What is your name, age and nationality?
My name is Laura, I'm 24 years old and from Bristol, England.
What is your education level and background?
Before beginning my TEFL course I had just completed my PGCE Primary (5-11). I also have a Sociology degree.
Have you travelled abroad previously, and if so where?
I've been quite fortunate and have travelled lots both with my family and alone. I travelled for 7 months across South East Asia and studied abroad in America.
What motivated you to teach abroad?
I've always fantasised about living and working abroad. When I was young I would go on Thompson package holidays with my family and I'd always think about how wonderful it would be to be one of their reps. As I got older and realised I wanted to be a teacher TEFL seemed like the perfect way to explore both avenues.
What did you want to personally achieve with this experience, and have you succeeded?
Having just completed my teacher training in the UK I wanted to develop additional skills that would apply to working with children with English as a foreign language. I also wanted to live abroad, experience and learn about a new culture, learn a new language and I'm currently doing all of these things!
Did you apply for the program with a friend or on your own?
I applied to go on my own. Having travelled before I learned that when you put yourself out there you will always meet like minded people. I wasn't afraid to go on my own and was excited to meet new people. It was a little scary but travellers are always so friendly!
Did you know anyone who had taught abroad before you?
Yes, actually. When I was on holiday in Spain last year I met a girl who had completed her TEFL with TEFL Heaven and hearing her story inspired me to follow my dream.
What were some of your concerns before you began teaching abroad?
Oh gosh, everything and nothing at the same time. I was irrationally worried about so many things. I was afraid that I wouldn't make friends; I was afraid that I would be a terrible teacher; I was scared mostly that I simply wouldn't enjoy the experience.
TEFL PROGRAM INFORMATION
What made you decide to do a TEFL course and choose TEFL Heaven?
Meeting a girl who had done the TEFL program in Thailand. She was teaching in Hong Kong and living her dream. She had so many positive things to say about TEFL Heaven so that was enough to convince me.
What made you choose a face-to-face TEFL course over other options?
I personally don't see how you can learn to be a teacher without any actual classroom experience. A face-to-face program was the option for me.
Which TEFL program did you do?
I did the program in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
What did you enjoy about your TEFL course?
Oh there were so many things. Our course instructor was fantastic. He was so passionate about the English language and was generally such an interesting man with so many fantastic stories. I loved our daily routine of getting coffee in the morning, having tacos at a local stand for lunch. I loved the people on my program and Puerto Vallarta was an incredible location.
How prepared did you feel for your teaching position?
I felt fine as there was really good communication with the team out in Mexico so we knew that we had everything organised that needed to be.
How long have you been teaching in Mexico and how long do you plan to stay?
I did my TEFL course in Mexico but got a job in Cordoba which is a beautiful, historic city in Andalucia, Spain. I have a year long contract so I will stay until June next year as a minimum.
How did you secure your English teaching job?
I was looking online at TEFL job websites. I found an advert I was interested in on TEFL.com so I applied, had a Skype interview and got the job!
What type of school or organisation do you work for?
I work for a language academy.
What does a typical working week look like for you?
I generally teach children and teenagers who come for English lessons in the evening after school. I work 3:45pm - 09:45pm Mon-Thurs and 4:30-6:00pm on Friday. This gives me the opportunity to explore during the day and learn Spanish!
What age group or range do you teach?
My youngest class are 4-5 years and my oldest student is 24 years old.
What do you most enjoy about teaching your students?
I love how varied my classes are. I could finish a class where we're having a debate about Gender Roles and then go straight to a Bear Hunt with my younger ones. My students are funny and I have about 100 different students so there is never a dull moment.
How did you get your work visa?
As an EU national working in Spain I didn't have to but my new boss assisted me every step of the way with all of the legal documentation.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like?
I stayed in an AirBnB for the first week and then my plan was to look on Flat Share websites but in the end I didn't have to. I coincidentally met another English teacher in my AirBnB who had a friend who was looking for a flatmate which turned out to be perfect.
Living and working in Andalucia is actually more of a culture shock than Mexico! Their daily routine here is so, so different. Siestas are taken VERY seriously so everything is shut and everyone goes to bed from 2-4 so basically there are no afternoons. I then work in the evening until 10pm then go to dance class or out for food and drinks with friends. Everyone is essentially nocturnal so that's some getting used to. People are very friendly though and there is a fantastic community spirit. I absolutely adore living here. Cordoba is wonderful! Old and historic with gigantic mosques and old buildings that make you feel like you are living in your own Game of Thrones Kingdom!
What are your monthly expenses?
Rent: 210 euros including bills.
Food: 100-200 euros depending on how often I eat out.
Social life: varies massively depending on factors such as weekends away.
Phone: 15 euros.
Others costs: dance class - 25 euros.
Would you say you are able to live comfortably on your monthly salary?
I've only been here for a month but I don't forsee that it will be a problem.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS
What advice would you give someone thinking about teaching abroad, and would you recommend teaching English in Spain?
My main advice is that if you think this is something you might like to do then just give it a go. You've got nothing to lose! Make sure you have a friendly boss or someone who speaks the local language who is happy to help you with documentation. Also, know that at times it will be hard but that's just part of the experience. It'll be worth it!
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