How did your TEFL story begin?
My TEFL Story began at International House London in 2003 with course tutors Martin and Belinda, who were both great. I found the course online, read lots of positive reviews, and realised it was easy to get to by bus from where I was then living in West London. After the course, I immediately started work teaching pre-intermediate level adults at the London Study Centre in Fulham and absolutely loved it from day one.
Where did a career in TEFL take you?
I've been based in Gandia, just south of Valencia in Spain, since 2005 as I have family here. I work as part of a small team in a private academy and we share our space with a pilates studio. The pilates team has definitely influenced us and so our classes tend to involve a fair bit of movement! I'm currently teaching YLs, teens who have left school and are taking part in a local council educational programme, and Business English at a tech company first thing in the morning.
How did you progress in your career?
I've always followed ELT blogs (Sandy Millin and Ceri Jones are my favourites) and participated in webinars to stay up to date and to keep learning as a teacher. I took Module 1 of the online DELTA in 2010 which was useful for upgrading my knowledge of language and methodology. I then decided to switch to a blended Trinity DipTESOL course at Oxford TEFL in Barcelona because the organisation of teaching practice there was compatible with my work commitments. I really enjoyed the Phonology element of the course and was lucky to work with some super tutors throughout the process. I'm now involved with teacher development courses there, and also work as an online tutor with Tesol Training Scotland, so it was definitely worthwhile spending the time, effort and resources on getting a further qualification. The DipTESOL has also opened doors to examining work. I spend a few weeks a year, usually in Italy, in schools with YLs and teens who are taking the Trinity ISE, GESE & Stars exams. It's just brilliant to see them doing well, using their English in real conversations and feeling proud of themselves!
Tell us what you love and enjoy about teaching!
You get to meet lovely people and contribute something positive to their lives. I've learned so much, every day, from listening to my students and colleagues.
What advice would you give to someone who has successfully gained their initial teaching qualification and is ready to go on their own TEFL journey?
Be realistic about what you can expect to earn and be careful who you work for. Not all employers are the same so do your research before you accept a job. Initially, I would join a large, reputable organisation, like International House (IH) for example, where you will receive ongoing training and support. Keep reading. Don't be discouraged if a class doesn't go as well as you had hoped – those are the ones we learn most from. Also, don't worry about making mistakes – it's a very useful skill to model for your students. If they see you get something not quite right, correct it and then carry on with a smile, they'll know it's OK to do that and that it's all part of the learning process.
Be patient with your students, as you never know what they have had to cope with before they've managed to get to class. Oh, and don't forget to be patient with and kind to yourself and most importantly, look after your voice – you're going to need it!