What is your name, age and nationality?
Alyssa Cho, 18, Singaporean.
What is your education level and background?
I was born in Singapore, but moved to London, UK, from the age of 11. So, I have done most part of my formal education in England, obtaining my GCSEs and A-levels along the way. I have taken a gap year, and planned to spend a while in Argentina, Buenos Aires, obtaining my TEFL qualification in order to work as a Native English Teacher. After this program, I will be starting my degree in French and Spanish at Oxford University in October 2018.
Have you travelled abroad previously, and if so where?
Yes, I have frequently travelled abroad around Europe and Asia, during summer and Christmas holidays. However, this is the first time spending long periods of time abroad on my own. From September to December 2017, I was in Lyon, France, working as an Au Pair. I am currently in Buenos Aires, Argentina (my first time in South America!) doing the TEFL program and teaching English. After this, I will move onto Florence, Italy, to learn about History of Art.
What motivated you to teach abroad?
Teaching abroad was a great excuse for me to travel and get to know another country and its culture for a long period of time. I knew I wanted to be in Argentina, and the TEFL Heaven program suited my interests completely. My main motivation to teach abroad was the ability to surround myself in a Spanish-speaking environment, outside of my teaching time. Additionally, I wanted to get to know locals and be immersed in their community, so, sharing the knowledge of my native language with those interested to learn, seemed to be a fantastic idea.
What did you want to personally achieve during this experience, and have you succeeded?
This experience has been incredibly valuable to me, and I am very grateful for all that I have learnt over the past few months teaching. I wanted to be able to widen my horizons and expand my network of friends from across the globe. Teaching allowed me to do so, as I was always in contact with those from different cultures and parts of South America; through this, you really are able to connect with the students and get to know them as friends too. Aside from this, teaching also requires such a wide variety of social skills that I will keep for life, such as communication, clarity, and organisation. So, I would say that I have definitely succeeded in achieving my goal!
Did you apply for the program with a friend or on your own?
I applied for the program on my own, as it was an opportunity for me to break out of my comfort zone and try a new experience independently.
Did you know anyone who had taught abroad before you?
No, I hadn’t, but after speaking to some TEFL Heaven ambassadors before applying for the course, I felt like I knew what I was signing up for. They reassured me and recommended the course wholeheartedly, so I trusted them, and they were right!
What were some of your concerns before you began teaching abroad?
My greatest concern about teaching abroad was being unable to find jobs once the course had ended, however, we were given a lot of guidance and advice on constructing our CVs, and job hunting, so that the whole transition process was as smooth as possible.
TEFL PROGRAM INFORMATION
What made you decide to do a TEFL course and choose TEFL Heaven?
I wanted to do a TEFL course, as I believe that it is a very useful qualification to have, as it allows you to travel to new places in a very economical way. I chose TEFL Heaven as it was a great company, that was trustworthy, as they offered a lot of help and guidance, by answering any questions I had almost immediately. I also liked the fact that we were able to speak via Skype.
What made you choose a face-to-face TEFL course over other options?
I generally prefer learning in a classroom, rather than online. This was my primary reason as to why I chose a face-to-face TEFL program. I also feel that being present at training classes added a lot more value to my quality of teaching, as I could observe first-hand what made a good or bad class. Moreover, it is a lot more interesting learning a new skill like teaching in a beautiful city like Buenos Aires, than on a computer screen.
Which TEFL program did you do?
I completed the Buenos Aires, Argentina January 2018 TEFL program.
What did you enjoy about your TEFL course?
The TEFL course was very interesting, as it opened my mind up to new theories about teaching and classroom management. It was great to have different perspectives on aiding non-native speakers gain the confidence to control and utilise their ability to speak English. But, the most enjoyable part of the TEFL program was the fact that the lessons proved to be a social hub, which formed my network of friends here in Buenos Aires. It was great to learn how to teach alongside so many interesting people.
How prepared did you feel for your teaching position?
We were prepared very well for the teaching position, as we had a lot of classroom time, had a teaching practice week and also could observe the way in which other teachers taught lessons. The only minor concern I had was that at times, I felt like I could have needed a few more hours, brushing up on how to explain grammar structures as efficiently as possible to my students. More work could have been done on that, but aside from this point, we were all very prepared and ready to start teaching as soon as the TEFL program was over.
How long have you been teaching in Argentina and how long do you plan to stay?
I have now been teaching for just under a month, and I will be planning to stay for 6 more months.
How did you secure your English teaching job?
Securing an English teaching job was fairly simple. After having sent out a few CVs to language institutes, and gone for several interviews, I was able to start teaching and arranging my schedule. I also used Facebook groups to find individual students.
What school or organisation do you work for?
I work for several organisations and companies which provide me with students, but I also have found my own private students.
What does a typical working week look like for you?
I usually work with several students, for about 4—7 hours per day. The classes are spread out across the day, but mostly in the same area, so time is not wasted on travel. I like to keep my weekends completely free!
What age group or range do you teach?
I teach children from as young as 10 years old, up to adults who are nearly 70.
What do you most enjoy about teaching your students?
I love watching my students make progress and gain more confidence in their spoken English as the weeks go by. I also enjoy interacting with them and learning about their personality and culture, as they are always so willing to share and discuss similarities and differences! It is so fulfilling to watch them develop and improve their English.
How did you get your work visa?
I was advised not to get a work visa here in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as I could use my tourist visa and just leave the country every 90 days.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like?
My accommodation for the first month was provided by TEFL Heaven. It was an amazing student house and I absolutely loved it. For the remaining time here, I found accommodation online (CompartoDepto, Craigslist, Facebook) and moved to another student house which is great too.
Buenos Aires is a vivid and lively city – there is always something to do, and people to see at any time of day. It is a lot bigger than I had expected it to be, but you get used to its size after a few days. It is a culturally rich city, composed of different “barrios” with distinct characteristics. There are many places of interests such as La Boca, El Cemeterio de Recoleta, San Telmo markets, Japanese Gardens, and so many more. My favourite “barrio” is Palermo, especially Palermo Soho, as it is filled with countless bars and restaurants! The food is great too; Argentina boasts it’s famous “bife de lomo” or “bife de chorizo”, which is to die for. Any “parrilla” you walk into will serve the most well-prepared steak. I must say that transportation in Buenos Aires is not the most efficient, despite their underground lines and various bus lines, so make sure to leave some extra time when taking public transportation! The social and nightlife here is like no other; I think that it is one of my favourite aspects of Buenos Aires. There are fabulous clubs and bars to try, and it never gets boring. I have wholeheartedly fallen in love with this amazing city, and wish I hadn’t booked a return flight!
What are your monthly expenses?
Rent: 8000 pesos
Food: 1000 pesos
Other bills: N/a
Social life: 3000 pesos
Transportation: 200 pesos
Phone: 300 pesos
Other costs: N/a
Would you say you are able to live comfortably on your monthly salary?
Teaching in Argentina does not pay very well unfortunately. However, I am here for the experience of travelling and working, rather than looking for a long-term job, thus, it is okay for me. I am paid enough to cover my rent, food and transport, but probably not any social and touristic activities I may choose to do.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS
What advice would you give someone thinking about teaching abroad, and would you recommend teaching English in Argentina?
I would fully recommend anyone considering taking part in this experience, as it is such a valuable qualification to obtain. I am having a wonderful time here in Buenos Aires – it is a fabulous city, which is vibrant and vivid. The local people here are so friendly and welcoming, making it incredibly easy to make friends in the city. Anyone doing the course will have a once in a lifetime experience!
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