English Language Teaching Certificate Opens Up a World of Possibilities for UT Undergrad

In addition to earning a degree, receiving a certificate can add another impressive asset to a resume. This past summer senior Lori McKee completed the most widely recognized certificate program that qualifies her to teach English abroad.

The CELTA (Certificate in English Teaching to Speakers of Other Languages) is offered through the ESL department at the International Office for The University of Texas in Austin. The program is affiliated with Cambridge ESOL, which still manages the courses by approving programs before they are run and standardizing them worldwide.

“Last summer I studied abroad in Turkey, and while I was there, there were a lot of colleges being opened, and they had a great need for English teachers,” Lori McKee said. “Basically if I got a certification, I would have a job immediately.”

After McKee graduates, she said she wants to go back to Turkey to teach English private lessons. She hopes that having the CELTA will help her continue her education of the Turkish language, which will be beneficial when she decides to pursue her masters in Turkey. 

“I think teaching others would really help me to improve my own language acquisition,” McKee said. “Having the International Office offer this program is an extra tool for me.” 

Curt Reese, an ESL instructor, worked with others at the International Office to bring the CELTA to the University. 

“The program consists of six hours of teaching, so students get teaching experience that they can put on their resume,” Curt Reese said. “Most decent employers abroad prefer to hire candidates with some sort of teaching practice.”

The CELTA was also introduced to the University because it was seen as another opportunity for students to go abroad after graduating college. 

“The motivation for bringing this program here was to give students the opportunity to get an ESL certificate that will enable them to teach abroad after graduation,” Reese said. “Because the program's graduates can work abroad, this enables them to live in foreign countries for longer periods of time.”

Prior to the summer, McKee had no experience teaching, so she was nervous about teaching something that is easily misunderstood. 
 
“Being around students and seeing them not understand, just makes you feel like a failure, but you have to get through it,” McKee said. “You just learn and you fix it and you make it better. That’s what your progress as a teacher is all about.”
What stood out to McKee is that the program is feasible for students. Since she is still a college student, the workload was nothing new to her and made it easier to manage, but she still advises those interested in the CELTA program to be ready to work very hard. 
 
“I would definitely encourage university students to try out the program while they are still an undergrad,” McKee said. “Better to do it now than later.”

For more information about the CELTA program, visit world.utexas.edu/celta.