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Alumni Stories – Madison

We spoke with one of our graduates, Madison, a litte over 1 year after completing the TEFL course. She talks about her experience since graduating. 

I have known I wanted to be a teacher since I was 10 years old, but Prague and TEFL were never in that plan. That came much later when I was midnight-doom-scrolling high school teaching jobs during my third year of a combined Math and History degree. I realized I felt stifled by a future career that hadn’t even started yet. So I combined my desire to travel Europe and my passion for education and began looking up how to teach English abroad. After a few days, and several dozen Google searches, I discovered TEFL Worldwide Prague. For me, it was the perfect fit — to be in the heart of Europe and gain relevant work experience. Almost exactly one year after discovering this program, I was on a one-way flight to Prague, and I’ve been teaching English here ever since.

Where do I work?

I work at two different language schools in Prague, in addition to having my own private students. Working at two language schools means that I have double the resources, double the support, and double the courses to choose from. Having a handful of private students is a great way to supplement your income since you can charge more for private tutoring. For me, the language school path made more sense because I wanted to have complete control over my schedule and teach a variety of class sizes and types.

How long did it take you to prepare one lesson when you started teaching? How long does it take you now?

Lesson planning is a skill, and like any skill, it takes a lot of practice to improve. When I first started teaching I spent one hour planning for every hour I spent teaching. Obviously, this was not ideal, but we all have to start somewhere. One year on, I’ll spend 5-15 minutes preparing for my lessons, whether they are 60 minutes or 3 hours. Once you have been teaching for a few months, certain topics will start to repeat themselves and you’ll be able to reuse past materials, which will significantly cut down on planning time. There are also a lot of online resources that have ready-made ESL lesson plans that you can adapt to your classes. The first 6 months will be a lot of hard work, but after that, you’ll definitely reap the rewards.

Did you have any struggles you had to overcome?

Homesickness is real — very real. However, the best way I found to overcome it was to fully embrace the new place I found myself in. I had to fight the urge to compare everything in Prague to how it was back home — food, prices, people, etc. Of course, it’s important to maintain connections at home, but don’t let that stop you from creating a life here in Prague, or any other place you end up in. It’s still challenging sometimes, but I can honestly say that Prague has become a second home to me.

Have you experienced any culture shock in Prague?

Definitely! The Czech Republic is a very different place from Canada. Most of the differences are pretty insignificant in the long run — air-conditioning isn’t very popular, getting ice in your drink is a luxury, and free refills are non-existent. However, one thing I’ve noticed, and have really gotten used to, is that Czech people are more direct and tend to mind their own business. So, you won’t get many people smiling at you on the street or making small talk in a cafe. Personally, I love it, but it can sometimes feel a bit lonely too, so when that’s the case find some American friends and ask them about their day. You’ll get more than your fill of small talk.

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