Floriana hails from the Lazio area of Italy and has the wonderful distinction of being a vastly experienced opera singer. She came into the CELTA course with plenty of EFL teaching experience, having taught English for over a decade, particularly to members of the Italian Air Force. Additionally, her work as a tour guide for American cruises also meant she came into the CELTA with plenty of practical experience. However, she was looking for that extra qualification to give her the edge when looking at job opportunities, and so she decided to take the CELTA.
We chatted with Floriana about her experience of taking the online part-time CELTA course with Europass in the summer of 2022…
What made you choose the CELTA instead of any other TEFL courses available?
I had already obtained a TEFL certificate, but I was looking for something more widely-recognised and prestigious. I was aware that having a Cambridge certificate would not only reinforce my job position as a teacher, but also create more opportunities for me to teach English.
What made you choose the CELTA course via the Florence centre?
I had been looking for a CELTA course for a while, however, being busy with intense work commitments had always been an issue. Moreover, the significant cost of this course to be paid upfront was something to keep into consideration, in case of failure due to lack of time availability. The Florence centre had various courses available, one of which matched my needs perfectly. In fact, it was supposed to start the day I would finish teaching a course at the air force, and to end two days before I had my next group of students. In addition, there was a fair discount on the course price for those who booked in advance.
What was the overall online learning experience like?
The course was overwhelming and extremely challenging. Being delivered online, was on the one hand a practical way to organise my learning experience in my own pace; on the other hand it meant having to deal at the beginning with a lot of technological issues. These included learning how to use web platforms, apps and producing on-line material for the lessons, which I had never done before, as most of my previous teaching had been face-to-face.
Did you feel supported by the CELTA tutors?
Our tutor, Cansu Akan, always provided a swift response to my enquiries and suggested ideas for guiding me towards more engaging and better planned teaching performances. From the very first lesson she motivated me by highlighting my strengths and encouraging me to deal effectively with the things I had to work on. With her support, she gave me the confidence that with constant commitment I would have been able to succeed.
Did the online CELTA course match your expectations?
I had no idea of what this course would specifically provide, but I can say that I see myself as a much better teacher now, from a student’s perspective. My original aim was simply to get a Cambridge certificate, now I understand the benefits go far beyond having merely a prestigious attestation. Passion for teaching and knowledge of the language was my starting point, but with this course I have learnt how to make my lessons more interesting and student-centred, avoiding lecturing and stimulating students to self discoveries and acquisitions that therefore would become more rooted.
Have you been able to incorporate your other life experiences (such as your opera singing or tour guide work) into your teaching style?
It is interesting how the Cambridge method is not only applicable to teaching, but to many other situations in life. Engaging audiences and getting them to actively participate in something new they are about to see, learn or listen to, is a key to success. As I have learnt from the course and incorporated in my teaching, in my other jobs too I’m trying to find the core of what I want to communicate and lead people unobtrusively to discover it, giving them an experience rather than a lecture or something to only listen to.
Which aspect of the course did you enjoy the most?
I really enjoyed sharing this experience with the other trainees in my group. We supported and encouraged each other, working together as a team. The part of the course I was always looking forward to is definitely the feedback received from tutors and peers at the end of each lesson I taught. When you are immersed in teaching sometimes you might get the overall feelings of a lesson outcome, but you don’t always fully realise what worked well and what didn’t. Having feedback on the spot from other trained teachers helped me visualise what could have been improved and what was to be kept.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of taking the CELTA course?
It is a very intense course and it requires full commitment, therefore it is not easy to follow if working at the same time. Being extremely organised is also important, because there is a lot of different material to explore and study and you are getting regularly assessed on various tasks. Last but not least, keep your mind open and flexible and especially if you had other teaching experiences, be ready to restructure a new way of approaching your students, making it more fun for them and more rewarding for you.