You’re on the plane to your new life and it finally registers…. you left your home! After all the running around to get everything done for your trip, selling your things, and stuffing your luggage, the reality of your decision has settled in your tummy and it is officially in knots. Doubts and questions start racing through your head: “what if I don’t fit in?” “what if I picked the wrong place?” “will I make any friends?” Well, you’re not alone! Leaving the comfort zone will bring out a whole slew of emotions. Here are a few suggestions to calm your nerves:
Make Your Space Cozy
UNPACK! Don’t wait! Because the longer you put it off, the harder it will be to adjust to a new place. Waking up in the morning of a completely different room, in a completely different city, in a completely different country- and maybe even in a completely different continent!- will need some getting used to. But the relics from your old place that survived the trip will bring you the comfort to ease your transition. Any small personal touch will make all the difference, so get yourself the wall art, bed sheets, and plates that scream homey. These little details will anchor you here.
Learn The Routes
How do you get to your school? Where will you get groceries? Is there any public transportation? Get the feel of your new city’s beats and rhythms. Noticing the traffic flow throughout the day, the pace people walk, and even how people drive will help you get acclimated. Once you get a good image of the map in your head, then you’ll be less nervous working your way around and you’ll start feeling right at home.
Find Your Spots
Once you learn your way around, you’ll figure out which places are your go-to. You gotta have a favorite coffee shop, bar, and restaurant. Everyone needs to know where to get the cheapest beer or where the best pizza is! If you start going to the same place more and more often, then the staff will definitely start to recognize you and from there you can only make more and more connections with people.
The best way to make friends is to go to the places you love. That way, you’ll find the like-minded people who share your hobbies and tastes. If you like movies, then maybe instead of staying home and watching them, you can go out and find movie nights hosted by the community. Are you an avid cycler? There’s usually a weekly bike ride in every city. No matter what you like to do or how obscure it may be, find the people to share your passions with! And, if you don’t have any, then now is as good a time as any to find what you love to do.
Right after all the nervousness, comes excitement, so just hold out! There’s no growth in the comfort zone, friends! Get out there and see what comes out of your new experiences. New habits? For sure. New friends? Definitely. But, above all, a new perspective. Is there any valuable advice you have to share, readers? Tell us something you’d never travel without!
You’ve heard the rumors. But are they true? Traveling the world while getting paid. But how? Whether you’re an aimless 20 year old or a 60 year old looking for another life adventure, and anywhere in between, then teaching English abroad is probably a phrase that has peaked your interest. So, where do you start?
Step 1: Get TEFL Certified
You don’t need a Bachelor’s degree to get hired at some schools, but you do need a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Certification. Are you eligible to take a TEFL course? Here’s the checklist: be over 18, have a high school degree, and be a native (or near native) English speaker.
There are a lot of TEFL programs out there, so you have to know what you’re looking for. A legitimate program will be accredited, offer 140 hours of training, plenty of teaching practice, and a guaranteed job placement upon graduating. You can go the online or on-site route, the former being cheaper but taken less seriously, while the on-site programs are more expensive yet highly recommended. Once you complete your TEFL program, the battle is halfway over.
Step 2: Choose A Destination
Depending on the kind of experience you’re looking to take away from teaching abroad, then the location will vary along with it. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Latin America is more culturally welcoming and relaxed when it comes to visa processing, but the pay isn’t that great and it’s not that easy to move around amongst countries.
In China, Korea, and Japan the pay is great with fantastic infrastructure and excellent work conditions! However, there are a lot of hoops to jump through in order to get there with their selectivism along with vaccinations before departing and after arriving. The culture is also a complete brain warp in comparison to the West you’re used to.
Europe is fractured into 3 regions: Eastern Europe (Poland, Czech Republic, and Russia), Developed Europe (France, Germany, Netherlands, Scandinavia), and Developing Europe (Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece). There’s good pay, it’s easy to travel, and there’s a lot to see that’s been romanticized for centuries. However, Europe prefers EU citizens, so you might have to get used to rejection before you find the school looking for Americans.
So, it all comes down to which culture allures you and the kind of lifestyle you want to embody. Feed your sense of wonder and let yourself fall in love with a place.
Step 3: Job Hunting
Looking for the school that’s right for you mostly entails figuring out what kind of teacher you want to be. It’s time to get a little introspective, and consider these points:
What age of the students do you wish to teach?
Which work schedule do you prefer?
What type of institution do you wish to work with (K-12 School or Language Center)?
Do you want to teach an Established Curriculum or a Holistic Approach?
Are you looking for Part-time or Full-time positions?
Once you’ve decided what you want from a school, you can start contacting recruiters! If went with an accredited TEFL course, then they will usually do the contacting for you once you narrow it down to 5 countries. Then put your fancy shoes on because it’s interview time! The school will provide you with any additional details, and you’re off!
Now you know the steps you need to take to start your journey! It’s always nerve-wracking to start a new chapter of your life, but it will always be worth it. Remember why you considered teaching abroad in the first place, and just let your feet do the stepping. If you need a pep talk, read our article “5 Advantages of TEFL Courses for College Students.” I guarantee you’ll pack your bags today!
For a 20-something year old in your college years, the world can seem like a very big and very scary place. When you’re getting your TEFL, though, it becomes more and more exciting! As opportunities present themselves, the path to your future lights up. Here are 5 advantages for any ordinary college student on the road to self discovery:
Everyone keeps talking about how competitive the job market is and how difficult it is to find a job that pertains to your degree and how doomed we all are; how intimidating is that? Especially for a newcomer to the workforce. Well, upon getting your TEFL, you have instant access to hundreds of thousands of schools in any place you want to be! You’ll start building your resume, gaining real life world experience on an international scale, and ultimately reaping the benefits of everything this world has to offer starting with this very first step. The hardest part at that point is to narrow down your options!
In adventures! You probably won’t be able to buy the new Smart TV or a water bed, but who needs stuff to weigh you down when you can float to your new experiences? Without the competitive element of materialism, you’ll heighten your senses to the myriad of perspectives just waiting to be unlocked. When you cultivate an alternative lifestyle, you produce alternative results. Maybe down the line you can have that white picket fence, but at least you’ll have interesting stories to tell at your PTA meetings!
Make A Difference
When you’re in a new place, you become a part of something meaningful in a community that’s been needing you all along, even if you don’t feel it in the beginning. Whether you know or it you don’t, sharing your language, your culture, and your experiences helps other people grow in the same way someone else’s stories helps you grow. I know you’re probably young and you might feel like you have nothing to share, but the English language alone is the key people need to enhance professional and educational opportunities for their whole family. Be confident in that!
When you put yourself in a different setting, different parts of you start to surface. Skills you didn’t know you had, new boundaries of your personality to discover, and taste buds that haven’t even been activated yet! Honing in on these rare areas will paint a clearer picture of who you are to yourself; thus, empowering you to put yourself out there. Even if you find out what you don’t like, it means you’re finding out things you do like. So, find yourself… and your place in the world.
In a world where we can easily slip out of touch with reality, it is of utmost importance to be present and make connections with real live human beings. Yes, the internet is a magical place where we can talk to people across the world on a mass scale and we should definitely use it, but don’t forget to make the best out of your here and now. Instead of Google Mapping a location, buy your ticket! Don’t just Rosetta Stone a language, immerse yourself in it! The environment around you is a breathing organism that is always changing, don’t miss out on it!
Our little blue and green planet is filled with wonders, and they beckon you. Remember that “not all who wander are lost!” Have any questions? Share your comments with us! There’s nothing to be afraid of; the time is now!
Teaching in a foreign country has always intrigued me. For years I have looked for overseas jobs online only to find out that a TEFL certificate was required. I had no idea what was involved in the TEFL program, but I knew obtaining the certificate was the key for unlocking potential job opportunities. Since I had no plans or commitments for the summer I decided to treat myself to an adventure. The only expectation I had was that I would collect another certificate to add to my resume.
As a veteran teacher, I was confident that I knew it all. Being a native English speaker, I thought I had an excellent command of the English language. I assumed the class would review basic teaching strategies and philosophies as related to different cultures. I did not anticipate that I would be learning much. The first day of class was an eye-opener for me! I realized I did not understand the basic mechanics of my native language (L1). While I might be fluent with use and meaning, I was totally ignorant when it came to the form. I had learned some of the grammar points in high school, but I did not remember them. I found out that I had no idea how to form a sentence, much less how to explain it to somebody else. Since sentence structure is the crux of the program I quickly became conscious of the fact that I had a lot to learn. As Aristotle said, “The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.”
I believe my teaching style is a unique combination of many methods acquired over years of being an educator. I have confidence that using realia, pictures and other tangible objects will impact a class’ understanding and motivation. I am from the generation who prefers to teach by means of Thematic Units and Whole Language Theory. In the TEFL world this is referred to as Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). According to Spence Rogers creator of PEAK Learning Systems (Performance Excellence for All Kids),”Our kids are worth whatever it takes”. As a teacher, I fully endorse the Spence Rogers method; each day focusing on how and what is the best way for my students to learn and gain authentic comprehension.
Overall, I feel that I am a strong teacher with good methodology. I am able to build a good rapport with students, I differentiate learning so that all students feel successful and I am able to come up with creative lessons that incorporate real life situations. I repeat and rephrase often, I am generally patient in the classroom, and by taking advantage of teachable moments. Most of my students enjoy class and know that I care about their educational growth. Where I fall short in TEFL is that I need to learn the grammar points by heart. I should be able to explain any grammatical questions that arise without hesitation. This is essential to being a great teacher. In order to accomplish this, I must study more, practice what I have learned and gain teaching experience at a local Language Institute.
Teaching in remote areas can be challenging; resources can be limited, or non-existent. I do not think this will be a factor that affects me greatly. I am a very resourceful person, drawing from the internet, textbooks, magazines and a plethora of other sources. I have colorful markers and use chart paper to instill main points of a lesson: form and meaning. Likewise, I am fortunate in that I have my own equipment such as a computer and a projector. Therefore, assuming I have electricity, I will able to conduct lessons in power point. Since I have been teaching for many years, I have an abundance of supplies at my disposal
I am impressed with the administrators of the TEFL course. My trainer has been an incredible instructor. Lessons on grammar points, methodologies, and possible problems encountered have been invaluable. My trainer went above and beyond by explaining cultural differences in the educational setting and sharing personal stories. His encouraging us to be entrepreneurial and think out of the box was phenomenal. He shared other potential employment opportunities that I would have never thought of or dreamed possible. Our Job Placement Coordinator was wonderful too. The web pages he created were done with extreme professionalism, I will be proud to share them.
While I plan to stay in the states for the time being, I hope to get a part time job in a local language center. I hope to practice what I have learned and become a fantastic EFL instructor. I believe that some of knowledge I acquired this summer transfer to my Algebra classroom. In conclusion, studying in Puerto Vallarta has been the experience of a lifetime! The educational opportunity I was given this summer has far exceeded my expectations. Thank you to all involved with the process.
When I started teaching I was a completely different person. I was nervous and did not have a clue of how to form a teaching plan, but with time I became more independent with my methods and more confident with my stature as an educator. In the beginning I was assigned a student that was preparing to leave the country to start college. The student was in T.E.F.L class and was a very fast learner. This was a problem for me because I under estimated not just the students skill but my own skills as well. The first big problem was that I was unable to answer his questions about the grammar. When the question came up about why does that happen? I was unable to reply which gave the student the idea that I was not a good teacher and I did not know what I was doing. Later on in the program I started to notice my mistakes with not being able to help, this was the first big step that I had to conquer. After that first teaching I started to plan methods that would prepare me for the class. Now I go over the next classes materials figuring out what type of questions might arise. This helps me understand questions that might be asked and different ways I could answer those question. Some type of answers would be quick and simple and other answers need to be explained in long forms with small connecting details. I was also able to sharpen my methodology.
In the beginning of the program I had no idea of what kind of teacher I was but through the four week program I realized I am a visual teacher. I am a teacher that uses drawings and magazine cut outs to help me with my lesson. These methods are called realia and stick figure. When I use grammar to explain the lesson I become lost in translation, so I use pictures to explain my lessons which give the student obvious answers. These are some things that I have worked on in the program. Although, there are many problems that will arise through my teachings I am now confident that I will be able to overcome them with my knowledge and my methods.
My practice teachings have become more relaxed and fluid during the program. The first two were catastrophic. I failed miserably because I did not know the grammar or the lessons as well as I thought I did. The first student asked me a question about the placement of the grammar and I did not know how to reply and the other student I was completely off topic. Now it is the complete opposite when I enter the classroom I have nothing but confidence in both my lesson plans and my teachings. I prepare my lessons the night before and when I am done I go over the lesson a couple more times and think about what is some type of questions that would be asked. This helps me understand my students by seeing if they need a long explanation with small details that lead up to the whole idea or quick explanation that are automatically understood.
The observations that were given in the program were the most helpful in becoming a proficient educator. By being able to watch my trainer perform in front of his students gave me the base line of how to teach. By observing his classes I was able to see that he uses different methods with different pupils. With higher educated students he held conversational classes and with beginner classes he was more of an educator that used more teacher talk time (TTT). These kinds of teachings helped me understand that there are certain levels of students and how to progress their knowledge of English.
The authority that I hold in my classes now are completely different from the presence I held in the beginning. The first two classes I was not able to control either my lesson plan or the comprehension of the student. That is how I realized that I needed to have more control and a stronger presence in my class. My classes now are entirely different because I have more control of what I am teaching and who the student is. By knowing my students I am able to give a stronger presence which tells the student what my lesson plans contain and how they will be taught.
The complications that might arise from limited resources within my teaching career should not bother me because I was taught by educators that showed me how to use the resources I was given. Nino Deloreto showed me that the only thing that I need is a proficient knowledge of what I am teaching. Other materials should not be an implication of my teaching but a benefit to my lessons. This was also explained to me when I was about some of the areas around the world with limited resources. They explained that it is not what you have at your disposal but what knowledge you can retain and explain to the student. There are many ways of using tools to teach but the only tool that I truly need is myself and the knowledge that I hold. This program has helped me realize what kind of person I am in the classroom and what I have to offer within the lessons. I am truly humble to be a part of this great opportunity that was given to me by the two men that created this program.