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Graduate Story: Maria Sampio

Online TEFL course

Maria Sampio is a Business English trainer with over 10 years of experience in teaching, recruitment and employer branding. Originally from Russia, she worked in France, Switzerland and different cities in Spain. She holds an MD in Linguistics and Translation and a MD in Human Resources Management. She has just completed our Online (Blended( CELTA course in Barcelona.

  1. What were you doing before you took the Online (Blended) CELTA course?

I have an MD in Linguistics and Translation and an MD in Human Resources Management with more than 8 years hands-on experience of business procedures. Even though I have been teaching English for over 7 years, I do believe there are always things to learn and improve.

  1.  Why did you choose the CELTA qualification as opposed to other TEFL certifications?

I decided to take the CELTA course for a number of reasons. I wanted to gain the CELTA qualification to improve my teaching skills, to become a better teacher.

The very important thing about the CELTA course is that it provides teachers of the English language with the practical experience and knowledge to develop their own style of teaching. Accreditation by Cambridge University makes this course attractive for every ambitious teacher, including myself.

I believe that CELTA course will allow me to find the job easily in any country where English teachers are in demand. Wherever I read the job requirements of teaching job vacancies, the CELTA certificate pops up as the unquestionable condition, regardless of the candidate’s professional experience.

  1. Why did you decide to take the Online (Blended) course instead of the 4-week intensive course?

I decided to choose the Online (Blended) CELTA course in Barcelona (instead of 4-week intense course) because it would allow me to continue working, paying enough attention to my family and kids. The 4-week course is very intense and the blended course turned out to be very useful because it gave me some additional time for reviewing the materials and working thoroughly on the tutors’ feedback. I chose to study at Oxford TEFL because of the schedule. We just had to come every Saturday, so if you work or you have other obligations, it is much more convenient. I know that some of my colleagues, who had to come from other cities, valued the proximity of public transport as well.

  1. In which ways do you think that being a non-native English speaker gave you an advantage during the course?

Don’t be afraid to apply if you are not a native speaker! As a non-native speaker of English, it is highly likely that your knowledge of English language systems is more advanced than that of native English speakers on the course. I, personally, found it easier to prepare the Language Analysis (an obligatory part of every lesson plan) than my native peers – it can partially be explained by the fact that having studied English for some years, non-native speakers are conversant with a wide range of grammatical terminology. Moreover, as a very successful language learner (and you, undoubtedly, are, if you decided to teach English) you will also have insights into language learning that colleagues who have not attained such a degree of proficiency in a foreign language may not have. So, it is easier to foresee the difficulties your students may have and be better prepared to react and help your students. There is nothing more rewarding than to see the results of the those who initially struggled!

  1. What was the online phase like?

Speaking about the organisation of the Blended CELTA course itself, it consisted of 2 big blocks: the online part and face-to face sessions. The online part consisted of 30 units and different tasks to work on individually or together with your peers gradually throughout the course. The course director, Anna Stubbs, was responsible for the online part of the course. She participated in all the forum discussions and was always ready to give a helping hand in any situations that came up during the course.

Online CELTA
Maria with her fellow CELTA trainees
  1. What was the face to face phase on Saturdays like?

The face-to-face sessions involved going to the school every Saturday morning during the 16-week duration (in our case) of the course. The University of Cambridge requires candidates on all CELTA courses teach for a total of six hours during the course, so each Saturday each trainee had to give a 45 minutes observed lesson with adult learners. The feedback sessions after each lesson were extremely useful. The tutors spent time, meticulously considering all the invisible (at first sight) nuances of each lesson.

Besides the pre-recorded video observations during the online phase, Oxford TEFL was happy to invite us to numerous classes of other experienced teachers. I used this opportunity and observed two more teachers. I found this experience extremely useful. Besides noting down numerous ideas and techniques, it allowed me to see real-life lessons with different, unpredictable situations that can occur and the ways the teachers managed them (e.g. the students could be late, etc.).

Online TEFL course
  1. Who were your fellow trainees, tutors and students?

Our group was very small  – there were only five of us. There were two native speakers (from Ireland and America) and three non-native speakers (from Spain and Russia).

Our teaching was observed and assessed by two course tutors (Nigel and Rubens), who, besides giving the feedback on each lesson, provided us with amazing moral support, a great amount of useful information and their own top tips. The opportunity to have these tutors and the course director throughout the course at the end of an email was one of the greatest advantages of the course for me. They are very different, from a variety of backgrounds and with very different styles of teaching. As a result, we were fully emerged into the world of ELT, full of different techniques, experiences and approaches. 

  1. Included in the CELTA course is a free teacher development course. Which one have you chosen and why?

Now, after having finished the CELTA course, I am planning to take an additional course at Oxford TEFL – Teaching Business English. I chose this course among the list of free courses that Oxford TEFL offers the trainees after their CELTA course. Thanks to my previous experience of teaching Business English abroad, and good knowledge of business processes, it allows me to work with many companies as a Business English Trainer. I would like to continue my professional development in this sphere.

  1. If you could work in any country in the world, which would it be and why?

I have experience of teaching English in Russia, France, Switzerland, and Spain. It is extremely interesting to teach students from different countries, sharing not only the knowledge but also learning the new cultures and traditions. For the moment, I am happy and grateful to work and live in beautiful Catalonia.

  1. What advice would you give to a someone thinking about taking a CELTA course?

I would say that it is definitely worth doing it! No matter which format of the course you choose – it will be an amazing, life changing, career-boosting experience! For those who have applied already and are waiting for the beginning of the course, I would advise you to prepare yourself by reading the recommended books. If you do not have a lot of time left before the course, choose the ones by Scrivener, J. and Harmer, J.  As the course is very intense, you will not have much free time to read, but you will know for sure where you can find different information that may be needed while preparing for the assignments.

Would you like to gain an internationally-recognised qualification in TEFL? If you have a busy schedule, you could take our Online (Blended) CELTA course starting on September 12th 2020. Apply here or get in touch for more information.

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