Where Can I Go With TEFL?

One of the most popular questions we get asked here at i-to-i is ‘Where Can I go with TEFL? and the options really are endless. But rather than us tell you where you could go we thought we’d introduce you to a few i-to-i teachers working their way around the globe!

First up, meet Sean Healy!

sean healy

Hey Sean, which TEFL course did you complete?

I completed the 120hrs intensive course which included an amazing weekend of classroom based training which resulted in new friends that I still speak to regularly two years later

What inspired you to take up TEFL?

Frankly, I was desperate to get away from a job that offered no personal fulfillment and a life without any challenge or excitement. It was a beautiful, wonderful gamble!

Where are you currently located, and what are you doing there?

I arrived in Chongqing China in June 2011. I was promoted from teacher to senior teacher and then to Director of Studies. This school is my home and the students / colleagues are my family. I feel like the luckiest man in the world!

Why did you choose your current location?

I spun a globe, closed my eyes and slammed my finger down…and it was near enough to Chongqing. I had a great interview with my former DOS. Chongqing is an amazing city. It is the perfect mix between western comfort and Chinese culture. If you want to dip your toe into China and gradually immerse yourself further at your own pace, Chongqing is right for you.

What skills have you added to your CV through TEFL?

Within my first year, I’ve been able to add; Project Planning and Management, Staff Training, Curriculum Development, Mandarin, Teaching IELTS, Trinity, People and Process Management, Database maintenance, Marketing Strategy design and implementation (the list goes on…). i-to-i and EF have meant my CV has gone from 1 page to 3 pages…bullet points!

Your most memorable experience?

I met my wife out here and I’m going to start a family…my kids will be half Chinese…WOW!

Sean proposing - she said YES!

How has your life changed?

Doing TEFL didn’t change my life, it SAVED my life. (i-to-i interruption: quote of the century alert!) I was going nowhere in the UK and I was frankly, depressed and not much fun to be around. I had no self worth or confidence. I felt like I couldn’t do anything – that I was existing rather than living. Now I have value, confidence, esteem, a job that matters and new people in my life that love me.

If you had to give one bit of advice to someone taking up TEFL what would you say?

The internet is full of stories about people who haven’t had a good time doing TEFL in China. It nearly put me off…but the people who are having the time of their lives wouldn’t necessarily think to post comments on a blog to complete strangers. They’d tell their friends and family and only occasionally. So understand you are only getting one side of the story from a tiny minority. Don’t listen to the voice telling you “no” – if I did, I’d be stacking shelves in Tesco today.

Next up to tell us where you can go with TEFL is UK graduate, Amy Dunkley

amy with her students

Hi Amy! Which TEFL course did you complete?

I did a 20-hour weekend course and then completed an extra 100 hours online.

What inspired you to take up TEFL?

Whilst I’ve enjoyed working with children through work experience placements in the past, and I always dreamed of travelling, I have to be honest and admit that it was the terrifying prospect of graduate unemployment and moving back in with my parents that forced me to take that leap and do TEFL!

Where did you go with TEFL, and what are you doing there?

I am currently half way through my second contract teaching from oh-so-adorable kindergarten all the way through to much less adorable high school students in Incheon, South Korea.

Why did you choose your current location?

Deciding on Asia was easy; deciding whereabouts in Asia was not! We looked at lots of countries but South Korea seemed to offer the perfect combination of obscurity (I loved seeing peoples’ expressions when I told them), a fascinating culture and high wages!

What have you learnt with TEFL that you didn’t learn from your degree?

Well, I’ve learned how to remove splinters, kill cockroaches, and how surprisingly easy it is to lose a child in a zoo! But in all seriousness I have learned to have patience (by the bucketload!), to be independent, and have gained a great deal of responsibility.

What skills have you added to your CV through TEFL?

As well as gaining a TEFL qualification and studying Korean, I’ve learned to embrace the Asian work ethic, and my communication skills have gone through the roof!

Your most memorable experience?

A month after we arrived we went to one of Korea’s biggest national parks for the weekend, and after a day of ‘hiking’, a DIY barbecue, several bottles of soju and fireworks on the beach we stumbled to bed at 3am having forgotten that we’d set our alarms for 5.30 to see the sun rise. We woke up to our irritatingly chirpy friend, who had gone to bed before the soju, banging on the door.

After what felt like a gruelling hike but was in fact just a 20 minute walk, we were rewarded by having a cliff-top Buddhist temple to ourselves to watch the sun rise over a glistening ocean. (i-to-i interruption: WOW WOW WOW)

amy with kindergarten

How has your life changed?

It would be easier to say how my life hasn’t changed! I’ve done things, seen things and eaten things that I never thought I would, and my outlook on life has changed having experienced another culture and a different way of life. Also working with kids has given me an idea of what kind of parent I want to be, or rather what kind of parent I don’t want to be…!

If you had to give one bit of advice to someone taking up TEFL what would you say?

Expect the unexpected!! Everything will be different; the food, the culture, the language, the beer and the haircuts! But embrace it. You will never have a more challenging, rewarding, frustrating or exciting experience so just enjoy every minute of it!

 

Meet Cat Gaa, she left Chicago to teach English in Spain!

cat in spain

Hey Cat! Which TEFL course did you complete?

I signed up for a weekend intensive course and completed it in my hometown of Chicago a week after graduating from college. The representative I talked with also signed me up for the 40-hour online course with a grammar specialist certificate, and they all complemented one another really nicely.

What inspired you to take up TEFL?

After studying abroad in Valladolid, Spain, I knew I wanted to spend a year abroad, though I wasn’t specific about where. When a friend told me about a program with the Spanish government aimed to place native speakers in public elementary and high schools, I signed up and was assigned a school in rural Andalusia. Despite coming from a family of teachers, I’d had no practical experience and figured a TEFL course would make me a more desirable candidate for supplementing my income with tutoring or working in a language academy.

Where are you currently located, and what are you doing there?

Since September of 2007, I’ve called Seville, Spain home. It’s a beautiful city in southern Spain and the de facto capital of the region. It’s big enough to have all of the amenities of a city, but small enough to run into friends and students often.

I began as a language and culture assistant through the Spanish government, working part-time as a teacher and curriculum writer in a rural high school. After three years, I took a job at a private, bilingual school as a first grade classroom teacher, where I stayed for another two terms. Currently, I’ve just been promoted to Head of Studies at a small language school in Seville, which I complement by serving as the Head of Studies at a summer camp in La Coruña, Spain, each July. No summer holidays for me!

What have you learnt with TEFL that you didn’t learn from your degree?

Working as a teacher has helped me have an interest in child psychology and development, and my new promotion will have me working with marketing, too!

What skills have you added to your CV through TEFL?

Loads – apart from the obvious work experience as a teacher, I’ve also got leadership skills, know how to program classes and curriculum and do official exam preparation. The cycle of ESL teachers in Seville is one that changes often, so I’ve often got the lion’s share of good job choices between my TEFL certificate and experience!

Your most memorable experience?

I’ve had a number of them because of my diverse background. In my first position, the other language assistant and I set up a mock English village where students were given passports and had specific tasks that they needed to complete, like asking directions to the public pool or giving information for a hotel reservation. I brought along other native speakers and the day really bought the language to life. It’s been a popular event each year, and the school will soon celebrate the sixth consecutive year!

How has your life changed?

My year abroad was going to be just that – a year abroad. Teaching was never an expected profession, and it surprised me that I liked it even half as much as I do. It’s provided me with countless opportunities in a crisis-ridden country, as there are jobs for my picking. I’ve gotten a better idea of how international education works or doesn’t, been accepted into Spanish families and social circles, and found that teaching is something I’m actually good at!

I’ve also become a respected blogger in Spain and in expat circles, travelled extensively, learned Spanish…and gotten married to a Spaniard!

If you had to give one bit of advice to someone taking up TEFL what would you say?

People often get in touch with me through my blog regarding teaching jobs and teaching advice. I’m straightforward – it’s difficult to get TEFL jobs in Spain without having proper work documents or a recognized certificate, and the pay is scant.

Still, the Spanish school system is more or less on-par with North American or British programs, so adjusting isn’t difficult. When applying for jobs in Spain, a bit of Spanish is also valued, though you’ll be asked to use full immersion in the classroom.

Teaching in Spain is extremely flexible and the quality of life outside the classroom is what brought me here in the first place. I love having Fridays off, living near the coast and being able to travel and explore other interests with the flexibility of my job. If you want to do it, just go!

heather

Hi Heather, what inspired you to take up TEFL?

My fascination with other cultures began as a child attending a church that regularly hosted visiting missionaries. As a teenager I also became pen-pals with an EFL student living in Turkey. She & I are still exchanging letters and emails to this day, and this friendship had a lot to do with my decision to take up TEFL.

Where are you currently located, and what are you doing there?

I’m living in the United States and teaching at Boston Life.

Where did you go with TEFL and why?

I chose Boston because the city’s many colleges and universities make it an international center of higher education.

What have you learnt with TEFL that you didn’t learn from your degree?

How to lesson plan!

What skills have you added to your CV through TEFL?

Organized self-starter, Lesson Planning, Grammar Expert, Online tutoring

Your most memorable experience?

The day I was hired for my TEFL job in Boston – finally my dream came true!

How has your life changed?

I am excited to go to work everyday

If you had to give one bit of advice to someone taking up TEFL what would you say?

i-to-i is the best place to start!

Next, get ready to meet some non-native English teachers – they’re all ready to tell you where you can go with TEFL! First up, Christina!

christina
Hi Christina, what inspired you to take up TEFL?

Teaching English abroad has been a dream of mine for quite a while. I originally wanted to do it during my studies; however, finances and time were not on my side. After graduating, I was lucky enough to score a job in the admissions department. It was fun and I enjoyed it, but there was something missing; I just needed to take a stab at my dream of teaching English abroad. I remember one day sitting late at night in my office and saw a deal pop up for i-to-i TEFL. All it took was one quick phone call and I was headed in the right direction towards my dream.

Where are you currently located, and what are you doing there?

Currently, I am teaching English in Bielefeld, Germany. With a population of 323,000, we are located in the North Rhine Westphalia area. We sit along the Teutoburg Forest and have our very own Sparrenburg Castle to walk to for a great view of the city. Bielefeld is very accessible to many cities via train transport and the cost of living is very affordable on a freelance teacher’s salary.

Why did you choose your current location?

I feel, in a way, the location chose me. I was passing through on my way to teach English in another country to visit my partner’s family. Last minute changes and a deal fell through with the anticipated teaching job and I felt compelled to remain here to find work before giving up completely. With my recent TEFL certification in one hand and CV in another, I showed up looking for work and was very successful.

What have you learnt with TEFL that you didn’t learn from your degree?

I have learned more about the English language with the TEFL course and by teaching English than I have learned my entire life experience of attending school. I also learned excellent teaching advice that I still refer to in my classrooms today. The TEFL course is filled with great activities and ideas for teaching large classes and one-on-one students.

What skills have you added to your CV through TEFL?

I can proudly say I have added real international education experience to my CV as well as intercultural communication skills with children and adults. I also have added foreign language skills because I have been studying German while I have been teaching.

Your most memorable experience?

I have too many to count, but I think the best was when my teaching career began. I was sent to Cologne, Germany for my training in October. I just so happened to spend my 27th birthday there as well. Even better, I found my favourite ice cream from the States… Ben and Jerry’s as a birthday treat. My company paid for the travel costs and the hotel. It was really wonderful to get paid to travel to another major city in Germany. The best part was walking out of the train station and looking at the Dom Cathedral. I am still amazed that people built such an intricate structure. I met a lot of really cool teachers during that time and had fun exploring side streets of Cologne in my free time.

How has your life changed?

I have learned to life without the luxuries of the American life while living in Germany. Life is a different pace here, and things are closed on Sundays! At first, this was very strange to get used to, but now I enjoy the down-time and I have really learned to live life in the moment. I have always considered myself an Environmentalist, but I would like to proudly say my carbon footprint has shrunk even more. My showers became shorter and I learned to live life without a car and a dryer. It is the small things in life that really matter, and when you live without all the things you think you need, well you realize what is most important. I love the lifestyle here, and I love not having a car. Public transportation is excellent and a great way to get around. Plus, when the weather is nice a good old bike ride makes my day. I create my own hours and I don’t have to sit in an office counting down the minutes until 5 o’clock!

If you had to give one bit of advice to someone taking up TEFL what would you say?

When you find yourself pulling out your hair, one by one, as you pick apart your native tongue, wondering to yourself what the heck is the difference between past perfect, present perfect and all the tenses in between, just know it will be worth it one day when you find yourself teaching English abroad. The feeling of experiencing another culture and sharing your native language with another is incredible. Not to mention, you have opportunity to travel to new cities and really grow as an individual. You can look back and say, yeah… I did that!

And last but not least…meet a TEFL teacher who’s headed off the beaten track…Dimuthu!

TEFL teacher Dimuthu

Hi Dimuthu, where are you currently located, and what are you doing there?

I’m in Sri Lanka. I’m a freelance cooperate trainer in Business English and also a lecturer for City and Guilds International ESOL Qualifications and IELTS. (i-to-i interruption: find out more about teaching business English here…)

Why did you choose your current location?

It’s close to my home!

What have you learnt with TEFL that you didn’t learn from your degree?

Classroom management and dealing with different types of students from different cultures and backgrounds.

Your most memorable experience?

When one of my Business English students called me to tell me that he had been promoted to a grade higher than his manager!

How has your life changed?

It has changed in numerous ways!

Firstly, I’ve been offered a place at the University of Nottingham all because of the 120hr TEFL course and also my TEFL experience.

Secondly, it’s very rewarding to see your students succeed – it makes me feel like I’m doing something rewarding compared to when I worked for a company where I was just another cog in a huge machine. On a personal level, all this brings great satisfaction.

If you had to give one bit of advice to someone taking up TEFL what would you say?

Be yourself. When teaching in class, always try to personalise all stories or narratives. This helps you relate better to the students and also, they will tend to think you are not faking your story especially among the young learners. Finally, it’s a promising world out there, take TEFL, take the adventure and you won’t regret taking the course.

Thanks to all our TEFLers for sharing their incredible, utterly inspirational, quit-your-job-to-TEFL-worthy stories! Want to discuss your TEFL adventure with one of our TEFL advisors then request a free-call back here!

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