CELTA interview series- Michelle Smith Politis – an American in Greece

Michelle Smith Politis is from Wisconsin, US but she married a Greek and moved to Athens about 15 years ago.

  She is a mother of two – because of her children who are still very young, she chose to follow our part-time option. 

Michelle holds a BA in International Relations and by now, she has been working as an EFL teacher in Athens for 5 years.

In many ways, she represents the typical native speaker who finds it easy to get jobs because of her native speaker status. Of course, she also has great personal charm and is a great communicator, but when she started, she was not properly qualified to teach English.  

To her credit,  once her children were a little older and she could find some time while they were at school, she decided to take a proper course in order to learn more about the pedagogy of teaching English. 

Here are the questions we asked her;  we hope you will find Michelle’s answers interesting. 

1. What made you decide to follow the CELTA course?

Before taking this course, I had three years of teaching experience with adults and young learners in private language schools in Greece. However, before I even got to Greece my background was in finance management. I decided to pursue the CELTA as I soon realised that just because I am a native speaker it isn’t always so easy to teach the English language.

2. What were your expectations of the course? Were they met?

My expectations were many! I needed to learn how to plan a proper lesson and to exploit the lessons in the coursebooks further.

I wanted to learn how to improve upon them and make them more communicative.

I also needed help in analysing grammar to prepare for any questions that could come up in a lesson.

I really wanted a way to make grammar lessons fun and memorable.

This course met all my expectations and more!

3. What was the most demanding aspect of the course?

The most de2013-11-19 13.34.34manding part of the course for me was probably the four written assignments we needed to do. Writing those assignments and preparing creative lessons was a true lesson in time management!

In the end, it all went well and I made it through. The most important lesson I learned was to stay calm and keep on going.

4. Any tips for prospective CELTA candidates?

The most important advice I would give to any future CELTA candidate would be to just relax and enjoy the course. Be open to constructive criticism and try not to take everything so seriously. Your tutors are there to guide you through the whole process and are your safety net.

5. Many people say that what you learn on the CELTA is impossible to use in ‘real classes’ . Your thoughts on this?

In the end, it’s up to you how you decide to move forward after your course. You may decide you want to plan less for your lessons, or even perhaps more. All this is up to you.

Everything you learn will definitely be put to practice over and over as you gain experience in your teaching.

This is a very practical course that prepares you to teach confidently in your classroom.

Make the most of the experience. Good luck!

Michelle Smith Politis

After her course, which she passed with flying colours, Michelle started blogging, first of all in this very blog and later, it was great to see her create her very own teaching blog!

Here are a couple of posts she wrote on this blog:

Both these blog posts include videos of Michelle teaching one of her final lessons in which she got her students to write some pretty poignant lyrics for a country song –  I shall let you guess her language aims by watching that video!!!

You can follow her on Facebook,  Linked In, Twitter and Pinterest – Michelle is already a well connected teacher indeed!!!!

 Since March 2014, she has been a Substitute Teacher at the American Community Schools of Athens and continues to offer private tutoring in English. 


Published by Marisa Constantinides

I train TEFL teachers at CELT in Athens Greece and online - our main courses are Cambridge CELTA and Delta. I interact with educators from all over the world through social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and through blogging

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