CELTA advice from James Blackburn

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

I have been an EFL teacher for 15 years now, and have been involved in teacher training for about the last 10 years. I currently work in academic management too, and as a Cambridge speaking examiner. 

Did you have a different career before EFL?

I did a wide range of jobs whilst travelling around the world as a youngster, before finally settling on teaching at the age of 25 after taking and thoroughly enjoying the CELTA course! 

What are your hopes/aspirations for your trainees?

I really hope that our trainees manage to love language teaching as much as I do. It’s such an inspiring, creative and forward-thinking profession to be a part of, so I hope that our trainees can enjoy it as much as I have been able to. 

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

There are so many things that I like doing as an EFL teacher! One of the things that I enjoy most is considering the rationale for different activities in lessons, and how they contribute to the main lesson aims, and this type of reflection is certainly something I encourage from trainees in CELTA input sessions, and when they reflect on the success of different stages of their teaching practice lessons. 

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

My advice would be to do as much pre-course reading and preparation as possible. Once the course starts, I think it’s crucial to be organised, and to aim to put ideas from input and feedback sessions into practice as quickly as possible. 

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

I would say that a solid foundation in the basics is important, so aim to start teaching in a school where professional development is really prioritised, and aim to get as wide a range of experience as possible at the start of your teaching career. Once you have that basis, the world really is your oyster! You can then go into teacher training, academic management, or materials writing, to name just a couple of the options!