Q) How did you get started in TEFL teaching?
I actually went to uni thinking of being an English teacher, but ended up declaring a different major. However, during that time I got the chance to do short-term teaching in China, Venezuela and Taiwan and realised that it was what I wanted to do when I graduated. So upon graduation in December 2002 I went to the Czech Republic to do my TEFL Diploma with the Boland School.
Q) What is your most memorable experience teaching?
Watching studentsâ€™ faces light up when they play games. Or watching children tip their head and try to think of what they want to say to you in English.
Q) What advice would you give new TEFL teachers?
First off, do a bit of research about TEFLing. There are good sties to get you started like www.teflbootcamp.com and www.tefltips.blogspot.com These sites can give you good ideas about TEFL in general. Then when you do decide on what country to go to, you should find forums, like those at www.teflwatch.org, www.eltworld.net/forums or www.eslcafe.com and before you start posting, read through the old posts. Youâ€™ll find lots of useful info such as pay, visas, how to get a job, number of hours, good and bad schools in the country that youâ€™re looking for.
*Q) What advice would you give someone going to teach in Peru?
First and foremost they should not come here for the money. That being said, even though salaries seem low, itâ€™s easy to live very well here in Peru. Then they should read The Ultimate Peru List www.theultimateperulist.blogspot.com which has anything and everything they ever wanted to know about Peru and a section dedicated to teaching here in Peru.
They should start emailing schools a couple of months before they arrive and can get info from http://groups.yahoo.com/group/perujobbulletin or www.thelajoblist.blogspot.com . They also need to take into account that employers will want to meet them before hiring them. So they shouldnâ€™t get discouraged if people donâ€™t answer their emails.
Once they get here, they should go with their CV in hand to the places that they previously contacted.
When they are offered a job they should try for the highest salary possible (if itâ€™s an institute 5-10USD an hour, schools are from 500-2500USD a month) by playing up all the teaching experience theyâ€™ve had and telling the employer what a valuable asset they could be. Then they need to get all of that in writing and sign it.
They also need to realise that connections go a long way here, so if theyâ€™re looking for a job, they should tell everyone and anyone. They should also remember to thank people that help them and help others.
*Q) You’ve compiled a huge list of jobs in Latin America for teachers to use. Your LA Job List is probably the most comprehensive TEFL Job list on the net. What prompted you to start compiling it?
Thanks, and Iâ€™ll never finish it because Iâ€™m always updating it. I started compiling it when I saw how few job offers there were for Latin America and that people would always ask on forums about positions in Latin America. So I started visiting TEFL job sites and copying down the contact info. I wanted to create a reference for people who want to teach in Latin America. I just started a major update about two weeks ago and itâ€™s gone from 274 to 717 places in 19 Latin American countries and it can be seen at www.thelajoblist.blogspot.com along with other useful information such as job searching and teaching in Latin America.
Q) What is your dream TEFL job?
I would like to get into Educational Management, either by becoming a teacher trainer, or a coordinator or placing teachers in teaching positions. I really like helping new teachers adjust to TEFLing.
*Q) What are the biggest challenges facing TEFL teachers in the medium and long term?
I think itâ€™s overcoming stereotypes about being a EFL teacher. Although there are people who just get into it to travel or take a year off and see the world, there are lots of us oldbies who have made a career out of it. Weâ€™ve worked hard, studied, gone to conferences to get where we are.
I think another problem Iâ€™ve noticed is moving up in TEFL. It seems more of being in the right place at the right time and having connections, than qualifications and experience that get teachers the coveted positions they want.