NEVER EVER LIE ON AN APPLICATION FORM! It isn’t worth it, and you will get caught out. As a professionally qualified and experienced Careers Adviser (albeit a jaded and somewhat disillusioned one) I really believe that. My confession is therefore a bit of an oddity.
I am on the brink of applying for TEFL jobs, some of which require TEFL qualifications. The problem is that ironically, whilst I do have one, I never ‘fess up to it because it’s so ancient and although it was hard won, I never got to use it at the time. Hang on, I’m going to go and dig it out.
Right found it – took an alarmingly long time to locate, which is unsurprising, seeing as it was wedged between documents as ancient as my birth certificate, cycling proficiency test (really) and British Horse Society equestrian care/riding and teaching collection. Also, and this is quaint, a certificate from the PDSA Busy Bees, thanking me for a donation of four books of trading stamps! Green shield stamps maybe? Wonder how many readers out there will get that reference. I even came across my STA distance award badge for swimming 25 metres, still in its protective plastic bag. How I got that is a minor miracle. I’m a terrible swimmer, brilliantly buoyant thanks to layers of subcutaneous fat that I still carry to this day no danger of drowning, but never seem to be able to progress in the water at all. I peaked with doggy paddle, but apparently, that was enough! No date on either alas, but surely the 1970s. I must have been at infant or junior school when these milestones were reached:
Anyway, I see I did the course with International House back in July 1990 in Hastings as it happens. It was the ‘Certificate for The Teaching of English as a Foreign Language to Adults‘ RSA/Cambridge Certificate Course. After a bit of research, including speaking to a very helpful woman at International House in London, I am told this eventually morphed into the CELTA ‘it is exactly the same‘ she tells me. She also told me that plenty of teachers don’t ever both to even wait to collect their certificates, and they are off working so it should be fine. She does though point me in the direction of the Cambridge English Website if I’m feeling I need extra reassurance. She points me to the Cambridge English website lost certificates/ results verification section. When I tell her I’m holding the thing, she is completely relaxed ‘Good luck with it‘. It is clear she doesn’t think my claim invalid.
Now decades later (literally), over quarter of a century – how old does that make me feel? I find this yellowing parchment could be an asset. Yet claiming the qualification feels wrong, because my knowledge is so very rusty, heck, the qualification I did doesn’t really exist any more. Sigh, what’s a girl to do? I’m not forking out for the course again, but I don’t want to misrepresent myself. Maybe a DIY brush up is the way go to. I’m really confident at the teaching aspects (doesn’t mean I don’t suffer from performance anxiety but I love the buzz you get after delivering a workshop or lecture when you know it’s gone well). It’s the bloomin’ grammar. It doesn’t help that my social circle seems to be extensively populated by Grammar Police. They are important but scary. I am guilty as charged on occasion. They pretend they have mugs like these to be ‘funny’ but I know otherwise. Consequence, I lack confidence in my grammar, and jargon too.
Also, at the risk of sounding melodramatic, I had a head injury resulting in post-concussion syndrome a couple of years ago, and although I’m mostly fine now, I do have gaps in my vocabulary that crop up from time to time. That’s partly why I keep a blog. I hope that by writing regularly I’ll restore, or failing that re-route, some of those broken neural pathways.
Anyway, what I’m thinking is this. Classroom management I’m fine with. I’m not worried about lesson planning per se, or facilitation of interactivity. In fact, I’m way more confident and experienced with that than I was all those years ago. I’ve also got direct experience of working with international students now, both in the UK and overseas. Another huge advantage. It’s only the grammar for goodness sake. I have decided. I will include reference to this qualification, but now dwell on it. I can do an on-line course with Alison to brush up on my grammar. Besides which, I found in Vietnam teaching at University level the language skills of students were so basic this just wasn’t an issue. More recently I met a very experienced TEFL worker with many years working in the UK and overseas under her belt. She was of the view that keen international students will always know more grammar than you anyway, so just do what you can, learn as you go, and remember you have other assets (native speaker, accent, cultural insights). Here’s hoping she’s right.
By the way, I couldn’t use my TEFL certificate because I broke my knee. I broke it running on a walkway under a promenade in the dark by the seaside in Hastings. The light of the moon lit the sea, and I ran parallel to it, racing my new TEFL friends on the last day of our course, and the first day of our new adventures in life. BANG. I ran straight into a brick wall, taking the full impact on my knee. It hurt like hell, but I was too embarrassed to admit this straight away. Consequently I continued the night’s celebrations, hobbling to old Hastings in search of night clubs, though I had to sit out the dancing (quite a loss) and getting up and down kerbs was a nightmare. Next day, numb leg, pins and needles, this isn’t right… trip to hospital. The nice man in A&E initially said it couldn’t be broken as I’d been walking on it, but would x-ray anyway ‘just to be on the safe side‘. The X-ray department was up a flight of stairs. Feeling embarrassed at being thought a malingerer, I went up that flight of stairs (which seemed more daunting than walking the Inca trail) in reverse, on my backside.
After the x-ray a wheel chair was produced. ‘Don’t move‘ they said. ‘Radial fracture to the knee‘ they said. Miraculously it hadn’t displaced, but could have shattered potentially. Next thing I know I’m in plaster from my big toe up to my bikini line. Or what would have been my bikini line if ever I’d been unwise enough to don one. ‘Don’t try and drive‘ the plaster technician said as he waved me on my way. Don’t try and drive? I couldn’t even sit on the loo without the lever effect of the plaster catapulting my leg up at right angles to my body. It was a very long 8 weeks in plaster, and, to cut a long story short, that TEFL dream died. Maybe that’s why I want to try again. Third time lucky.
Oh, and by the way, the person who had driven me to hospital, a new TEFL ‘friend’ (I use the term loosely) fell about laughing when she saw me in a wheelchair with my leg in plaster. She thought it was a wind up! I appreciate the NHS had a few more resources and options back then, but did she really think I’d have persuaded the staff in A&E to put me in plaster just to go along with a practical joke? I wonder what happened to her. She was a very gifted teacher I recall, she probably went far literally and metaphorically.
Anyway, the point of this post (yes there was), well two actually:
- Worse things happen at the seaside
- For goodness sake, just stick it on your CV and get over it. No-one will care, any more than they care about your Busy Bee certificate (gulp) or Art O-level. They are recruiting you on other things
So, now I’m off to do an on-line grammar course! I know how to have a good time! What larks eh? What larks.