. The majority of the class was from the US and the UK, one trainee was from Sweden, one from Syria and myself from Croatia. We all come from different backgrounds, especially when it comes to occupations. We had a musician, a businessman, lawyers, a pharmacist, a student, a yoga instructor, etc. However, we all have one thing in common, and that was to do something else for a change. We were very different and we got on really well. We had the same goal and at the same time we enjoyed each other’s differences because we learned so much from each other.
- What advantages did you have being a non-native English speaker on the course?
One thing seemed scary while I was applying to the course. Would I be able to keep up with the native speakers on the course? I decided to challenge myself by attending the course. Because, how would I know, if I never try? During the course I realised that being a non-native speaker has its own advantages. One of the advantages was a better understanding of grammar, which surprised me. When I think about it, it makes sense. I think I know the rules of English grammar better than Croatian grammar, and Croatian is my native language. Another advantage is that as I was an English learner myself, I could put myself in the learners’ ‘shoes’ while I was preparing the lessons.
- What type of support does Oxford TEFL offer when helping you find work?
The school offers you support in getting a visa, helps you create or revise your TEFL CV with examples and provides feedback. After you’ve done that they offer to send out your CV to various schools in Barcelona or elsewhere every week. They also offer help if you want to work outside of Barcelona, and you get access to their list of contacts worldwide. There is also a Facebook page called Oxford TEFL Jobs which is updated almost daily with new jobs around the world.
- If you could work in any country in the world, which would it be and why?
If I could work in any country in the world, I think it would be the Netherlands or Spain. I visited both countries more than once and both are dear to me. In Spain I like the weather, the culture and the food. In the Netherlands everything is very well organized and I love the fact that you can go around with a bicycle.
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years I see myself being fluent in more than two foreign languages and doing a job that I love. That would include using the languages for teaching or using them in combination with my other possible/former occupations. I want to master my teaching by then and maybe start translating.
- What advice would you give to a someone thinking about teaching English abroad?
I just finished my CELTA course, so I don’t have much experience of teaching English abroad, except teaching while attending the course. I must admit, teaching a classroom full of grown people in another country really terrified me. You don’t know what to expect. I remember my first lesson. It was not good. However, with every lesson I got so much better that I even surprised myself. I was put in the situation that was out of my comfort zone. It scared me and made me happy at the same time because I knew it would make me grow as a person and as a teacher. So, my advice to someone thinking about teaching English abroad would be just to do it. You will gain a new perspective on life, get to know another culture, meet a lot of people, gain valuable experiences, learn something new and you will make a difference. Making a difference is what we aspire to.
If you are thinking about teaching abroad and you would like to give yourself the best possible start, why not consider the Cambridge CELTA course in Barcelona or Prague? Get in touch to find out more or apply here to get started on your adventure.