Wednesday, November 22, 2023
A mere 10 years after starting her English learning journey with London School of Languages, Nerea Rodriguez became one of our newest and youngest teaching recruits this past September. Her achievements in the classroom, both as a student and a trainee teacher on the CELTA course, have been plentiful and have allowed her to make the jump from student to teacher in a short space of time. This got us wondering, what has this process been like for Nerea, and how did she feel going from 10-year-old student to fully-fledged English teacher? In a recent interview with our Head of Communication, Leiden, Nerea talks about her relationship with English learning and how her chosen path has led her to where she is today.
Nerea started learning English at a young age, as she initially attended an English school in Donostia/San Sebastián but moved to another school at the age of 10. From that moment, she attended extracurricular classes at London School and looks back fondly on her years spent in the classroom as a student. ‘My classmates didn’t change much throughout my time at London…we felt at home’, she recalls. It’s this, along with the positive atmosphere in class that kick-started her love of learning English and helped her achieve a C1 level by the age of 17.
In fact, such was her love for learning English that she decided to embark on a degree in English studies at the University of the Basque country- a degree which she is just about to finish. Over these 4 years, she has deepened her knowledge and fondness of the language and knew that she eventually wanted to use these skills to help others develop their English. ‘I always knew I wanted to be a teacher…I had a board in my bedroom, and I would play teachers and students with my sister, creating worksheets and exams for her’, she remembers. ‘My teachers would always tell me that I couldn’t work in an office and that I needed to do something that involved interacting with people’.
This desire to combine her love of English with her love of people eventually led her to our CELTA course. ‘I had no idea about CELTA when I was a student at London School, but one day I passed by the academy to say hi to the team and they encouraged me to consider it’, she mentions. ‘I didn’t feel brave enough to do it that year, but a year later, I remember speaking to my mum and she told me to go for it, despite the fact that I was still finishing my degree.’ So, Nerea applied for the course and completed it in August 2023, along with 10 other trainee teachers from all walks of life. ‘I got on incredibly well with them, we laughed and cried together for the whole month’, she states when talking about her fellow coursemates. ‘Thanks to the CELTA’, she continues, ‘I met people I would never have met otherwise’.
When it comes to her experience as a trainee teacher on the CELTA course, she admits ‘It helped me to appreciate all of the work that there is behind just one hour of class…there are so many things to consider that I had never thought about before as a student’. Was it as stressful as they all say? ‘It’s a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding at the same time…you have to prepare yourself for the fact that you’re going to be working 12 hours a day and that you’ll be like this for the month’, she warns. However, when asked whether she would recommend the course to others, she confirms ‘In one month, which is nothing in the grand scheme of things, you learn so much. This then allows you to give class straight away. It’s an incredible course that I would definitely recommend.’
How did she feel about going from student to teacher in Oiartzun, the centre in which she had spent 10 years of her life as a learner of English? ‘The first week was quite strange, I felt a bit out of place going into the school and opening all of the cupboards,’ she jokes. ‘It felt like walking into someone’s house and searching through all of the drawers and cupboards.’ However, by the second week she already felt at home again and fits right in with her workmates, who have been helping her out a lot in this first term of her teaching career. She was also excited to be recognised by students on the village streets, stating ‘The other day I was walking through Oiartzun and a group of children who weren’t even my students started to say – look, it’s Nerea 2 – and this made me happy.’ It’s worth stating at this point that there are two Nereas in our Oiartzun centre.
Right now, she is just relishing in the challenge of finding her own teaching style and ‘discovering the teacher I have inside’. When asked her about the future, she responds that she is excited about what lies ahead, ‘I’m curious about the Cambridge exams and would love to become an invigilator or speaking examiner one day. I also wouldn’t rule out helping to train teachers one day either, but I know I have a long way to go before I can even start thinking about this,’ she adds. After having been through this experience as a student and now as a teacher, what message would she like to pass on to her own students? ‘I would tell them to enjoy every lesson, and to make the most of the opportunity to learn. But they also need to come to class ready to have a good time. Everything is so much easier if you’re having fun at the same time.’
It truly has been a full-circle experience for Nerea; she is now teaching children who are in exactly the same position she was in herself only a decade ago, some of whom may aspire to be just like her one day. Wouldn’t it be great to have language schools full of teachers like Nerea? Not only would they be great language learning role-models, but also inspire the next generation of homebred talent to consider taking on the challenge of becoming English teachers in the future.