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David's story: Where did CELTA take him?

Updated: Feb 22

David Tipple | CELTA Tutor

This week, we have a guest post from one of our CELTA tutors, David Tipple. Read on to find out more about his life teaching English both overseas and in the UK.

My experience of teaching with a CELTA started as a desire to find adventure in far-off lands and then became much more than that as I found steady work in the UK before using it to settle down in Spain. I found many different teaching situations where the CELTA proved invaluable in providing strategies to first survive and then to flourish.


After graduating with an International Relations degree in 1999, I found work in Indonesia and realised I needed something to prepare me for the trip, even though I thought it would be a short chapter in my life, so I did a CELTA course. I went to work in Bali, then in the more remote island of Sulawesi, where I seemed to learn more than my students did as I struggled with the difficult climate and the realities of the poverty around me. 

Itchy feet

I returned to the UK and worked on the social program of International House, Newcastle. I also worked in the office, seeing how that side of the business was run as students were sourced and homestay families coordinated. I got itchy feet again, though, and decided to go to Japan in 2002. I had seen Japanese tourists in Bali and felt they would be cool to hang out with, which seems far-fetched with hindsight but I could have gone to any number of countries, such is the way with CELTA, and that reason was as good as any.

Teaching English on the Peaceboat
On the Peaceboat!

Life on the Seas

Japan was fantastic, as it turned out. I was able to slake my thirst for far out nightlife while the school I was working with, Shane, had solid on-the-job support so I was able to become a much better teacher. It also led to the once-in-a-lifetime experience of circumnavigating the globe on a three-month cruise in 2004, teaching on board the Peaceboat. I was truly living the dream.

London life

My mind turned to the UK and, to show how this industry can work, I printed out CVs and marched round fifteen language schools around London in one afternoon, pressing the flesh and asking for a job. I got one that day and a second a month later; the first teaching high level groups on Museum Street, the second at One-To-One English in Covent Garden. These were new areas for me so I expanded my experience while discovering London with like-minded students.

Always on the look-out for progression, I found a job in the London prison service teaching ESOL, which is aimed at people looking to settle in the UK. I was promoted to co-ordinator at HMP Pentonville in 2007 which entailed managing staff while also liaising with the prison with all its departments addressing numerous issues including drug use, immigration and probation. The whole time, the tools acquired on the CELTA were still in play, if a little refined and adapted. I even taught UK nationals on a resettlement program addressing re-offending, which added yet another string to my bow. 

Moving on up

During this time I met my Spanish wife-to-be and decided to settle in Spain in 2010. As I found my feet, I taught in even more diverse environments; including both primary and high schools. In both, the CELTA played its part, giving me the ability to escape the classrooms relatively unscathed before making my mark as an appreciated teacher. I then found a job at a language school which ran CELTA courses and decided to take a DELTA so that I could become a teacher trainer in 2016.

Looking back, my intention was to teach for just a few years and I certainly never set out to teach in as many different places as I have. One thing I have found, though, is the buzz of enabling the learning process; reaching people in a way that enhances their skill-set so that  they can change their lives. That buzz exists in any classroom, no matter who the learners are, where they are from, or where they intend to go.

David did his CELTA back in 1999 and worked in Indonesia, Japan and London, before settling in the Canary Islands in 2010. He has worked in many different contexts including primary and secondary schools, language academies and the London prison service. He has been a teacher trainer for eight years and works on DC Teacher Training's online CELTA courses.

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1 Comment

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