My TEFL Story Alex Basso de Marc

As I grew up in a border town split between two countries in north-eastern Italy, languages have always had an important role in my life. I went to live in two other countries and start a multicultural family (my wife is Hungarian, my daughters hold both Italian and Hungarian citizenship), but I had to move to England and get really tired of my marketing job in order to decide that time had come to get into teaching languages.

As a next step, I travelled back to Hungary – where I had previously lived for about a decade – and started my CELTA course at IH Budapest in the sunny June of 2016, at the not-quite-so-young age of 50 (going on 51). What a wonderful experience it was: intense, fun, illuminating. People coming from totally different backgrounds and from different countries were united by this vocation. Barriers like age, profession or nationality were pushed away and virtually forgotten.

After passing my CELTA, all I needed was to find a place to start my new career as a EFL teacher. Following my incredibly positive experience in an IH school, I wanted to continue working within the IH network if possible. This is how I set sail to a totally unknown country, where a totally unknown language is spoken and written with a totally unknown alphabet. That was Russia, more precisely Moscow.

Everything happened so quickly, I found myself walking in Moscow’s November snow, in front of Saint Basil on the Red Square without really realising it. I was thrilled.

Thanks to my CELTA I enjoyed an enriching experience which I would never have known otherwise. Living in a foreign country, getting to know hundreds of students and colleagues provided me with a priceless insight into Russian culture.

I worked in Moscow for three terms, between 2016 and 2019. I taught learners of all ages and levels, general English, business English and Cambridge exams preparation. I found all these experiences rewarding in a different way, it would be very difficult to pick the best. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to experience them all.

Whilst teaching in Russia, in the summer break I returned to England where I had the opportunity to work in summer schools in Brighton, a seaside town not far from where I live. There I met hundreds of new students, this time from all over the world. This was a brand new experience which complemented the journey through TEFL I had had so far. There was plenty of space for games and fun, as the teenagers at the summer camps  also wanted to enjoy themselves whilst learning English. 

At the moment I am still working for IH Moscow with my Russian learners, but this time – due to the pandemic – I am teaching online, connecting from a small studio in my own home. Although I miss the human contact, I still enjoy meeting up daily with all kinds of students.

In the meantime, I have also started to teach my mother tongue, Italian, thanks to the skills I have acquired through my CELTA training and teaching experience.

The most rewarding thing about TEFL is that we do not just teach a language, we provide a means to facilitate communication amongst people, whatever the background. We are teaching how to explore different cultures, and at the same time exploring different possibilities in our own lives. 

I feel this every time that students come and ask for advice, and I know that I am contributing, in my own small way, to build a better world.