Meet The International TEFL Academy Staff


Kari Svendsen

Admissions advisor

 What is your role at international TEFL Academy?

I am an Admissions Advisor and a member of our Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

What's Your Story?

I was born, raised, and attended university in Minnesota. During college I studied abroad in Argentina and realized how much I loved South America. I investigated every opportunity to get back and found that teaching English was the best opportunity to live abroad again. After finishing my undergraduate, I moved to Quito, Ecuador. I taught business English to adult learners at international companies and held private English lessons for young learners.

After teaching in Ecuador, I returned to the states to complete my Master’s degree in Comparative and International Development Education. I learned about intercultural and immersive educational experiences. I spent MANY hours researching and writing my thesis, which focused on the cultural transitions for students in study abroad programs - how students process these transitions and how providers can best support their students during their experience abroad. During my graduate program, I worked in my university's learning abroad center specifically the short-term study abroad program department.

Following my graduate program, I moved to Chicago and that's how I got here! I started working at the International TEFL Academy. Now instead of teaching abroad myself, I advise and chat with prospective TEFL students about their future teaching abroad or online opportunities. 

Perito Moreno, Patagonia, Argentina

Kari Svendsen Argentina


Where are you from, where did you go to college & what did you major in at college?

I’m from a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. I studied at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. I completed a Bachelors of Arts in Spanish Studies, Bachelors of Science in Technical Writing, and Master of Arts in Comparative and International Development Education. In case it's not apparent, I am definitely a lifelong learner. I love being a student and learning new things!

What countries have you visited?

Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, China

Top 3 on your list?

Czech Republic, Morocco, Japan

Describe your first experience traveling abroad

My first experience traveling abroad was late in life, too late in my opinion! When I was 21 years old, I studied abroad at a local university in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I lived with a host family, volunteered at a local non-profit, explored the country, ate dulce de leche with almost every meal, and struggled through the porteño Spanish dialect. After my semester abroad, I delayed my return to the USA by backing through South America. I caught the “international travel bug”, the South America strand!


Hobbit Hole, Cotopaxi Volcano, Ecuador

Kari Svendsen Ecuador

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Argentina Teaching English Abroad

Chimborazo Volcano, Ecuador

Ecuador teach abroad

Long term travel experience

In total, I've spent 2 years living in South America. As you may have gathered already, I studied in Buenos Aires, Argentina as well as taught business English to adults and was a private tutor in Quito, Ecuador.


What is your favorite international cuisine?

Empanadas - sweet or savory, I could eat them for every meal!

Best Travel Advice? 

Don’t be afraid to not know or understand: ask questions, make mistakes, and embrace the unknown!


Favorite: MUSIC & mEDIA

MUSIC: I am a mood-based music enthusiast, so I enjoy all types of music at the right time. However, there’s always some Enrique Iglesias and Beyonce on my playlist!

TV: My newest obsession is The Great British Baking Show. My go-to shows that never get old (and I may have watched multiple times) are The Office, Parks & Recreation, and Law & Order: SVU.


Why do you like working at ITA?

On a daily basis I help students realize that teaching and traveling abroad is possible, which is pretty amazing. I get to live vicariously through our students and learn about all the cool things they’re doing. Nothing makes my day better than my students checking in while they are teaching abroad/online and fulfilling their dream!

Quilotoa Volcano Crater, Ecuador

Ecuador Teaching English Abroad