My first experience teaching English as a foreign language was when I was 18, back in 1983. I was on a gap year before university, and I got the opportunity to spend six months in Israel. I spent two months on a kibbutz in the north, near Tiberius close to The Sea of Gallilee, and then I spent two months in Ashkelon in the south. The town was being regenerated, and I was part of a group of 18-year-olds who volunteered in a school, speaking English with the pupils. I really enjoyed this experience, although now it seems a very long time ago!
After university I did my teacher training and have spent the last 25 years working mostly as a supply teacher in a variety of schools. I have worked in primary and secondary schools, as well as special schools. There have been times when I have worked with pupils for whom English is not their first language and I always enjoyed teaching them.
In Spring 2019 I decided that I wanted to do something different with my existing skills and qualifications. My partner Chris had recently retired and I wanted to work online from home, so that I could choose my own schedule and even work when we were travelling.
I looked into doing a TEFL course, and after some research online chose TEFL Org, as I liked the idea of studying online, but also wanted some practical experience. I did the 198-hour Level 5 course and completed it in about 3 months. I also had to submit some written assignments, and I found my online tutor Joanna to be excellent – she was always very encouraging and gave me great feedback when I needed it. Our classroom course tutor Rachael was brilliant, and we had so much fun during the three days of the course!
Quite soon after successfully completing my TEFL course, I read about PalFish, and within a week I had set up my online profile, created my “classroom” in the spare bedroom, and successfully interviewed for the Official Kids Course. Almost immediately, I was receiving calls from students who wanted to practise speaking with a native English speaker, as well as teaching the Official Kids Course.
I currently live in Edinburgh, but for nearly 30 years I lived in the Shetland Islands. I still have two sons there, and one of them has recently had a baby girl so I am now a grandmother. As I spend quite a lot of time in Shetland, I find teaching online really flexible – you just need a quiet corner to set up your “classroom”, and I teach using my iPhone or iPad. All I need is reliable internet or 4G.
During July, I also had the opportunity to work for a couple of weeks with the Edinburgh School of English Young Learners’ summer school – we had pupils aged 7-17, from countries all over the world, from Qatar to Barcelona. In the mornings we taught lessons, with the focus on speaking, and pronunciation, whilst ensuring that everyone was having fun! Afternoons were dedicated to cultural and recreational activities, and I was incredibly grateful to be a part of these young people’s experiences.
I had felt quite daunted starting again as a student at the ripe old age of 53, but I can honestly say I haven’t looked back, and have never been happier with my new career thanks to TEFL Org.