Experiencing authentic Spanish culture

Stuart took our August CertTESOL course back in 2006. Since then, he taught in different countries and now runs his own school in Italy. Read on for more about his ELT journey:

What inspired you to do the Trinity CertTESOL and why did you choose Cádiz?

I had always been interested in languages and linguistics and having finished my degree in French and German, I didn’t really know what to do next. I have always loved travelling and visiting other countries so I thought doing a Trinity Cert would be a good way of combining languages with travel. I chose Cadiz because the photos looked amazing and after studying in Germany for a year at uni, I really wanted to go somewhere warmer. My girlfriend at the time spoke Spanish and so we decided Spain would be a good option and as soon as we did our phone interview, we knew Active Language would be a great school to do the course at!

What was the course like? What did you enjoy? What did you learn?

I have to say the course was one of the best experiences of my life! I did the 4-week full-time course and so it was obviously really hard work, but it is absolutely worth it. The best part for me was the actual teaching practice, and it was great to be observed by so many people and to be able to observe many other people teaching, because you can just learn so much – teaching techniques, ideas, what works, what might not work etc. Another part of the course which I think is really useful is spending some time learning another language. Being native English speakers, very few of us learn another language, but how can you expect to be a good teacher if you don’t put yourself in your students’ shoes? It’s a vital part of the course for me. The whole course was great fun but in particular the theory lessons, where Si, Dani, Dan and all the tutors made learning about all the components of our own language interesting and funny!

Why do you think Cádiz is a good place to do the course?

Cadiz is a great place to do this course because it’s a city with a lot to offer you in your free time, and it’s perhaps less touristy than say Barcelona, so it gives you a chance to experience the authentic Spanish culture. Plus who doesn’t love going down to the beach for a beer after a hard day studying and teaching??!

What have you done since the course? How has the course helped you?

After the course finished, I was lucky enough to be offered a position with Active Language for the following academic year, so obviously that was a really great opportunity to continue learning and getting experience. After that I worked for another school in Cadiz, before I decided to move on to another country. I went to Dublin to teach in The English Academy, a large school and Cambridge exam centre and spent 3 years there, where the experience of teaching classes with many different nationalities was completely different to Spain. While there I met Cristina from Italy and we decided to try to open our own school together. We came to north of Italy in 2010 and ended up in Sarnico, a small town on Lake Iseo, where we have been running our school 3L Language Learning Life for the last 8 years. It has been both very demanding and rewarding at the same time. When you have your own school, the teaching is the easy part, it’s everything else that’s difficult (in Italy anyway!).

What are your plans the future?

At the moment, I’m very settled in Italy and my aim is to concentrate on expanding the school as much as possible. Apart from English, we are looking at the possibility of opening a kind of cultural centre involving not just languages, but also yoga, music, art etc. In terms of teaching, I am very curious about teaching unplugged and hope to be able to do some experimentation with it in the future. I’d love to do a higher level teaching course too, time permitting!! Finally of course, gotta get back to Cadiz as well to visit everyone because it has been far too long!!

Who would you recommend does a Trinity CertTESOL?

I would recommend it for anyone who loves working with different people and who likes travelling and visiting different countries. It’s a qualification which gives you the possibility to work almost anywhere in the world. It’s a very rewarding qualification and career and you will have the chance to work with children, teens and adults too. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made!!

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