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Teaching English Online from Izmir, Turkey - Alumni Q&A with Christine Aslan

Teaching English Online from Izmir, Turkey - Alumni Q&A with Christine Aslan
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What is your citizenship?
United States

How old are you?

Where are you originally from?
Boston, Massachusetts

What is your education level and background?
Bachelor's Degree

What sparked your interest in teaching English abroad?
I met and married my Turkish husband in Boston. We always knew we wanted to move to Turkey. It was important to me to have our children in the United States. We also planned to move to Turkey before our oldest was in kindergarten. My career was in Human Services. I was a Program Manager in a residential home for adults with developmental disabilities. I knew that I would need to switch gears with a career when we moved to Turkey. Teaching English seemed like a perfect fit! I would be able to continue to help people.

What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
I hoped that I would like living in Turkey as much as I liked vacationing there. I did not speak the language, and, I was concerned how that would impact my daily living. For me, I have really adopted the "You only live once" point of view. I tried not to have "what ifs" block my vision of when I wanted to be.

What did you friends and family thing about you moving abroad?
Most people did not actually think I would move from The United States of America to Turkey. I was often asked "Why would you move from America?" I had the plan in the works for several years, and, I would talk about it often. I think most of my friends and family were concerned. The largest element was that my family and friends would miss seeing my children in addition to me. However, it has NEVER been easier to stay in close contact with friends and family. In this day and age we have the luxury of video chats! I understand it is not the same, but it has helped ease or eliminate the concern of loved ones.


Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
I knew I would teach English while living in Turkey. I had my degree, but knew a TEFL certificate would be key to a smooth transition into a new career. I had researched several TEFL options. I attended an online Q & A session hosted by an ITA alum. It was helpful when making my decision. ITA was a great fit for me.

Which TEFL certification course did you take?
Online TEFL Class.

How did you like the course?
I LOVED it! It had been over 20 years since I had been in college. I was very worried about that! I am a people person and I was concerned that the online course would not be as good as a traditional classroom setting. I am NOT a tech savvy person, but I managed it fine. The instructor was great. It was nice to hear feedback and have guidance during the course. I had reached out to him several times, and he was able to answer my questions and concerns. The course tasks were fantastic. Each task concentrated on a specific area. Covering all areas prepared me to be a better teacher. I split my practicum tutoring and classroom observation/ assistance. I volunteered at a local library through their literacy program. I was matched with a woman and tutored her weekly for several months. I found a seasoned ESL teacher who welcomed me into her classroom to observe and assist. I am grateful that ITA requires the practicum because it gave me the push to get out of my comfort zone, and it built my confidence as an English teacher.

How did you find the technological aspects of the course?
I am not a tech savvy person. I started my assignments early in the week. I did forget to attach a document for an assignment. The instructor mentioned in my feedback, and I resubmitted with a minor penalty.

How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
The TEFL training from ITA gave me a strong foundation. I have many resources that I can access if I have questions. Young Learners, and Business English were additional course components offered by ITA. I took advantage and added the two week extension. I work with children online and I refer to my notes and course material often.


Which city and country did you decide to teach English in?
I moved to Izmir, Turkey in 2017 and began teaching here in 2018. It is an intended permanent move.

Why did you decide to teach English in this location?
My husband is from Turkey. We wanted to move to Turkey and raise our children.

What school, company, or program are you working for?
I teach English online with SayABC. They hire all year round and I secured this position while in country via a Skype/phone interview.

Did you experience any ageism during your job hunt and interview process?
I did not. An advantage that mature teachers have is life lessons. Your age should not define you. You are made up of many components and age is just one piece of you.

What kind of visa did you enter on?
Family Visa.

Please provide a summary of the visa process that you went through.
Typically, it is an easy process. Americans were able to get a visa for Turkey at the Turkish airport. My family arrived in Turkey in September, and I followed in December. The United States and Turkey had a travel ban in place from October through December. I had to secure my visa at the Turkish consulate in Boston. I applied and received Turkish resident status.

What are the qualifications that SayABC requires for their teachers?
Bachelor's Degree and a TEFL Certification.

What is the best way to apply for a job with SayABC?
An online application. I enjoy helping people through the application process and have coached/mentored teachers who have been hired!

What type of students do you teach?

Tell us about your English teaching job.
I have 12 paired slots available to teach. I currently teach 10 paired slots. My teaching schedule is Monday/ Thursday and Tuesday/ Friday 1:45 pm- 4:10pm, Wednesday/ Saturday 12:55pm- 4:10pm.

The curriculum is provided. You are responsible for feedback on every (trial, lessons 3, 6 and 9, and every new level (0,1,2,3,4 etc.) unit 1 lesson 1.

The preparation time is minimal. I review the material and gather my props. The rate of pay: $15 USD for 45 minutes (40 minute class and 5 minutes prior to class in the classroom).

Completion bonus $36 or $54 for "hot slot". The completion bonus is earned after completing 9 classes in a unit, being on time, completing the feedback within 12 hours and staying in the class for the full 40 minutes.

The USD is strong here in Turkey. I earn more money and work less hours than if I was at a brick and mortar school. I am an independent contractor. I teach SayABC students. The students are children from China.


Please explain your countries cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc.

Cultural Aspects: The majority of the population in Turkey is Muslim. I find the call to prayer to be a beautiful sound. I am not a Muslim and I have never felt uncomfortable or unsafe in Turkey.

Public Transportation: The bus (Metro) or dolmus (mini bus) are readily available.

Social Activities: I am a married mother of two young children. Most of our activities revolve around work or our children.

Food: The food is delicious. The food is less processed and the portion sizes are smaller. I lost over 25 pound the first few months I lived here. Tea is a staple of meals and get togethers. The open markets are fun to go to and explore.

Expats: I am not in a big city. I have met a few people who are expats. I am not part of an expat group.

Travel: Turkey has so many wonderful places to visit and see.

Tell us about your living situation.
We had a renovation and addition built onto my in-laws home. My husband, myself and two children live on the first floor. My in-laws live on the 2nd and 3rd floor.

How would you describe your standard of living?
I make more money working online here in Turkey than if I was teaching at a typical brick and mortar school. Independent contractors are NOT guaranteed set hours. The teaching season can slow from time to time. It is best to have some savings. The USD stretches a lot further here in Turkey.

What advice would you give other mature teachers planning or considering teaching abroad?
You only live once! Get out there and do what you have dreamed of doing! I love it here in Turkey. I have had it a lot easier than many. I have a built in safety net with my husband and children. If you asked my 20 year old self where would you be in 25 years? I never would have imagined myself living halfway across the world. I am proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone.

Posted In: Teach English in Turkey, Teach English in Europe, Teach English Online, Teaching Abroad Over 40, Izmir

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