How the CELTA course has changed my life

We recently heard from Manchester CELTA graduate, Dom. How great to hear from past students and discover how their course has helped them get to where they are today, thanks Dom! Here’s what we wrote to tell us:

If you’re reading this and are currently studying the CELTA, congratulations; you’ll love it. If you’re reading this and considering the CELTA, read this and sign up. It’s the most amazing, rewarding thing you’ll ever do.

I was made redundant in June 2013 and was given a one year contract as a legal executive working in European law ending in June 2014. I had a good job with a good wage but I wasn’t happy or satisfied personally with what I was doing. I’d always wanted to be a teacher, and having studied languages at university I knew I would be empathetic to the demands of a second language learner and I knew that I wanted to teach English and so, my journey began. I signed up for the part-time CELTA which I completed in May 2014.

I was offered a job in China in a small city (well, small by Chinese standards) called Zhangjiagang. It has a population of 1.2 million people and is roughly the size of Warrington. I joined in February 2015 as an elementary school English teacher. I am personally employed by the local government and I live in free accommodation provided by the local education bureau.

Learning about the Chinese culture has been fascinating, and trying to understand the Chinese way of thinking is so interesting. They are full of enigmas, but are amongst the kindest, friendliest and most shy people I have ever met. They are brutally honest (you need to get used to this, but it’s never malicious), they are incredibly loyal and always willing to help you if they can. To give my colleagues a taste of our culture, I often bring in some PG tips teabags to my fellow Chinese teachers at school.

My school had a Christmas party for me and it was one of the most amazing experiences ever!  It was my second Christmas away from my family and I walked into all my classes on Christmas Day and they had all prepared some kind of celebration for me. One class had made a tree with Chinese wishes on for me. The next class all sang ‘we wish you a merry Christmas’ (I’m getting emotional whilst writing this) and gave me lots of presents – some were pre-bought, some were quickly drawn Christmas cards, some were their favourite pens, bouncy balls, apples, anything actually. In my final class of the day was when the tears really began to flow – I walked into the classroom and the children all jumped up cheering shouting merry Christmas, they then gave me a beautiful scarf as a present and three cakes.

My students are enthusiastic, hardworking, and appreciative, and being a foreign teacher you are instantly respected and revered everywhere you go, such is the importance of education in China.

I teach 17 lessons a week that last for 40 minutes each. In total, I’m working 13 full hours a week – and I’m earning three times the average wage of a local person and my school is a five minute walk from my accommodation. I live with another 11 teachers working for the same local government and they are from all over the world. In my time in this small city I have met people from Australia, New Zealand, America, Denmark, Italy, France, Faroe Islands, Indonesia, Russia, Ghana, the Philippines, Germany, Spain, Korea, Japan and more, not to mention Chinese people.

Has my life changed since doing the CELTA?

Yes, and for the better. I left England as a slightly unfit, plump but not fat man who was bored but had a good job. Now, I am slimmer, fitter, extremely happy job-wise and have got engaged to an Iranian woman and I’m due to get married in August 2016 before we both start the next step on our journey together in South Korea.

My fiancée, Mahsa, was in exactly the same situation as me on a personal level and now we’re both the happiest we’ve ever been. If I hadn’t done the CELTA, we’d never be this happy. Teaching is the most rewarding job ever, it can be difficult, it can be long, and it can be frustrating but it is impossible to understand what kind of an impact you will have on these students’ lives, they will love you and they will frustrate you, they will amaze you and astound you.

Like the CELTA, if you work hard at it, you can play a lot harder when you travel the world teaching.

As long as you care about your students, your fellow teachers and colleagues you will have amazing experiences like mine.

Do the CELTA, it will change your life – I can prove it because it’s changed mine. 


by Dom, CELTA 2014, Manchester Academy of English. Dom is now taking his teaching career to the next level with a Delta qualification.