CELTA advice from Graeme Dunlop

Graeme Dunlop is a CELTA tutor at IH Hanoi and IH Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam


How long were you an EFL teacher, and how long have you been a teacher trainer?

I’ve been teaching EFL in International House schools since 2007.  Since then I’ve lived and worked in Russia, Spain, Poland and Vietnam.  I first worked on a CELTA in 2013 and have been training full-time since 2015.  I am currently the teacher training manager for Apollo Vietnam.

Did you have a different career before EFL?

I worked briefly in logistics after leaving university but soon realised I wanted to travel and have a job that made more of a difference to other people.

What are your hopes/aspirations for your trainees?

Firstly, I hope that they find the CELTA course to be a rewarding learning experience.  Many of our trainees state that they not only learned about teaching, but through the intensive nature of the course, learned a lot about themselves and left with a lot more confidence after completing CELTA. 

When you were an EFL teacher what did you like most, and how do you bring that into the classroom for your trainees?

I liked experimenting with different approaches and lesson content to try and motivate my students and to give them the confidence to use the language in the real world.  I apply a similar ethos to training teachers.

What advice would you give your trainees for successfully completing the course?

Take it seriously, and have fun!  Teaching comes more naturally to some than to others, but with hard work I do believe that almost anyone can become an effective teacher.  The CELTA is extremely intensive and the workload is not to be taken for granted.  Do what you can before the course to make yourself as informed and prepared as possible.  Not that knowledgeable about grammar?  Take a Language Awareness Course such as the one we offer free to all our trainees before the course to get yourself up to speed!

What advice would you give your trainees for an interesting and rewarding career?

Remember that CELTA is the beginning of the journey of learning to teach, a journey that should never stop.  You will leave the course equipped with a basic toolkit of skills and knowledge that will support you through the early stages of your career.  However, what you do after the CELTA is more important in terms of what kind of teacher you will be two, five or even 10 years down the line.  Look for jobs that offer continuous professional development and support from experienced teachers who can help you navigate the different challenges you may face when teaching full-time.