How did TESL@TFLI prepare you for teaching in Russia?
The TESL course gave me the techniques and experience needed to begin teaching. Without TESL, I would have basically been blind walking into the classroom and would have been a much less effective teacher.
What advice do you have for students who want to teach abroad?
Research the country, city and school where you are planning on teaching. Get on the internet forums and talk to people who have had experience, and also ask the school to put you in contact with one of their native speakers. Once in country, be open minded and patient with any difficulties and differences in culture and living. Be responsible and try to do things on your own, but also don’t be afraid to ask for help.
What is your best experience so far teaching abroad?
It’s hard to pick just one. Sometimes when I had a lot of hours and dozens of students it was hard to tell how I was doing as a teacher. The most rewarding experiences were when this uncertainty was broken by praise from administrators and students and especially when students began to make noticeable progress.
Tell us an interesting classroom story.
One of the first full-time classes I had was with the auditors at a large international financial corporation. After going through the textbook they asked me to stay on. For the next couple months we discussed everything from comparisons between the U.S. and Russian education, legal, and political, systems, to the turmoil in Burma and Kenya and much more. After five months we had our last class. They ordered gourmet dried fruit and nuts to be delivered (which was a delicacy in February in Siberia). I brought in some peanut butter and crackers that my grandparents had sent me for Christmas. They had only seen peanut butter in the movies; it was great to share it with them. It feels really good when you can sit down with your students and they can speak to you with comfort and confidence.