Michelle Knepel is a recent graduate of our Cambridge CELTA course, Business English and Teaching Young Learners courses in Barcelona, Spain. She spent the last decade working in manufacturing leadership, project management and most recently consulting. Michelle is a Certified Internal Auditor and holds an MBA from The University of Notre Dame-Mendoza School of Business. Outside of work, she is an avid runner, world traveler, volunteer and a budding part-time remote ESL teacher. Find out more about her experience on our courses here.
- What attracted you to Barcelona/ Spain as opposed to other locations?
I was attracted to the promise of sunshine, beaches, tapas, amazing architecture and friendly locals. I am a huge fan of Spanish artists, including, Dali, Picasso and Miró. Also, I wanted to see how the Sagrada de Familia was progressing. Barcelona is an amazing city and it is no wonder that millions visit this seaside gem every year. I loved Barcelona and am sure that anyone that enrolls at Oxford TEFL here will not be disappointed.
- What were you doing before you took the CELTA course?
I was working as a consultant for Ernst & Young. Prior to consulting, I worked in various finance, audit and manufacturing leadership roles.
- Why did you decide to change career and take the CELTA course?
I will not be changing my career at this time and plan to continue to work in business. The CELTA will allow me to pursue teaching English as a hobby.
- How did you hear about Oxford TEFL and why did you choose us as your course provider?
When I first found out about Oxford TEFL, it was through a chance encounter in a doctor’s office in Bangkok with a former graduate who raved about his experience at Oxford TEFL in Barcelona. After a little bit of research, I was convinced that Oxford TEFL was the very best as far as course quality and reputation.
- What was your experience on the course like?
The course was a perfect mixture of fun and challenge. It felt similar to my MBA in regard to aggressive deadlines and managing a substantial amount of coursework. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and especially enjoyed my fellow trainees, who were from around the world. Despite, the many long hours spent preparing lessons and writing assignments; there was still ample time to enjoy beaches, tapas and dinners with new friends.
- What was the teaching practice like?
The teaching practice was a great experience, though at times absolutely terrifying. I have given many presentations throughout my career, nevertheless, there is something specially challenging about managing timing, students, and gauging comprehension all while being observed by a tutor. Overall, I had the opportunity to teach eight times. I was surprised by the sheer amount of work that it took to prepare for each lesson. Not only was there completing the lesson plan itself, but also preparing worksheets, Powerpoint slides and other supporting materials. At first, it was daunting, but the tutors were available every step of the way so that it became more manageable as the course progressed.
Another component of teaching practice was feedback. Immediately following the teaching practice, each trainee had to identify their strengths and weaknesses, followed by their peers and tutor doing the same. It was the first time in my life that I received feedback in such a public setting. It was extremely uncomfortable at first, but, over time it became easier and easier. Receiving feedback has been something that I have struggled with my entire career. I tend to internalize it and take it very personally. However, after eight feedback sessions, I can wholeheartedly say that I have improved the skill of both receiving and giving feedback. The teaching practice gave me a tremendous amount of confidence and for this I am forever thankful to the tutors at Oxford TEFL.
- What do you plan to do now that you have graduated with the CELTA?
In the immediate future, I will return to the U.S and search for new opportunities in either manufacturing leadership or consulting. I plan to use my CELTA to find part-time remote work to supplement my income.
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself as an entrepreneur. I would love to build my own business, create something sustainable with my own two hands and truly see the fruits of my labor.
- What advice would you give to someone thinking about moving abroad to teach English?
My advice is to just do it! There are many opportunities for young people to apply for working holiday visas and teaching assistant programs around the world. Many of these programs have age expirations. Take advantage of these opportunities before it is too late.
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? Get in touch to find out more or apply here to get started on your adventure.