Native speakers only!

Native speakers wanted! Our academy hires native speakers only! Learn English with native speakers! Sounds familiar? What if I tell you that it is all a lie…

If you’ve ever looked for an ESL job, surely you were bombarded with native speakers only! as the top requirement. When I saw it for the first time I was mortified – who’s going to hire a Polish girl to teach English? Luckily for me, Spain has one of the lowest percentages of English speakers in Europe with less than 30% people being able to use it! (El Pais, 2017). Language academies, especially in smaller towns or in less popular areas, would do anything to have you on board – with or without any certifications. That is precisely what happened to me and how I discovered my love for teaching English.

Even though I am a certified teacher with a few years of experience and good reputation among my students, every now and then I get side-eyed by some parent or an older student when they learn that I am not a native speaker. This raises a question Can you be a good ESL teacher without being a native speaker? The answer is simple – Yes, you can!

I remember starting CELTA and thinking What if I’m not good enough? What if I don’t understand everything? Will I ever be able to teach higher levels? In fact, the thought of teaching a B2 level group kept me awake at night, to the point that I decided to address my concerns to Mike, my CELTA tutor. He told me a story about a guitar student who kept attending guitar lessons despite being better than his teacher. When asked why he continued taking lessons, he answered that he has fluency but the teacher has the technique.

Needless to say, Mike boosted my confidence and helped me with teaching higher English levels. I passed CELTA with flying colours and realised that I am a good ESL teacher. A teacher who listens and understands her students. A teacher who isn’t afraid to look for help or admit that there are some things beyond her current knowledge. A teacher who continues learning and growing to accommodate the needs of her students.

A message to all language students: If you ever look for a language teacher, don’t reject non-native speakers. If they have university studies, years of experience or any extra language teaching certifications, you are much better off with them than with a non-certified native speaker. A native speaker without any certification or knowledge of language can give you fluency but will not be able to give you the technique.

A message to all language teachers: If you ever look for a teaching job that in a description puts native speakers only or rejects you based on your nationality – it is for the best. It may seem like a bummer at first, but you don’t want to be somewhere where people are discriminated based on their passport. Look for a work place that appreciates your expertise, allows you to grow and most importantly accepts you for who you are!

CELTA – one year later

The year 2020 – what else is there to say? This is a story about the time in my life when I lost almost everything, but at the same time gained so much more. It’s the year when finally decided to invest in myself.

I arrived in Spain in September 2018 and decided to change my career path. Up until this point, I was an environmental engineer who was getting a bit unhappy with the career choice. Spain was like a breath of fresh air – a new place, new climate and new job as an ESL teacher.

I quickly learnt to love the profession as it allowed me to be me, have fun and develop my creative side. However, it is not as easy as it seems. It requires a lot of patience, attention and definitely planning – something that I learnt with time.

I was a teacher in a small village in Extremadura and over time I wanted to become a professional. I started researching Cambridge teaching courses when I stumbled upon CELTA. I decided to find out more so I emailed CLIC Seville, the academy that offered a 50% online course and the teaching part done in person every Friday for 10 weeks. Great deal! Except…not as I was already teaching every Friday and was unable to take that time off. Time passed by and I forgot about the course, but then the unexpected happened – 14th March 2020, aka you are unemployed for the next two weeks and another two weeks, and another two weeks…

This is how I ended up having way too much time on my hands. During this time I looked for new jobs, started knitting, watched a lot of films, baked cakes… Suddenly, on one fine May morning, I received a message from CLIC Seville talking about a 100% online CELTA course. There was no time like then. I replied, got an interview, got accepted and paid 1440 euros. That was the beginning of the CELTA adventure.

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Benjamin Franklin

1st June 2020 came round and I was very nervous. I was afraid that I would be the worst addition to the course and the tutors would tell me not to teach ever again. I was wrong. It was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I learnt a lot of new techniques, but what I valued the most was the feedback and the observation of other great teachers. After spending five truly exhausting weeks, averaging eight hours a day in front of the computer, teaching, planning, completing the tasks, I made it to the very end with a Pass A.

This is what finally brings me here. This newly found confidence, realization that I am a better teacher than I ever was an engineer and the freedom, and ability to create – is what I truly appreciate about being a teacher. So here I am, at last ready to share my ideas with other teachers.

Hope you embark on this journey with me and help me build this creative space.