What is your name, age and nationality?
My name is Ryder Hearn, I am 22 years old. I am from the United States.
What is your education level and background?
I graduated Lake Havasu High School when I was 18 years old and decided not to pursue college. I did take a few semesters but I never finished. Since high school, I have just worked odd jobs in the restaurant business, construction, and customer service.
Have you travelled abroad previously, and if so where?
Before my trip to Peru, I have never travelled anywhere outside of the United States. I have seen about half of the US though.
What motivated you to teach abroad?
What motivated me to teach abroad was just pure opportunity. When I first heard about TEFL, I was sure you would need a degree. Once I was informed you didn't, I got very excited and instantly started saving money at my minimum wage job to head out!
What did you want to personally achieve with this experience, and have you succeeded?
I wanted to see if I was able to make the leap and leave everything behind. To just pursue what I truly wanted to do and see if I was able to adapt to a completely new environment. Since I have my own apartment along with a job, I'd say I achieved my goal!
Did you apply for the program with a friend or on your own?
I applied to TEFL Heaven completely solo, though I tried to get my friends to come with me.
Did you know anyone who had taught abroad before you?
When I was working as a machinist, my boss told me that when she graduated from San Diego State, she flew out to Japan and taught for six months.
What were some of your concerns before you began teaching abroad?
Before I started teaching abroad, I was worried that the course was going to be too hard for me and I wouldn't be able to complete it. I also had the concern that I wasn't able to find work after my program. It turns out neither of those were actual problems.
TEFL PROGRAM INFORMATION
What made you decide to do a TEFL course and choose TEFL Heaven?
I decided to do my TEFL course because I saw the opportunity to be able to travel, whilst making some sort of income. When I also read that it was a certification for life, I really got hyped. When I was doing all this research on how to get certified, all the good reviews kept coming back to TEFL Heaven. I Finally read enough reviews to make the leap of faith!
What made you choose a face-to-face TEFL course over other options?
After hours and hours of researching TEFL programs and everything, face-to-face was the option for me. If I were to do it online, it would not have been as personal of a thing for me. When you do face-to-face, your last week of your TEFL, you practical teach with real students and that's when I knew I wasn't leaving this place anytime soon. I was also concerned with accreditation, seeing that I can get TEFL certified in as low as a day, or just simply buy it. I was looking for a more personal experience, which I do not regret even a little.
Which TEFL program did you do?
I did TEFL Peru, because I have always been so intrigued by Peru and curious to its wonders. Now, being here, I am able to make trips to Rainbow mountain, Macchu Picchu, the Amazon Jungle, the list goes on!
What did you enjoy about your TEFL course?
I can easily say I enjoyed everything about my program. During my program, I stayed with a family, which fed me breakfast, took me to the local market, and was just the most hospitable family I could have asked for. There were also other people staying at the house, which I became good friends with leading to us being roommates! I also only had about 6 others in my TEFL, which I also became super close with. Again, I'd have to say my practical teaching week was my absolute favourite.
How prepared did you feel for your teaching position?
When I was in my TEFL course, I was thinking to myself that this was going to be a pretty rough job. Then my first week of work I felt SO relieved on how well my TEFL trainer prepared me. Once you are up there teaching, everything I learned just started flowing and working with the lessons.
How long were you in Peru and how long did you plan to stay?
I am currently still here in Peru and I have been here since February. When I came to Peru to do my course, I was not sure where I was going after. Then once I finished, I knew I wasn't going to be leaving soon. This place has way too much to offer to just be here during the length of the course.
How did you secure your English teaching job?
Once I finished my course, I had the intention of teaching online. But when I was done, I told the director of education that I was going to stick around Cusco. Within a week later, she emailed me saying there was a position available. Since the online thing wasn't really calling me as hard, and I reflected on how much I loved being in a classroom versus a computer screen, I saw no other option.
What did a typical working week look like for you?
A typical work week for me is I start my class at 7:00 am, then I am free from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and then have class from 9:00-10 am. Being in Peru specifically, their hours differ than other countries. After 10:00 am, I am off all the way until 4:00 pm. Leaving space for me to get anything done that I need to. I can go shopping, to the gym, clean my clothes, whatever I want. Then I teach at 4:00 pm up until 8:00 pm. This is Monday-Friday, which I was so sceptical about at first, but I love the schedule!
What age group or range did you teach?
For one hour a day, being from 4:00-5:00 pm, I teach the Jovenes. These are the teenagers, which depending on the day or how many kids you have, can be the most challenging. They range from 13-15 years old. I still have a lot of fun with this age even though they have so much energy! Besides that hour, I teach anywhere from 16 all the way up to 60 years old.
What did you most enjoy about teaching your students?
What I enjoy most about teaching my students is just how much they actually want to learn. When I get up there in front of the class, it's all eyes on me and they are waiting for the teacher to start giving them information. My absolute favourite is when class is over, and I have three or four students stick around asking me questions our of pure curiosity. To be a role model and give people opportunity makes me a very fulfilled person.
How did you get your work visa?
Being here in Peru, when you come into the country, you can stay for a max of 183 days. This comes out to 6 months, or half a year. Most of the contracts offered at my institute are only 6 months, meaning a work visa isn't necessary. Those who want to renew their contract for another 6 months make a border run and get help with the institute on how to get a proper work visa.
What were your monthly expenses?
Rent: $200 (which is expensive here!)
Other bills: $20
Social life: $30
Other costs: $10 (I walk most places)
Would you say you were able to live comfortably on your monthly salary?
My monthly salary here is $500, which seems close to nothing at first, but if you know how to manage your money, this is a comfortable salary here.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS
What advice would you give someone thinking about teaching abroad, and would you recommend teaching English in Peru?
If I could give anyone advice on doing TEFL, it would just be to make the decision and DO IT! Once I made that decision, I haven't looked back. I have met so many amazing people and I am constantly meeting more people. I would definitely recommend coming to Peru to teach abroad. The people are so kind, the food is amazing, and there is countless things to be doing all the time.
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