My TEFL Story - René Mark Lelong

After teaching in a primary school in the UK, René Mark Lelong decided to take the CELTA to get into the world of TEFL. From there, he went to Cordoba in Spain and then to Tbilisi in Georgia, expanding his teaching English career through experience and professional development. Read more about his journey below!

My story in education began as a primary school teacher in the UK, in a normal state school. It was fine, but the time came when I wanted to spread my wings and travel. 

I’d done some summer school teaching at a language school in the UK, so I knew about the TEFL industry and the qualifications needed. I lived in London and needed a CELTA, so IH London was an obvious choice. Even though I have a B.Ed (giving me qualified teacher status, QTS) the CELTA was an excellent course – thoroughly recommended! 
So that was May 2008. Taking the CELTA, I was impressed with the philosophy and approach of IH, so I was really pleased to land my first job at IH Cordoba in Spain. I had my interview in London, and a week later I was in Spain! 
The school had lots of classes for children, so the first thing offered for all new teachers before the start of term was a specialised Young Learner (YL) course. Even though I had taught in primary schools already I still found the course really helpful. There was some recap of techniques and theories that I already knew, but there was lots of new stuff as well. Just as with the CELTA, professionally, it was a very affirming experience and what I learnt has continued to stand me in good stead through years of teaching. 

I taught at IH Cordoba for three years. As I gained more experience the school offered me the chance to develop my skills in different areas – such as becoming an oral examiner for Cambridge English Exams. I feel that IH looks after its staff and encourages them to take these opportunities where possible. IH also encouraged and supported me to take an advanced methodology course (the IH CAM). I found the opportunity to speak with other teachers like myself, working in different schools around the world, really interesting. I’m still in contact with my tutor and some of my course mates.  

Taking this course gave me the confidence and ambition to move into academic management. I was lucky to get a job as an ADOS (Assistant Director of Studies) at IH Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. My task was to develop the YL department – from buying books and finding resources to planning the curriculum, I did it all! I’m really pleased that it’s still a thriving part of the school.  
My responsibility for the YL programme meant I could attend the annual IH YL Conference. As well as being fun I made lots of good contacts. With a colleague (who was teaching at IH Brno in the Czech Republic at the time) we had summer contracts for three years teaching state school teachers in Turkey. Another year, through a colleague from IH Barcelona, I had a contract at a summer school in Switzerland.   

After about 10 years of living and working abroad, I decided it was time to come back to the UK. I got a job in a secondary school working specifically with kids who have English as a second language. 
I do notice the difference between the communicative approach in IH language schools and the inspection and target driven approach in the state sector. Unfortunately there isn’t an IH school in the city where I now live, but I’m keeping my eye open for opportunities elsewhere in the future!