Paula Ellis

Paula Ellis is originally from the UK, and is also an Australian citizen. Originally a Politics & Philosophy major, she took a year out after graduation to teach English and has been working in ESOL ever since. Jobs in the industry have included teacher, Celta & Delta trainer, materials and course writer, examiner, assessor and now Centre Manager in beautiful Washington DC. Paula is passionate about travelling, current affairs, plants, wine and true crime podcasts.

How did you get into teaching English?

I began straight after graduating from university.  I wanted to have a year teaching ESOL overseas, but that quickly changed into being the only job I’ve ever had!

Where have you traveled (both for teaching and for fun)?

I’m very lucky to have taught and trained on six continents.   I spent my early teaching career in Europe and Asia, and am now happily based in the US.

When did you realize English teaching had become a career for you (not just a means of travel)?

It was definitely within the initial six months of my first job. I really enjoyed living in another country, learning a new language and having all these new experiences.  I realized there was so much of the world to see and was eager to work with different students in different contexts.

How has travel changed you as a person?

I believe travel gives us the opportunity to make connections with people we wouldn’t regularly get to meet.   I come from a small village in Scotland, so being able to see and do so many things abroad has brought me new experiences, some adventure and lots of good friends into my life!

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

Once I was sure I wanted to remain in the ESOL field, I completed my Cambridge Celta and Delta qualifications.

What led you to become a CELTA teacher trainer?

I worked for a time as a Director of Studies, and wanted more skills to help develop new, or less experienced teachers. Becoming a trainer allowed me to think more about what techniques and approaches really help students develop their language skills.

Considering how much more you know now about teaching than you did when you did your CELTA course, what advice would you give a trainee about to start their CELTA?

I’d say prepare in two ways – brush up on your grammar knowledge and take time to work through the Pre Course Task to prepare for the course content. And then mentally prepare to undertake a challenging course that will require you to be receptive to new ideas and reflective about your progress with teaching.

What led you to [seek a position at] Teaching House?

True love! My husband is American and we relocated back to the US from the Middle East. I knew some of the people who worked at Teaching House, and they very kindly invited me to work on Teaching House Celta and Delta courses!

What advice would you give to people looking to travel the world teaching English if they’ve never traveled abroad before (and might be feeling a little nervous about making the leap)?

Feeling nervous is a normal reaction; it usually indicates you’re excited about what’s to come. I would encourage everyone to be open and enthusiastic about the opportunities travelling & teaching abroad can give you and to make the most of all the new experiences they’ll be offered.