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Interview with Online CELTA graduate Garrett

Garrett Lazyan is from the U.S and he is living in China, teaching English in Mainland China and Hong Kong since 2009. He recently completed our 100% Online CELTA course. In this blog post he explains his reasons for taking this course, what the course was like and why he also recommends it to those with experience teaching.

1. What prior teaching experience did you have before taking this course?

Most of my teaching has been at the primary and secondary level to students between A2 and C1 on the CEFR framework, but I have also taught many adults and younger learners. I am currently a Master’s student of Applied Linguistics and I look forward to continuing to learn about my field. Besides teaching, I am a frequent hiker, avid reader, and adventurous traveller. 

2.     Why did you decide to take get a CELTA qualification?
I have been aware of and planning to take the CELTA for years. It is a highly respected certificate in the field of education, particularly in Hong Kong, and I felt it would help me further my knowledge as an educator. Previously, I was unable to find the necessary month needed to take the program, but if there is any silver lining in the current Covid-19 situation, it is that it has given us all plenty of time to pursue goals that might have seemed impossible before. 

3.     What attracted you to the 100% Online CELTA course with Oxford TEFL? 
Being in lock-down due to Covid-19 was certainly an attraction for the 100% online CELTA course, but I would also say the convenience of the program helped me focus more on what mattered, which was the preparation and research. Honestly, if I were to take the CELTA again it would be a toss-up for me whether I did online or in-person because both have their clear benefits. 

4.     What was the application process like?
The application process was fairly straight forward. After submitting my application online I was asked to complete a pre-interview task which mostly amounted to a test on my knowledge of English and meta-English. After that I was contacted about scheduling a Zoom interview for a few days later. During the interview I was asked about myself, my background, my teaching experience, and we went over the pre-interview task I was given in more detail. We also discussed my reasons for taking the CELTA course. The interviewer was very friendly and helpful regarding questions I had, and they let me know by the end that I had been accepted. 

5.     What was your day to day life like during the course?
The CELTA was definitely more work than I had anticipated. We had 6 hours of input sessions each day from Monday to Friday, and homework related to preparing our observed teaching practices and the four research based assignments. Since I live in Hong Kong, my input sessions happened between 4-10pm my time, which left me the morning to prepare. All in all, I’d say I spent an average of 8-10 hours per weekday, and some on the weekend, throughout the month of the course. 

6.     What was the teaching practice like?
The teaching practices were with between 8-15 students at a time and I personally handled the intermediate group for the first half of my TPs and the upper-intermediate group for the second half of my TPs. The TPs are where the online CELTA really provided an extra bit of quality because we were able to have a multinational classroom that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible. My personal students were adults from the Czech Republic, Spain, Mexico, Japan, and a couple other locations. I think this environment pushes teachers to be more prepared and knowledgeable about the different needs that students have. 

7.     What were the other people on the course like?
This is another area where the online CELTA provided for a unique and quality experience. My personal TP group was four people total, including someone in the UK, someone in Austria, someone in Russia, and myself in Hong Kong. The bigger group was even more diverse, with teachers from all over the world. We also had a large range of ages and experience, with people ranging from currently in-service teachers to those with a more business focused background. 

8.     What were your tutors like?
During the course we came into contact with multiple teacher trainers, but we spent most of our time with three specific tutors. These three tutors were each responsible for one of the three language level groups, elementary, intermediate, and upper intermediate, so I spent most of my time with the intermediate and upper-intermediate tutors. These same tutors were also responsible for teaching our big group input sessions where all of the smaller TP groups came together for two classes regarding some aspect of teaching each day. I found my tutors to be very supportive, knowledgeable, and focused on guiding feedback. Part of me thought that I wouldn’t learn much going into the program since I already had over 10 years of experience, but I quickly learned that wasn’t the case, and that the tutors had plenty of useful feedback which helped me to better my teaching abilities. 

9.     What was the most challenging aspect of the course for you?
The most challenging aspect of the course for me was time management. If you’ve been in the education field for a while, chances are you’ve heard about the CELTA and how much time it demands. Registering for the CELTA, they also make it abundantly clear that you will need to be able to dedicate a large segment of time throughout the month, and that it may be difficult to balance the CELTA and any other responsibilities. I think a lot of people like myself kind of shrug that off going into it, but then we quickly learn that everything we heard was true!

10.  What has been the most rewarding aspect on the course for you?
As someone who has been teaching for over a decade, the most rewarding part was being able to say I genuinely learned a lot from the course and that I am a more knowledgeable and better teacher for having taken it. 

11.  Which one thing do you wish you had known before the course started?
The biggest thing with the online CELTA is that there is the added dynamic of technology in the TPs. I wish I had the opportunity to teach some more online courses before entering the CELTA so that I was more acquainted with Zoom functions for my TP. This could potentially be a real hurdle for some people, but thankfully Oxford TEFL also provided a solid amount of extra time and guidance regarding how to use Zoom. 

12.  What’s your best piece of advice for someone thinking about taking the 100% Online CELTA course?
If someone were thinking about taking the CELTA, I’d make it clear to them that it will certainly require their full attention and time for the entire month. There is a lot of research, teaching, and learning, and if you aren’t prepared to make a serious effort and allocate the necessary time, you are going to have problems.

13.  What are your plans now?
Now that I have the CELTA, I am looking forward to applying to some positions which were previously closed off to me. Many of the schools in Hong Kong do see CELTA as an acceptable professional teaching certificate, and so I hope to go the primary or secondary school route.

Don’t miss this chance to gain your CELTA qualification 100% online. Complete the application form here and take the first step to becoming a certified CELTA teacher intensively over 4-weeks or 13-weeks.

How can I find out more about the 100% Online CELTA course?
Visit our main course pages for our 4-week or 13-week 100% Online CELTA course or complete the enquiry form below and we will be happy to help you.

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