12 February 2015
Student life for many of us is a time of endless hours, countless coffees, all-nighters and academic anguish. As students we spend years hurtling towards what frequently feels like an unreachable finish line, just to cross it in cap and gown. Yet after what is for many students, the best part of two decades in full time education, upon graduation there can be a tendency to ask, ‘what now?’
I graduated last year with honours in Business and Management with Marketing. Starting my own business has always been my plan, so becoming a freelancer was the natural next step. I spent months building up a client base and marketing my services. Though I was happy with and grateful for the work I was doing, I started thinking that I would also like to experience life somewhere else.
I had known about TEFL since my uni days, and I had seen friends complete the course and teach English abroad. I used to think ‘wow, that’s something.’ Teaching hundreds of miles away, to students who can’t speak your language – how brave, how crazy! I would admire the opportunities from afar, but were they for me? I didn’t think so. I’ve never taught anything in my life, I’ve never worked with kids, how could I possibly ever make a good English teacher?
I pursued other possibilities (working on a farm, becoming an au pair) until one day I saw some TEFL tweets about summer camp opportunities in Italy. I love Italy. I could see myself working in Italy. I’d always thought that TEFL only really catered for jobs in Asia, but as soon as I knew there were opportunities in Europe I was hooked. My next thought was – what do I need to do to get out there?
Feeling a little flummoxed and unsure of where to begin I got chatting to the lovely TEFL team, who told me it was super easy to get started, and they were right! I decided to purchase the 120 hour course to give me a better chance of finding employment, and I knew that all I had to do was complete the course, find a job and get to Italy!
The practical weekend course came shortly after I enrolled online. I’d only just started my grammar lessons, and I was concerned that everyone there would be literary experts. I also couldn’t believe we were actually going to fit 20 hours of learning into two days, and on a weekend! I was prepared to feel tired and drained by the long and strenuous days. However I couldn’t have been more wrong.
From the very beginning everyone was chatting and laughing. The group was friendly, and we all immediately had something in common – TEFL. I had expected hours of lengthy lectures, but we spent both days taking part in various enjoyable practical activities and the hours soon flew by.
I learnt valuable skills in lesson planning and delivery. I improved my knowledge of and confidence with grammar. Most importantly I started to understand that it was possible to deliver sessions without speaking anything other than English. I took comfort in knowing that if I could learn how to communicate in other ways than with words alone, I would be okay.
If like me you are looking for a new challenge, then why not think about teaching English as a foreign language? You can equip your students with the skills they need to work and study, what better fulfilment is there than that? Though I’ve yet to complete my course or find a job, undertaking a TEFL course is certainly an experience I would recommend. My next finish line? My TEFL certificate!
(Photo courtesy of Tim Winterburn Photography)