Interview with Neil Seth, Prague Q & A

PERSONAL PROFILE

What is your name, age and nationality?

My name is Neil Seth and I am 22 years old! I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. My dad’s side of the family is from India and my mother’s side of the family is from Texas.

What is your education level and background?

I just graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience. I have just currently gained acceptance to medical school and have joined TEFL heaven to pursue English teaching before I begin my studies to fulfill my dream of becoming a physician. I love teaching and believe I will use skills gained from my time in Prague to better my teaching ability at later stages in my career.

Have you travelled abroad previously, and if so where? 

I have travelled to India over six times to visit family and that has been an amazing experience. Being exposed to a culture that is very different from the American culture that I am accustomed to has been priceless. Furthermore, I have travelled to Jamaica to participate in medical missions through a university in my hometown.

What motivated you to teach abroad?

I wanted to combine my love for travelling and love for teaching together in the form of having a productive gap year before beginning medical school. I chose the Czech Republic specifically because I have friends in the area and Prague is both an amazing and unique city. The city has beauty that is unprecedented and is historically rich as well.

What did you want to personally achieve with this experience, and have you succeeded?

Personally, I wanted to improve my ability to teach small groups of students and to improve my ability to speak in public. I believe I have succeeded already in these areas and am still seeing signs of growth. I have been impressed by how quickly myself and my peers have been able to develop these skills and push themselves intellectually.

Did you apply for the program with a friend or on your own?

I applied to the program with a longtime friend of mine. He introduced me to the program and I am grateful to take advantage of such a unique opportunity.

Did you know anyone who had taught abroad before you?

I have had several friends who have taught abroad. However, I had not previously known of anyone that has taught in the Czech Republic. One of my closest friends had taught in China and Spain. She helped alleviate some of my concerns regarding finding work in a new country and helped convince me to make that final plunge into completing the program.

What were some of your concerns before you began teaching abroad?

My main concern was the ability to support myself financially and receive a working visa. As a citizen of the United States, the visa process has been smoother than many of my peers (from Australia for example). However, I have been able to find a job teaching English and SAT Math and Science. Another concern of mine was general safety. Nonetheless, Prague feels much safer than both my hometown and any other areas that I have visited abroad.

TEFL PROGRAM INFORMATION

What made you decide to do a TEFL course and choose TEFL Heaven?

I decided to choose a TEFL course, specifically TEFL Heaven, because a close friend of mine had completed the TEFL Heaven Spain program and spoke highly of the program and overall experience. The main reason I decided to go this route was because of the genuine and helpful reviews offered by past students. Furthermore, the company was quite receptive to any questions or feedback that I had and still have.

What made you choose a face-to-face TEFL course over other options?

I strongly prefer face-to-face interaction when learning a new skill, especially teaching, I believe that to properly instruct students and to learn at a quicker pace, in person interaction is a must. Furthermore, I wanted to be able to interact with members of the Czech population before starting work and being thrown into the job market.

Which TEFL program did you do?

I completed the TEFL Heaven Prague Czech Republic Program. I was deciding between going to China, Spain, and Prague and eventually decided that Prague was the best choice for me and I am quite happy with my decision.

What did you enjoy about your TEFL course?

There are many things I enjoyed about my TEFL course. First off, I formed close friendships with the other students that were completing the course alongside me. These people became my social support network after the course has ended. Furthermore, the course allowed me to teach Czech students face to face and I felt that the rigor of the program afforded me the proper skillset to succeed in the job market. Lastly, the course did a great job of providing feedback to students and was receptive to feedback concerning the instructors, pacing of activities, etc.

How prepared did you feel for your teaching position?

I felt more than adequately prepared for my current teaching position. By receiving a TEFL certificate and participating in the TEFL Heaven program, I walked out of the building with both the skills and confidence to teach students effectively.

How long have you been teaching in Prague and how long do you plan to stay?

I have been teaching in the country for two months now and plan to stay for a total of 8 months. I will return to the United States to begin medical school.

How did you secure your English teaching job?

I secured my English teaching job through the language school that was sponsoring the program. They offered several modules during the program to help set up students with jobs, teach students how to effectively navigate through job interviews, and how to generally approach the job market to gain a job that fits their skillset.

What type of school or organisation do you work for?

I currently work for a private organization that helps students with English teaching, standardized test preparation, and general academic counseling.

What does a typical working week look like for you?

I usually work Monday through Friday beginning at 12:30 PM ending sometimes around 6 to 7 PM. The hours are extremely flexible as I am meeting students after school or after their extracurricular activities. I am very fortunate to live very close to the classroom that I teach at and am compensated by the company whenever I commute to the students’ homes. I find the work to be intellectually stimulating but not overpowering.

What age group or range to you teach?

I usually teach students ranging from age 16 to age 19. However, I do offer private tutoring and receive requests from students that are much older than this age range. I love the diverse demographic of the students that I come across in the Czech Republic and have found that my interactions have broadened my worldview.

What do you most enjoy about teaching your students?

There are many components that I enjoy about my teaching. I love seeing students gain knowledge from my lesson plans and receiving positive feedback. I always remember when a student thanks me for a specific tip or mentions to me how they used a phrase or grammar point in real life scenarios. Furthermore, I love building relationships with my students and other instructors in Prague. I have found the entire network to be overwhelmingly supportive and am surprised to see how helpful everyone is. Lastly, I love teaching cultural aspects of the English language.

How did you get your work visa?

I acquired my work visa through a company call Visa Force. There was a specific day during the program that the company came in and gave presentations to me and the other students that needed a work visa to work in the country. He has been incredibly supportive throughout the entirety of the process and has offered a wide range of resource to help his clients gain a job and navigate the beautiful city of Prague.

How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like?

A friend of mine had found a place through the coordinator of the TEFL Heaven program situated in Prague. I am in a great location close to the river and the main castle. The area is very different than my hometown, but I love my area in Prague. Furthermore, I feel I am paying a great price for the location and my neighbors in the building are friendly as well.

COUNTRY INSIGHT

Prague is an awesome city. After coming from an area with a weak system of public transportation, I was blown away by how convenient it is to navigate the city effectively. Furthermore, there are tons of areas to explore for history buffs and those who love cultural enrichments. The main castle is breathtaking and there are many cultural monuments as well. The food is very hearty but delicious and reasonably priced as well. Lastly, the social and nightlife is great. The most popular type of music seems to be “oldies,” but there are countless other venues for those who love all types of music and dancing. There is always something to fun to do in Prague for everyone.

What are your monthly expenses?

Rent: 300 USD

Food: 100 USD

Other bills: 100 USD

Social life: 50 USD

Transportation: 30 USD

Phone: 20 USD

Other costs: 100 USD

Would you say you are able to live comfortably on your monthly salary?

I would say I am able to live comfortably on my monthly salary, but I do not have room to save money in case of emergency, future planning, etc. I highly recommend saving money before beginning the program and to consider different financial options depending on many factors. I live a laid-back lifestyle and have not run into any issues concerning my finances.

ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS

What advice would you give someone thinking about teaching abroad, and would you recommend teaching English in Prague?

I would give several points of advice. First off, I strongly recommend saving money before teaching abroad. During the first month of completing the program, there is no time to really bring in income, so I recommend having a cushion to help with moving costs, etc. Secondly, I would recommend them to have an open mind. I have come across such a diverse group of people in Prague and am so happy to have broadened my view of how people interact and my understanding of different cultures. Lastly, take pictures or have a diary to track your progress and daily activities. This last tip was recommended to me by a friend who studied abroad in Prague and I am looking forward to having a journal that I will fondly look at in the future!

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