My TEFL Story - Katy Staplehurst

My TEFL story begins in 2009 when I was in my second year at University and looking for something exciting to do during the summer break. I’ve always been passionate about travelling and exploring new cultures and loved the idea of spending a whole summer in Barcelona. I decided to do a TEFL course while I was there and, after researching different options online, I applied for a CELTA course at IH Barcelona as they had a great reputation.

As expected, I had a lot of fun exploring everything the city had to offer and met some amazing people while I was there. What came as a surprise, however, was how much I enjoyed the course. It was hard work and very intensive, but I fell in love with language teaching and I’ve never looked back!

I started working at The Globe English Centre (a school in my home town) the day after I finished university, teaching groups of mixed nationality teenagers. I ended up staying there for many years as the close-knit team were very supportive of new teachers. It was a great place to start out and working there really helped me develop my teaching practice.

The flexibility of a TEFL career has allowed me to take several extended trips and travel to places like South America, India and Cambodia. One highlight was spending a year teaching in New Zealand, although I had some challenging classes - one student actually lit a cigarette while I was trying to explain the present perfect! I had an amazing time there and loved exploring the epic scenery and made some lifelong friends. 

In 2016 I was ready for a new challenge and decided to study for the DELTA. Having talked to other teachers, I knew it was going to be hard but hadn’t expected it to be quite so demanding. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my career but also one of the most rewarding and inspiring. I have to say, I loved every minute of it! Having a DELTA has opened so many doors for me and allowed me to progress into a variety of other roles. I am currently Director of Studies at a summer school in Exeter and freelance throughout the winter months. Last year I managed short-term TEFL projects in Italy and Scotland, took on my first teacher training role, and developed course materials for several different language schools (a particular passion of mine). 

For me, the best part of TEFL is the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. It’s so interesting to hear everyone’s stories and find the commonalities between people of very different cultures. 

My advice to anyone starting out is to find a school that provides mentoring for newly qualified teachers. Relax, really listen to your students and try to engage with them in a meaningful way. Lastly, don’t be daunted by the amount of work it initially takes to produce lesson plans - it gets much quicker and easier, honest!