Meet The International TEFL Academy Staff


Robert Zappa

Admissions advisor

 What is your role at international TEFL Academy?

I work at ITA as an Admissions Advisor.

What's Your Story?

I’m someone that loves to learn. I love music, but I might like history podcasts more. 🤓 I’m always looking to understanding something new or different. That’s part of what makes travel so important to me -I get to indulge my wanderlust and nerd habits simultaneously. My mother’s side of the family has their roots in Hawaii. My grandfather is pretty much the only one of his family to have left the island. So when I was younger, we would travel there to stay with my family on their little compound farm, and we lived the local life. Even though I wasn’t leaving the United States, I was diving headlong into a new culture with new mores. When I would come home from visiting my family in Hawaii, my friends would always ask about the beaches, the girls, and surfing. But I wanted to talk about preparing poi (yuck), spearfishing squid, and partying all day as a pig cooks for a Luau. Those experiences at a young age really opened my eyes to what travel meant. Travel isn’t just about going places and seeing things –it’s about meeting people and experiencing life in a new way. And if you ask me –there isn’t a better way to learn than that. When I’m not working, traveling, or listening to incredibly nerdy podcasts then you can probably find me chilling with my fiancée and our cats, playing tennis, or taking a stroll down Lake Michigan.


Robert Zappa Basque country


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

I’m from Woodstock, IL. It’s a small suburb on the outskirts of Chicagoland and famously where the movie Groundhog Day was filmed. 

I went to Southern Illinois University -Linguistics

What countries have you visited?

The Bahamas, Mexico, Jamaica, South Korea, China, France, Austria, Italy, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Vatican City, Spain, Andorra, Netherlands, U.K.

Top 3 on your list?

Where I’ve been: South Korea, France, Italy

Where I want to go next: Japan, Uruguay, Ethiopia

Describe your first experience traveling abroad

My senior year of high school, I made friends with a foreign exchange student from France. After graduation, his family was kind enough to invite me to live with them for over a month the summer before I went to college. I was a pretty high-strung kid in high school. I thought I wanted to be an attorney –you know, the man in the gray flannel suit. So I vividly remember one day just sitting on a riverbank with my friend. We sipped coffee, talked, people-watched, and just let time pass. To him I’m sure it was an inconsequential day. But to me, it had a profound and lasting impact. I saw the riverbank was full of people doing just the same. The people sitting reading books on existentialism, smoking cigarettes, and judging the American tourists passing by all showed me that life didn’t need to be lived in the fast lane. They looked happy, which is probably not how you would’ve described my life had I continued pursuing law. And that’s just a great example of something unique to traveling and living abroad. The smallest things on the simplest of days can transform your life in the most profound ways.



Teaching English in Czech Republic

Amusement Park

South Korea Teaching English Abroad

Basque Cider House

Spain Teaching English TEFL

Long term travel experience

I’ve worked in South Korea and the Basque Country of Spain. I’ve spent time living and traveling across Europe as well as living in a van (down by the river) traveling across the United States. After a lot of traveling, I moved back to Illinois and taught online with students in China.

What is your favorite international cuisine?

I’ll try pretty much anything –bugs, peppers that melt your face, American house pets (just kidding, well maybe). But I like spicy food the best (Korean, Thai, Indian, Mexican, etc).

Best Travel Story? 

THE GOOD: I traveled to Beijing on a part vacation/part business trip through a previous job. One day on the trip, we went to an orphanage for young children and infants with special needs to volunteer time with some beautiful children. Kids with special needs face many challenges in China. So being able to just spend a day making those kids giggle and holding them as they fell asleep was a little chicken soup for the soul.

THE BAD: Sitting in the pouring rain in the Basque Country streets of ‘old town’ with my fiancée, our luggage, and our cat as we frantically tried to find our hostel with no direction, no cell service, and no clue.

THE UGLY: I planned a trip on a tight schedule for a group of friends flying from the States to Europe for a visit. The first couple days we were suppose to take a train from Madrid to Barcelona and then a flight to Paris the day after that as we country hopped throughout the week (you’ve got to love Europe’s cheap flights). However, their flight to Europe was rerouted because a passenger got sick over the Atlantic and they had to return to New York halfway into the flight. It set us back a day and a half and we had to eat the costs of two train tickets, the original and then the backup plan, as well as the cost of the flight from Barcelona to Paris. So make sure you give yourself some cushions in your schedule.


Favorite: literature/media/music

Books: Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre, A Song of Ice and Fire series


Films: The Shawshank Redemption, 1994 Jim Carrey movies (look it up, what a year), Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain, Pan’s Labyrinth

Music: hip-hop, classic rock, 90’s grunge, 90’s alt, LED ZEPPELIN, Mike Duncan Podcasts

TV: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Game of Thrones, Top Gear/The Grand Tour, Planet Earth

Why do you like working at ITA?

The ITA team is full of cool people that love travel and I couldn’t ask for a better group. But the cherry on top is that my job is to help other people achieve their dream of living and teaching abroad. Seeing the growing network of alumni and knowing I’m a part of that is truly special.


Big Ben

TEFL Certification Spain