TEFL in the UK - Emma's Story
Emma had planned to put her TEFL Scotland qualification to use teaching English in Italy. Unfortunately, things didn't work out quite as she planned, but she found another way into teaching right here in the UK. Here, she shares her experiences and offers some advice to would-be TEFL teachers.
As I jetted back from an ill-fated trip to Padova, Italy, I thought my teaching English days were over before they’d even begun. I’d always wanted to live in Italy and teaching English seemed like the best way to do this and earn money at the same time. It was with this ambition that I successfully undertook the TEFL training and put my CV forward for language schools in Bella Italia. Within a few weeks I had landed a job in Padova and headed out there in January 2011 with the promise of a guaranteed 20 hours a week. As it turned out, the school barely had three hours a week to give me. With no contract and a growing feeling that I’d made the wrong decision, I decided to come home after just a week, so thrown by the whole experience.
I was bitterly disappointed when I returned home and thought I’d wasted so much time and effort. I soon realized however that I still very much wanted to teach English and to use my new skills. My city attracts thousands of international students and workers and so I knew there’d be a market for a TEFL teacher. I therefore placed an advert on my local Gumtree and within a month I had two regular students.
I am still teaching my original students, one is a Malyasian student and the other a Polish migrant. I teach them in their homes, or, if they want a more relaxed lesson, we go for a coffee! I found the first few months very difficult as I got used to teaching Grammar and frequently found myself reading up on grammar rules prior to teaching them to my students! However the TEFL course has really helped me – I plan my lessons by the three P’s which keeps them structured and I always try and inject some games and fun into the lessons, as taught by the course. My students are always laughing in their lessons and I think this is why I’ve had the same two students for so long. One of my students has just found out she’s pregnant, and she’s had great fun learning all the idioms for pregnancy and babies!
My best lesson to date has been a listening exercise where I recorded my boyfriend reading out a excerpt. My students found his broad Glaswegian accent very challenging (if not entertaining!), but it was a great lesson for practicing their listening and understanding other accents. My plans for the next year are to broaden my understanding and knowledge of Teaching English as a Second Language. I would like to take additional courses so that I can be the best teacher possible for my students.
For aspiring TEFL-ers, my one piece of advice is that if you’re going to go abroad then confirm with your school how many hours you are going to get. If they can’t confirm the hours or give you a contract, plan a contingency in case something falls through – are there any other schools in the area you could approach if things fall through? What about teaching privately? If you’re prepared for any setbacks and act accordingly then hopefully you won’t have my experience. My journey into TEFL teaching was bumpy but I got there in the end, even if ‘there’ was my home city. Ultimately, however, I now have the experience of teaching and the TEFL qualification will never expire, so really, the world is my oyster for whenever I’m ready to try abroad again.