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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic English Teaching Q&A with Bill Noll Jr.
Written by: Bill Noll
Last Updated: February 18, 2021
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?
Turkey, Greece, Korea, Egypt, Thailand
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
I always had a penchant for travel, and in my case it was my mid-life crisis adventure. I needed the change.
What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
The competency of my managers and where and how to secure a living space,
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
I think they didn't really get it, since I retired early from a good job.
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
I thought it was important to have a credential, since in most cases it is needed. I researched the schools online and liked ITA right away.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
USA - Chicago TEFL Course
How did you like your TEFL course?
It was intensive, but a lot of fun. I was the old guy in the group (2013), as I was just about to turn 55. But, I didn't look or act a day over 48. The practicum was of significant benefit, because it closely approximated what you were really about to do nearly every day overseas.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
I taught from July 2013 until late May of 2016. It gave me confidence as well as a credential my managers took seriously.
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I chose to teach English in the Dominican Republic in the city of Santa Domingo. This location is the capital, where everything happens. Lots of hustle and bustle. It's where the action is.
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
As I said, I served there from July 2013 until late May of 2016.
During which months does your school typically hire?
They are both flexible and hire on a constant basis, as there is always demand.
Did you secure this position in advance of arriving?
How did you interview for this position?
Skype/phone interview. I was in contact online with the coordinator in advance of arrival.
What kind of Visa did you enter on?
Please explain the visa process that you went through.
The DR is a unique country in this regard. I went prepared to submit for a work visa, with all of the documentation on my person, but this requires input from the school, which they often seemed unconcerned about. For a short time, this isn't an issue. Over the longer term, it can pose a problem in an official sense, and so I would firmly recommend that you work this out in advance as you are able. Otherwise, your documentation status isn't fully tight.
What are the qualifications that your school requires for teachers? Please check all that apply
Native English speaker. In the DR it is a bit flexible. They prefer native speakers, but it isn't mandated outright. Likewise, it is the case for the TEFL certificate.
What is the best way to apply?
Tell us about your English teaching job!
You will work 20 to 30 hours per week on average, with Sunday off. The pay is what you would expect in a third world nation. If you have no other source of income, money will be a bit tight. The student base is typically middle class or higher socio-economically and are high quality individuals, the cream of the crop so to speak. This is because the cost of the lessons is significant in terms of average pay in the nation. While some people speak English there, the Dominicans in general, on a larger scale, are very challenged in this regard. Many people speak no English, or next to no English at all. So, there is demand for certain.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
I found a hotel near the school, and looked for Se Alquilar signs on my daily walks. I had no Spanish, and so that made it even more of an adventure. I had a bit of money in bank and that made it easier. I wouldn't go there on a shoestring. Things are a bit expensive, and it helps to be prepared.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - FUN!
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc...
It's like a Third World Miami in the city. The island is rather small, and so getting to the mountains or the beach is easy, one way or another. The big city is cosmopolitan, but away from that it is very foreign, so be careful. Lots of history, attractive beaches, and interesting people. You won't be the only foreigner, that's for sure. You will find the people to be "something else" for sure. Sometimes this is for the good, and sometimes for the bad. The unique culture affects everything, and so expect the unexpected.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - MONEY
What are your monthly expenses?
You will probably need every cent you make to pay for the necessities. Food is cheap, if you eat like the locals. Rent is also cheap compared to the States, but remember the amount of money you bring in will be minimal. I'd say I made between $350 and $750 dollars a month, with perhaps $500-550 dollars a month on average. It's easy to get around, but a bit challenging in a sense. I had experience in the military which made it easier for me, but it is truly not exactly easy. Go with some money and Spanish language skill, and your time will be of higher quality, and easier in general.
How would you describe your standard of living?
Middle class all the way... I lived in Naco, one of the best districts in the city. This was largely due to having some money in bank though, and a little travel savvy.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
Probably twice what you are likely to make if you are single, and so get as many hours as you can at the school you work for.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS
What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?
I would definitely recommend doing it. However, unless you have a special attachment to the DR for one reason or another (as I did with my girlfriend), I would go where the money is, such as Japan, Korea, or Dubai. There is also great demand in China.
Bill is from Pennsylvania and took his TEFL course at ITA's headquarters in Chicago. After a self-proclaimed "mid-life crisis," he decided to head overseas and finally start traveling. He decided to teach English in the Dominican Republic.
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