Shannon Felt

Shannon is originally from just outside Kalamazoo, Michigan. She grew up in a fairly rural area so nature and the outdoors have always been a part of her life. She spent the summers swimming in Lake Michigan and driving on back-country roads. She has a degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan.

In college, her love for travel and her interest in other cultures was sparked by meeting people from all over the world and participating in a volunteer program in Ethiopia. She made the transition to big city life after college when she moved to Chicago, where she worked as a waitress for two years, getting to know the city while she prepared for her first move abroad, which took her to Hungary. After moving to Budapest, her love for English language teaching continued to grow and she gradually transitioned from ESL teacher to senior teacher to training course director.

In her free time, Shannon loves traveling to new places and is equally happy exploring a new city or camping in the mountains, though she’ll always feel most at home by a lake. She continues to nurture a strong love for literature and writing and she’s excited about this new adventure working as a CELTA Trainer in Washington D.C.!

How did you get into teaching English?

I graduated with a degree in English (because literature has always been a passion of mine) but then promptly realized I had no idea what to do with it. I knew I didn't want to be stuck behind a desk all day but I wasn't sure of my other options. Then I took a two-month backpacking trip through Europe with a friend and fell in love with the idea of living abroad. I met inspiring people who were having adventures and making their dreams work. Teaching English sounded like a viable way to support myself and also like something I might enjoy doing. So when I got home, I took a waitressing job to save some money and then signed up for the CELTA course. I wasn't really sure how I'd feel about teaching until I started the CELTA-- but I loved it!

Where have you traveled?

In college I did some volunteer teaching to kids in Ethiopia. Hungary was the first place I lived abroad for an extended period of time. I've traveled pretty extensively in Europe and really enjoyed exploring the Balkans -- I spent a month and a half backpacking down the coast of Croatia, which was gorgeous. I want to plan a trip to South America next!

When did you realize English teaching had become a career for you?

I think deep down I knew on the first day of my CELTA course. As soon as I started it, something just "clicked" and I knew I was in the right place. But I still moved abroad thinking it was just for a year or so, and that after that I'd move back and get a "real job." Soon after I started teaching, I realized that teaching was my real job, and that I didn't want to go back to anything else!

How has travel changed you as a person?

It helped me understand that attitude is everything. Traveling is amazing but it can also be stressful at times -- how you deal with those situations makes all the difference. It has also made me more comfortable with myself and able to adapt more easily to lots of different situations. When you take yourself out of your comfort zone and change everything around you, you learn a lot about who you are and what really matters in your life. It always reminds me that there are so many places to explore and so many ways to be happy -- it's overwhelming, and very motivating!

What qualifications did you get to advance your career in TEFL?

After I did my CELTA and got a few years of solid teaching experience under my belt, I did my Cambridge DELTA (Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults) at IH Budapest. After that, I got promoted to Teacher Training Course Director at the language school where I was working. In the future, I plan to do an MA as well.

What led you to become a CELTA teacher trainer?

After years of teaching abroad, I felt ready to take the next step in my career. I'd really enjoyed working as a mentor teacher in Budapest, giving my colleagues feedback on their lessons and leading professional development workshops, so I wanted to continue in the direction of training. Then I came across the opportunity to train up as a CELTA trainer with Teaching House, which was the perfect move for me.

What advice would you give trainees about to start their CELTA course?

Enjoy the ride! You're going to get thrown in head-first -- it's going to be stressful and you're going to be sleep-deprived, but it's all worth it! Keep your sense of humor and remember that nobody's perfect. In the end, it's not about executing a flawless lesson; it's about what you learn and how you develop in the process. And get to know your fellow candidates! Connecting with my CELTA peers -- studying together, helping each other plan, and laughing together, really made that month of my life a lot more fun. We learned so much from each other.

What advice would you give to people looking to travel the world teaching English?

Just do it! There will always be an excuse to put it off, but in the end you've just got to buy that plane ticket and go. Once you get there, make an effort to get to know the locals, and if you're lonely, look for expat networks or events in your area. You'll meet people from all over the world going through the same thing as you. In the end, you won't regret the adventure!