CELTA advice from Nora Musa

Nora Musa is a tutor with IH London in the UK


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

I have been a full time EFL teacher since 2003 and a teacher trainer since 2006.

Did you have a different career before EFL?

Prior to EFL, I worked in investment banking in London.

What are your hopes/aspirations for your trainees?

My hope is that my trainees continue to enjoy the wonderful opportunities for both development by experimenting and taking opportunities to learn from both their students and colleagues. 
There are many opportunities to travel and help people develop and improve. It really is one of the most rewarding jobs you can do. 

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

Fortunately, I still get to teach at times, so I get to experience the best of both worlds. 
However, when I first started teaching, I was amazed at the vast range of nationalities, ages and experience in the room and really enjoyed incorporating that into class activities. Any activity where they could share their experiences and opinions and compare cultures was something that sparked a lot of engagement, for both my students and for myself. 
Since then, I try to bring in the element of personalisation and using trainees’ backgrounds to workshops. This might mean allowing them to sometimes peer teach. For example, I recently had a woman who used to be an actress and was therefore able to coach her group during teaching workshops. She helped others in areas like positioning, voice projection, eye contact and engaging students. Another had worked with children and was able to share a lot of what she had learned in the young learner session. Most recently, when discussing how to clarify language, a trainee who had worked in a corporate environment for a long time recalled training sessions which were effectively long power point presentations. This allowed for discussion on how to effective, useful and more memorable ways to clarify language and involve students. 

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

  1. Teamwork. Liaise with your group. You need know what else is happening the day you teach and how you will approach tasks. This way you are clear on what you are doing, how you will do it and ensure there is variety in the lesson as a whole. 
  2. Plan ahead.  The full-time course can be very intensive and so ensure that you a) know the aim of your lesson b) start working on your lesson plan (complete the language analysis sheet first, as it can be the most time consuming) c)consult with your tutor in the supervised lesson planning slot the day prior to your lesson so if you need to make any changes, there is time. Some weeks (often 2/3) can be heavier than others so plan ahead and prioritise.
  3. Stay organised. You will be getting lots of handouts and/or emailed information. Try and get yourself a physical folder to organise the material and/or organise emailed information into clear folders. You will be referring to the information when you are planning lessons so make sure it is easy to access. 
  4. Have fun!  You will be around some really interesting peers and students. Help each other and learn from each other. Learning about your students will not only help you plan more useful and tailored lessons, but also improve rapport and make it an overall much more enjoyable experience. 

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

Always try and continue to learn and refresh / update your skills, be it technology, ideas or techniques.  If you are lucky enough to be in a school that has teacher development sessions, opportunities to observe others and to try different contexts, take them. It makes for a more interesting career. 
Learn from your students, involve them as much as you can and don’t be afraid to try different things.