TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
How old are you?
What is your education level and background?
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
Some international travel with friends, family, business, etc.
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, France, England, USA, Holland, Germany, Czech Republic, Spain, Mexico, Dominican Republic
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
I was traveling around Bali and met a Scottish girl who had just done a year teaching in South Korea. I asked as many details to get as much info as possible; I was so intrigued. I had volunteered with youth in the past and absolutely loved it. The idea of TEFL [Teaching English as a Foreign Language] was good in so many ways for me...
- It is great for someone (like me) who wants to travel and see the world.
- Being able to work while traveling is a bonus.
- I love working/helping/guiding others
- I Love working with kids.
- I love to give back to the world.
What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
My biggest concern was actually teaching. I had a huge fear of public speaking and didn't know how I was going to work around that.
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
Everyone was extremely supportive. They knew how important this was to me and how hard I had worked for my certification.
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
I had done quite a bit of research and spoke to many people from many different companies. International Academy not only offered what I was looking for - many location choices, company information, great reputation, blogs, videos - but also appointed me to an adviser who spent a few weeks answering all my questions and concerns which none of the other companies I was in contact with offered.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
Italy - Florence
How did you like the course?
I absolutely loved the course, though it was one of the most challenging things I have ever done. It was intense, and there were heaps of work; learning the grammar was a huge challenge; and teaching a lesson my third class was terrifying; but it all worked and came together.
We had two Italian classes over the course of our four weeks. It was so we could understand from the students' perspective; they wanted us to understand what it was like for foreign learners to sit in a class where they don't understand the language. It really helped me see the difficulty and possible frustration they may go through. Also, it let me see teaching tactics of getting students to understand what you as a teacher are trying to say.
The instructors were fantastic and really worked with us to be the best teachers we could be. I really couldn't imagine having any other instructors, they had so much faith in us and really pushed us to the best of our abilities, and am truly thankful and honored to have had them as my trainers.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
There is no way I would have been able to stand at the front of a classroom without my training. For one, I had a fear of public speaking, yet when I walked to the front of the classroom my first day it felt like the most natural thing in the world. There was no fear speaking in front of a classroom of strangers who I could barely communicate with, something I wasn't expecting. Now public speaking is no longer a fear.
Second, because we had the two Italian classes, I understood how they felt, which helped me work with their needs better.
Third, when you teach overseas, you are the foreigner. This was a focus in the course and it is so important to understand when teaching abroad and it is a great way to get the students involved. They love telling you about themselves and their culture, but they also love hearing about you. Culture and traditions are always great topics for lessons in so many different ways.
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I decided to teach English in Peru in the city of Arequipa. There was a job opening with a school affiliated with my training center. For my first teaching placement, I wanted to work in a place with the same training style. It was also in a part of the world I had never considered going to.
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
How did you secure your English teaching job?
I had a Skype interview and the rest of the correspondence was done through email.
What school, company, or program are you working for?
Extreme Learning Centers
How did you get your work visa?
Luckily enough I didn't need one. Because of the affiliation with Via Lingua - the learning center where I trained - my teaching position was considered an extension of my education/learning, basically an internship.
Tell us about your English teaching job!
WORK HOURS: My first month I had heaps of hours, 3 classes daily, a private student twice a week, and a kids class on Saturdays.
STUDENTS: My classes during the week ranged from 12 years to 30 years old, so the mix always made it challenging for interesting lesson planning, but I do love a challenge. They were students and business professionals all with their own reasons for learning English.
SAVINGS: It's not really possible to save. I basically broke even every month so a safety net before going abroad is key.
VACATION TIME: We had time off every month. Each term was a little under a month, so we usually had around 4 days off before the next term began, which was great. It left time for some excursion, time to relax, or taking in city sites.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like?
I was really lucky in the home department. The director of my school lived with three teachers and one of them was moving out. They offered me the available bedroom and I moved in within a few weeks.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - FUN!
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc...
LIFEIN PERU: Everything can fall under the word "culture." There is so much of it and it is everywhere you look, from food, buildings, the language, the people, the shops, it's everywhere. I feel like I learned something everyday.
NIGHTLIFE & FUN: Arequipa has a pretty good night life, lots of little pubs and clubs - you fall in love with Spanish music very quickly. With the Plaza de Armas, shops, and restaurants, there is always something to do or somewhere to go.
TRAVELING IN PERU: There are quite a few excursions out of Arequipa such as volcano climbing and a canyon trip. You could even do a weekend to Huacachina to go sand boarding. There is never a dull moment.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - MONEY
What are your monthly expenses?
Between rent, food, and nights out, my monthly budget was around $500 Canadian dollars (approximately$410 US dollar), which is around 12000 soles. It is not a lot but you have to take into consideration the wages. They are not what we make back home, so even though expenses are cheap, you might be making just enough to stay afloat. Have a safety net before teaching abroad.
How would you describe your standard of living?
It was great. My house was great; it was in one of the nicest locations in Arequipa.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
In dollars I would say around $800-$900 monthly. You may not be able to make this at your institute but there are always people looking for private lessons.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS
What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching English in Peru?
HAVE A SAFETY NET! There is nothing like not being able to keep up with expenses when you are on the other side of the world. I learned this the hard way and had to move out of my beautiful house. I volunteered my time (nights) at a hostel for rent and food, and taught six days a week. It was a great experience but extremely exhausting and I do not recommend this, especially for first time teachers.
BE OPEN MINDED and don't forget you are the foreigner. Culture is so important to the people but having a respect for it on your side is extremely important. Do a bit of research before you go - holidays, food, traditions - it always helps break the ice and is a great way to start a lesson.
It is not always easy living and working in another country with different ways, beliefs and ethics, but that is the beauty of doing what we do. We are not just teachers; we are students too.
To read more on Emmie's adventures, check out her blog: http://emmiearoundtheworld.tumblr.com