My TEFL Story - Laura Marshall

After loving her experience teaching in Central America, taking the CELTA to become properly qualified was the next step in Laura Marshall’s TEFL career. She worked in Vietnam teaching English and travelled around Southeast Asia before settling Seville, Spain. Read her story below.

I made the decision to take the CELTA course in 2009 after doing some voluntary teaching during a year off in Central America. The experience was enriching, and it dawned on me that teaching in a foreign country could be more rewarding than sitting behind a desk all day and coming home to watch TV every night.

I applied for the CELTA at International House in Krakow, Poland. It was a fantastic experience and I was very much the “swot” on my course! I learnt so much about this new world of teaching in such a short time. When it was all over, it felt like there was a large, CELTA-shaped hole in my life. As soon as the course ended, I applied for my first proper teaching job in Vietnam. Getting used to the full-on teaching timetable took a while in the beginning. Planning lessons was time-consuming, but my CELTA course had given me a great base to work from and there was a lot of support. I was hooked! I quickly realised how much fun teaching could be.

During my two years in Vietnam I had lots of laughs as well as some crazy experiences, such as starring in a six-episode TV series alongside my class of three-year olds, broadcast on Vietnamese national TV. At weekends and on holidays, I was able to travel extensively in Southeast Asia and after several years in far-flung destinations, it was time to settle down a bit closer to family in the UK. I headed to what was to become my permanent home: sunny Sevilla.
I loved the intoxicating, old-world feel of Seville from the minute I set foot there and my new workplace, CLIC IH Sevilla, was a fantastic match for me. It offered a variety of class types and the company really invested in me, helping me complete my DELTA and a whole host of IH courses, such as the IH BET (IH Certificate in Business English Teaching) and IH COLT (IH Certificate in Online Teaching). 

I spent two years as a full-time teacher before becoming the YL (Young Learner) Coordinator. The role is stimulating, varied and sometimes challenging; no two days are ever the same! After gaining experience as an in-house teacher trainer, I became qualified as a tutor on the IH CYLT (IH Certificate for Young Learners and Teenagers, now known as the IH Online Course in Teaching Young Learners and Teenagers) course, and eventually came full circle to become a CELTA tutor myself. I now combine academic management, teacher training and, of course, teaching: a diverse and deeply satisfying mix.

What do I enjoy about teaching? I have always loved helping people and I’m in my element in a social, supportive role so teaching is perfect. You get to know some real characters and watching students’ progress is gratifying. Classes are fun, active and entertaining. I’m sure if I decided to go back to a nine-to-five office job, I’d be bored. In fact, I know many people who have changed careers after teaching, then returned a short while later because they missed it. You can unleash your creative side when planning, personalise topics and plan really engaging lessons. And of course, the chance to live and work in an endless list of exciting locations is part of the appeal!  

My advice for anyone starting out in the TEFL industry would be:

  • Choose a reputable workplace, such as an IH school, where you will receive regular training, development and support.
  • Plan lessons in your school. Get to know other teachers and exchange ideas in the teachers’ room – you’ll soon build up a bank of activities, games and resources that will help you plan effectively and efficiently.
  • Enjoy it!