Review by teacher Kacey Andreotta for TEFL Heaven Mexico

Q and A with Claire (Cambodia)

 What is your name, age and nationality?

Claire Sally Roos, 42 years, South African

What is your education level and background?

Senior school certificate and AVSE TESOL certificate. 10 years teaching experience (music and early childhood development).

Have you traveled abroad previously, and if so where?

Yes. America for a 3 month self driven van tour, coast to coast and back. Conferences attended in Malaysia.

What motivated you to teach abroad?

I love teaching and I love travel, so the two together was a no-brainer. I also have always loved everything about Asia and felt great compassion for the country and people of Cambodia when I researched them as a possible place to live and teach.

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

I am still in the process of achieving what I set out to do and that is to make a difference in the lives of ordinary Cambodians. In the process I am also being changed and growing into more of the person I was created to be.

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

On my own.

Did you know anyone who had taught abroad before you?

Yes. I have a friend who has taught in Vietnam for the past year and a half.

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

My biggest concern was that I would be lost without my support network in my home country, but I have been pleasantly surprised by how the people I met on the course I did, and my colleagues at the school I now work for, has filled that immediate void.


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

The biggest deciding factor was that it was in-country training. The second was that I could tell Mike Maitland really had a heart to help others avoid the kinds of experiences he had with his first try at TEFL. I felt like I would be well supported and taken care of.

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

I felt that it would be greater incentive and motivation to get it done on a shorter space of time and that I would have the support of other like-minded individuals going through the same thing I was.

Which TEFL program did you do? 

It was the 120 hour TESOL course in Cambodia through TEFL Heaven.

What did you enjoy about your TEFL course?

It was comprehensive and professional and required of me to give my best, but I also felt appreciated for who I am with my unique abilities and talents and challenges. The trainer had an amazing way of teaching and relating to us and made me feel really relaxed whenever I took myself too seriously!

How prepared did you feel for your teaching position?

Very prepared! Thoroughly prepared! So so so so prepared!

How long were you in Cambodia and how long did you plan to stay?

I am still in Cambodia after 1 month of training and four months of working. I intend to stay for a good many years.

How did you secure your English teaching job? 

AVSE staff referred me to Cheryl Glorch, founder of a recruiting agency called Teachers In Cambodia. She matched me with my school and did a really great job! I already feel like part of the family.

What did a typical working week look like for you?

I work from 07:20 am to 16: 30 am Monday to Friday. I have one class the whole day and teach them as one would any Kindergarten class in any country, with a focus on correcting pronunciation and grammar. I teach the grade before First Grade, called K3 in our school, which is an International School. I get to give input on syllabus development and the school is also making use of my music background to develop their music program. I love being part of such pioneering moves!

What age group or range did you teach?

I teach six-year-olds.

What did you most enjoy about teaching your students?

The way that young children are so very honest and trusting. They don't yet know how to pretend. They are just themselves and you always know where you stand with them in any given moment! Watching them grow in their personal ability and capacity for relating is also so fulfilling as well as giving me a huge sense of responsibility.

How did you get your work visa?

I first got an ordinary visa that can be upgraded to a work visa and then my school took over the process of getting my work visa and work permit.


What were your monthly expenses?

Rent: $200

Food: about $80

Other bills: Water + Lights - Not more than $20. (I don't use the aircon). 😉

Social life: Very little. I read and run for entertainment. 😉

Transportation: I bought a bicycle for $45 and use about $20 a month on Grab taxis.

Phone: $5

Other costs: I rescued a kitten from a pagoda so the vet's bills were unexpected… 😀 Other than that it's mostly music instruments that I buy.

I did have to do one visa run while I was here and that means staying over one might in Thailand. That was about a $100 jaunt that I hadn't planned.

I put away about $300 per month.

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



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

I would recommend teaching in Cambodia to anyone who is willing to take my advice seriously…

My advice is: be open to the people and learn their ways, their motivations for learning English and the challenges they face. Be gracious and remember you are a visitor in THEIR country. They know much more about grammar rules than native English speakers do, because it is not their mother tongue. The only advantage we have is our accents and the fact that we instinctively know how to express ourselves in English.

Take the trouble to learn at least a few phrases in their language and definitely learn their numbers, currency and the names of their traditional food dishes. That will take you far.

Make sure you determine which age group you will be best suited to teach. That can make or break you as a teacher. But also be willing to learn how to deal with other age groups.

Make time to rest and take three cold showers a day if you need to. The heat here drains a person more than you realize - so drink lots of canned or bottled water!! (The big blue 10 litre cans work out the cheapest!)

Most of all, don't take yourself too seriously and be teachable! 😀 Then you'll be guaranteed to have a great time!

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