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Alumni Stories – Gabriela

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Why did you choose Prague? What did you know about Prague before coming here?

If I’m being completely honest, the city of Prague wasn’t necessarily my first choice. I am half Czech and half American and I love Prague but it’s quite familiar. I wanted to go somewhere like Vietnam or Italy but TEFL Worldwide was exactly what I was looking for in a school. I wanted a rigorous, serious, well-accredited program with a strong reputation. I couldn’t find anything that compared to TEFL Worldwide. As soon as I landed on the webpage, I knew that it was the program for me.

Why did you choose TEFL Worldwide when you were choosing a TEFL school?

I knew that I needed to enroll in a program that focused on grammar training. I didn’t want a program that only gave me frameworks, though TEFL Worldwide does a phenomenal job of that. Although I’m a native English speaker, I knew that I needed a deep refresh and in some cases a re-education around grammar. The language on the website made it clear to me that was what I would get.

What made you want to change your life and take a TEFL program in a foreign country?

I studied abroad in Cambodia as a sophomore in college and taught English for a month. After that, I knew I wanted to teach after college. However, I ended up going to grad school straight after undergrad and then had a few jobs in the workforce. I made myself a promise that after grad school I’d teach or take some time for myself. It ended up being a bit later, but I did it!

Were you afraid to take a step into the unknown and move to a different country/start a new career? Did you have any doubts? What helped you overcome your fears? 

I was absolutely afraid of teaching. It was one of those things that I knew I wanted to do but was also afraid of. Getting up in front of people? Being some sort of authority over the English language? I knew it would take practice and time, and it did. But that’s why I loved TEFL Worldwide so much. I could not have asked for better preparation. We were both students and teachers. I actually didn’t realize I’d be teaching actual Czech students in a classroom setting within the first week, and that was frightening, but the way that the curriculum is set up is phenomenal. I never felt in over my head.

Gabriela picking wild raspberries in a mountain town in the CZ called Benecko

 

How was your first month in Prague? What was positive, what was challenging?

The first week was really cool, getting to know my classmates, exploring the city etc. It’s a dense course, so around the second week it started to take on a different feel. It was a lot of work. But we always had time to go out on the weekends. I had time to run, do fitness, etc. You definitely need to go in knowing that 75-80 % of your time will be actively spent on the course. With that expectation it’s fine. The cool thing was that the challenge of the course really brought us together as a group. We were each other’s biggest fans. We all wanted each other to succeed because we knew how vulnerable we had to be to get up and teach people. It was awesome to watch each other grow.

What were the best and worst moments of your TEFL course? 

Best moment? Really good question. I’ll share 2. First, graduation was really cool. There is such a community of English teachers in Prague and there is quite a bit of pride around being a TEFL Worldwide graduate. So there were lots of students from past courses at our graduation party. There is a bond between all groups frankly. I even made some friends outside of my group. Which was cool. Second, I think it was the first time I presented grammar. This was easily the most frightening thing. We had to do 2 grammar presentations. Everyone was so nervous. But man, it was so cool to watch everyone go for it and get through it.

The worst moment for me, and I think this is different for a lot of people, was the third weekend. I wanted to go see my friend in the Czech countryside on Sunday but by the end of Saturday I just didn’t feel like I had finished enough to go. I ended up calling my mom and she talked me through it and convinced me to go and it ended up being totally fine. But I think it can be easy to get overwhelmed. The break, which was basically the full day, helped a ton. It is important to take breaks.

How did you feel after finishing TEFL? 

I remember the first time I taught, I was sweating like crazy, nervous, etc. By the last class, it was starting to feel comfortable. TEFL gives you a formula, and once you get used to that formula things get easier. I definitely felt very accomplished.

Did your expectations from the course differ from the actual reality of it? Did you think it would be easier or harder?

I’m grateful for the honest reviews that I read. I am grateful that the admin at the time told me that most students work at least half of each weekend. I asked if there was time to travel on the weekends and she said “maybe a day trip each weekend but you will need most of the weekend to prepare”. It was harder than I expected, absolutely, but that’s what I wanted. I read a review that said “you will feel over-prepared by the time you’re done.” and for me that ended up being true. I was grateful for that feeling. It has served me tenfold as a teacher in the workforce.

How were the two months after finishing TEFL? Can you describe your first experience with English teaching? 

Gabriela on her bike in the Hague

What a unique time to have graduated from TEFL Worldwide. I graduated in October 2019. Many of my classmates chose to stay in Prague but I decided to go to The Netherlands where my parents were living. The Dutch have a phenomenal English program and 95% of the people I encounter speak B2 or C1. However, The Hague, the city where I live, is really international and there are lots of expats. In January 2020 I was hired to teach at a language school and I was given 2 classes to teach. I applied to all 15 language schools in my area and only had an interview with one. I think it’s a lot easier in Prague. There are more opportunities. Between the two classes, I had 8 students with all different backgrounds- Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Moroccan, etc. The first two weeks were pretty terrifying but also fun. Having taught 8 full lessons in Prague made me feel super prepared. After about 4 or 5 weeks I started to settle in. And then! Covid happened, and I became an online teacher, which I adore.

What do you like the most about life in Prague?

Work-life balance and that you can walk everywhere.

In what aspect did your life change the most? 

I have a bit of a unique situation. A big part of the reason I left the States was that I was burning out. I needed to make a change, I needed to slow down. I have absolutely been able to do that. I live with my parents, and I make some money. The courses I teach differ in length, some are 7 weeks, some are 14 and some are 28. So there are chunks of time where I teach 20 hours a week and chunks where I teach 5-10. Since I’ve been teaching for a year, I have a wealth of lessons which I can reuse. But prep time is significant. When I’m teaching 20 hours a week, prep is 10-15. In any case, I have plenty of time for myself. This has been huge. I have been able to slow down.

Gabriela relaxing between her online lessons in the Hague

 What are you doing now?

I’m teaching online for the same language school, which I actually find more efficient. I have the time to break my classes into small groups. When Covid hit I decided there was no way I would be teaching 5-6 students at a time. It has been a little bit more work for me but it has really helped me build my experience and get to know my students so much better which has been amazing. I actually wildly prefer teaching online and many of my students prefer it as well. The most important aspect of teaching online has been sending my students lesson plans to complete in advance of our lessons, I’ve found it quite hard to go through the material in real-time. Having them prepare some written work in advance has been hugely important in filling the time.

If you had a chance to go back in time, would you come to Prague again? Is there something you would do differently?

No question, I’d go back. I don’t think I’d do anything differently. Just understanding that the more you teach the easier it gets. Also, I have had to learn that I won’t always have the answers on the spot. Your students will ask you questions you’ve never thought about and will then have to research. I’ve learned to say “great question! We will talk about it next lesson”.

In just 4 weeks you can be teaching English abroad. TEFL Worldwide was awarded as the Top TEFL Certification Course of 2018 and 2019! Courses offered monthly. 

teflworldwideprague.com

 

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