Case studies



Whilst many graduates of St Giles CELTA, TESOL, DELTA and continuing professional development courses have progressed to rich and varied teaching careers overseas and in the UK, others have used the experience and skills they have gained from the programmes to pursue related but alternative career paths.

Here are just a few examples ……

Lisa Darrand

When Lisa decided to train to be an EFL teacher during the 1990s, it was a change of direction for her after studying law. However, though she was enjoying her CELTA course at St Giles Brighton, her lack of confidence standing up in front of people almost resulted in her giving it up!

The teacher trainers at St Giles persuaded her to continue and she was very happy that she did so. Lisa completed the course successfully and she subsequently taught in Japan with Geos company and then spent 10 years teaching in Athens. During her time in Japan, she began to design her own learning materials and she later became involved in working on content for course books.

On her return to the UK, Lisa was offered a job with major international publishing company Pearson, where she first worked as Development Editor on Business and English for Specific Purposes (ESP) publications before going on to become a Project Manager looking after other editors, both freelance and in-house.

TEFL experience was a key requirement for Lisa’s post at Pearson but she also feels that her CELTA course also helped her to develop strong communication skills which have been essential throughout her working life. Lisa chose to do her CELTA at St Giles due to its reputation for quality and she especially appreciated the individual support and encouragement she received from the teacher trainers, in exploring and realising her potential.

Jo Greenyer , Head of Teacher Training, St Giles International

With a passion for literature and languages Jo Greenyer completed her degree in Contemporary Writing and Cambridge CTEFLA, today known as the CELTA certificate. She then set off to the Czech Republic where she taught English language in both state and private schools.   She subsequently taught at International House, in Bydgoszcz, Poland.   Jo then returned to London to teach at St Giles Highgate and she decided to further her career by obtaining a Postgraduate Certificate in Education and a Diploma in TEFLA. This led to a post as a Teacher Trainer which enabled Jo to develop and utilise her analytical and feedback skills.  It is easy to understand why this is the profession and industry within which Jo wishes to use her knowledge and expertise.   She explains, “Each course offers new challenges and surprises and I am constantly learning something new”.  In addition, St Giles Highgate is ideally situated and has a well-established reputation.  At present, Jo’s time is split between being a Teacher, Assistant Director of Studies, CELTA Tutor and Head of Teacher Training, another reason why every day is filled with exciting challenges. When she has time, Jo is a freelance writer for MacMillan Publishers where she creates exercises for Graded Reading Books and designs tests and tasks for online worksheets.

For anyone interested in pursuing one of the varied career paths within in the ELT sector, Jo feels that a foundation in teaching is a must.   Working in as many different contexts as possible will not only give you a wide range of teaching skills, but will also increase your self-confidence and will enable you to develop listening and organisational skills.

 John Parker, Teacher , St Giles International

Like many of us during these tough economic times, John Parker decided it was time to make a career change. He decided to follow his mother’s and brother’s footsteps and enter the world of teaching.  Although the other members of his family are Primary School Teachers, Jonathan decided to explore a different route.

In September 2011, John took the Trinity TESOL (Teaching English as a Second or Other Language) course at St Giles London Central.  He found the course to be intensive yet reassuring, as he realised he was very well prepared for teaching.  John feels that the TESOL course gave him a ‘toolbox’ which enabled him to convey meaning effectively, gain a bit of teaching experience and use his creative ability.

People decide to teach English for many reasons and John not only found it to be a creative outlet but also a place where both his professional skills and his personal experiences have value. When you are Teaching English language, you are almost guaranteed a more interested and motivated audience than in the case of students involved in compulsory study.   International students in the UK (and the USA) pay significant sums of money to travel to another part of the world, not only to improve their language skills but also to learn about cultural differences In ELT; you may find that you are not only an English Teacher but a story-teller and a counsellor!

This is also the case when you decide to embark upon teaching and traveling abroad. Students will find you interesting, for many reasons and not just for your lessons! That’s the beauty of teaching EFL (English as a Foreign Language) it’s a bit more personal, interactive, and therefore rewarding. John used to provide tax advice to import/export companies in Tokyo, Japan.  Next year, he plans to travel to Asia again, but this time to teach English in Korea!

When asked if he sees himself teaching in three to five years from now, John’s answer is “Yes, it’s engaging on many different levels!”  After his year abroad, John plans to develop his career further and take the DELTA (Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults) course where he hopes to further expand his skills in teaching and linguistics and subsequently to share his knowledge and experience by becoming a Teacher Trainer.

Although teaching a foreign language to a group of international students can provide an opportunity to have interesting and controversial discussions in the classroom, this can also be the biggest challenge for a teacher.  John has found that well-travelled and experienced colleagues (like the ones he has met at St Giles) can be a fantastic source of peer support. Planning and tailoring lessons for students of all ages and from various cultural backgrounds is a very demanding task for any educator. There will always be odd lessons which go wrong but a piece of advice that has stayed with John from his TESOL course is to think about what happened and to “keep in perspective how successfully you managed when the class went all wrong.” It is important for teachers to understand that every negative is actually a positive learning experience, one which helps you become a better teacher though reflection and adaptation:  “60% of your lessons will be moderately successful, 20% will be stunning, and 20% will be disasters”.  A lesson can often be re-used and recycled somewhere else, perhaps at a different time or in different way or with a different group dynamic.

It’s not always easy to step back and look at your job from an objective perspective, but it is satisfying when a student stops you in the corridor and says “John! I wish I was back in your class!” John feels that at the end of the day, you know you’ve made an impact on someone’s life (however small or large) and helped them to achieve their goals. What is even more reassuring for new teachers is that there are a lot more students around the world that will feel the same about you!