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Why CELTA is worth doing for non-native speakers

Updated: Jan 18

Can I do a CELTA even if I'm a non-native English speaker?

Thirty years ago, almost everyone who did a CELTA course was a native speaker. The idea was that young British people often went to Spain or Italy or Thailand to have an adventure and would support themselves by teaching English. Unfortunately, these people were offered jobs on the basis of being native speaker, and didn't know anything about teaching. The intention behind CELTA was to make sure that these people had the necessary skills and knowledge before they went on their travels.

In the years since then, a lot has changed. Native speakers still do a CELTA to travel. You can read my story here, or my colleague Danny's story here. However, the international English language teaching industry has changed a lot in the last thirty years, and about half of the people who do CELTA are not native speakers of English. Often, these are people who already have very good teaching qualifications from their home countries, and sometimes they already have significant teaching experience too.

We asked some of our team, who are non-native speakers and have advanced through their careers to become teacher trainers, why a traditional CELTA course or online CELTA is worthwhile for non-native speakers of English.

Edna, from Mexico, says:

I always wanted to travel and have the opportunity to know other countries, people and cultures. CELTA allowed me to live and work abroad, in wonderful places such as Spain, USA, Canada, Germany and the UK. CELTA gave me the chance to spend time in several places, learning the culture and meeting tons of new people.

Zorica, from Serbia, says:

When I decided to enroll on a CELTA course, and that was 20 years ago, it was because I wanted to develop as a teacher and finally become more confident when teaching. I soon discovered that there were many more benefits because my CELTA qualification opened many doors for me: I was able to apply for international jobs and enrol in higher level teacher training. CELTA is a great course, you learn how to approach teaching in many different ways, you work with other trainees who come from different countries which means that you learn about their cultures as well. I have been working as a CELTA trainer for 15 years now and I can only say that all of this would not have been possible had I not finished my CELTA training!

Cecilia, from Brazil, says:

I'm from Brazil and currently wear the hat of a CELTA trainer with Cambridge. Over my 23-year teaching journey, with the recent 5 years as a trainer, I've seen many shifts in the English Language Teaching (ELT) landscape. It's true, there is nativespeakerism (discrimination in favour of native speakers) in the industry, but I want to reassure my fellow non-native teachers that qualifications and experience are what truly set us apart. Earning a CELTA can give your career a significant boost. As a CELTA trainer, I've seen firsthand how inclusive Cambridge is, truly focusing on qualifications rather than just native language status. To all non-native speakers out there, remember that your unique perspective enriches the teaching landscape. Don't hesitate; your voice and expertise are valuable assets in ELT.

At DC Teacher Training, we value the opportunities that the course presents to both native and non-native speakers of the language and we are happy to say that we have a good mix of candidates (and staff!) from a variety of language backgrounds. Cambridge specifies that any applicants from non-native speaking backgrounds must demonstrate that they are advanced (high C1) users of spoken and written English, and we are happy to welcome applicants who have an advanced level of English onto our courses. If you're worried about your language level, or would like to discuss this further, you can always get in touch with us here.

Dr Connor O'Donoghue hails from Ireland and he started teaching English as a foreign language in Poland in 2003 and he became a CELTA trainer in 2008. He has taught and trained in Ireland, the UK, France, Italy, Slovenia, Macedonia, Poland, Russia, Kazakhstan and Vietnam. Connor also holds a Masters and a PhD in Education from Trinity College in Dublin. He has previously managed large teacher training centres in Vietnam and in London before founding DC Teacher Training.


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