My TEFL journey really starts before it actually did. When I finished university I really just wanted to get straight into teaching TEFL and having grand adventures travelling the world, seeing exotic places, meeting different people and working in a variety of cultures.
I looked at all the online qualifications and the Groupons of the day and was keen to get going!
As I came from a family of teachers my family advised me to do something else first, and ultimately they were right. After graduating I ended up working as a project manager in a plastics reprocessing company. We dealt with direct industrial and consumer plastic waste, reprocessing and circling it back into production for use in new products. I loved the scale of it, the complexity of the logistics, the international trade and the deal brokering. What I thought I would do for 6 months before jetting off to teach TEFL I ended up doing for two and a half years before the niggle of TEFL teaching became a shout and I decided it was time.
A little older and wiser (and with access to much better internet) I realised that if I was going to do this as a career I needed to get a real recognised qualification. This was either the Trinity TESOL or the CELTA, and it turned out IH was the place. I sold my house packed my bags and jumped on a plane to take the CELTA with IH Krakow.
Day one of the CELTA I met my fellow students and I was happy to hear that they were all equally nervous. Our tutor essentially said “welcome to Krakow, we're going to teach you a bit of Polish, look at a language function then you'll each be teaching a five minute class this afternoon”.
We prepped our mini lessons, the class walked in and suddenly I was at the front of the class with all these eyes on me. Terrifying. However at the back of the room all lined up and equally nervous were the five pair of eyes of my fellow trainees; it was a shared experience and it made me feel much better.
There are people from my CELTA course that I have not, and will never, lose touch with. Some of my 4 week CELTA friendships have lasted longer than my three year university relationships. It was an amazing experience and set me off on a life course I couldn't have anticipated.
I stayed teaching in Poland for a year then went to Malaysia which is where things really changed for me. I had the opportunity to become and ADOS and then school director of a large GE and pre sessional school. I couldn't have taken that leap without the combined experience of CELTA, teaching, logistics, project management and all the other tools I'd collected in my now quite diverse bag of tricks! With my industry experience I had a lot of transferrable skills that helped me make the most of the opportunities I found in front of me.
I stayed in Malaysia for four years before deciding to come back to the UK. I sold up again packed my case and got on a plane to London, but this time with no plan.
I got a job in recruitment, then in the exams department of a large school. I am now on the senior management team as Director of Exams. Managing the exams department, working with different exam boards, rolling out operations across the country and internationally has been a wonderful experience, and in some ways takes me back to my roots of commercials and operations though in the context of TEFL and the international environment that I appreciate so much.
The world of TEFL is broad reaching and there are opportunities way beyond the teaching that had first attracted me to the industry and it’s great to be in a place in the industry now that uses the skills learned in both of my ‘careers’.