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Graduate Story: Miguel Pinto

Miguel Pinto is from Portugal and he completed the Cambridge CELTA course in Barcelona in July 2018. In this blog post, he provides some insight into the course and how it has helped him find work in Poland teaching English to a variety of students.

Why did you take the CELTA course?

I started my teaching career in Japan where I worked with young learners. It was a cool experience and made me want to pursue teaching as a full-time career. When I returned to Europe, I decided to change careers and become an English teacher.

The Cambridge CELTA was a necessary qualification to get into teaching and, at the same time, it would allow me to travel the world. It was a no-brainer and I made my decision to do the course.

I was looking for a place to do my CELTA course, even though I had some experience working with children, the world of TEFL was still relatively unknown to me.

While searching online, I came across the Oxford TEFL website. The location, the dates of the course, the lifetime career service, the reviews from past students and the price, were all the reasons that made me choose the school.

What was your experience on the course like?

I arrived in Barcelona on a very hot Sunday afternoon. I was nervous and wasn’t sure if I would be able to successfully complete the course. On the first day, I met my fellow teachers and some of the tutors. We had a tour of the facilities and immediately started working.

We observed our tutor, Sam, perform his lesson and started to prepare our lesson for the next day. I was very nervous. After the first couple of input sessions with Sam and Regina, I had my first observed lesson.

After I finished my first lesson, I had my first feedback session. It was amazing. Sam was very thorough and gave me a lot of tips and taught me some little tricks to make me deliver my lesson in a more natural and relaxed manner. I took in his words and went home to start working on the next lesson.

A new day, a new input session and planning session in the morning and the second observed lesson in the afternoon. I did it. I was having many doubts and many thoughts running through my head all at the same time. During my feedback session,

Sam told to not be so hard on myself and made realize that I, actually, had improved my performance. All the trainees had a lot of work but all the tutors were there to guide and to help us. Everyone was very supportive during the course. With the end of the first week, came the first assignment. The second week started with my lesson.

I was well prepared, I knew my students and I knew what I had to focus on. During the second week, I focused on completing my assignment and started trying to be more independent with my lesson planning.

I turned in my first assignment and, luckily managed to pass it on the first try. With the first two weeks done, I had a mid-course talk with Sam to talk about my improvements during our time together, preparing for the group change and what I had to do to be successful during the course.

The third week was one of the most stressful stages of the course. We switched to a new group, so I had to conduct a new analysis of the students and to adapt to their level. We also had to turn in two assignments that week.

I remember that while we were doing our lesson plans and talking, all of our group had some sort of collective mental breakdown! We all started laughing out of the blue, and couldn’t stop. We were all very tired during this time.

Both Sam and Regina, the two main tutors of our group, were all very understanding of our struggles and very helpful. Like us, they too had lived through the CELTA experience. One of the things that I have to mention during my time with the course, was the help and advice that I got from my fellow teachers. We were always talking to each other and were always trying to help each other.

Finally, the last week of the CELTA course. The first three assignments were done and I had two lessons and the fourth assignment to do. It all went smoothly, I could feel that I was more confident while preparing my lessons and was able to deliver good lessons.

During the last week of the course, we also had a session with Corinne to talk about the career services. She was awesome and always available. I scheduled a session with her to talk about my CV and to talk about future possibilities. She gave me a lot of good tips on preparing my CV and interviews.

The last day came, no more lessons, no more assignments, and a big farewell party. We all got together one last time as trainees and enjoyed a sunny Friday afternoon. Some of us were leaving that day, so we took time to say our goodbyes.

This was the moment when we all realized that we were CELTA certified and that our TEFL journey was just beginning. We shared some stories from our groups, from our past experiences and some of the hopes for the future.

After the course, I also did the two workshops, teaching young learners and teaching business English. Both were a good addition to the CELTA course and made me feel a more complete teacher.

And so, my CELTA journey was officially complete. I enjoyed a couple of days in Barcelona, seeing the views and soaking in the sun, now, officially, an EFL teacher.

What have you done since you graduated with the CELTA?

Once I got home, I started to look for a job with the help of the Oxford TEFL careers service. Within a couple of days, I had several offers from places like China, Thailand, Slovakia, among other countries. Eight days passed and I got an e-mail from a school in Poland. I had an interview with the owner and I accepted an offer for a teaching position. I started to make the arrangements to move to Poland at the beginning of September.

What is your current job like?

I’m working with a great variety of students. I work with young learners, teenagers, and adults. I’m doing General English courses and exam preparations, mainly for the Cambridge FCE and CAE.

With the additional workshops I did, my school entrusted me to teach Business English in a company near my school. I get to do a lot of different things and working with different levels of English.

My Director of Studies is very thoughtful and has a lot of experience teaching. She is always giving tips and teaching me tricks to improve my teaching skills. I’m very happy with my decision to move to Poland and with all the support than I’m getting.

What are your future study plans?

I’m currently thinking of doing an MA in TESOL, as a way to improve my theoretical knowledge of language acquisition and to improve my research skills. I’ve also been to several conferences and had the privilege to attend some workshops with more experienced teachers and trainers. I’m working and trying to improve in all aspects of teaching. With that experience, I hope to start the Trinity DipTESOL, with OxfordTEFL, during the next year.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I don’t know. Right now, I’m focusing on becoming a better and more complete teacher. In 5 years, I hope to have completed my MA and my Diploma course. Time will time what will happen. Maybe I will move to Barcelona, or China, or Portugal, or maybe I’ll stay in Poland for many years. I just want to be able to keep helping students improving their linguistic skills and to make achieve their desired results.

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.

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