Since I was a teenager, I have always wanted to travel the world and experience a variety of different people and cultures. I never really had an opportunity to actually make that dream come true until I heard about the TEFL course here in Puerto Vallarta. I took a leap of faith and decided to fly down here and see what this teaching thing was all about. Needless to say, I could not be happier. I have learned a lot about myself over the last few weeks and what my strengths and weaknesses are as I strive to become the best English teacher I can be.
 
One of my strengths that I have noticed is that I wasn’t really ever super nervous at the prospect of going in front of a class and teaching. During my first couple of teaching practices there were some nerves, but once I settled in and started getting familiar with the material and the students themselves, all of those nerves went away. I improved on this strength throughout the course by implementing a few techniques that I learned. One of these techniques was to be personable with the students. This meant that I tried to make myself interact with my students in a friendly manner. This method was helpful in many ways. Whenever I did seem a little nervous at first, especially during my first couple of teaching practices, being personable and making smalltalk with my students got rid of those nerves entirely. This method also helped the students relax as well. Instead of sitting and trying to learn in a classroom with a boring and stiff teacher, they would feel more comfortable with a teacher who tried to make the class more entertaining and enjoyable. I would always ask each student how his or her day went. I would also try and have side conversations about interesting topics such as different countries, to make the class more relaxed and enjoyable.
 
The obvious way I can help myself when it comes to understand the student’s’ native language is to study Spanish myself. This can be done in my spare time, but when it comes to teaching in the classroom I can use other methods. The best way I can prepare myself for these types of questions is to create a thorough lesson plan. Creating great lesson plans was a big emphasis of the TEFL course this year, for a number of reason. In this particular case, creating a good lesson plan can help when a student asks me a question in Spanish. When creating my lesson plans, I plan on reviewing the content I will be teaching first. After reading the material, I will write down certain words and phrases from the book that my students may not understand. Then I will write the Spanish counterparts of those phrases so I have and idea of what content my students may be having trouble with. This situation shows just how important developing a good lesson plan is and that you cannot just come to class and try to teach off the top of your head.
 
All of these methods and many more have helped me prepare for my teaching career on the path ahead. I already have my first job lined up for me here in Puerto Vallarta, or as some would call it “Paradise”. I am grateful for the opportunity I have been given and I know that I still have much to improve as far as my teaching techniques go. I hope to one take make it across the entire world by teaching English and make the promise of “Teach, Travel, and Adventure” come true.
If you have an exotic landscape as your background, read more maps than books, research new destinations in your free time, and get weekly e-mails with discounted flight rates, then you might be a traveler in workforce clothing. Chances are that you find your daily work grind to be the shackles of your existence and it’s only until you’re on the road or in the sky that you finally feel free.
 
There are two sides to the spectrum: those who shrink away from long-term career offers that they know would hinder their travel days and those who are so involved in their day-to-day tasks that traveling is something they only dream about. If you’re unwilling to commit to the vagabond life or the die-hard career life, then the answer lies in the middleground.
 
Travel While You Work
 
For some careers, traveling can enhance your work productivity. Freelance artists (writers, photographers, etc.) can easily work away from home, as well as most businessmen, and scientists. Whether you are doing field work, gathering materials, or attending a relevant seminar, you can create the opportunity to have a “working vacation.” If you’re a student, then PLEASE study abroad or take the summer off and explore. Whatever the case, if you’ve got the kind of job that would let you do it, then find the place and go!
 
Work Hard Travel Harder
 
If you don’t have the kind of job that would let you travel while you work, then seize every opportunity to travel! Take a trip on holidays, save up your sick days for an epic month-long trip, and make weekends into mini-adventures. I know this means that you have to work extra hard for a bit, but that saying didn’t come out of nowhere. Trust me, it’s worth the rush of fresh air. If you’re not someone with a career or obligations then work extremely hard for 3-5 months during high-season, blow it off for the rest of the year, and do it all over again!
 
Make Time Not Excuses
 
I know that the grind can get the best of you. The appointments, deadlines, parties, hobbies, and oh my gosh why are there always dishes in the sink!?! But that’s when you need to slow down and ask yourself what you really want. If your priority is your career, or to have a hoppin’ social life, or to have your house featured on HGTV, then that’s okay! But you probably wouldn’t be reading this article. You’re here because traveling is your priority now and you’re ready to get some perspective- far away from the routine of your life. So when you say you don’t “have time” to travel, then it’s time to make some. You’re more in control than you think.
 
On the Cheap
 
Is economics the only thing holding you back from your adventure? All you need is a traveler’s credit card, an e-mail price check alert with Kayak, and the resolve to go through with it. Credit cards always have a bunch of promotional sign-up offers just to get you going and airlines have a new sale every week. Get your mind to it, pool your resources, pick a place, and once that price drops then make it happen! Don’t let your bank account dictate what you can and can’t do, you’re better than that I promise.
 
Eyes on the Prize
 
You’re in a travel drought, stuck in a whirlwind of obligations, and your inspiration feels like it’s being sucked out of you. It’s gotten to the point where you wish there was a “resent” button for all of the nature pictures on your Instagram feed. This is not the time to give up and accept your fate. This is the time to dig deep and pull your passions up for the world to see. Spin the globe around and see where your finger lands, go to the bookstore and run through the travel aisles, become absorbed with a new place and let your daydreams run their course. You have to feel it first.
 
So, sometimes life is pretty overbearing, but it’s all about finding the balance. How do YOU cope with your travel urges? Shed some light on us!
Top 5 Latin American Countries To Teach English In
 
Sprawling, untouched landscapes, with affordable delicacies, and a relaxing atmosphere: the essence of Paradise. Whenever we think about Latin America, that’s what comes to mind. Latin America is an alluring destination to teach English due to its laid back culture, where the students are eager to learn and the processing logistics are simple. You might not leave with much savings, but you’ll get paid enough to live comfortably and to experience the bounties of each country. With beaches, rivers, mountains, jungles, and a population yearning for the English language, there are a lot of Latin American countries that have the perfect balance of practicality and adventure. Here are our favorites:
 
Mexico

 

As the neighbor of The United States, Mexico offers endless opportunities for English teachers. It is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world, with one of the largest and most diversified economies. With a booming industry in tourism, global trade, and natural resources, learning English is a necessary asset from business executives to waiters and to doctors alike. Because of its high demand for English, Mexico is the only Latin country where you can find an English teaching job year round. Teaching English as a Specific Purpose (ESP) is also utilized greatly as well as plenty of Language Centers and high schools. Not to mention, the vastness of Mexico offers outdoor activities from dune bugging in the desert to scuba diving in the World’s Aquarium and exploring the numerous “Magic Towns.” There will never be a dull moment!
 
Costa Rica
 
Consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world, and a gem of the Latin world, Costa Rica is one of the best places to teach English. With high human development, a rapidly growing economy, and a progressive environmental policy, heck, who wouldn’t want to live there? With lush rainforests, pristine beaches for surfing, and arguably the juiciest fruit in the world, Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Ecotourism is a hot market there right now, so locals are ravenous to learn English. Leave the tie and power suits at home, teachers! You’re in Paradise now.
 
Chile
 
Affectionately known as the California of South America, Chile is an extremely diverse landscape, with a long coastline, high mountains in the North, and Patagonia to the south, with a world class wine producing region in the middle. In Chile there is a steady, stable, thriving economy and the demand for English grows with it. It is probably one of the only Latin countries where obtaining a legal work visa is the norm, and where the salary for teachers will make you feel like middle class. Cities like Santiago, Valparaiso, or Concepción are where you can find a majority of jobs. No matter what you’re into, there is something for everyone.
 
Colombia
 
Colombia has been on the up-and-up for two decades now after suffering from drug violence and political turmoil (see: Netflix’s Narcos). Upon eradicating the world’s biggest drug lord and all of his bannermen, Colombia has been able to stabilize politically and reform economically to become one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America. And where there is money, there is English. Bogota and Medellin have become centers of commerce and culture, known for their colorful markets and hoppin’ nightlife. Colombia has beautiful beaches, the best coffee ever, and a fascinating history (see: Netflix’s Narcos (seriously).
 
Peru
 
Peru is a wondrous place to live, from the soaring beauty of the Andes and the legendary rain forests of the Amazon to the enchanting mystery of Machu Picchu and the colonial charm of Cusco. Since the 2000s, Peru has experienced an economic boom from improving trade terms with the United States, meaning, you guessed it, English is becoming more and more necessary to ensure good business. You can find most jobs in Peru’s capital city of Lima, the largest and most economically centralized city.
 
If your skin is aching for Vitamin D, your soul yearns for the fresh air in the mountains, and your muscles need recovering in the relaxing ocean currents, then you need the Latin American treatment. For teachers, Spanish-speaking students will always make you feel like a friend as well as a respected member of society without all of the stuffiness. Here, you’re practically required not to take things too seriously; instead, it’s high-time to take it easy and have fun while you teach. So, readers! What else do you want to know about teaching in Latin America before buying your ticket?
The best way to keep me going is to look toward the future. Putting one foot in front of another just so I don’t sink into the appealing yet dreadful quicksand of a stagnant, complacent, albeit comfortable life. While I scramble trying to prioritize my life, I realize that traveling is a necessary component to a well-rounded mindset. But there are still so many things that I think about before I set my plans to stone. These are some factors I consider during my thought process:
 
Which Country Is Hoppin’ Right Now

 

Economic stability, political goings-on, major social events, the weather, there’s so much happening everywhere all the time that it makes it seem impossible to just pick a place! So I’ll write down the first 5 countries that pop into my head and research until my head explodes. Wikipedia, BBC Country Profile, and Google Maps become verbs at this point as I become a sponge for all pertinent information. Each country has so much to offer but in the end there can only be one, and from there I can decide on other, more personal, directions.
 
What Lifestyle Do I Want

 

I’m a pretty adaptable person and I want to feel all variations and shades of life, so figuring out what I want to embody on my next adventure is a biggie. Do I want a job and an apartment? Or a couchsurfing, vagabond life? Maybe just a quick and comfy touristy visit at an Air BnB? How about a volunteering gig at a local’s with room and board? It basically comes down to where I want to sleep, how much money I’m willing to work with, and what I want to pack. This also determines how long I’m going to stay. Mostly, though, it’s about immersing yourself fully into the culture, no matter how you want to approach it.
 
What Do I Want To Take Away From The Experience

 

I know that traveling will teach me things that books can’t, but why am I really doing this? Am I doing this to improve my resume, enrich my cultural perspective, or to push myself to the extremes to see what I’m made of? This is when I realize my priorities and what I want to make of them. Right now, I’m a teacher, writer, and avid explorer, so which one of these am I going to enhance? In the end, I’m one big whole encompassing it all, and strengthening one aspect of myself will inevitably shape another.
 
Where Will I Go From There

 

Life is like a chess game, at least to me, and I always want to stay 6 steps ahead. Even though I know, from experience, that nothing ever goes as planned and that I should just renounce all control to save myself the headache. However, I still need to make a logical sequence of things for my own sake. It’s good to exhibit some self-evaluation, right? If I know what I want to come next, then I know how to steer situations so I can start making my dreams come true. If I don’t know my dreams, then I won’t make anything happen for myself. Keep dreaming, y’all!
 
Am I Ready?

 

Ah, the time and true question that transcends all questions: Am. I. Ready? Subsequently, it turns into this self-deprecating downward spiral of doubts: is this even what I want? Is the timing right? Can I afford to do this? Do I even have the right clothes?! Nevermind, I don’t want to do this. You don’t want to put yourself in any sticky situations but you also don’t want to suffer from the proverbial Analysis Paralysis, so you might as well just forget the whole thing and stay on the Netflix and Chill grind. Don’t let yourself be another casualty of complacency! At some point you gotta shush your mind and put your clicking-finger to work. Buy the tickets. It’s now or never. You are ready.
 
You can probably tell that I’m a sincerely and seriously organized introspective individual. Maybe you’re the laid back figure-it-out-as-you-go type or the impulsive jump-now-think-later type. Even so, these are still important questions to ask at any time of your travels! Before, during, or after, everyone can benefit from a little soul searching. What are some of your insights when planning for travel? It’s your turn to share your thought process!