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Where are you now? Graduate story: Emilio Hernández

Emilio is from Spain and he completed our 4-week face-to-face CELTA course in Barcelona in June 2018. Emilio appeared in our CELTA course interview and then found work in a local language school as well as some of his own private classes. We caught up with Emilio to find out what his first two years have been like as an English teacher in Barcelona.

After you graduated from the CELTA, what did you do?

Well, it was an intense course but I had enjoyed myself so much and I was so motivated that I started looking for a job straight away. I wanted to start as soon as possible. It was the beginning of August 2018, and despite August being a month which in Barcelona everything slows down a little bit, by the 25th of August I had my first interview. By the 5th of September I started in an academy near Barcelona. I started with a 20 hour contract as a member of the academy coordination team. It was so much fun to have a first experience preparing the kickoff of the course and having the view of the coordination team as well.

How easy was it to find teaching work? 

I mainly looked online and I used the Oxford TEFL careers service. I wrote to Corinne, the careers advisor, to tell her I was looking for a job in Barcelona. She started sending me job offers but by the time I received the first few I had already found a job.

Where have you been working?

My first job was at an academy as a teacher and member of the school coordination team. To be totally honest, I found it a bit overwhelming as a first experience and very badly paid. I would have to work for the school management, provide teachers with materials, sort out doubts from other teachers, help make sure things worked out well and prepare my lessons all at the same time. So I suppose, all together it was a bit too challenging for a first experience and not very well compensated.

Soon after that, I found Business English Lessons with “Institut Europeu” in Barcelona. I started with some hours in one company and soon they offered me more classes in different companies.

I also began to offer private lessons through a platform called Chronoshare. I got four students all of which had one lesson a week. I would move around Barcelona to teach them English in their homes. It was fine because they were directly my clients, but on the other hand there was a lot of moving around involved and cancelations were frequent.

A couple of months later, a well recognize academy in “Esplugues de Llobregat” called The Meeting Point (right where I was living at the time) was looking for a teacher to substitute a member of their team that was on sick leave. I started working there and really soon I felt that this was the place I wanted to work. They offered fpr me to stay and finish the academic year with them. Without a doubt, I accepted, and I still work there. Some of the lessons that I had in the beginning were a bit challenging for me as the levels were quite high but I felt confident and motivated. I learnt a lot and I felt good about the whole experience.

At the beginning of the current course I decided to take on quite a lot of lessons and by January 2020 I was totally stressed and overwhelmed. I realised that having too many can be as bad as not having enough! Then, in February 2020, I decided to let go of some lessons in order to have more free time and to keep on enjoying teaching, rather than stressing out. Now, I have a free day in the middle of the week, which results in more time to enjoy myself and the lessons. I earn enough money because I only take what is convenient for me. At the moment, I have some experience and, as a result of it, more confidence. Now I know that I can do a good job and so I charge what I consider appropriate for it.

How did the CELTA prepare you for your first teaching job?

I was teaching from the second or third day of the course, and it was great. It gave me experience, feedback, it showed me my strengths and areas for improvement. It gave me tools, resources, peer observation and observing the Tutor which was excellent training. I was taught how to do a lesson plan, how to choose appropriate materials, how to conduct a class. It gave me so much experience and confidence.

I had already given some private lessons when I took the CELTA but up until then, I would not have considered myself a professional teacher. Now, I certainly do.

In which ways do you feel your teaching has improved during your first year as a teacher?

Well, I have gained a lot of experience. I taught kids, in-company business English, private lessons, students taking official exams such as FCE and CAE with great results. I have taught groups with up to 10 students and enjoyed coaching students in private lessons.

I believe I now know way better how to help and assist students, which difficulties they may be facing and how to overcome them. I have discovered that one of the common obstacles students have to face when learning English is the lack of confidence they experience, just as I did myself as a non-native when learning the language. So, I found a lot of empathy and the support I have offered them has helped them improve their English a lot.

What advice would you give to somebody thinking about taking the CELTA course?

I would definitely recommend them to go for it, it is such an amazing experience and definitely a good investment. It would give them the experience, the confidence, the recognition and the tools they may be missing. For me it was the entry door to a job for life.

What are your plans for 2020 and for the future?

Teaching English has shown me how to help people grow, overcome obstacles and achieve goals. Teaching is what I want to dedicate my life to. So, my plans for 2020 are to finish the school year with the lessons that I have at the moment, and spend the summer in the mountains, working as a mountain guide. From September on, I will be more focussed on private lessons and coaching for learning English. I am very optimistic about my future.

Watch Emilio’s video interview after her completed the CELTA course in 2018.

Around 75% of TEFL employers request the CELTA certification. Would you like to gain yours? 4-week face-to-face CELTA courses in Barcelona start from August 31st 2020. Apply here or get in touch by completing the form below.

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