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How the 100% Online CELTA helped me become a successful teacher in Germany

Emma is one of our recent 100% Online CELTA course graduates. In this blog post, she describes how the course helped prepare her for a successful career teaching English from her home in Germany.

1.     Why did you decide to get a CELTA qualification?

Before doing the 100% Online CELTA course, I had completed a degree in French and Spanish at the University of Edinburgh and spent another year in the same city working for a Christian charity which supports students. I decided to choose a career in language teaching because it combines my love of languages, cultures, communication, teaching and helping others. I knew I needed a good teaching qualification and I wanted to gain some experience before starting out. So I did some research and discovered that CELTA is one of the most reputable, thorough and widely recognised English teaching qualifications. This is why I decided to do it myself.

2.     How did you find work after the CELTA course?

Oxford TEFL provided excellent careers support during and after the CELTA course. I joined a careers input session about looking for work and performing well in interviews. Oxford TEFL also offered us information about online English teaching companies and teaching in various countries around the world. I made the most of these resources as well as having my CV/résumé checked by the careers officer, Justin, and receiving helpful feedback. After completing my CELTA qualification, I also attended two Oxford TEFL workshops on Teaching Young Learners and Business English to ensure I was as well prepared as possible. Then I took the plunge, doing my own research and sending off my CV to many language schools in Germany (where I wanted to move to) and online ESL companies. There’s so much information online when you search for online ESL companies or job adverts on websites like Indeed.

3.     Why did you decide to move to Germany?

Having studied French and Spanish, Germany might sound like a random choice! But my boyfriend originally comes from here and he was moving back to the South of Germany to pursue further studies. Personally, I’ve always had a love for discovering new cultures and I was keen to move abroad again after having lived in Spain and Belgium during my own studies. In addition, English is very important to Germans, particularly for international business, so that would give me good job opportunities (although admittedly, a global pandemic is not the easiest time to kickstart a career!) All of these factors led to my decision to move here and I’m really glad I did. 

Life here is certainly different to life in the UK. It’s true, Germans are often more direct, (usually) punctual and they love rules, organisation and structure! But in my experience, they’re also very friendly, helpful and they actually do have a sense of humour, albeit a little different to the British/Irish humour I’m used to! I’m loving discovering beautiful scenery, learning another new language myself and experiencing a different culture again.

4.     What type of teaching are you doing now?

I’m now teaching a wide variety of lessons online. I teach Chinese children a programme which is mainly based on reading and discussing different stories and texts. I also teach both general and business English through a German company which has clients in large companies all around the world. I’ve now taught people of 18 different nationalities at all levels from beginner/A1 through to C2 (advanced/native-like). This has been a super experience and I’ve continued to learn so much while working. I love the variety, and working online allows me to work from home and enjoy some flexibility too. 

5.     How did the online CELTA course prepare you for teaching these classes?

For a start, I probably wouldn’t have been hired without the formal qualification! However, now that I’m working, I’m really seeing the value of what I learned. I’m putting into practice on a daily basis all the things I learned and practised during the online CELTA course. Here are just a few specific ways the CELTA course benefited me (and continues to benefit me!).

Having done my teaching practice online, I feel at ease in this environment where other teachers may struggle with this new way of working due to the pandemic. I’m constantly remembering the need to grade my language so that my students can understand me well. My instructions are much clearer thanks to all that CELTA taught me. I know how to give my students ample talking time and how to minimise “Teacher Talk Time”. Lesson planning is also much more natural as I understand the flow of lessons and how different types of activities meet different learning objectives.

Even the CELTA coursework and written assignments prepared me well for practical things like understanding my students’ needs and how different activities can meet their needs. I really enjoy designing interesting lessons to help students achieve their goals and the quality and effectiveness of my teaching are definitely enhanced by what I learned during the CELTA course.

6.     Which areas of your teaching would you like to develop in the future?

Most of my classes are currently with one or two students. In future, I would also like to teach larger classes. When the pandemic eases and circumstances allow, I also hope to teach some more in-person classes.

Another area for continual improvement is lesson planning. I’m sure many teachers will share my love-hate relationship with lesson planning. Sometimes my lesson materials are already quite well planned or provided by the companies I work for. Other times, I have more flexibility and freedom. So I love trying out different activities with different students and learning the most effective teaching strategies and techniques for different students and for different grammar points or English skills.

7.     What are your plans now?

For the time being at least, I’ll continue with the companies I’m currently with and pursue opportunities for progression within them. I’m also keeping an eye out for more work opportunities in Germany as things reopen.

8.     What’s your best piece of advice for someone thinking about taking the 100% Online CELTA course?

I would say if you’re passionate about language, communication and teaching, then go for it! Any CELTA graduate or tutor will tell you, it’s a lot of work but if teaching is what you want to do, it’s worth the time, effort and money. You will learn so much and gain so much experience in such a short space of time. So, be prepared for hard work but remember your motivations and goals so that you’ll be able to work steadily throughout. Also, take some time to prepare well. You are asked to do a pre-course task because it’s helpful to have a good foundation in English grammar before you have to teach it yourself. You really will be thrown into it from the start but that’s part of the fun!

9.     Who would you recommend the 100% Online CELTA course to?

I would recommend the 100% Online CELTA course to anyone who wants to hone their English teaching skills. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an experienced teacher or just starting out. Nor does it matter whether you want to teach in a classroom or online. It doesn’t even matter what country you want to eventually teach in. If you have a passion for English teaching and are willing to work hard and reap the benefits, the 100% Online CELTA course is for you.

Some people, like myself, may have doubts about it being online but I was pleasantly surprised. The quality of the teaching and preparation for both classroom and online teaching was really thorough, practical and valuable. I loved the experience and appreciated the opportunity to work with a range of people all around the world and in different time zones. It’s a challenging but rewarding course to learn, grow and enjoy. It certainly has had a lasting impact on me and I’m so glad that I did it.   

Oxford TEFL offers 4-week full-time and 14-week part-time 100% online CELTA courses, as well as 4-week face to face CELTA courses in central Barcelona. Join our community of international tecahers and take advantage of our lifelong careers service. Email [email protected] for more information.

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