How did you get into teaching English as a foreign language?
After graduating with a degree in English Language from Glasgow Uni, I decided to combine travelling with teaching. So, I went to spent a year teaching kids in Vietnam, which was so much fun. But, after that I decided to come back and get a “proper” job in Scotland – which I did, in PR, until I realised that it was not only travelling that I missed, but the teaching part too. I’ve now taught trainee teachers in Japan and Thailand, migrant workers in Scotland, and teenagers in the Basque Country, where I now live. I quickly realised that TEFL is the “proper job” I was looking for! 😉
Where in the world have you most enjoyed teaching?
Actually I’d have to say Glasgow. Teaching multilingual adult classes is great, they are really hard-working, and you learn so much about other cultures from each other. Also, when students finish the course you see them get jobs, flats, and create lives in Glasgow, so you get to see the difference that English has made to them.
What’s the worst tense to teach?
Present Simple. It’s the first hurdle for lots of students, and so the teacher really has to get it right so the foundations are there for the rest of the course.
How did it feel to stand up in front of a class for the first time?
I remember being nervous and because of that having a truck load of activities prepared. We didn’t even do half of them, but I’m glad I had them there, just in case!
What’s your favourite food?
Living in Spain I do miss some Scottish food, and so haggis, neeps and tatties tastes amazing when you haven’t had it for a year!
What’s the most interesting thing that has happened to you abroad?
I got asked to go on Basque TV to talk about the royal wedding, which I declined, you see, I didn’t read the UK news so much so I was like, Kate who? I would’ve disappointed them!
What is your best TEFL experience?
Some of the beautiful thank you cards I’ve had at the end of course, especially from kids, have brought a wee tear to my eye.
What is your worst TEFL experience?
I once set a challenge in class, I had to learn 10 Polish phrases by the Friday and my class had to learn enough to get 100% in their vocab test. Guess who won? It was good fun on the Friday though!
Do you have any advice for anyone who is about to head out abroad to teach English?
As long as you’re going somewhere with an internet connection you don’t need to pack a lot of paper lessons in your bag – instead collect leaflets about your city, local magazines, flyers etc. You students will love the real English they see and can touch. Combine that with lots of reading up about their city/town/culture and being ready to ask them questions and you have the perfect information gap – a real-life exchange in English.