What is your name, age and nationality?
My name is Zoe! I am a 21-year-old from the United States.
What is your education level and background?
I received my Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, however in October 2019 I will be heading to the University of Oxford to pursue a master’s degree.
Have you traveled abroad previously, and if so where?
After my freshman year of college, I spent 4 weeks at the University of Cambridge doing a summer program. I had never traveled much before I went to Cambridge (it was my first time in Europe as well as my first time traveling alone). I felt like my eyes had been opened to the amazing world around me and I have been obsessed with travel ever since. A few months later, I studied abroad in Valencia, Spain for 5 months. I lived with a host family, which deepened my knowledge of Spanish language and culture, and I traveled all around Europe.
What motivated you to teach abroad?
Before graduating college, I knew I wanted to live abroad permanently. I also knew I wanted to take a gap year before continuing my studies. My best friend (who is my flatmate in Prague now) sent me information on receiving our TEFL certification and I thought it looked like an amazing opportunity! I love meeting new people and, through my own experiences, saw the value in helping others with the struggles of learning a second language.
What did you want to personally achieve with this experience, and have you succeeded?
Before coming to Prague, I had no idea what to expect! My hopes were that I would be able to create a life I loved in this beautiful city and surround myself with people who made me happy. After living here for 9 months, I can say I have definitely achieved this. I have met incredible people who have now become my closest friends, formed relationships with my students, and have made a wonderful home for myself. I wake up every morning feeling very lucky.
Did you apply for the program with a friend or on your own?
I decided to get my TEFL certification with my best friend who I met in college.
Did you know anyone who had taught abroad before you?
I did not know anyone who had taught abroad before me.
What were some of your concerns before you began teaching abroad?
The major concern I had before I began teaching abroad was that I wouldn't be good at it. I had little teaching experience before coming to Prague and I was worried that I wouldn't be an effective teacher. However, after going through my TEFL program, I have become extremely confident in my teaching abilities.
TEFL PROGRAM INFORMATION
What made you decide to do a TEFL course and choose TEFL Heaven?
I decided to choose TEFL Heaven after speaking with representatives and reading the reviews of the program. All the reviews were very positive and it seemed like an extremely comprehensive 4 week process. I wanted to be as prepared as possible before beginning my teaching career and TEFL Heaven gave me all the tools I needed.
What made you choose a face-to-face TEFL course over other options?
I knew I wanted to do a face-to-face TEFL course because it seemed like a much more hands on experience. I was able to truly engage with the students I was teaching during my practice classes and I also became close friends with the people who were on my course. We all helped and encouraged each other during the process.
Which TEFL program did you do?
I did the Prague TEFL/TESOL Program in July 2018.
What did you enjoy about your TEFL course?
I enjoyed being able to make friends with my fellow classmates as well as the students I was teaching. At first, the practice classes are quite daunting, but after a few of them you know the things you need to work on and are able to enjoy yourself more.
How prepared did you feel for your teaching position?
After receiving my TEFL certification, I felt very prepared to begin teaching. In fact, I began teaching the following week after I received my certification!
How long were you in Prague and how long did you plan to stay?
I have been in Prague for almost 9 months and I will stay until October 2019 before I move to the U.K. to receive my master’s degree. I am already quite sad about having to leave Prague because this has truly been the best year of my life.
How did you secure your English teaching job?
One of my friends had just started working at an English preschool and they were still looking for one more teacher. I applied and, after interviewing a few days later, knew that I had found the place I wanted to be!
What does a typical working week look like for you?
Monday: I wake up at 7 am and am at work by 8:30 am. From 9-9:30 am I have circle time with my preschool class. From 9:30-10:00 am we have snack and after snack we have a lesson that revolves around the designated theme for that week. After our lesson we go outside for an hour before having lunch. After lunch I have a short break and then have 2 private lessons. I leave for work at around 4:00 pm.
Tuesday: On Tuesdays I have to open the school so I have to wake up at 5:30 am and be at the school by 7:30 am. I do the same routine in the morning with my preschool class and in the afternoon I have one group lesson of five girls and one private lesson. I leave work around 4:15 pm.
Wednesday: I have the same routine as Monday but I only have one lesson with 2 students in the afternoon. I leave around 4:00 pm.
Thursday: I do the usual morning routine but in the afternoon I have three lessons (1 private, 2 group). I leave work at 5 :00 pm.
Friday: On Fridays there are no private lessons so I switch on and off with my co-worker. One of us works from 8:30-5:00 pm while the other works 1:00 pm-5:00 pm.
What age group or range did you teach?
In the mornings (8:30-:1:00 pm) I have a class of children who are 4-5 years old. From 1:00 pm-5:00 pm I teach private lessons to adolescents that usually range from 8-12 years old.
What did you most enjoy about teaching your students?
My favorite part about teaching my students is the relationship I have been able to form with them. Every morning when I walk into school I am greeted with a hug and a smile, which is definitely rare in most working environments! I also enjoy seeing how much my students have progressed in their English throughout the year. Some of my students had little to no knowledge of English before the school year began and now are able to have full conversations in English.
How did you get your work visa?
I am a dual American/Italian citizen so I did not need to go through the visa process.
What were your monthly expenses?
Rent: 11,000 CZK + 1,500 CZK (utilities) = 12,500 CZK ($550 USD)
Food: Per month, I would say I spend about 2,100 CZK ($100 USD) on food.
Social life: Factoring in drinks/entrance fees when going out as well as other activities such as museums, markets, etc. I would say I spend about 3,500 CZK ($150 USD) a month on my “social life.”
Transportation: 1,880 CZK for a 3-month transport pass ($80 USD). I also use the app Taxify (a cheaper version of uber) and spend probably ($20 USD) per month.
Phone: 350 CZK for 3 GB of data per month ($15 USD)
Would you say you were able to live comfortably on your monthly salary?
Yes, I am able to pay for all of my monthly expenses and still have money left over for travel, going out with friends, etc.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS
What advice would you give someone thinking about teaching abroad, and would you recommend teaching English in Prague?
For anyone who is thinking about teaching abroad, I would tell them to not let fear of the unknown hold them back. I bought a one-way ticket to Prague and I never looked back and it’s been one of the greatest decisions I have made for myself! The language barrier may be daunting and moving to an entirely new country may seem crazy to some but the world is a beautiful place and I believe we should all try to experience as much of it as we can. Although I am a bit biased, I believe Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and I would highly recommend teaching here. It is a major city, but it does not have an inflated cost of living like Rome, Paris, etc. so it is very easy to live comfortably here.
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