My TEFL Story Yulia Zaretskaya

My life has always been connected with English, as I have studied it since I was at school. My English teacher gave me a lot of opportunities to become the person who I am now. I participated in lots of different competitions and achieved good results. In 2014 I started university, with a degree in translation and international sales. When at university in a psychology lesson the professor happened to say that I would make a great teacher. I have never forgotten that, and I feel that influenced my career today.

After graduation I worked in international sales for a year, but I decided I wanted to change my career to become an English Language teacher. Although I didn’t have any teaching qualifications, I was offered a part-time job in a private English school in the evenings which I was delighted about. My life changed completely because I was doing something that brought me satisfaction. My students were also happy with me and eager to learn.

In a while I managed to get full time work by teaching kids aged three to six in private school, which I also really enjoyed, so I could leave my sales job totally. However committing my career full time to teaching I realised that I needed a formal qualification so I decided to take the CELTA course in IH Minsk in 2018.

Taking the CELTA was my first time learning how to teach, and it was the greatest experience ever. It was unforgettable for me because it was all new the techniques and ways of teaching which I had not encountered before. Our tutors were amazing and helpful people, and teaching real students in front of others was a great way to get feedback on how to improve my teaching. The whole month of studying was tough but it was definitely worth it. After my CELTA course I was offered a full-time job in IH Minsk. I knew it was the best private school in our country and I really wanted to work there, so my dream came true. After a year of teaching kids, juniors, teenagers and adults and implementing the CELTA techniques I was able to come up with my own tasks and ideas to make my lessons more engaging for students. CELTA was the basis for me on how to structure my lessons so that my students can gain the most.

After a year of teaching after the CELTA, in 2019 I decided to take IH CYLT (teaching English to young learners), because I work quite a lot with them. I do recommend taking this course after CELTA, as it broadens your teaching horizons on working with younger students. The ideas you are introduced to, and the ways you can vary your lessons, are incredible. Based on what you have learnt during CELTA you realise how to adapt your lesson to young learners.

In all my teaching now I have a clear structure to my lessons and what I want my students to produce at the end of them, which I couldn’t have done without CELTA and IH CYLT qualifications.

During the pandemic, I also learnt how to teach online. I am really grateful that IH and Cambridge provide teachers with free opportunities to develop and learn new things from one another. I have always dreamt of teaching exam classes, and my school gave me this opportunity this year. I had an IELTS exam preparation course, which was challenging for me as a teacher, but hearing feedback from my students and seeing their good results on passing the exam provided me with the most rewarding feeling ever.

Being a teacher is not the one day or year thing; you cannot stop developing yourself as a professional otherwise you will never be up to date in our modern world. Students expect their teacher to know a lot and help them with their ambitions. IH Minsk has provided me with this quality of continuing development, which I had never experienced in other schools I worked for. Our tutors encourage us to share ideas with one another, run seminars on teacher development and help new teachers, and observe our lessons from time to time to give us advice on how to improve. I appreciate this assistance a lot.

Although I have quite enough qualifications to teach good lessons, it is never enough! My dream now is to do DELTA course.

I would encourage everyone who is dreaming to be a teacher to start with CELTA course to get initial TEFL qualification and then you will see what opportunities it will open for you!